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A Look at the Flora Surrounding Ninevah

Updated: May 30, 2020

As anyone who has swum in Lake Ninevah can appreciate, it is not just the cooling waters, but the beautiful flora that encircles her that captivates one while swimming. Some of us have our favorites of these, treasures that our eyes go to whenever we are in or near the water. For me, these were 2 different birch trees whose prominence on the shore spanned some 30 years. Both were in their advanced age when I began sighting them, but majestic in the presence none the less.

The first of these was a giant birch tree that had fallen into Lake Ninevah a little west of the Wilderness Community swimming area and raft. It was huge, all broken up, but brilliant against the green and blue. When I became the director of Saltash Mt. Camp in 1989, “let’s swim to the birch tree” was a favorite adult activity, seemingly already a many-year tradition. But more than just a measuring stick for our swims, the tree was a friend that we got to visit on those late afternoon dips. Yet, sometime between when I left my position at Saltash in 1996 and then returned to spend summers there while working in the office in 2007 that great tree disappeared from Ninevah’s shores. Perhaps one of you reading this can fill in the details of her demise.

I was much more intimately connected with the second birch. Starting in 2007, I began living on a tent platform next to a little cove. It was part of a community of staff abodes located between the SAM waterfront and the dam that we affectionately call Funky Town. Sticking out at a 45 degree angle, clinging to the rocks that helped define the cove, and already decapitated by that time I arrived there, was the 4 foot remainder of a birch tree. She was like a handle that I could visually grab on to when I walked on the path towards my tent or swam back to my home. But then, when I returned to camp in the summer of 2017, she was gone, apparently rotted out during the off-camp season and washed to a different shore or scattered in pieces around the lake. I was saddened to return that summer and not have her be there. It felt like a friend’s death that I only later learned after the fact.

Those 2 birch trees anchored me to Lake Ninevah. I loved them, their simple, craggy beauty. But I also came to appreciate that in their demise, they were gifted back to the land and water from which they came, so part of the Ninevah community and me still.

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