A Perfect Early Spring Day in Belgrade Maine

foglake.jpgAs the sun rises over the chain of glacier-formed lakes, I revel in the beauty outside my window and the smells and sounds outside my door. It is so beautiful I want to take this moment to tell you about it.  The beavers swim by half an hour before sunrise on their way to work and this doesn’t include freeway commuting, just a gentle swim to their hut nearly a quarter mile away. Then all the birds start their morning songs, the Osprey flies by casting a coppery shadow across my ceiling as the sun starts to rise. The loons are soulfully singing in the near distance and a single loon fishes diligently in the cove. It promises to be an even more beautiful day than yesterday. Spring is springing in all its glory! 

I ready my kayak and head out onto the glistening water just as the sun peaks over the trees on the opposite shore. A gentle clinging fog hovers just on the water’s surface. I paddle toward the Osprey nest at the mouth of the wetland where wood ducks, frogs and budding water plants congregate. I check the Osprey nest to make sure the baby bird is doing well as both parents fly overhead, yelping a couple of hundred feet above. Paddling along the shore, I am always amazed at how Mother Nature is the greatest landscaper. The rocks and boulders are arranged with care and thought. The water is a deep intense blue, the fog is lifting, the sun is getting warm on my face and the quiet sounds of early morning with no one else around are what endears me to this place in Maine.

aerialbiglake1.jpgThis morning I plan a hike up French’s Mountain, a mere 10 miles from my front door. After parking my car along the road, I follow the blaze marks on the trees, walking into the forest the trail is narrow but not too steep. The trail turns rocky and gets a bit steeper but doable. It is a nice hike and the prize is no one is ever around! As I near the top, the first thing that I look for is an impression of a fish in the granite - it looks like a long thin salmon complete with tail. At this point, I know that the view awaits me just a short walk through the last thicket of trees so, I push ahead quickly. Oh, the view! I stand at the top of the World and look out at all the lakes in the Belgrade chain, the shores are covered with little, mostly white, shingled cabins with the mountains in the background. A small boat with two people fishing on the lake are the only movement in the distance. There is no wind, just silence and the warm sun on my face. I sit on a large rock and smile at the beautiful view at my feet. It is matchbox size like viewing it from an airplane window.

I have promised my sister that just before sunset I will go Perch fishing with her for dinner. This is worm fishing 101, very basic, thread a worm on your hook, drop the line overboard and within 5 minutes the word gets out and the fun begins. We catch 4 small perch each and that is enough for a good dinner. Our "work" is done and we motor back to the dock. I clean and scale the perch, salt them lightly and arrange them on a platter in a row to chill. Make a salad, steam tiny red skinned potatoes, finely chop some chives that are barely 4 inches high and prepare a plate with flour that I have mixed with good salt and a few grinds of pepper. The large skillet is on medium heat with 1/2 an inch of olive oil, I dust the fish and lower them into the hot oil, the sizzle sound is just right. I cut lemons and finish off the vegetable, set the table on the deck that overlooks the lake, light the candles, pour a glass of wine and wait for the frying fish to smell as if they're done. It promises to be a perfect ending to this wonderful day and the best part is there are no black flies out yet to spoil it!

Brenda Athanus runs a small gourmet food shop in Belgrade Lakes, Maine with her sister Tanya called the Green Spot.

The Green Spot
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