I find that perfect pair of days in early May when I can leave town in good conscience, pack minimally for an overnight, and drive up to the lake. This is the tender time.
The lake lies down and does not flash its summer sword of wind and waves. The grasses are soft and supple. I can walk barefoot between campsite and picnic table where I fix evening tea and morning coffee. In a cove I find an osprey nest and a fallen feather from one of the two birds overhead as they make banking turns through the trees, testing each others desire.
Arnica and balsamroot are in full bloom and their leaves do not crackle underfoot. Western Serviceberry wears its wedding dress.
One evening I paddle from Finley Point out to Black Point and then around the corner to what the old map calls Matterhorn Point. I look across the strait to Wild Horse Island, but do not cross: on the first paddle of the season muscles are also tender and do not yet have the hardness I associate with late summer or early fall. The next morning I paddle to the end of Finley Point, round its tip shaped like an adolescent molar, descend deep into the calm water of Skidoo Bay and return. The few other campers in the quiet campground must have been watching me return from the islands and points. After I lift my boat onto the grass, straighten my back and sigh with satisfaction, they say, “Welcome back.” Even the people are tender at this time of the year.