Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Loons’

Casco Bay, 5:00 am.

In Mythology, Nature on April 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I was awakened at 5:00 am this morning by a screeching, a sound akin to what I think a baby seal must make when its ice flow drifts away from mother, or at least in my interrupted slumber that is what it sounded like. But it was nothing so troublesome or romantic. The Wendameen, an historic Maine schooner, built in 1912 and used to sail tourists around Casco Bay, is tied up on the dock below my bedroom window. In the winter it is stripped and shrink wrapped and left to struggle against the Maine winter alone. Soon, however, it will come out of hibernation and move four wharfs away where it will impress upon its visitors a singular beauty. But now, this morning, it was rocking against the dock, the protective bumper squeaking as the tide rose, plaintive like the abandoned seal.

I got up and boiled water and let the coffee seep four minutes before pressing, as I do every morning. Always the same. Grind, pour, wait, drink. Sigh. This morning I looked, again as I always do, at the thermometer. It was fifty-five degrees outside and I opened the porch door and stepped out. The balcony faces east and the light was low and the color of honey. I looked up to the river and bobbing there in the golden coins of surface water must have been fifty common eiders, black on white, chirping, like a congregation before the service begins, low and personal, amongst themselves. They are collecting themselves, getting ready to head north for the summer. And below me, directly, was the loon I’d been watching recently. Molted. Black and white and the neck ringed. Also, getting ready to leave.

I am saddened to see them leave, these birds who have succeeded against winter so spectacularly. And tonight, so unusual, the tremolo call of the loon. My neighbor who has lived here twenty years tells me she’s never heard the loon call from the wharf. Magic, that call. Listen. They say the loon is amongst the oldest of the birds. Fifty million years or so. Good bye friends, safe travels. Welcome back, Persephone. It is good to see you again.

Friday Odds and Ends

In Nature, Reading, Writing on April 2, 2010 at 7:05 pm
The Common Loon

The Common Loon

I haven’t seen the loons for three days, not since the storms of earlier in the week. Then, they seemed perfectly content, bobbing and riding the little crescent waves in my corner of the bay, the rain falling in sheets. Wind blowing. They wintered here, a pair of them. The thing about a loon is the call. It is simple magic. There is no other way to even think about it. But in the winter they are silent, hunkered down like the rest of us, just quiet and getting through. In the fall they leave the freshwater lakes and ponds and migrate. Some head far afield, covering up to two hundred miles a day. Many, here in Maine, head east and find refuge on the coast, like the pair camped out below my kitchen window. But they are gone now, I think. I’m told they usually don’t leave until May, after ice-out is assured. But the weather is all different now and maybe they know it and took off to build a nest and all that entails.

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Walking down Congress street tonight overheard man on cell phone: “It’s abandonment. I just met your fucking boyfriend. Oh, yeah. That’s bullshit. Abandonment, I tell you.” And he slammed the phone closed, grabbed the door to Starbucks and about tore it off the hinges. We are surrounded by short stories.

*  *  *

I am at half-way. Infinite Jest. One thousand Seventy-nine pages of dense prose, with footnotes. A universe of words. I am half-way through David Foster Wallace‘s magnum opus. This is my second go at it and I got traction a month ago, pacing myself at a meager ten pages a day. Ten pages. I love reading. But an hour and ten pages and my head spinning and I walk away. But I come back. And come back again–because a great novel is like entering a beautiful hotel, filled with smells and people and sounds and knowing that you get to stay in the hotel as long as you wish, dipping into this corner and sitting in that lobby chair, watching that woman and that man and hearing that kid scream.  You get to enjoy a drink and perhaps flirt with the barmaid, swim in the pool and at night, when the boats are plying the river and the lanterns are glowing and the band has relaxed with a drink or two, you get to crawl into your nine-hundred thread count Egyptian cotton-sheeted bed and sleep until you smell the coffee being delivered in the morning. That is why even ten pages a day can be enough.