It’s early morning on a late summer day that promises sultry temperatures, but for now Noah and I are enjoying the cooling breeze sweeping in from Lake Nockamixon.
As we hike along Quarry Trail, we are accompanied by whirrs and clicks, the surround-sound of insects that speaks of summer. There are, however, signs of impending autumn: tawny dried grasses along the verges of the trail, russet and golden leaves fluttering occasionally to the ground.
Grasshoppers jump and skip to avoid our footfalls. The female of the species will soon be preparing for the perpetuation of her offspring, laying eggs under the soil or in other safe, warm places such as the roots of plants and soft wood. It is her swan song, as adult grasshoppers do not survive the onset of winter.
We reach the rise above Beaver Cove and below are two kayakers searching for signs of life. While it’s quite likely that the cove still houses resident beavers, it’s been some time since I’ve seen them. Beavers may remain in one place for many years or even decades as long as their favorite foods remain available, their preferred diet being the bark and twigs of poplar, aspen, birch, willow and maple trees, along with water lilies and cattails. If these become sparse, the beavers depart in search of more delectable surroundings.
While Noah explores, I sit at a picnic table perfectly situated to enjoy a stunning, panoramic view of the lake. An osprey glides overhead with effortless leisure and grace, and I find myself contemplating how incredible it would be to trade places with the elegant “fish hawk” for a day.
As we begin our circuitous route back, we encounter a couple hiking with their dog. Noah absolutely loves every dog he meets, and so he is ecstatic. The other dog is friendly, but she’s a bit overwhelmed by Noah’s exuberance, so we keep the meet and greet short and sweet.
Noah turned 2 this past week, which I’ve been told is the official deadline for puppyhood. Either Noah is unaware of this fact or he is in denial, as he still displays most of his puppy-like qualities. He’s at his most kooky behavior when around others, leaving me to feel like the embarrassed mother of a misbehaving toddler at the grocery store. While I look forward to a time when Noah has mellowed a bit, I know I will nevertheless miss the zany antics that so often bring smiles and laughter. On the trail an unflagging fellow hiker and at home (usually!) a chill fellow who loves to snuggle, Noah is an endearing, lovable soul and loyal companion. He is the personification (or would it be canineification?) of George Graham Vest’s description in his Eulogy of a Dog: “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is the dog.”
Cindy Woodall resides in Upper Black Eddy.