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McCallum: The Reservoir

09/17/10 5:55PM By Mary McCallum
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(HOST)  Summer in Vermont can be short but sweet.  Before this one ended, commentator Mary McCallum decided to pack in one last summer adventure - that already has her thinking ahead to next year.

(MCCALLUM) Summer is over.  I feel a chill wind at night when I lie in my porch hammock just before bed to gaze up at the stars, and wonder how it evaporated so quickly.  In order to capture one more summer moment while green leaves still hung on trees I joined friends to camp in mid-September.

Vermont has reservoirs scattered around the state that come in 234 different shapes and sizes.  On a glorious afternoon we journeyed north to Green River Reservoir in the Northeast Kingdom, a state park that offers remote camping with views of the water.

 The only way to reach the campsites on the 653-acre reservoir is to paddle out and haul with you everything you'll need. We stuffed a canoe and kayak with food, camping and rain gear, a water filtration system, flashlights, candles, wine and one small dog. Watching our small armada push off from the boat launch, an observer joked that the only difference between a real expedition and an overnight is that you pack more for the overnight.

Green River Reservoir has the distinction of having one of the longest stretches of undeveloped shoreline in the state.  We knew the weather report for that night and the next day was dicey but we forged ahead, gliding past loons floating in late afternoon golden sun.  Our twenty-minute paddle led us to the perfect site:  it had a stone campfire ring, open air privy, seating made of chunked tree trunks, and a million dollar view of the sunset.

That night we sat on a great slab of stone at water's edge and gazed at the sparkling constellations while congratulating ourselves on our good fortune.  Loons yodeled.  The breeze picked up as we sighed in collective contentment.  Life was good.  Then across the wide reservoir lightning flashed while a storm cloud closed in and thunder sped toward us.

A leaky tent is a flimsy port in a storm.  I lay there as rain pelted down, thunder banged and lightning lit up the sky. As steady drips of water fell onto my sleeping bag in the darkness I looked on the bright side: it was an improvement over the canvas pup tent of my childhood that - when it rained - was like sleeping in a wet sock.

Our stormy night was capped at dawn by packing up wet gear and paddling the heavily laden boats across a large open expanse of water in a cold driving rain.  The small wet dog shivered beneath a plastic orange poncho, ignoring the diving loons and staring toward the distant shore.  When we finally beached our crafts, unloaded, toted soggy gear, reloaded cars and changed into dry pants, we shared one regret:  we wished we could stay longer - despite the rain - and couldn't wait to return.  

And for days we carried with us the calls of  loons, the vision of  sudden lightning on the edge of a dark starry sky, and the memory of a mad dash across windswept waters.  There was something about this place that made it all worth doing, and doing again - next summer.
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