Springtime on the lake

springtime on the water5 - 1



We’ve had some good soaking rains, stiff breezes, corn snow, and respites of sunshine this week, and the past few evenings it’s been clear enough to spot the new fingernail moon between the clouds.  It looks like an unsettled weather pattern over the week-end, but warmer temperatures are predicted for next week.  If it gets as warm as they say, maybe the snow piles in the shadows, looking like dirty laundry, will melt away.  Every night-time that gets below 30 degrees, I think it may be the last really cold one.

Oh such tiny incremental changes.  I follow a charming blog, Posie Gets Cozy, written by an endearing woman in Portland, Oregon, where Spring explodes with great exuberance.   She wrote this week about a friend who disliked spring–“It was too much. Too dramatic, too capricious, too beautiful, too heartbreaking. Too gushing with promise, too inconsistent, too intense. Too beautiful. Too heartbreaking. It made you want to cry for the fragile, fraught, barely there-ness of the world, the newborn leaves, the colors more almost-colors than colors. The buds more pouf than plant.”  Wow.  It’s not so dramatic here–more like a quiet whisper of change.

But, changes keep coming.  At Burger Town, Closed for the Season sign still in the window, they’ve put the picnic tables out on the patio and are hosing them down.  The osprey have returned and I saw one carrying its fish, like a torpedo, over the water the other day.  In the village, the daffodils have almost opened their yellow flowers.  And one of the joys in April at my house is to hear the call of the loons.  On their way to tranquil lakes in northern-most Montana and Canada, they stop on Flathead Lake in the spring, and return again in the fall on their way south.  When we were building our house sixteen years ago, our builder told us one early April day that he had heard them out on the water.  I had never heard a loon before, and was so excited to hear their legendary calls.   Every year it’s happened, and it is as mysteriously beautiful as I’d imagined.  We hear them in the early evening and in the milky blue of morning, and delight in sitting by the lake to watch them gracefully glide across and under the water, sending out their calls to one another.  If there is heartbreak in spring, it is their haunting call, across the broad expanse of water.  As Mary Oliver tells us, “which, if you have heard it, you know is a sacred thing.”

by Mary Oliver

Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing.,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

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