The Lake–by Willow Hecht
Today Scott asked me, Bethany the intern, and Shiloh to row around the lake in the canoe and pick up pieces of styrofoam that had floated up from the building at the bottom of the lake and collected at the water’s edge. There was lots of it because of the recent rain, and Scott didn’t want any more coming up on the banks or into the cat cages.
The lake is much bigger than I had thought, and is divided into two parts. The larger part is in the back, and is surrounded by fields, the intern housing, more cat enclosures, and various sheds, etc. We started out in the canoe, me in the middle to do the picking up, Beth in the back to steer, and Shiloh up front. For a few minutes we spun around in circles while they tried to paddle, and Scott stood on the bank laughing at us. Then they got the hang of it, and we crossed over the small part of the lake, the part you see on a tour, to the strip of land that divides it from the larger lake behind. There we had to get out and haul the canoe over the grass, then get in again.
We discovered a lot more styrofoam than we thought was there. Also, it was too dangerous for me to do the picking up from my seat in the middle–every time I leaned over, so did the canoe. We figured out a better system, which involved pulling ourselves parallel to the bank, and using our oars (I had one too) as spatulas to pick up the pieces. We filled the bottom of the canoe with styrofoam. Once Shiloh’s paddle flung a small silver fish back into the canoe right in front of me, gasping, and I scooped it up in both hands, and flung it back in the water.
The best part was when we passed behind the tiger cages by the interns’ barn. The new tigers stayed hidden, but Snorkel, and then Flavio, came back there to look at us. They craned their necks and peered over the tall grasses to see us, and chuffed. We chuffed back to them, wishing they could come for a swim with us! They were very interested in what we were doing and watched the whole time we went by.
Once the canoe was full, we pulled over by the interns’ barn and got out. We unloaded the styrofoam onto the bank so it could be picked up later, and Beth went and knocked on the door of the barn, asking for food. We knew Daria was there because we had seen her walking back for lunch earlier. She came out and brought us Oreos, granola bars, and a box of Cap’n Crunch. She wanted to come with us, but there wasn’t any room in the canoe.
We continued on, fortified, this time with me in back to steer. We couldn’t decide where was the best place to go to next. It was starting to look like a job that could take all day, if each bank had as much styrofoam as this one had. Some of it had obviously been there a while and was stuck into the bank, with grass grown over it. We didn’t think we could get it all out, and decided to leave it and collect it from the bank by walking. It turned out the far banks had hardly any to collect.
Once, towards the end, we almost went over. We had pulled up perpendicular to the bank on the far side, and somehow two of us moved at once or something, and the canoe tipped way over. I screamed, but we righted it. Of course, then the bottom of the canoe was full of water for the rest of the ride.
Just another normal day at Big Cat Rescue!
July 14, 2007