Conservation Minnesota

Always Appropriate to Love a Lake

I have my own little neighborhood lake.  It’s not mine alone, of course.  It’s public, like the other 12,000+ lakes in the state that are over ten acres in size.  But it sometimes feels like my own private lake, due to its quietness and serenity.

I visit my lake to canoe and kayak.  It’s really not in my “neighborhood”, rather it’s in my regional area of the Twin Cities.  It’s barely two miles from my house, and a drive of perhaps ten minutes with traffic lights.

Yet the lake reminds me of being up north with it’s wooded shoreline, rolling topography, and even a dirt-walking path.  It does get some heavy use, especially in the summer months, but generally only on one side in a given area.  So, even then, you can traverse the lake to other spots for quietude and pleasure.

After first dipping my blade into the water, I scan the shoreline for anglers or dog walkers.  I have a choice of four spots on the lake where I can beach my boat and park my carcass to either take a swim or read from a book, or both.  Two are sand spits, almost peninsulas that gradually deepen in the water as you enter them.  The others are parks; one is private and maintained by a local conservation entity, and the other being public where people do gather, but often not in the numbers you might expect.

The best part of my lake, especially for paddlers like me, is that there is a ten-horsepower limit on any motorboats that use the public access.  So they putter about in early summer, looking for the right fishing spot, but without making much noise and greatly diminishing in number by summer’s end.  I often enter some nice lily pad areas, with channel-like openings to paddle through.

All this thought about a lake as summer winds down leads me to a new book coming out in September, “For Love of Lakes.”  It’s written by former Chair of the Conservation Minnesota board, Darby Nelson, and he does a wonderful job in it.  Darby uses a storyteller approach that asks readers to contemplate their dream lakes and how they can protect them for future generations.  The book combines history, as Darby visits Walden’s Pond and writes about Thoreau and science in his descriptions of the ecology of various lakes.   Besides serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives for three terms, Darby was a distinguished Emeritus Professor of Biology for Anoka-Ramsey Community College, so he knows his subject well.

Michigan State University Press is the publisher of Darby’s book, and one early reviewer states that it’s the “Sand County Almanac” of lake ecology, which is high praise indeed.  Look for fall readings by Darby in your neighborhood, and congratulate him for a job well done.

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