Every now and again, we have the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. While such events may seem minor at the time, they can have a cumulative effect when they occur more often.
Rarely do such occasions occur intentionally, we can't actually seek them out. Rather, they come through some odd twist of fate or circumstance when it's the right thing to do at the right time.
In recent weeks, I've enjoyed three such opportunities. They weren't life-changing occurrences, but each proved to be a great day to be out.
The first occurred in Ray Brook in my backyard, as I fished with an old high school friend and his son. I don't know what I enjoyed more, the friendly banter, the competitiveness between father and son or the simple pleasures of watching two grown men be kids again, if only for an afternoon.
Our day concluded far too soon and as they departed with a batch of fresh brook trout destined for the frying pan. I was left with the knowledge that it had been another day well spent, in the outdoors.
Another opportunity came when a friend in Newcomb asked if I could arrange a guide for Earl Patric, a former biologist at the Huntington Wildlife Forest who was returning for the annual SUNY-ESF/Adirondack Ecological Center Reunion with his wife Jeanne and daughter Elizabeth.
Mr. Patric, who worked and lived at Huntington Forest from 1952-1966, wanted to visit Henderson Lake in Tahawus. The lake, privately held for over a century, is now open to the public. Unfortunately, I was not available to guide Mr. Patric, nor was I able to arrange for another guide.
However, after Elizabeth assured me that she was competent and confident at the oars, I dropped off a large, comfortable rowing canoe on Henderson Lake. She took over the expedition.
Mr. Patric described the trip in this note, "During the mid 1950s I was engaged as Biologist at the Huntington Wildlife Forest near Newcomb N.Y. At about the same time Mr. Roger Thompson was named Forester for the large forest property owned by the National Lead Company in nearby Tahawus.
I was very anxious to develop a strong working relationship with Roger and the Company. On one of my visits to Tahawus, Roger showed me the Masten House, and we launched a boat on Lake Henderson. The stunning view of Wallface Mt. frowning over the lake was deeply impressed into my memory.
A few days ago our oldest daughter Liz engaged a local guide who arranged for Liz, my wife Jeanne and me to return to this awesome spot some 50 plus years later. It hasn't changed much, and remains one of the great wilderness scenes in the Adirondack Mountains."
I again recognized that outdoor recreation amplifies the re-creation factor. Earl and Jeanne Patric now live in Elgin, Ontario in the summer and the Florida Keys in the winter.
Soon after, I received another unusual request from a lady interested in a trip that would allow her elderly mother to finally see a loon.
Hailing from Mississippi, her mother had never witnessed a loon and her daughter wanted to share the experience with her.
After agreeing on the date, I spent the next few weeks keeping track of loons on the local lakes and ponds. Loons, which are quite territorial, can often be reliably found on their familiar waters.
However, as many birdwatchers will attest, the reliability of locating loons on such reliable waters is not always reliable.
The day of the outing dawned hot and sunny, not ideal conditions to spend an afternoon in an open boat, searching for loons.
Fortunately, loons are usually found on the Saranac Lakes, where I dock my canopied pontoon boat. We began the afternoon by docking at a soft ice cream stand, in the village of Saranac Lake. Soft ice cream made the hot day much more bearable.
On a small bay on Oseetah Lake, we were greeted by a pair of loons and promptly entertained by a haunting cry as a male loon danced across the surface.
A female loon kept a watchful eye, as we drifted by.
We watched the loons for almost a half hour, listening to their calls and light moans.
At nearby Kiwassa Lake, we found another male loon chasing fish. Again, the loon offered vocalizations, which alerted a female and her young, and we kept our distance.
The mother loon appeared to be teaching the young birds to fish. Watching through binoculars, we could see they were successful.
In the span of just a few hours, I was able to connect a mother and daughter with an experience that they had talked about for years. The day ended as it began, with mother and daughter at the ice cream stand, laughing about the day. It was easy to see the child inside both of them.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org