One of our absolute favorite whole-family activities was canoeing around Otter Lake. I seem to remember all four of us piling into the long silver canoe every day, or at least every day that the weather permitted.
Dad always sat in the back and steered. Mom sometimes paddled and sometime sat in the middle with one of us girls to give the other a chance to paddle. The canoe trip around the lake was one of my Mom’s favorite memories of the cottage.
I can remember hanging my hand over the edge and letting my fingers trail through the cool water, making soft bubbling sounds as the sun warmed my face. It was so peaceful, so beautiful. We usually rode in silence, each of us enjoying the experience in whatever way it spoke to our unique personalities. We often saw the loon and heard it call across the lake. Sometimes we would get to close and it would give a nervous trill. My dad would answer back with a series of friendly hoots. We would pass dozens of turtles sunning themselves on half-submerged logs or see fish cavorting beneath the lily pads. Most often we heard nothing but the wind in the trees and the gentle lap of waves against the canoe.
We would always go all the way around the lake, usually counter-clockwise. This would lead us first past our forts, branches hanging out over the shore and inviting us to come and play. Next we would pass the spring.On calm days you could see the change in the color of the water; light at the source of the spring and spreading in a gradually darkening circle until it was gone.
We would pass the outlet to Otter Creek, and sometimes venture down the creek just a canoe length or two in order to check on the beaver dam. Along the far side of the lake were the best turtle-sunning logs, as well as two or three other cottages though I don’t recall every seeing anyone there.
Next we passed the public access, where I never saw anyone either, but did once catch a leech the full length of my palm under the dock. From here we circled past the point where I could see, and sometimes even catch, some large slimy sacs of frog’s eggs. Then it was a short stretch back to our dock as the whipoorwill let us know that it was dinner time.