Friday, August 17, 2012

Such a Lovely Woman

Tucked in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains of New York State is an isolated reservoir called the Lows Lake Recreation Area—a haven of tranquility where mechanically propelled vessels are prohibited. The only way to explore these waters is with a paddle and a boat. My husband, Keith, two friends, and I decided to do just that. We stuffed food, drinks, gas stoves, water filters, tents and sleeping bags into our kayaks and proceeded into this desolate area for two nights. But would survival gear be enough? Camper Sharon didn't think so. Thankfully, she insisted on essentials like chairs in a bag, wine and $3.99 inflatable floats. Well, we all insisted on wine.

Of course, severe thunderstorms were predicted on the day our trip was scheduled to begin. The smart thing to do would be to cancel, but everything was packed and days off from work were already taken, so we ignored the logical part of our brains and embarked on our adventure in spite of the weather forecast. If the sky looked like it would blow-up when we arrived, we'd spend the night at a hotel and head out in the morning.

When we arrived the sky looked like it was going to blow-up. Camper Phil asked the woman who rents bear canisters out of her garage what she thought about the weather. Who needs a meteorologist when you have the bear canister saleslady? By the way, these are containers, which resemble small black barrels, and are designed to lock up your food so bears can't get at it when they come prowling through the campsite at night.

Am I really going on this trip???

The bear canister saleslady said, "You have time. Get to your campsite and set-up. There'll be one big boomer. Take cover in your tents, then smooth sailing."

"Okay," we thought, and continued to the launch at the Lower Dam.

The sky darkened as we paddled toward our destination.

The scent of rain accompanied us dampening our plans for a leisurely paddle far into the wilderness. Then, our first stop—a strip of land that barricaded us from further travel. We had to carry our very heavy kayaks over the terrain. As soon as we hoisted ourselves out of our boats, a lovely ranger with long blonde hair and a broad smile greeted us. She pleasantly asked us about our plans and told us, from memory, which of the thirty-nine campsites were available, and a little about some of the guests who would soon be our neighbors. I was surprised when the ranger divulged that she lived with her husband at a boy scout camp situated on the lake year round. Yes. Thoughts of The Shining did cross my mind. I was even more surprised to learn that she had adult sons that had moved away years ago. This woman looked far too young to have grown children. When we asked her about the weather, she looked at the darkening sky, told us that we had time to get to camp ten, "A spacious site."

We transported our kayaks down a narrow path, occasionally stopping to rest.

Camper Phil and Camper Sharon

When we reached the bog leading to the lake, I couldn't believe that the ranger was standing on a bridge smiling at us. She must have used another trail that we weren't aware of. I pulled my kayak down a short hill and when I glanced up this swift footed woman was standing on the bank across from me. "How are you doing?" she asked.

I stopped. How did she get from the bridge to the shore so quickly? Was she a witch that could travel with a twitch of her nose? I quieted my imagination, shrugged my shoulders, and shimmied into my kayak. The others did the same. As we paddled away, I felt a few raindrops on my cheeks. Camper Keith, once again asked, "What do do you think about the weather?"

"You'll be fine," the ranger bellowed, as she waved good-bye.

We paddled hastily as the gentle breeze evolved into wind and a trace of thunder sounded in the distance. Camper Phil asked, "How about site eight?"

Site eight was close, but not very big and didn't have much of a beach.

"Site ten," Camper Sharon replied. "I want a beach."

Camper Phil stopped paddling. "The weather!"

"The ranger said we'd be fine."

We paddled on.

When we arrived at campsite ten, we hurried to get our tents set up and our supplies tucked someplace where they would stay dry.

Camper Keith

The storm cooperated and stayed away. Leaves swished in the wind and the tumultuous lake lapped against the many rocks that lined the shore. Still no rain, but it was evident that it would be arriving soon, so we settled in, built a fire and waited.

We drank. We ate. We waited.

The sky was nearly black. The sound of thunder moved closer, but no rain. We waited.

Then looming toward us, in a kayak twice as long as mine, came the ranger. She stopped to say hello and to check on a campfire that had been started in another area of our site the day before. "I wanted to make sure it was totally out," she said.

A light drizzle began.

"I better be on my way," the ranger said.

"Do you have time?" Camper Sharon asked pulling the hood on her rain jacket over her head.

"I'll be fine," she said smiling. "The boy scout camp isn't far."

The ranger gracefully stepped into her kayak and was soon out of sight.

Our conversation faded. Our heavy tongues told us that we had enough wine and the gloomy day turned into night. The inevitable storm still hadn't arrived. Perplexed, we went into our tents convinced that torrential downpours, booming thunder and flashes of lightening would wake us at some point during the night.

Morning arrived, but the storm didn't. The top edge of the sun peeked over a hill when I emerged from our tent. Keith was already up, pumping water from the lake with his filter into Nalgene bottles. Phil and Sharon were near the fire pit getting the gas stove ready for brewing coffee. I gazed at the placid water anticipating a peaceful day of natural exploration—then there she was—the ranger kayaking along the banks. Of course, she stopped.

Pleasant as always, she asked about our night, our rest, our plan for the day. She then told us how lucky we were to have missed a violent storm. "Lows Lake was on a thread that it missed." Raking her golden hair back with one hand, she said, "Everywhere around us there was hail, fierce winds, and downed trees.

We looked at each other with eyes that expressed gratitude and concern. We just missed being in the middle of a potentially frightening situation. But all is well that ends well, as the saying goes. The ranger wished us a good day and was off.

It really was a spectacular morning, so I grabbed my camera and walked to the shore. I glanced at the lake and noticed a round yellow ball, the sun's reflection. I snapped a picture. When I looked at the image on the camera screen, I didn't see a round yellow ball. I saw this:

Could it be an angel in the lake?

Now, you might say that it's my reflection, but the sun was in front of me, not behind me. You might say, the camera scattered the light and this is the image it happened to catch. But, I stepped back in amazement. Before running to show the other campers, I looked down the lake. The ranger was nowhere to be seen.

Phil and Sharon asked me to send them the photo of the angel in the lake and I happily complied. Phil showed us the photo on his large Mac computer screen and we were even more amazed at what we saw. An image that could take hours to explore and decipher. Each person who has viewed this photo up close sees something different; finds something more.

We speculated in jest after our camping trip about the ranger and the photo. We wondered what we would discover if we went to the boy scout camp for a visit. Of course, she'd be there and would probably invite us in for pie and coffee. She was such a lovely woman. Then again...

What do you think?


The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman. Amazon says, "At the heart of this novel is Lucy Green, who blames herself for a tragic accident she witnesses at the age of twelve, and who spends four decades searching for the third angel—the angel on earth who will renew her faith.


A beautiful lullaby, Goodnight My Angel sung by the Celtic Women


A scene from my soon to be released novel, A Stop in the Park, where the main character Michael Stolis goes on a hike:

After a few hours, he stopped at a lake that resembled a liquid emerald. Michael sat on a mound of dirt, placed his back against a boulder, and inhaled the magnificent sight. Then, he closed his eyes. His muscles loosened. Whines, tiresome conversations, technical gadgets, arrogance, material possessions, complaints, and obligations erupted from him and dove into the lake. He imagined the bomb of excess creating a splash that touched the sky. When the spray from the splash dispersed, it showered Michael with an orchestra of music. The symphony gradually turned into an acoustic melody from the strings of a guitar. The soothing sound encouraged Michael to rest. He fell asleep as tranquility stitched his soul.



  1. I enjoyed today's post. What an adventure! It sounds like the beginnings of a plot for a book. I must admit, however, that when I first looked at your photo, I saw an elk. Maybe it's like a Rorschach test and tells more about the person viewing the photo than it does about the photo itself.

  2. So interesting, Sandy. Everyone sees something different, and it's true. When enlarged this photo contains several images. A book...hmmm?

  3. Peggy,

    I definitely see the lovely angel with her wings behind, but it also looks like she has a magic wand in her hand. Do you see it?
    What a beautiful story!! I love stories on angels and I do believe in them.
    This angel watched over you guys. No storm or fallen trees on you.
    I also love your photos. So crips and beautiful.


  4. We're on the same page Cherrye. As soon as I looked at that picture I saw the image of an angel, and I thought, wow, she was with us. Now, I need to go back to find the wand.

  5. Hi Peggy, Angels are such a wonderful thing! What a wonderful portrayal and I want you to know too that in my book, No More Tears: A Physician Turned Patient Inspires Recovery, I talk about going to the door of Heaven after I was in a car accident. I know that God and Angels do watch over us, and I am grateful for your sharing.

    1. Sounds like an intriguing book and, even more so, experience. I do love reading about between life and death experiences. Thanks for letting me know about your book.

  6. That is just so cool--looks like an angel to me! What a great trip and thanks for including us--maybe next time just a bit more wine!

  7. In the picture, I definitely see an angel, who was watching over you. I have spent a lot of time in Northern MN in the Boundary Waters, so I re-lived your hiking and camping experience.
    I loved reading about your experience. Symbolically, it was a story of life...we have a goal, but obstacles are around, do we go forward? do we give-up? The ranger symbolizes those people in our lives who have been role-models, guided us, protected us.
    Yes, write the book!!!
    Karen Ingalls

    1. Hi Karen ~ I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Northern MN is somplace I want to visit. I've heard it's beautiful. I'm seriously thinking about writing a novel (and a short story) using this experience as a base. It has so much potential.

  8. Peggy,

    Nice camping trip and I'm glad everyone was safe. I don't see the angel in the lake either, but something must have been looking out for everyone.

    My neighbor goes kayaking all the time.

    1. Hi Sunni ~ People see different things in this photo. The second I looked at it, I thought angel. That's the intrigue of it. ~ Peggy

  9. Not only is there an angel in the lake but look at the top of the cloud in the first picture. You were being watched over that day, my dear:>)

    1. Oh Sharla ~ You are so right. Incredible and so comforting. ~ Peggy

  10. Hi Peggy,
    I am glad that you didn't let the weather stop you from your camping trip. This looks like an angel to me too! How great that your camping trip was successful.
    Thanks for sharing!

  11. How wonderful. I think you got more than one Angel that day. What a special memory you have. Thank you for sharing.

  12. She was an angel. What a beautiful experience and a beautiful memory. My sister met an angel in church this past Sunday, no doubt in my mind. Great post!!

  13. Peggy, I really enjoyed this entire post. My brother went to Paul Smith's College upstate, in Plattsburg, I think. I have never been. But the ressies in NJ also wouldn't allow gas powered engines in there since it was drinking water. I see the angel. They have charge over us, so you were being protected. And yes, the cross in the cloud! How amazing! Good find, Sharla! And I loved the music. Aren't they lovely girls? I hope my attempt at winning a book succeeded. Thank you for a lovely trip this evening, and I'm glad you all made it home safe! God bless!

  14. Hi,
    I see an angel with wings! Amazing! Was she really a ranger or an angel. Thank you Peggy. I enjoyed this posting. It let me know that God cares about every detail of our lives.
    May I copy the picture of the angel in to my photograph book and use it some time in the future?