On the last day of summer he walked again to the dock and loosed the lashings and dropped the ropes into the well of the boat and stepped onto the foredeck and then into the cabin and took a paddle and pushed the boat away from the dock and toward the middle of the lake. The morning was clear and warm, warmer in fact than it had been for a week or so, and a thin cloud of mist lay over the water in the narrow coves between the mountains on both sides of the lake. Except for the shallow ruffle from the boat as it moved silently into the wide lake, the water was still and placid as a painting. Nothing moved and the lake was strangely quiet now that all of the vacationers had returned to their homes in the cities and towns and all of the children who bobbed and swam and skied day after day were sitting somewhere in classrooms.
Once completely clear of the dock and in deep water he started the engine and then idled the boat as he thought of which way he would go; up or down the lake. Below him now was wider water. Around the first bend in what was, before the impoundment, the Reeser River, the lake fanned wide both east and west. The land had been cleared and developed on both sides and the waterfront houses painted and new in their broad lawns that swept down to docks and decks and patios. In July and early August this stretch of water would have been ripped with the white wakes of ski boats of all sizes and the sound of the engines and the laughter and screams of the skiers would have filled the air.
Upstream the lake would soon begin to narrow. Near the top of the lake, where the river still ran in its natural course and pool, the water was always clearer and the scene quieter. He turned the boat upstream, thinking of the Great Blue Herons and the Green Herons that worked the shallows where the river fed into the lake. He kept the boat at a crawl and put his feet up onto the dash of the craft and laid back in the captain’s chair as the boat crept against the current.
He kept the boat near the eastern edge of the lake. Soon the development would give way to the pine forest and around the next bend the giant shadow of Pisgah Mountain would cover half the water and he would glide into the cool shade.