by Mitch Lee
Not a sound was heard on Limekiln Lake the morning following Labor Day in 1977. All my summer friends were gone and the cottages along the lake were now dormant, each with sheets over the windows and shades pulled.
All the docks were stacked on dry land.
Mutt and I took a walk along the beach.
I knew our footprints in the sand would be seen only by me in the coming days, until they faded away with wind and rain.
Most of the leaves at the edges of the lake were turning shades of red, yellow and orange.
Before long my days would be school-filled, leaving me only a few afternoon hours to explore the woods and streams around the lake.
So on this day I wanted to make the most of my last full weekday without homework or spelling tests.
As we came to the end of the beach we noticed a portion of a dock that had broken free from somewhere on the lake had made its way to shore.
The dock was half twisted and buried in the sand and so waterlogged that it had lost its buoyancy.
I peeled off my socks and sneaks, rolled up my pantlegs and entered the water to investigate the situation.
Mutt was happy to wade in and give any advice she could.
I tried lifting the dock to see if it could be freed from the sand.
After trying to jostle it around we decided that we needed to dig out the end that was buried in the sand on shore.
Mutt dug away with her front paws while I scooped the wet sand by hand.
Mutt tried to squeeze in under the dock, but I grabbed her collar to pull her back.
I feared the whole dock might just cage her in when it came free, and I was not yet certain I could lift it.
She seemed to understand and went off to find a stick that I could throw, which kept her busy as I dug out the rest of the dock.
I was able to free the dock. I wouldn’t say it was fully afloat, but it wasn’t completely sunken either.
When I got on top of it to test it the entire dock went straight to the bottom.
My quest to free it and use it as a raft had now come to an end.
I pushed its mostly sunken bulk out into the lake in hopes that it might be able to find its home.
Mutt and I spent the next half hour drying out under the sun on a large log while we watched the dock bob up and down in the rolling waves.
After scrubbing the sand from between my toes I rolled on my socks and pulled on my sneaks, setting off once again to enjoy the lake on my own.
Mitch Lee, Adirondack native & storyteller,
lives at Inlet. email@example.com