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Hanson: Seymour Lake

Gayle Hanson
There's nothing like an early morning row on Seymour Lake.

From the angler hip deep in the ripples of the Battenkill to a flotilla of Curtis Pond paddle-boarders, every Vermonter has their favorite summer water activity and their favorite place to do it. But you can travel from the Harriman Reservoir to the glacial splendor of Lake Willoughby and never dip a toe in cleaner water than that of Seymour Lake and its little sister Echo nestled side by side in the great Northeast Kingdom.

But before strapping the kayak to the roof of the Subie, or hitching the Pontoon boat behind the Suburban, I’d like to make something as perfectly clear as the waters along these shores. Each and every visitor must make an effort to keep any watercraft as sparkling clean as it was on the day when it was dreamed into existence – because access to these waters is conditional.

Every boat must pass inspection at the public access, where a state inspector will give it the once-over, and ask a few questions. If the boat has picked up Eurasian milfoil, they’ll find it – leaving you and your the boat high and dry on the shore. Their advice is simple – boats are made to be wet. And a boat can't be too clean. Wash it.

On Seymour Lake, a volunteer association greets boaters at these inspections and they’ve been monitoring the lake's quality since 1979. Today more than 70 percent of Seymour Lake Residents belong to the association. It’s a kind of community buy-in that embodies the very spirit of Freedom and Unity - a culture in which bass fisherman, loons, fireworks, sailors and slalom skiers can all abide.

But it’s also a place where I've yet to hear the dreaded call of Marco Polo.

As a new kid on the shore I recognize the gracious pride of place felt by those whose families have summered here for nigh on a century. And I'm grateful for their care and vigilance in protecting this pristine environment.

As an inveterate swimmer I embrace the refreshing water on my daily swims. And I love that I can still see the bottom when it's 20 feet deep. But I do have one caveat for those few brave swimmers who venture into these sparkling waters clad only in their birthday suits.

It’s not named Seymour Lake for nothing.

Gayle Hanson is a long-time VT writer and editor. She has been a meditation teacher for 20 years and is a passionate advocate for community-based mentoring and adoptee rights.
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