Curiosity & Adventure Spiral

A Bass Towing Nine Canoes

You may wonder how such a thing is possible, a bass towing nine canoes, especially given the size of the bass and the size of the canoes. But it happened one day last summer when I stayed in Haliburton.

In the evenings, after writing classes I liked to explore, find my way to water, sit by the shore, and watch for something.

When she first swam by I was impressed by her size (and that I knew it was a bass). Any bass over eight or nine pounds is usually female. I could see her gliding near the surface, the bright sun streaming through the water, shining to the shallow bottom near the spot where I was sitting. I pulled my feet back to the shore, remembering my dad’s childhood caution that fish mistake painted toes for delicious treats.

She swam by several times, getting closer to shore each time. I tried to get a picture with my phone but she was too quick. Once, she paused right in front of me and our eyes locked for a brief second. Was she smiling? I held my breath.

Across the lake, I heard the voices of happy children and the signs of summer camp. The children paddled red canoes in circles and lines, following a lead canoe.

Some time passed and they tipped the boats, children squealing as they spilled into the water wearing life jackets. They slid a tipped canoe over the top of another upright canoe, turned it over, and slid it back into the water. Then they steadied the newly upright canoe using their paddles so the children in the water could climb back in. Everyone had a turn rescuing and being rescued.

Soon it was dusk. The campers, safely tucked into their canoes from the rescues, paddled into a circle. The lake still and quiet, the children leaned in toward their leader as she spoke softly and leaned back silently when she finished.

We all waited for something. And waited. The children’s wishes for magic spread across the lake.

Like a flash, the bass leaped into the air in the centre of their circle doing a flip before splashing into the lake.

Then the bass floated on the surface of the water, corralling the quiet canoes into a line, before she pretended to tow the children to shore and the children followed.

When the canoes were pulled out of the water in teams, children looked out at the lake one more time, their eyes sparkling like stars.

Anything can happen at summer camp, especially at dusk.


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