A Lone Loon

A favorite place combining Table Rock and the woods of the Mark Twain National Forest; waking up there always makes me happy. This morning I woke up somewhat early and headed out onto the porch, coffee and reading in hand. With blankets piled on, my coat over my robe and gloves on, I sipped, read and watched small birds flutter about the feeders. It seemed colder today and the porch’s small temp gauge read a bit under 30 degrees. But the cold did not deter me as the birds chattered among themselves as they came and left the feeders and sometimes they stopped to chirp in my direction as if to include me in their spirited conversations. Delightful despite the cold.

During one short lull of feeder activity I heard a sound I have seldom heard in person, coming from the cove. It had that lonesome, primeval tone and I leaned forward hopeful and there- it sounded again. The almost mournful call drew me in and I decided to head down to the water wishing to see it, a Loon. With a quick change of clothes, I was soon crunching the frozen mud and grass of the lake path under my shoes. I wondered how the animals traversed so soundlessly over frozen terrain as I felt the Loon would hear me coming to waters edge. Luckily it was in the channel just past the cove.

small cove at Table Rock

I watched in awe as the Loon dove deep and long under the silent, glassy water. It seemed to stay under at length and I held my own breath wondering how it could hold its breath so long. And then it would pop up with a bit of breakfast or fan out its wings and dive again if it had come up empty. I marveled that it was here all alone and seemingly carefree and hungry. Was it a lone migrant and where had it traveled from?

I had walked up onto the frost covered walk to the small communal dock and began to notice other signs of visitors, travelers. There were the droppings of a River Otter on the dock, filled with shiny slivers of fish scales that glittered in the morning sun, I sidestepped them. At my best vantage point for viewing the Loon I noticed I had wandered onto a whitewashed area of walkway; evidence of a Great Blue Heron resting and watching for fish off the dock. And a small head poked out of the water swimming, creating a V across the cove- the River Otter possibly?

Life was flowing, swirling all around that Loon this morning and it was reveling in its diving, the prize of fish and the knowing of other creatures around, close by. It was not alone. And the thought came to me, we are never totally unto ourselves. Even alone, sometimes isolated; there are still connections. Connections with others- past and present, with the natural world; life all around us when we take time to watch, listen- sometimes breathlessly. The contentment of such a beautiful quiet moment on the lake and the lone Loon will stay with me for a long time. May you find that moment of quiet contentment this Season.