by Pete Kallin
As I mentioned last week, Mother Nature is marching forward with her schedule, pandemic or not. Suddenly the days are getting a little shorter, and I am noticing more swamp maples beginning to turn red in the wetlands and birches turning yellow high on the hillsides. It is still quite warm during the day but the nights are growing cooler.
Like the birds and squirrels, I am double checking my summer "to do" list and trying to make sure everything gets done. I am amazed at how many things are still on the list. In addition to looking for mushrooms and elderberries when I hike, I find myself keeping my eyes peeled for grouse, deer, and turkey sign. Those seasons are rapidly approaching, and last year's venison supply is running low in the freezer. Both the loons and the bass and pike in the lakes are chasing large schools of baitfish (mostly landlocked alewives) and trying to build up fat reserves to get through the winter.
Additionally, the loons with chicks are teaching their offspring how to catch their own food. When the chicks are first born, the parents chew up fish and crayfish and basically regurgitate food morsels into their chicks' eager open mouths. The chicks grow rapidly, and the parents soon simply bring the chicks, still wriggling morsels, which the chicks grab hungrily. After a week or so of this routine, the parents simply drop the food in the water near the chicks and the chicks need to catch their food before it escapes. At the same time, the chicks are learning to dive underwater, which is a major step in evading airborne predators, such as eagles. Soon the chicks are foraging for their own food alongside the parents. Over the next two months or so, the loons will molt, replacing their insulating down with feathers, and begin to learn to fly. Those chicks that learn to fly before the lake freezes over will head to the ocean for the winter and eventually return to lake.
The local hiking trails remain quite busy. All the medical experts agree that "taking it outside" is the safest way to recreate this summer and many families are taking the opportunity to get out hiking. My wife and I hiked a bit at Fogg Island to try out the new picnic table installed by Eagle Scout candidate Evan Salhanick of MA and Long Pond. Evan and his friends and family also installed a new bench on the 7 Lakes Mountain Outer Loop Trail. Both are great amenities to the local hiking infrastructure. Thank you, Evan.
My older daughter Barb and I hiked that trail and met the Cook Family from Colorado who were visiting Maya's grandparents at China Lake and decided to go for a hike. Jodie Mosher Towle from North Pond hosted the Tidwell family from Alabama. The parents met when Janet was a nurse from Ireland and Joel was a videographer from AL, both working at Camp Matoaka, while Jodie was the head counselor there. They hiked both Mount Phillip and French Mountain last week to show their kids where they met.
Other families are taking the opportunity to visit grandparents for a bit before returning to school for the fall semester, including my two kids who live in Maine along with all of our grandkids, who came to escape the heat and jump in the lake last weekend before the thunderstorms arrived.
It is hard to believe that this is the final issue of Summertime in the Belgrades for this year. I hope this column has inspired some of you to get out and explore the outdoor recreation opportunities the region has to offer, and I hope you took a kid or two along. Until next year, I encourage everyone to "take it outside." For those of you who will be around for the winter, I encourage you to join me on the local trails on snowshoes or skis. Carpe ski-em!
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