Friday’s Weekend Column
Loon Calls

by James Glaser
June 17, 2005

Last night the Loons on the lake were making a terrible racket way after dark. I have to laugh, because some of them make that mournful "Cry of the Loon" and others are just out there screaming. Now this is totally my thought, but I am sure it is probably right, at least it could be. When a loon makes one of those long mournful calls that is so crystal clear it makes you glad you live up here, well I believe that is a mating call. A male mating call! And when you hear the other loon, off key and sounding like someone is strangling it, well I believe that is the lady loon saying "no way. Not tonight."

We are lucky, because most lakes if they have loons will only have one pair, while we have at least a half dozen pairs. Some people claim we have eight pairs, but I have only counted the six. Last night it seemed like they were all out in front of my place, but Angie down the road thought they were in front of her place, so I think the sound just carries so well across the open water that everyone can hear every pair.

I saw my first fawn this week and it was standing next to the road and was trembling and wet, so I think it was just born a bit before I saw it. I never saw the mother and I just kept on walking and it was gone when I came to that spot on the way back. It sure had the look of wonder in its eyes.

As I was walking by the resort down the road, I saw a nice size box turtle and told two kids to come see. They were so excited and I think it surprised than at how fast that turtle could move. They caught it and took it to their parents and then let it go by the lake.

My garden is doing much better now that the sun has been out and it is warming up. I have several tomatoes on and now each day I can see them get a little bigger. I doubt if I will have a June tomato, but I will have an early July one.

A neighbor was asking me if I have any chipmunks and thinking about it, I couldn't remember seeing any for quite awhile. Usually they are all over the place, getting sunflower seeds out of the bird feeder all day long. They are real friendly and don't run off if I am out on the deck, but they haven't been around. I'll tell you what they do though, they will wait until you have a rose bud, just ready to open and they will go up there and eat the whole bud in a flash. It is like they tease you and wait until maybe just the first petal opens, and then they take it. I always thought it was the deer until I saw those chipmunks eating away on the rose, so maybe this year I'll get some nice roses. I think the mystery of their disappearance can be explained by the fact that Pine Martins have moved in on my hillside. Pine Martins don't eat roses, but they eat rose eaters. They will also eat a rabbit, but like vols (mice) the best. They are about as long as a cat and are related to weasels, skunks, badgers, and mink. I have seen them on the ground, but usually I see them jumping from one tree to another. I bet they feasted on those chipmunks.

Sometimes it gets kind of lonely living by myself, but I now see way more wildlife. I think maybe that is because it is quieter around here now. I do spend some time every day sitting out on the deck reading and the animals get used to that. Most run away when I come out there, but they seem to come back out from hiding faster now, kind of like they are saying, "Oh, it is just you."

The water isn't what I would call swimming temperature yet, but it is nice to go down and wash you hair or rinse your body after working. The lake is way up, maybe 12 inches higher than the last couple of years, so you know we have had lots of rain. Right about now I could go for a long dry spell.

This is festival season in Northern Minnesota. Every little town has a weekend or two with something going on to attract tourists. One town even has a "wood tick festival" with wood tick races. Maybe every other idea had been used up already. I plan to go to Big Falls for the Forth of July and Wild Rice days in Kellior and of course I will attend the Bear Festival in Northome. Also I want to drive my old truck down to the antique car shows in Grand Rapids and Bemidji

I have been fixing up my little guest building across the road and will start selling stuff out of it in July. I should have capitalized that, STUFF. I will admit it, like many Americans I have way too much stuff and have to get rid of some of it. I picked up all the stuff we had in storage down in Arizona and other than that Vespa scooter, I really don't need any of it. Well when it comes to "need," I don't need the scooter either. I was going down the basement and when we moved in here 12 years ago, I put lots of Good Stuff under the basement steps. I was looking at it, but have no idea of what is in those boxes, but it must be good or I wouldn't have kept it. Right?

Well now is the time to pare down. I was looking in my workshop and I bet I have 25 slotted screw drivers and it has to have been at least ten years since I have used a slotted screw driver to put in a screw. Now I don't even use Phillips head screws, every thing is torques head now.

It is dark now and the Loons are starting up. I heard one a minute ago and now one is making an answer. I have to admit, life up here is a real treat. I just went out on the deck and it is total silence and then some animal will make a sound. I heard an owl off in the distance and for some reason a duck made a squawk and then that second loon made a cry that sent a shiver now my back. Sometimes life is so beautiful it makes you thank God for giving us all of this. And you know what? Nature is free. Nobody is making any money off the Loon Call or the Owl's hoot and that is nice.

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