Friday a few weeks ago, our thermometer had a dispute with the calendar. Despite the latter’s resolute insistence, the former, beaming a happy 92 degrees, refused to concede what the calendar tells us to be true: that the fall is now upon us. The thermometer’s friends will soon turn against him. The radiant sun, gleefully warming his expanding coils for months, will turn down her thermostat; her rays will render long, eerie shadows of men, trees and buildings. The man in the moon, sky high and bright white only a few months ago, will turn orange and peek over mowed fields with the harvest.
In backyards across the county, boats, jet skis and other ear-splitting gizmos of summer will begin their hibernation beneath leaf-covered tarpaulins. The water is receding on the lake now; rocks, stumps, cliffs and other submarine fixtures of the deep, home only a few weeks ago to fish, glimpse sunlight for the first time since spring. Leaves, turned yellow, float alone, tiny vessels transporting the year’s last remaining insects across the lake’s mirror-like surface.
Of course there’s plenty of fishing left. Tall tales about the one that got away, and the one that didn’t, never cease in barber shops, restaurants, and Sunday morning church services. In the cold of January we can bet that someone, somewhere in Campbell County is hatching plans to “hit the lake.”
And yet, it is time for the year 2010 to enter into her twilight days. Soon black cats and witches on brooms will silhouette the gigantic October moon. Christmas cards will appear in stores before the turkey lands on the table, awkwardly filled with “stuffing” that appears strangely alien to its innards. It’s time now to throttle back. The hour has arrived to give Norris Lake and the wildlife that make it home a well-deserved break, a chance to recuperate from our summer restlessness. Now is the moment to give our faithful friend the slumber she needs.
At morning’s herald, still
Beaver, mallard, Tennessee oak
Fish, God’s emblem, idle at depths unseen
Squirrel dozing on a hickory limb
Little brook, pure acoustic sensation
Praise thee Mother Nature
This, thy priceless creation
Bass break at dawn
Approaching summer rain
Men yet slumber
Thunder’s daunting refrain
Little kids on colourful inner tubes
Shrieks of joy so dear
Hush! Listen! Can’t you hear
The frolicking ghosts of yesteryear?
Abandoned church steps
Arrowheads, broken Mason jars here lie
Weathered witnesses they
To history’s melancholy sigh
Your water a clock
Blankets us in time
The hourglass of our lives
Your sensuous siren sweet sublime
Winter’s blessed truce
Oh rest thee for nature’s sake
Slumber in a mantle of frost
Our faithful friend, Norris Lake.