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“The time will soon be here when my grandchild will long for the cry of the loon, the whisper of spruce needles, or the screech of an eagle.” ~Chief Dan George

The loons are back; all is right with my world once again.

For as long as I’ve summered here on the river, there have been loons, and specifically, a pair of loons near our cove. Every summer.

But not last year, nor the year before, which surprised me, given the pandemic and the reduction of human interference.

The swans have proliferated however, from under ten in number only a few years ago to over fifty this year.

And the geese, too; one pair hatched eleven little ones in our cove in early May.

But no loons, who usually use our cove as home base. And though I could hear them call from somewhere on the river, I could not see them. Perhaps the geese chased them away, I thought.

And then, three weeks ago, I began to hear them, closer by, upriver from us.

Finally, they emerged: a pair and a solitary chick, riding on momma’s back. It seems they’ve moved one cove away to my brother’s property.

I’ve spent the past week observing them closely, with daddy guarding his family and trilling away potential intruders, and momma teaching her baby how to dive.

They have done so directly in front of our porch, very close to shore, something I’ve not seen before—which has allowed me to watch them in stillness and quiet; they no longer startle when I walk out to watch them and seem to understand I pose no threat.


Family arrives today. Siblings. Grandchildren. Dogs. Noise.

I suspect the loons might take up their teaching a bit farther from shore—I would if I were they.

It’s been a blessed couple of weeks, full of gratitude and reverence, alone here with my loons, without neighbours or workmen or family to distract me from the very important business of watching a mother and father share river lessons and timeless truth with their offspring—like my mom and dad did.

I learned many of my most important life lessons here: self-sufficiency, freedom of expression, a respect for and admiration of nature, and the value of silence save the sounds of its inhabitants and a life separate from technology.

Reflecting on moments that mattered most in my life, the ones that contained more than memories, the ones that left imprints and life lessons, I realize most of them arrived without fanfare, often in silence, or at least with a sort of gentleness I associate with the stillness nature provides.

On this Independence Day, I feel a bit like Katherine Hepburn’s character in “On Golden Pond.”

“Oh, look!” she proclaims at a the end of the film. “The loons! The loons! They’re welcoming us home.”

“The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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