The light is starting to filter into the dark bedroom and it is time to end a night of tossing and turning. The temperature dropped to 32 C by 3 am and now at 6 am it is down to 26 C. Stepping out onto the cooler deck, and then down to the water, is a relief from the hot bedroom and the drone of fans.
With camera in hand, I indulge in my daily ritual of waiting for the sun to rise in anticipation of taking a unique photo. It will take a while yet, so I go back to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. It will be the coolest part of the day and coffee will not be so appealing later in the heat of the day.
I make myself comfortable at the beach and wait. I watch and I listen and begin to realise that there is a lot going on at this early hour. There is only a breath of wind, hardly enough to break the calm demeanour of the surface of the lake. I am surprised to see the family of Mergansers swim past me without breaking their stride. They are not scooting forward with their heads under the water as they do some mornings, a strange and entertaining antic that these birds are known for. They are swimming in perfect formation and eventually disappear around the other side of the boat.
I am startled by a large fish jumping out of the water with a loud splash, not more than twenty feet away. He is one of the lucky ones who is still alive as the heat wave has taken a toll on the newly added sockeye salmon, leaving a half dozen dead ones on the beach by the end of each day.
Out of the bay to the north I hear a ski boat. What a perfect time of day to water ski, with no wind, and calm smooth water! It is only one boat, and at a distance, so it does not disturb the peaceful morning as I thought it would. I patiently watch as the boat’s wake slowly but surely makes its way toward my beach. As the rhythmic waves break onto shore, I am delighted to see the angle of the light casts diamond like reflections along one small stretch of shoreline.
The light is getting stronger and I know from yesterday exactly where the sun will break over the eastern shore. There is little colour in the sky this morning which is surprising because of all the smoke from the forest fires to the south. It must have drifted away overnight.
Out of the corner of my vision I see a Kingfisher land in the Willow to my right. These are very shy birds and as long he does not sense my presence, I may just get a photo. Before I can raise my camera, he darts out of the tree and like a rocket hits the water about 50 ft. out. He struggles to the surface after having gone right under, and flaps his way back to the tree. Again I slowly raise my camera. Again he rockets out of the tree and this time he comes up with a two inch minnow in his beak. I can just see enough of him on his perch to see that he is struggling to angle the fish the right way so he can swallow it. And then down it goes. Seconds later, he is diving into the water again, and again comes up with a small fish. This time he flies off with the fish wiggling in the clutches of his beak, no doubt going to a nest where he will be breakfast for the youngsters.
I did not get the photo but was rewarded with a rare experience, like when the big owl flew out of the night and onto our windsock pole only the previous evening. It was only a few feet from where we were sitting on the sundeck just after dark. We froze and I debated about getting my camera, but before I could make a move, he whispered off into the night as suddenly and as silently as he had come.
And now the sun is just breaking over the mountain ridge, a slit of brilliant light throwing diffused rosy light to the underside of the scattered clouds above Anarchist Mountain. By now the resident Sparrow family is busy feeding its young and there is constant chirping. The quails are scurrying in and out of the hedge row, snatching a cool drink from the drip irrigation. A fisherman’s boat has anchored not too far away and I hear muffled voices as they set up for another morning of fishing. In the distance I hear the chatter of a sprinkler system beginning its day’s work. And there is a faint barking of a dog, the sound of a motorcycle gearing down as it approaches the border station, and is that a baby I hear softly crying? The world of Oroville is waking and coming to life.
The sun is now fully up and I can feel its heat already. It will be another warm one unless those towering cumulus clouds in the south develop into a storm. We have no devices standing by on our vacations so I do not know the weather forecast, nor do I care to hear it. I am taking life one day at a time, and one hour at a time, savouring the moment, drinking in the beauty and the experience. The more deeply I can impress these images into my mind, the more vivid will be the memories in the coming dark winter months.
Many before me have, and many after me will, experience these same pleasures. To observe, to really watch and listen, and then to remember, is a gift to treasure. Memories sustain us through difficult times as we transport ourselves back in time when all was peaceful, calm, and all was right in the world.