September 2012 (Courting Carolina)

Autumn 2012

Dear Readers,

I hope that from reading my books, you’ve figured out by now that I like people in general but most especially men in particular. And that’s a good thing, I’m thinking, considering I’ve been living in an all-male household for over thirty years. I’ve recently started getting some estrogen thrown into the mix from my sons’ girlfriends, and boy, have I learned a lot from these young ladies; anything from much-needed fashion help to what’s going on in young women’s minds today. (Which is another good thing, since there’s a danger I could have my heroines thinking like fifty-um-something grandmas.)

You also may have noticed that I have a tendency to populate my stories with characters of all ages, because I like children and old people, too. And animals; cats and dogs and horses and birds—especially crows—and wolves and panthers and orcas and … well, you get the idea. Weather often seems to be an ongoing character in my stories, likely because it plays a pretty big role in my own life. Outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing and snowmobiling and camping sneak into my books, as do some interesting careers, a little science, and a whole lot of Mother Nature.

But magic is my vehicle of choice for bringing you along on my journey into the realm of possibilities. I often compare telling a story to packing an SUV with my hero and heroine in the front seats, the back seats filled with a large cast of characters as they all head off on a road trip through a particular segment of their intersected lives. What’s going on outside the vehicle—oh, say the weather, terrain, other travelers they might encounter—certainly has an impact, but the real story is what’s happening inside that truck.

Ever find yourself trapped in a vehicle with someone you didn’t particularly like? Someone who scared you? Someone you hadn’t realized didn’t like you? How about being trapped with someone you thought you absolutely adored only to discover they weren’t exactly what they seemed? Yes, there’s nothing like a nice long road trip to slowly melt away the masks we all hide behind. (Trust me; Robbie and I spent five weeks trapped in an SUV and small camper with two teenagers headed from Maine to Alaska. We made it as far as the Canadian Rockies and turned around; my dear sweet husband saying Alaska would still be there when the boys finally moved out.)

I digress, but it was a very … memorable five weeks.

So back to my books and the role magic plays in my stories; I’ll admit I have a tendency to get a bit outrageous—say, like when I rearranged the beautiful state of Maine to create an inland sea—but there is a method to my madness. You see, I want to make you stretch really far to suspend your disbelief, so you’ll consider the everyday magic you encounter in your own lives to be real. Sound convoluted? Good, I got you!

The magic is real, people; as real as the sunrise, the ebb and flow of the tides, the haunted call of a loon, that unseen fish tugging on the end of a line, the birth of a baby, the death of a loved one. The problem, in my opinion, is that these things seem so everyday ordinary that we forget how extraordinary they are.

What guarantee do we have that the sun’s going to rise tomorrow? We assume it is, because it’s risen every day for the last … what, four and a half billion years? But what if it decided not to make an appearance tomorrow morning? What if the oceans stood still? What if every last loon on the planet suddenly lost its voice? What if babies stopped being born? What if we stopped dying?

What if we woke up tomorrow morning and simply decided not to get out of bed?

That’s what my stories are about; getting out of bed every morning—even on days we don’t want to—and seeing the magic around us instead of … well, I’m not sure what the opposite of magic is. Maybe hopelessness? Despair? Indifference?

As the god behind the machine of my stories, I refuse to let my heroes and heroines give up. If they find themselves stuck in a vehicle with someone they don’t particularly like, they’re going to have to deal with it. Nobody’s going to swoop in and rescue them by pulling that bogeyman out of the truck, or come along and change that flat tire in the pouring rain, or turn all the traffic lights green, straighten out all the curves in the road, and roll back gas prices to a dollar a gallon.

(Well, okay; Maximilian Oceanus could, but he’s not really real. I just made him up to make a point that you will have to figure out.)

And since I’m writing romance, I like for my hero and heroine to realize that if they would just team up, they could conquer the world. Or at least control—maybe even vanquish—most of those demons sitting in the seats behind them. (Didn’t I have one of my characters—a hero, I think—in one of my stories say his mom or gram told him that a problem or burden shared was cut in half?)

And the ‘love conquers all’ equation doesn’t always have to be between the hero and heroine, either, as we learned in Charmed by His Love; Duncan MacKeage’s love for young Jacob Thompson certainly had the power to vanquish little-boy demons.

We’re all in the vehicle, people; every one of us is on the same amazing journey and we’re on it together. Our hopes and dreams and struggles and disappointments are shared by the people in our homes, living next door and down the street, and on the other side of the planet. And like my heroes and heroines, if we would just realize that by teaming up we could conquer the world … well, woudn’t it be a truly wonderful world to wake up to tomorrow? So share the love; in your home, down the street, and across the world, then see if a good number of demons don’t suddenly disappear and burdens get cut in half. I promise it’s a gift that will keep on giving, and you’ll discover that smiles really are contagious.

Until later from LakeWatch, you keep reading about life and love and happily ever after, and I’ll keep writing it.


P.S. My dad passed away last fall, but before you start worrying that I’m sad, please understand that I’m really quite happy for him. He was nearly ninety-four and actually quite eager to head off on a new, fantastical adventure. The only reason I’m even telling you is because at his funeral, Dad’s sister said she had discovered just last year—at the age of ninety-eight!—that she can write poetry. Of course I asked her to send me some of her poems, then asked her permission to share them with you—to which she kindly agreed.

So if the magic not’s real, then explain a ninety-eight-year-old suddenly waking up one morning a poet!

Aunt Ethel 100 years old


Poems by Ethel F. Taylor

(Went to Aunt Ethel’s 100th Birthday Party this past March! (2013) Spry as ever and still cracking jokes. Her granddaughter read one of her poems–which she is still composing.)

Crafty Gals

They gathered round the table
These gals so fair and neat
And became busy with their craft work
‘Mid laughter gay and sweet.

Laughter and jokes were being exchanged
And gaiety flowed all around
With blissful feeling I watched them
Wishing it need not end.

Families are so endearing
More so as time goes by
May we all meet together in Heaven
And never have to say goodbye.

I’ll hold this picture in my heart
When I’m once more alone
And cherish every moment
‘Til the day that I’m called home.

Then at last the evening is ended
And we’ve exchanged a good night kiss
One day may we all meet in heaven
And not one of our numbers be missed.


Alethea is a beautiful maiden
With a heart as pure as the snow
She fell in love with a handsome Marine
Many long years ago.

Now she wears his engagement ring
And her heart is full of joy
She counts the months ‘til she graduates
Then she’ll marry her Marine boy.

With a bit of sadness
Dad looks at his little girl
He has given her to another
And together they’ll face the world.

The wedding feast has been eaten
And the guests have all gone home
Alethea and Steven run to their car
And the honeymoon has begun.

Mom and Dad wave their goodbyes
With a touch of sadness in their hearts
Their little girl has grown so quickly
And from her it’s hard to part.

They head across the USA
To their little home in the west
Where we all pray they’ll live happily
Like two turtle doves in a nest.

Red School House

The little red school house
Where I went years ago
Brings back fond memories
Of the days of old.

We walked to school in winter
Although it was windy as well
Then huddled round the heater
Until teacher rang the bell.

The Lord’s Prayer was always recited
Then Pledge of Allegiance too
Then out came our reading books
To show what we could do.

When the bell rang for recess
We’d all rush out of the room
The girls all played on one side
And recess was over too soon.

The sun shone with an unearthly beauty
On the glistering trees below
One stood in awe at their majesty
And to think that God made it so.

If God makes such beauty here below
What splendor must be up above
Why are we reluctant to leave this place
And dwell with God above.

The snow will soon be melting
Then spring will once more be here
A time to get out and enjoy the sun
And see the stars so clear.

The birds will soon be singing their song
The grass will be turning green
God has given us so much beauty
Let us open our eyes and see.

June, 2006

Dear Readers,

Not long after I met my husband – more years ago than I care to acknowledge – I found myself wondering what mysterious force could make a man sit on an ice-covered lake in below freezing temperatures, and spend hours patiently waiting for a flag to signal that a fish had just taken the bait. Summer fishing I could understand; who wouldn’t enjoy spending a sunny day in a boat on a beautiful lake, having nothing to do but read, snooze, snack, and jump in the water to cool off? But when my future husband grabbed his ice fishing traps and bait pail, and offered to take me with him one surprisingly bright winter morning, sheer curiosity had me trudging beside him onto the frozen lake. And that was the day I not only became hooked on winter fishing, but saw the entire world through new eyes.

The magic began with the sound of a gasoline-powered ice auger as it bore through the frozen shroud of ice to suddenly well up a gusher of slush-laden water. I distinctly remember peering down into that dark, seemingly bottomless hole, trying to imagine the watery world a mere ten inches beneath my feet.

ice-fishingHow could any ecosystem survive five months of numbingly cold, sunless living? Or was the ice really a cleverly designed shield, protecting the lake’s inhabitants from the harsh winter weather? But even more bothersome to me at the time, had my husband-to-be just opened a painful wound by drilling ten holes in the lake’s protective mantle? (On our lake, each fisherman is allowed five traps – which is why, I inadvertently learned, lots of men encourage their wives or girlfriends to go fishing with them, as the more traps set, the better the chances of catching supper. And here I thought my guy just wanted to spend some quality time with me!)

The regulation book that came with my fishing license that long-ago Christmas, stated that I must tend my own traps; so I was taught how to bait my hooks with tiny minnows, feed the thick lines down those dark holes, then set the flags. (A big fish comes along and eats the little fish, the flag shoots up, and – hopefully – I pull up the line with the big fish still attached.) But instead of five traps, I was told only to set four. Then I was handed a very short rod as well as a plastic bucket to sit on, and shown how to jig over the fifth hole. (Jigging is actually bobbing the line up and down to attract a hungry big fish with the movement of the little fish. I jigged slowly, afraid of making my poor little minnow sea-sick.)

But here’s the really magical part. I was sitting in patient bliss on that bucket in the middle of that frozen lake for maybe an hour, munching down a perfectly cooked hotdog (I still can’t figure out why food tastes better if it’s cooked and eaten outdoors), when something suddenly tugged on my line! I don’t mean a sharp jerk, but a barely perceptible tug that hardly moved the tip of my tiny rod. I didn’t jump to my feet in excitement, but sat staring down that dark hole in awe. Some unseen creature (hopefully a large trout or salmon and not a cousin to the Loc Ness Monster) tugged again, and with a smile of delight I gently returned the gesture. A subtle tug-of-war ensued, and I can’t begin to describe how sparring with something unseen, a mere ten inches below me but an entire world away, made me feel. Words conveying my heart-thumping joy, anticipation, and up until then dormant desire to do battle – and win! – seem inadequate.

I was coached on how to pull up the line without jerking the bait out of the big fish’s mouth, only to find myself suddenly scrambling back with a yelp of surprise when a huge landlocked salmon shot free of the hole and angrily began flopping on the ice. My delighted fishing partner palmed the beautiful salmon, gauged its size, and proudly (as if he had battled the beast himself) declared it a keeper.

I immediately began pleading for him to throw it back.

I don’t know who gaped more, my future hubby or that displaced fish, but with a sigh of resignation, the wonderful man bent down and let the salmon slide free, its tail giving a happy splash as it disappeared back into the dark, watery depths with its belly filled with my bait. (I’ve been ice fishing for nigh on thirty years now, and though I’ve had many fine meals of freshwater fish, I still more often than not plead that my catch be released. Which is why my husband always packs hotdogs in our cooler, or simply refuses to take me with him when he has a hankering for baked salmon.)

But I still remember my first experience on the ice as a day of many lessons: about ice fishing, about how my then future husband’s mind worked, and about my own mindset. How does that old adage go? Before you judge a man, you should probably walk a mile in his shoes? Well, I spent that day seeing winter fishing through another’s eyes; and I learned that in their own way, men are just as spiritual, inspired, and compassionate as we women. But instead of a suit and tie and wing-tips, some men might prefer to dress in long johns, a bomber hat and warm boots, and connect with the universe in the ultimate cathedral.

This was quite an epiphany for me; I learned not to assume that people are weird simply because they have a passion for living each day as it’s given, rain or shine, thunderstorm or blizzard, forty degrees above or twenty degrees below freezing, with nothing more than a gently rocking boat or a plastic bucket to fish from. (I’ve never admitted this to him, but when Robbie released that beautiful fish just to appease my soft soul, I knew I had found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But please keep this our little secret, because he still thinks it was his manly charm that captured my heart.)

So how does one magical day of ice fishing become a romance novel almost thirty years later, appropriately titled The Seduction of His Wife? Each of my stories begins with some tiny insight on my part, that somehow lends itself to a whole host of questions. (And Lord knows, I have more questions about life and love and the human spirit than is healthy!)

So … if spending one simple day with my guy can give me a glimpse into his mind while teaching me something about myself, how might a man attempt to get into a woman’s head, and therefore learn more about himself?

And being not only a writer but an avid reader, this train of thought eventually led me to wonder what men think about romance novels. Do those larger-than-life, tough, sexy heroes threaten men? Intrigue them? Or are guys just plain curious about why we women stay up until the wee hours of the night reading romances? Then again, do men think that if they were to read a romance novel, they might come to understand us women better?

Another consideration I had when penning this book (see how the questions keep multiplying?): Do romance novels ever influence a woman’s everyday life? Do they make us see things differently as we experience the world through our fictional female characters? If not, then what happens to all those romantic tales after we’ve read them? Do they simply evaporate into the ether, never to be thought of again, or do they ruminate someplace deep inside us, giving us a sense of … oh, I don’t know, hope maybe? Anticipation?

Every romance author’s dream is that our work will strike a chord and tug a few heartstrings. I like to call it the ‘aahhh’ factor, where a reader closes one of my books and softly sighs, knowing all is well in that fictional world, so surely there’s hope for the real world.

The heroine of The Seduction of His Wife, Sarah Knight, certainly feels this way. In fact, she lives in constant hope that one day she will become a feisty, confident woman just like the heroines in the books she reads. Sarah’s only problem though, is that she’s so caught up in her fictional worlds, she probably wouldn’t recognize happily-ever-after if it walked up and kissed her on the nose.

Thinking back to my first day on the ice, I wondered what sort of hero it would take to pull Sarah out of her books and into the real world. That was when I remembered this really nice guy by the name of Alex Knight (who happened to be ruggedly handsome and conveniently single) living in the deep woods of Maine. I thought he just might be brave enough (he’d certainly be motivated when he saw her) to challenge Sarah’s deeply entrenched fears about life and love and happily-ever-after. So I decided to marry Sarah and Alex to each other before they even met, then have a bit of fun watching them figure things out on their own.

Until later, from LakeWatch … happy reading!


April, 2005

Dear Readers,

I have found that sometimes Mother Nature simply refuses to be ignored, and that she’s not above screaming in our ears when she wants our attention. I was reminded of this early last fall, when I was developing my fifth Highlander book. A murder of crows (yes, that’s what they’re really called), nine to be exact, started screaming at me from the trees on my front lawn.



One particular fellow (that I named Talking Tom) seemed to think it was his duty to sit outside my bedroom window and wake me up at 4:00 a.m., and he would caw, quite loudly and nonstop, until I got up, got dressed, and headed across the yard to my writing studio. (Which might suggest why they’re called a murder of crows. Not that I was ever tempted, mind you, but I can see how some people might be.)

It may have taken me the better part of three weeks, but I eventually realized that my crows wanted to be in my book. Or else the noisy buggers had been told I was a pushover, and they merely wanted free food.

Now I don’t know many people who feed crows, but I can tell you that once you’ve started, you had better not stop with the handouts. Which was why every morning for all of last fall and through the winter, I would get up at the crack of dawn, get dressed in multiple layers, and head outside to arrange dinner scraps and little piles of dry cat food on the ground as I made my way to work.

This seemed to appease if not to encourage my black feathered friends, and actually proved entertaining. But that entertainment often came at the expense of my husband, who was enlisted to snow-blow a circular path through the deepening drifts, right through the middle of our front lawn. When people asked Robbie why he was snow blowing his lawn, he would only mutter something about it being cheaper than a divorce.

I got so crazy in fact, that I began devising elaborate menus. I begged for scraps from neighbors (though once they realized what the scraps were intended for, and not caring to be awakened at the crack of dawn on weekends, they suddenly ate everything on their plates), I brought home doggy bags from restaurants, and I even purchased canned dog food, knowing my pets needed plenty of protein in sub-zero weather.

Crows do not like canned dog food, I found out. They wouldn’t touch it. Heck, they took one sniff, looked toward the house, and start scolding. And they don’t like shrimp, or carrots, or overcooked broccoli. But they do like home cooking (smart birds). Broth-soaked beef stew was a winner, spaghetti and meatballs got scoffed up, and their most favorite food turned out to be steak (we ate the steak; they got to pick the bones). I also learned that crows like dry cat food, although my three confused cats couldn’t figure out why I had started feeding them on the front lawn.

But sometime in early December, my nine crows disappeared — right when I was shoulder-deep in my book. Suddenly, I was at a loss. I slept through the sunrises, and I awoke uncertain and directionless, unable to write. The noisy inspirations for my book — especially for one of my main characters, Talking Tom — had abandoned me.

But one week later, quite literally out of the clear blue sky, three of my crows flew in off the frozen lake and landed in a tree overlooking their old feeding spot. The pot-bellied squirrels had eaten everything I’d put out (who knew squirrels liked cat food?), and my crows started to make such a ruckus that I rushed out to give them the leftover stew we were supposed to have for dinner that night.

Lone Crow

Lone Crow

My crows were back! My book was saved! I immediately headed to my studio and started writing again. And when you read Winter MacKeage’s story and meet Talking Tom, know that he truly does live — not only in my imagination, but in my dooryard.

So what is Mother Nature trying to tell us when she demands our attention? For me, she’s saying listen to the universe, for that is where inspiration dwells.

Sometimes I’ll hear only a whisper, or merely sense an unspoken urge, and sometimes I’ll be blasted with a deafening cacophony that demands I examine my direction and purpose.

Do you ever stop and listen? What do you hear?

Until later … keep reading! …

December, 2004

Dear Readers,

Moon TreeThe outside thermometer reads nine below zero this evening, and winter is firmly entrenched here. The lake is covered in a fresh blanket of snow, a stunning contrast to its more lively blue summer dress. And tonight, with only starlight and a crested moon shining upon it, the frozen tundra beckons.

For Robbie and me, the walk to our ice shanty on this silent and frigid night is a journey into the timeless void between heaven and earth.

Cold snow crunches beneath our feet and our breaths puff past our numbing lips (forming icicles on Robbie’s beard), as we trudge in silent anticipation. We reach the ice shanty, set out our chairs, and sit reclined to gaze up at the stars as we wait for the conversation to begin.

Very few people realize that lakes have something to say. But on this crystal clear and windless night, our lake finally begins to speak in a language as ancient as the earth itself. It is sometimes only a whispered snap or a muffled grunt, and sometimes it’s a long and deep and resonating moan. The lake is making ice – cracking, expanding, shifting. It is the sound of an awesome power that is capable of moving boulders and reshaping shorelines.

Our chairs gently quake as a fissure less than an inch wide splinters like frozen lightning for over a mile in several directions. And if we are lucky, and patient, we will hear the whistle of a crack reach shore with the force of a sonic boom. Houses hugging the lake will shiver on their foundations when this happens, startling the occupants – bringing a smile to seasoned lake-dwellers and panic to newcomers.

I have often tried to describe the sound to others. It is as if I am standing above a pod of whales deep in conversation – gurgles, chatters, guttural pops, and lamenting groans echoing through the starlit night.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

And we have been known to talk back, just as animated and feeling blessed to witness this gift. Growing up, our sons would – with mitten-muffled applause – encourage the more laudable booms and more violent ice-quakes. Friends visiting from away, dragged onto the ice on such an ungodly cold night, would run back to the house, shaking their heads, thinking us strange.

But how often do we have such conversations with Nature? What’s the point of living on a lake if we’re not willing to stop in for a visit on even the coldest of nights? Thick clothes and a thermos of hot cocoa are enough to ward off the chill, the sights and sounds and ice-quakes enough to warm our hearts.

This Christmas we set a small fir tree down by the lake and covered it with lights. It has stood there for over a month now, and we’re finding it impossible to turn off the power. Most Christmas lights are gone by the first week of January, but ours are still lit, still bringing a touch of warmth to the night. By Valentine’s Day, maybe, we’ll have the resolve to unplug the tree, when the days grow noticeably longer and the weather (hopefully) relaxes its grip. Until then our colorful ambassador will continue to soften the harsh edges of winter and welcome anyone searching for a conversation with Nature.

From a magically beautiful Maine…


September, 2003

Dear Readers,

Summer finally arrived, but somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, it slipped by my notice! Already it’s September, and welcome cold-fronts are sweeping down from Canada on a regular basis now, giving us warm sunny days and crisp cool nights.

This is Maine at its best. The tourists are migrating home (we’ve enjoyed your company, and look forward to seeing you next year, but now it’s our turn to play), the pumpkins and apples are plumping with delicious sugars, and furry and feathered babies born mere months ago are quickly maturing.

Papa LoonJust yesterday, on an early morning kayak trip with Robbie, I came close enough to snap a picture of the young loon born in our cove this June. Dappled feathers have already replaced its soft bouyant down, and it has grown too big to hitch a ride on mom and dad’s backs. It can dive quite well now (in strong contrast to its downy-days, when it would try, only to pop back up like a cork from a Champagne bottle!), and our young loon can even catch its own meal of minnows, though it hasn’t outgrown begging for handouts from still attentive parents.

We’ve noticed small rafts of mature loons gathering already – most likely adults who didn’t bother nesting this year. Soon they will migrate south to the waters off the Carolinas and Florida, and the young loons of this spring will be on their own. They, too, will come together in feathered rafts, but will head to the Gulf of Maine to grow strong and beautiful on rich ocean fish. It is there they’ll find mates of their own, not returning to freshwater lakes for three or four years.

I am always amazed – if not awed – by Mother Nature. How can a young loon, not three months old, survive without benefit of its parents? And how, after a summer of loving attention, can a parent simply fly away?

It boggles my mind, considering I’ve had twenty-two years of parenting two sons, and I am still reluctant to cut ties. Instead of going our separate ways, the hint of fall in the air only urges me to gather my loved-ones close to the woodstove, and pretend our insular family will continue forever.

Wishful, motherly thinking. Life happens. Like baby loons, sons mature and must travel their own paths. And to be a good parent, that means taking a lesson from Mother Nature and continuing down our own path – which suddenly appears to be paved with the freedom of countless destinations.

So yeah, maybe my LakeWatch loons chose to nest in our cove this summer for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, they came to teach Robbie and me a much-needed lesson. “Let go,” they hauntingly call as we lie in bed wishing both our sons were under our roof, snug in their childhood beds. “Enjoy,” those wise old loons tremolo deep in their throats. “This is not the end, but the beginning of something even more wonderful.”

Yeah. . . well. . . we are humans, not loons, and advice is much easier given than taken.

Until later, from LakeWatch


April, 2003

Dear Readers,

We are knee-deep into mud season, the lake is still carrying two feet of solid ice, and today’s forecast is for five-to-nine inches of snow.But despite all that, the promise of warmer weather abounds; hoards of red-breasted Robins have arrived (looking somewhat perturbed because they can’t find any grass to build nests), potholes and frost heaves are making a mess of our roads, and the shoreline of the lake is finally softening.

We can see Bald Eagles far out on the ice, busily devouring abandoned fishing bait that is slowly being exposed as nature’s original icebox thaws. The fishing shanties are gone (although some tardy fishermen had to pull them to safety by laying planks across the open water separating the firm ice from the shore), and the view out my window is once again void of human activity.

Animals, be they feathered or furred, are reveling in the fact that they have the lake to themselves again. Deer are crossing the great expanse without having to look both ways to avoid being run over by zooming snowmobiles. Coyotes, with increasing regularity, are expanding their hunting grounds while keeping an eye out for potential mates. And the largest skunk I have ever seen (when I snapped on the flood light at two in the morning last week) was rooting through our woodpile searching for hibernating bugs.
Yesterday morning, just after sunrise, my husband and I awakened to the deafening sound of nearly a hundred crows gathered on the ice in what appeared to be either a heated town meeting or an environmental rally. When we looked through our spotting scope, every blessed crow was screaming an opinion; its beak raised to the sky, its chest puffed in indignation, and its beady little black eyes glaring. (It’s a very powerful scope.)
It has been quite a long and record-breaking cold winter here in Maine, and we’ve noticed during our rides up to the mountains that many of the evergreens have suffered some degree of winter-kill. Rusty fir and pine needles pepper the usually dark green trees, as if an artist from the Arctic got carried away with his frosted paintbrush this year. There is still almost four feet of ice on some of the more northern lakes, and my poor husband spent most of his fishing days this winter hand-chiseling holes through the thick ice.
Robbie going ice fishing

Robbie going ice fishing

And with six layers of clothes bulking him up, and a smile peaking through his heavy winter beard, my husband only shrugs and says that the fish whisper to him in his dreams; calling, teasing, challenging him to come find them.   So I simply kiss him goodbye, wish him luck, and toss another log into the woodstove before rushing back to my nice warm bed.
Robbie’s final trip north for this season was last week, and I have hope that spring is close at hand. The fishing traps and ice chisel are missing from their exalted place in the kitchen, and spinning reels and long, thin poles – that look like they’d snap at the first strike of a five-pound lake trout – now litter the living room.
And scattered through the mess are several brochures for lawn mowers. Lawn mowers! Why bother, I wonder. At the rate we’re going, summer will be only a three-week season this year!
Until later, from a slowly thawing LakeWatch…

December, 2002

Dear Readers,

This morning I awakened to find that my sometimes turbulent, sometimes placid lake is now a five-thousand-acre field. The lake froze over last night, and although it is not yet safe to walk on, I know that shortly (with sub-zero nights forecast) it will once again become a hub of activity.

House in WinterIce shanties will appear over favorite fishing spots, skaters and ice-sailors will take advantage of the short-lived clear ice season; and when the snows put an end to their fun, the snowmobilers and cross-country skiers will quickly fill in the void.

Such is the view out my front window. There are two windows, actually – large plates of glass designed to keep only the weather out. In fact, it often appears as if the lake is merely an extension of our home, and has become an integral part of our daily lives.

Mother Nature is not something we watch here, but participate in. The four of us (my husband and two sons) live outdoors almost as much as we live inside. Our summer room is the lawn down by the lake. Our winter room is often my husband’s ice shanty, which has cooking facilities and even beds to accommodate brave overnight campers.

We hunt, fish, snowshoe, ice skate, snowmobile, and are entertained by the abundance of wildlife willing to grace us with a visit. The loons have already left – the babies to the ocean, the adults to warmer climates – and for one short moment the lake seems suspended, waiting for cold-loving people to arrive. Bald eagles will soon be coasting over the area, hungrily eyeing unattended fish pulled through the ice. Coyotes will be spotted through the scope, trotting across the lake in search of new hunting grounds. Deer will find our succulent shrubs, thinking we’ve planted the trees just for them. (They’ve also been known to peek in our windows at night.)

Our three cats have moved inside, having decided sleeping in front of the woodstove holds more pleasure than harassing the squirrels. The outerwear hanging on pegs by the door has become decidedly bulkier and now includes boots and mittens and hats. The house has been battened down, the chimneys cleaned, and the wood stacked, and I find myself also drawn to the woodstove.

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing

As I gaze out at my momentarily silent lake in anticipation of thick ice and deep snow, I contemplate the hero of my next book and wonder what gauntlet he must run to win the love of a deserving woman.

Welcome to LakeWatch, the home of my heart. Come back soon, and I’ll give you another glimpse of the changing seasons responsible for the rhythm of our lives.

Until later, from LakeWatch