Silver Lake in Bellingham is a quiet sort of place, but at one time it was “the place to go,” complete with a hotel, dance hall, carousel and even, so I have been told, diving horses. But this was before people had easy access to cars. The trolley brought people to Silver Lake and provided respite from the summer’s heat. It also got people out of the city.
These days, the most noise comes mostly from children enjoying the new splash pad, an outdoor place to play in sprinklers, a gift to the community that was initiated by the Shaw family after the loss of their beloved infant.
I have been lucky enough to live in the neighborhood that overlooks the lake for the past many years. It’s where my children learned to swim, and I often walk along its shoreline. We even have kayaks, and have gotten out at times to paddle, but it hadn’t happened yet this year. So when my neighbor Amy suggested we head out this morning in kayaks, it was easy to say “Yes!”
The biggest challenge for me, when kayaking, is getting into and out of the boat. My weakened right leg makes maneuvering into and out of the boat difficult. I have floundered, trying to extricate myself from the kayak more times than I like to think about. But when we were in Maine last month I finally figured out what would work for me, and somehow, what was always so difficult has become a whole lot easier. At least I hoped it would, but with a new spot to put in, it was not clear if I would manage. I sure hoped so!
We got the boats down to the shoreline, slid me in, then Amy joined me.
The promise of a hot day motivated us to get out early, but as it turned out, a cooling breeze blew the whole time we were paddling.
We headed over to the island and found loads of wild blueberries ripening–what a great excuse it will be to get back out again in the next several weeks to keep an eye on them. The bushes hang over the water, thus getting to them by boat is the only way to reach these yummy wild berries.
Water lilies bloomed and floated on the surface of the water, and we marveled at their delicate flowers as we paddled by. Even though Amy and I chatted as we paddled, the turtles that were sunning themselves on the stumps near the far end of the lake allowed us to glide quite close to them, and some even stayed firmly in place on their logs as we passed, refusing to give up their place in the sun.
But life demands were pressing for both of us today, so after one circuit of the island, we headed back to shore, Amy scrambled out and pulled her boat out of the way, then steadied my craft as I pulled into shore. Then, oh joy! the “left leg out first” method I had worked on in Maine worked even better this time, and I popped out with little fuss.
Thanks, Amy, for suggesting we try this together. And thanks, as well, to Karen and Jerry, for welcoming us to their back yard, which faces onto the lake. Messing about in boats is one of my very favorite things to do, but I require willing partners to help keep me safe for those transitions into and out of my boat. Makes me feel very lucky indeed, to call this place Home.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.