If each month could be defined by a color, then May would have to be green, and that would include every shade of green possible.
A nice place to enjoy the unfolding of spring is Lake George on the Canaan-Skowhegan line. Surrounded by low ridges and rolling hills, all matted with emerging green, the lake offers an easy four-mile circuit. Parts of the shoreline are dotted with cottages, but things are pretty quiet this time of year. A necklace of medium-sized boulders lines the shoreline. Sandpipers flitted from rock to rock ahead of us. In the dark understory of the mixed hardwood and evergreen forest the white flowers of hobblebush burst out of the shadows like headlights of a car.
Five turkey vultures wheeled about the sky over the western ridgeline. With our polarized sunglasses on it was magical as their wing angles constantly changed and caught the sun at the perfect angles to transmit dazzling flashes of light down to our eyes. It was quite the light show.
Up in one of the northern marshes a bold red-winged blackbird came right at us as we gazed through our binoculars. Its brilliant red wing patches were emboldened even more by their black wing borders. It appeared we might be taking the red and black right between the eyes until we smartly lowered the binoculars to find that our lives were not in peril.
A great egret delicately bounded off a tree branch over the water and with its 55-inch wingspan headed for more solitude just before I got the camera focused and ready to snap. Isn’t that the way that it usually goes. Kind of like the fish that got away.
The 520-acre Lake George Regional Park elevates this lake to gem status. Located on the shores of the southern end of the lake the park contains two parcels on each side of the lake. Miles of hiking trails crisscross each parcel. Each side contains a sandy beach.
We enjoyed a surprisingly warm swim without the usual first swim of the year icy water induced scream. Grills and picnic tables dot the lush green lakeside lawn under lofty white pines. From 1922 to 1992, park lands and buildings used to be a summer camp for youngsters; Camp Modin. We noticed a couple of touching granite markers in tribute to the magic of a lifetime of love germinated at the camp long ago. One couple’s tablet read: “Their love for each other started here at Modin in 1945 and endured for more than 60 years.” It seemed an appreciative husband-wife hug under the pines was in order after gazing at such commitment.
Although the park land is owned by the state, it is managed by a local nonprofit. Day use fees during the summer season, Memorial Day to Labor Day, provide all the annual income for maintenance and staffing needs. It is permissible to land your canoe and enjoy the park in the offseason as we did one recent Sunday morning.
Just off the boat launch a peninsula sticks out into the lake. This is part of the western side of the park. We landed on the sandy beach on the opposite side and walked out onto what used to be an island until a narrow causeway was created to easily access the island. This is the spot for a classic summer picnic. Load up the egg salad sandwiches and lemonade in the wicker basket, and head up again in a few months to enjoy this timeless spot.
People have been enjoying this magical place for a long time. In 1993 archeologists from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission unearthed many artifacts along the lake dating back to the Paleoindian period emerging in Maine after the glacier receded 12,000 years ago.
Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #21) for help in getting to the boat launch area on the southeastern side of the lake just off Route 2 on the Skowhegan-Canaan town line. Signs are clearly posted both for the park and the boat launch.
If you are driving up via Route 201 from Route 95 be sure to stop and enjoy the striking architecture of the L.C. Bates Museum and the granite Moody Memorial Chapel on the campus of the Good Will-Hinckley School. This beautiful setting is also home to the Harold Alfond campus of the Kennebec Valley Community College.