Our Planet

Hertel Lake at Dusk, Mont St. Hilaire

Here we were at the end of a day’s hike, not sure if we should dutifully obey the park’s rules to exit before dark or our own whim to catch a glimpse of the reservoir in the twilight. We opted to risk the last stretch of the trail in the darkness and snaked our way down towards the lake.

No weary hikers or picnickers were to be found. The beachfront to this sacred place, off limits to swimmers and pike-lovers, was deserted. Dusk was closing in around us, like the dense pines hugging the lake. The crickets were still a murmur, and a few birds could be heard but not seen in the dimming light. The scatter of trees in the sandy clearing rustled in a low hush and we were becoming acutely aware of a subtle beauty revealing itself to us like the flowers that stay open only under the moonlight.

I felt a deep urge to stay, breathe it in long draughts, to be it. Unable to resist, we sat down on a picnic bench facing the lake. Motionless, silent, vividly present, we became spectators to a lakeside drama, as if the ‘real story’ was to be told only after all the moviegoers have left the theatre.

In a flash, all the elements were set in motion. A gale wind picked up and blew across the lake from the northwesterly corner, headed in our direction. It rattled the trees on all sides of us, with a frenzy, and in the same instant, the fish leapt and broke the surface of the water, setting off mini whirlpools at random, as if freed by the call of the wind. Hardly had we felt spellbound by the lake when a broad swathe of geese flew over our heads from behind. Seconds later, another flock took flight from the northeast corner of the lake and coasted up over the mountain.  The clouds hanging low over the treetops facing us came unhinged and drifted swiftly towards some unknown destination.

It was a moment of sudden, impromptu, collective ecstasy, aroused by some unbounded spontaneous thrill in the interstices of time and no-time, where the dusk’s promptings bring forth a rush of joyous revelry before the curtain call. Or perhaps it was nature’s way of conspiring to honor its two guests with a one-time only appearance that we would not forget for an eternity.

Was this magic? I could dismiss it, like all things unbelieved, occurring at the periphery of the eye. We pick up where the mind left off, focused on the task before us.  But then the choice is mine and so is the ending. That is the beauty of it. I could live in the magic and believe that I and nature share more than the air we breathe. It is what makes me dance.