On the flat-top barrens above Old Perlican, it’s obvious that the ground itself has been convinced that spring is here.
Bakeapple plants are making their first single-leafed bright green appearance, dodging up through the winter-blanched moss. There’s even an occasional early bakeapple blossom, and the small carnivorous sundews are up, even when there’s no sun to be found.
There are tracks from a young moose set deep in the soft peaty bog, heading away from the road, and occasional paw-prints of something canine, claw-marks clear, pads distinct.
Lost dog? Coyote? The tracks are new, but like the moose, there’s nothing in sight.
The rhodera are blooming in bright pink slashes and the chuckleberry trees are white with the petals they’ll shed like confetti a few weeks from now.
Brushing the ends of spruce leaves you decorated with slashes of stick yellow pollen, and all of this even though it’s still cold this Sunday morning, the kind of sharp cold that, four months or so from now, would convince you that fall had arrived uninvited.
Now, though, despite the chill, it seems worthwhile to venture out for a trout or two, especially because there’s almost no wind on this early June day, almost tolerable with the zipper of your coat down as you push through the moose-clipped brush and come upon the few standing trees that some forgotten beavers thought might sustain them.
A little winking sun now and then, even though the cloud came in around 7:30 in a long straight line that looked like it had clear and purposeful intentions.
Perhaps it’s a better idea to just never go to a gully where there’s a path to the water’s edge.
Maybe that should be a first and necessary rule. Because there was a path down from the road, not well travelled enough to be down through bog to gravel, but travelled enough to make out recent boot-prints.
No wind, the surface, for once, like clear glass. Four or five lily pads, maybe last year’s hardiest still left floating despite their time entrained in ice, leather-backed now and too tough to sink.
And, sure, it’s rare.
Rare to have a day with a long, wide gully completely still, not even the occasional cat’s paw of wind riffling the surface, a day when you can stare straight down through the water and see the bottom clearly, the trunks and roots of long-dead, impossibly-large trees, the sparkle of one, two … 10, 12, 15 pop cans, spread apart equally as if sunk deliberately in place, their paint faded with age so that you can’t see the brands anymore, though you can focus clearly enough on the end of one to see that it is the old pull-tab-and-ring kind.
I know I’ve written about this before, but they’ll never go, those cans. They are almost exactly the same distance from shore, just about the distance an arm can throw an empty can, and they perch on the brown bottom like small statues on a peaty podium.
You can’t walk out to get them; the edges of the pond are warning enough, deep cuts of soft and crumbling peat, and you see the drifts of more peat making up the bottom — it is the kind of place that you could clearly sink far deeper into than you could escape.
Perhaps there are those who fear sinking into a boggy quagmire less than I do — perhaps there are those who would find a way to sink a line to try and catch cans instead of fish. I don’t see any safe way short of swimming, and this is barely June, a time most unforgiving for diving in.
Instead, I’ll use a curse I’ve said before, a pox on those who lay waste to this place — may they wake up one morning and find every single scrap of trash they’ve ever tossed miraculously returned and filling their living rooms, all of it soaking wet and stinking.
And, like Sunday, I’ll string up my rod and head somewhere else, hoping for pristine and expecting much less.
Russell Wangersky is The Telegram’s
editorial page editor. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.