September, 2003

Dear Readers,

Summer finally arrived, but somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, it slipped by my notice! Already it’s September, and welcome cold-fronts are sweeping down from Canada on a regular basis now, giving us warm sunny days and crisp cool nights.

This is Maine at its best. The tourists are migrating home (we’ve enjoyed your company, and look forward to seeing you next year, but now it’s our turn to play), the pumpkins and apples are plumping with delicious sugars, and furry and feathered babies born mere months ago are quickly maturing.

Papa LoonJust yesterday, on an early morning kayak trip with Robbie, I came close enough to snap a picture of the young loon born in our cove this June. Dappled feathers have already replaced its soft bouyant down, and it has grown too big to hitch a ride on mom and dad’s backs. It can dive quite well now (in strong contrast to its downy-days, when it would try, only to pop back up like a cork from a Champagne bottle!), and our young loon can even catch its own meal of minnows, though it hasn’t outgrown begging for handouts from still attentive parents.

We’ve noticed small rafts of mature loons gathering already – most likely adults who didn’t bother nesting this year. Soon they will migrate south to the waters off the Carolinas and Florida, and the young loons of this spring will be on their own. They, too, will come together in feathered rafts, but will head to the Gulf of Maine to grow strong and beautiful on rich ocean fish. It is there they’ll find mates of their own, not returning to freshwater lakes for three or four years.

I am always amazed – if not awed – by Mother Nature. How can a young loon, not three months old, survive without benefit of its parents? And how, after a summer of loving attention, can a parent simply fly away?

It boggles my mind, considering I’ve had twenty-two years of parenting two sons, and I am still reluctant to cut ties. Instead of going our separate ways, the hint of fall in the air only urges me to gather my loved-ones close to the woodstove, and pretend our insular family will continue forever.

Wishful, motherly thinking. Life happens. Like baby loons, sons mature and must travel their own paths. And to be a good parent, that means taking a lesson from Mother Nature and continuing down our own path – which suddenly appears to be paved with the freedom of countless destinations.

So yeah, maybe my LakeWatch loons chose to nest in our cove this summer for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, they came to teach Robbie and me a much-needed lesson. “Let go,” they hauntingly call as we lie in bed wishing both our sons were under our roof, snug in their childhood beds. “Enjoy,” those wise old loons tremolo deep in their throats. “This is not the end, but the beginning of something even more wonderful.”

Yeah. . . well. . . we are humans, not loons, and advice is much easier given than taken.

Until later, from LakeWatch