The first loon.
All spring I’ve squinched my eyes up and tried to imagine various black and white ducks (and even mergansers) into loons. But this time there was no doubt:
That spear-tip beak, that elegant throat, that lacy cape.
I paddled my kayak on Northern Light Lake– the first paddle of the year and the first time on a lake I’ve only viewed from above.
I flushed ducks (accidentally): frantic whirring, an explosion of wing beats out of the brushy shrubs that softened the shoreline in the shallow water. Every duck was PANICKED! Like deer unable to pick a side of the highway: Oh, shit, we’re gonna die! Go, go, go!
But the loon, not unlike a fox, only glanced at me as I glided closer. It knew where I was, and found me nearly irrelevant. It was fishing. It was doing loon things. And pretty soon it did that elegant, rippleless dip and disappeared, diving deep rather than scattering to the sky.
I turned around and paddled back to the landing after that. There’s a satisfaction in knowing when you’ve reached what you were aiming for, in discovering just what that magnetic north was all along that had you dig out the lifejacket, load up the kayak, and head out to that particular lake at that particular time.
We make meaning and spin narratives constantly: that means this, this led to that. Who’s to say they aren’t true? Who’s to say that loon didn’t call for me, and from miles away I heard and answered with action? Who can prove to me the wild universe isn’t up to something marvelous all the goddamn time?
Just try. I won’t believe a word of it.