Last week my brother and his friend came up from New Jersey to spend a few days at Medomak Camp. We spent the better part of 3 days just wandering around the 200 acres or so that surrounds the family camp.
The quietness of winter has stolen over the camp. I think it even frightened the boys from Jersey the first time I showed them the family camp field under a fully lit moon. I love it, the feeling of brisk cold air in the lungs and the sound of silence. To me it produces a very subtle hum that I can feel more than I can hear. This hum seems to illuminate any other occasional sounds made in the winter night, from quacking ducks to the barred owl’s classic ”who cooks for you”. This is in stark contrast to the constant drum of car engines, flashing of street lights, and thousands of stressed out, apex species that my brother and his friend left behind at the train station in Newark.
I had to show them the waterfront at night. The moon and a few stars were the only light our eyes could see, no glow of electricity. I was explaining how the lake is seemingly preserved in its natural beauty because of a law that requires any new building to be a minimal distance set back from the shore of the pond. “And besides”, I continued, “there’s barely anyone out here on the lake this time of year.” At that moment, as if it was scripted, we heard a noise unfamiliar to all of us. It was a loud, low bellow. We all froze. It was one of those deep sounds that sound unearthly. I racked the memory storage portion of my brain to find matches. It sounded like a whale. I laughed to myself. Keep racking…
Then it happened again this time with a crunching or cracking sound as well and we all realized it was the ice forming. The temperature was dropping and the lake was speaking to us. My two visitors were astounded and it set the tone for the next few days.
We wandered the woods, played camouflage games, made up stories, stalked red squirrels, built fires, slid belly first on the frozen lake, sat and listened to the ravens, followed fox tracks for acres, sang songs, and watched one of the local Bald Eagles swoop to and from its nest. We played in the woods, like children do. Like children have been doing for thousands of years, we played. When the trip has concluded I sensed fulfillment in them, they seemed to smiled deeper. A richness money cannot buy had seeped deep inside of them. The Maine wood is good medicine.
When we entered New Jersey after 8 hours of driving the familiar feeling of their past lives in the Garden state began to reenter into their minds. I felt the wave of heaviness fall over them as they sighed and thought about college assignments, jobs, ect. I told them “most people in our world live their entire lives without experiencing what you have during the past few days. Be thankful for it. Remember the way you felt in those woods. Journal about it as soon as you get home because New Jersey is going to steal it from you quickly and make it all feel like some vague dream.” Thats just the way it works.
I attached some photos. Thanks for viewing.
A local red fox uses the frozen lake to hunt by quietly running along the shore and listening for sounds made by rodents.
Bones beneath Eagle Nest Pine
Washington Pond partially frozen
B&W of Family Camp Cabins
Greg letting the goodness of Maine seep in.