Met at Lake Meredith

Mark Elliott, Wonder As I WanderI visit Lake Meredith almost daily. The water level is pretty low, but to be honest, that doesn’t bother me as much as it does a lot of folks. I’ve never been much of a lake person; I’m not nearly coordinated enough to ski, never had the patience to fish, and can’t swim all that well. My wife and I used to camp out there a little when we were first married, but we haven’t even done that in years. For most of the thirty years that I’ve lived in Hutchinson County I’ve ignored the lake.That changed about a year ago. In a series of events that started with a panicked Mother’s Day purchase for my wife and ended a few months later with the acquisition of some rather expensive camera equipment, I became an amateur birder and photographer. It turns out that even at a third of its normal size Meredith is a bird paradise year round. Most mornings at Meredith are spent alone, but occasionally my wife or one of the kids will go with me. Early mornings at the lake are spectacular-the wind is usually calm and the morning light is beautiful. I enjoy the solitude and there’s no one to laugh at me but myself when I get excited about a bird spotting. I’ve only met a few birders in my rooky year as an avian photograher. I’m not sure if it’s because there aren’t many around here, or if they are just a naturally solitary bunch, or if I’m just too scary looking to approach. There was that group from the Texas Ornithological Society here in January, but they were in a hurry to make all the hotspots in the panhandle in 3 days, so other than jawing with me long enough for me to find out who they were, we didn’t talk.Occasionally, though, I come across someone that stops to visit and we seem to connect, almost like we share a history, and we’ll visit for a while. Earlier this spring I met a retired Canadian banker that gave his house to his daughter, bought a trailer and had spent the last several years migrating from summers in Canada and Alaska to winters on the Gulf. He spends a month or so at Meredith each fall and spring. I was a little jealous of him, but he did seem a bit lonely.This week I swapped stories of things learned from our dads and tales of our wild years with a welder from Arkansas. He had come out to Spring Canyon to fish. He said fishing reminded him of his dad and that he enjoyed the quiet and the solitude and our conversation took off from there. It always surprises me when a conversation takes flight like that.