Ant Island This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   There is, for everyone, a special place on this earth that always inspires specific emotions and associations. This place for me can be found in a small lake in northern Vermont. It reminds me of the transition between summer and autumn; students, myself included, are returning to school. The leaves are turning, the air is cool, and everything reminds you of home and the life left behind at the start of the summer.

Ant Island is about eight feet long and two feet across at its center. It is located in Woodward reservoir, a life-filled lake belonging largely to the camps that can be found on its shores. The camps, part of a group called Farm and Wilderness, are not visible from anywhere on the lake. The campers sleep in wooden, door-less cabins that are completely camouflaged among the trees. From Ant Island, one can see the long peninsula known as Bear Pit Point. One can always find campers or counselors swimming there, loosely clad, or not at all. Beyond the peninsulas, hidden by the earth and the trees, is the waterfront. Consisting of only two docks, a few ropes, and a dozen or so handmade wooden canoes and sailboats, there is little to look at. Two counselors stand, one on each end, holding long wooden poles that look like scepters.

Rocks surround Ant Island. On the side closer to the camps and their waterfront, the shore abruptly drops off into a deep crater. On the opposite side, the rocks gradually diffuse into sand. Route 101, a two lane highway, runs only 20 yards away from this island, on the side containing the steady slope of the shore. Cars race by, passing not as shapes but as blurred objects. Many leave their vacations behind. Some are simply going about their daily lives. But these cars destroy much of the solitude of the lake. Lying on the island, you are exposed to their scrutinizing, inquisitive glares.

I lean against the solitary tree on Ant Island, forgetting about the passing cars, thinking. The clouds swirl above me, moving quickly across the sky, pushed by a strong wind at a high altitude. They change shapes, turning from a dog, to a dragon, to a snake, to pieces of disorganized confetti drifting loosely in the sky. I observe the beautiful scenery around me - dark green pines mixed in a sea of colors, the colors of the fall. A group of geese, flying south, squawk loudly as they pass over the lake. They fly in a "V" formation only to pass quickly and to disappear in the fading light. The light is hazy in the early evening; streaks of it penetrate the layer of clouds, as the dying, reddening sun begins to sink below the earth. The green tree feels strong and healthy behind me. The trunk, thin and young, feels cool and bluntly soft. The leaves have the slightest hint of red.. I lie down next to the tree, idly stroking the knotholes of the bark next to me. The earth, cushioned by a layer of fine green grass, is cold, and rudely breaks through the barrier of my shirt. I can feel the soft lumps of rounded rocks in the small of my back. I hear a "plop" as a small animal, probably a startled frog, jumps from the reed nearby into the dark, clear water. The ripples in the still lake radiate outwards in a circle until they can no longer be discerned.

I inhale deeply, breathing the pure, fresh air. It tastes like clear water - not water from the tap, but from an undiscovered spring high up on a mountain, glistening in the sunlight. There is no feeling of pollution in the air, in the water, or on the land. No motorboats may disturb the wildlife or the purity.

I don't come to this island often. It is not easily accessible, and does not have room for more than two people; there is little to do here except to sit and ponder. I used to come when I attended one of the camps, but I would always come here when I was confused and needed to sort out my thoughts. This is why I came here today. My mind feels like the shores of the northern Atlantic; cold, harsh, and violent. I must relax and head south for a warmer climate. I need to let my fears of the oncoming year sink through the warm waters of my mind to settle on a sandy Caribbean ocean floor. I need to come down, to face my fears, and not to exaggerate them.

A soft, cool wind tickles the hairs on my arm and, waking me from my reverie, reminds me of the time. I must leave. I must return to my year-round home, to confront yet another year of monotonous schooling. The passing cars look like passing time-blurred shapes, driving through the trees, and peering out the windows at the solitary boy lying apart from it all on Ant Island. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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