Ever since my sad encounter with Kevin The Loon, I am especially sensitive to any loon who might be in distress. For those of you not acquainted with Kevin he (or was it a she?) spent its final days trapped in the Mill Pond, an extension of Brant Lake. Intensive research traced the cause of death to a stomach filled with hooks, lead weights and fishing line—negligence on the part of fishermen.
However, as the temperatures dropped at Brant Lake, I spied another lone loon in a precarious situation. Since loons normally travel in pairs, I reflected on why this particular bird seemed to be alone. Perhaps it was a relative searching for Kevin. Maybe even a lover. Or the loon might have been traveling to the Mill Pond to drop a small school of minnows at the spot where Kevin died. Sort of a memorial. Perhaps, in time, other loons will offer minnows or baby trout and this may eventually spawn a black and white photo of Kevin which will be stuck in the memorial fish pile.
But I am detouring. This vignette is not about Kevin. No, this story relates a possible danger to a nameless loon who swims near the swamp as winter approaches. What is that danger? Ice!
Early one December morning, a grandchild, passing near a narrow strip of Brant Lake, cried out with great glee: “Look, dad, ice. Can we skate this afternoon?” Well, this excitement over ice was a slight exaggeration since only a skim of ice barely covered a section of the lake. But, for a child, even a thin coating gave reason to exult. Many local residents are excited by a lake freeze. Foremost are grandchildren who love to skate, ice fishermen who love to drill through the ice and fish, truckers who anticipate driving across the lake in a red pickup, although sometimes the truck sinks into a watery grave.
But, for a loon, the freezing surface contains a warning. “Beware Of Ice!” Once the lake freezes what can a desperate loon do to survive? A loon can’t swim on ice. It can’t fish when the fish have a protective cover, and a loon’s spouse avoids a loon who is confined to ice. “Crazy as a loon!” the spouse wails.
Day after day the ice spread and the loon’s ability to discover free flowing water was slowly vanishing. ”Leave, loon!” the locals called, but of course loons don’t understand the language of man and when a man yodels, (one of the sounds a loon makes), loons conclude that it is the man who is crazy. The pleas continued, “Get out of there, loon. Go to Florida. West Palm Beach. Soak up the sun. Swim to Miami for dinner.”
But the loon remained in the remnants of open water that was slowly disappearing as the ice advanced. Oh, poor loon. Will it fly away before relinquishing its hold on life? “Go! Go! Go! Before it is too late.” What is worse than being confined, unwilling to move forward, when you can still control your destiny, when you do not need to be a victim of circumstance?
So what happened to the loon? The suspense builds! Well, this story will remain a mystery. I refuse to reveal the ending. Did our hapless loon successfully fly away? Only the shadow knows. Therefore, I leave you trapped in uncertainty. Sorry, that’s it.
P.S. If you know what happens to the loon I would appreciate hearing from you.