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THE CALL OF THE LOONS
by Richard L. Provencher
3/15/2008 / Relationships
David's mom is a single mom and things were getting out of hand at home. She said, "I can't take it anymore. Would you please take him somewhere for the day? He's driving me crazy."
My wife and I said we would help, and also speak to him about the way he was treating his younger brother.
There is nothing like the woods to have a private chat. In the solitude of nature, lessons can be learned and memories shared. My wife thought I might get through to the older lad.
David and I left before breakfast the next morning for a favorite spot of mine at Economy Lake.
We brought along my canoe. And the boy's eyes almost glowed at the adventure ahead. He was a helpful nine-year-old lad, and challenged me up with a constant barrage of questions. "Is it far? Can I go in the canoe by myself?" After parking our truck, loading the tent, we paddled from the shore.
Suddenly, David stopped. "Listen," he said.
Morning's stillness was broken by a strange, laughing call. He sat up in the canoe, rubbed any left over sleep from his eyes and nodded his head. David spoke in a whisper. "It's them again. Those big birds."
I quietly placed my Duck paddle across the bow and passed him my binoculars. "They're called Loons," I said. The dark outline of two loons could now be seen.
"Notice their heads and necks are blackish with narrow patches of white on their throats. Loons usually live in pairs, with their own favorite lake," I added.
"Awesome," David exclaimed. "If only mom could see this. The loons look so peaceful. Maybe this is what heaven is like, everyone getting along."
"Watch," I said. "Soon they'll dive for small fish for breakfast."
David was almost glued to the binoculars until both loons disappeared underwater. They surfaced much further away, obviously wishing for some privacy. He returned the 'glasses' and we continued to our destination, a small island where we beached the canoe. He climbed out noisily, walked a little way and leaned against a tree.
"How about some late breakfast" I asked.
Something was on the boy's mind. As I prepared the campfire, he interrupted with, "Do loons ever fight?"
"I'm not sure," I answered. "If they don't, it must be because they realize they are a family and have to share."
"I wish all humans could be like that. Not fight, just share." For David, that was a mouthful.
"It's not possible for a perfect world," I answered.
"Well it's not fair. My mom and my brother, me too should be doing things together. Just like the loons!" David shouted, tears streaking his cheeks.
After he calmed down, we sat on the trunk of a fallen tree and stared at the open water. "Yes David," I said. "Loons are special. The mother lays two eggs. As they grow up, each parent looks after one of the chicks." Thankfully he was listening. "To teach and protect them," I added.
After breakfast, we cleaned up. Dishes were washed, and more wood collected for the supper campfire. Then we headed out for a little canoe trip. Removing shoes and socks we slipped bare feet into Deyarmond Lake. Then pushed the canoe into deeper water before getting in.
David's paddle thumped loudly on the thwart. "Did I scare away the loons?"
"No. They're resting somewhere right now, David. I'm sure we'll see them again tonight."
The day passed swiftly as our canoe moved easily from one inlet to another. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches were for a snack, and of course, a container of fresh water. During our trip we saw chipmunks, a porcupine, deer and many varieties of birds.
The Chick-a-Dee was David's favorite. Its piping call seemed to ask, "How do you like my land?"
Supper was a delicious meal of steak and beans. "I want tonight to be just perfect," I said. "Good food and good camping with someone special."
"With lots of love," David added. The words must have sneaked right out of his mouth. "And no fighting," he said looking right at me.
"Maybe you should tell your mom how mixed up you feel inside? And the way loons send a neat shiver up and down your back," I said.
"And do more at home instead of always complaining. Even help my brother carry in firewood," David said. "We could be a family, like the loons."
I said earlier he would hear something he would never forget. "Just sit, watch and listen," I repeated. Now the evening sun was almost ready. We dressed in warm clothes, put on mosquito repellant and walked quietly to the edge of the lake.
We sat silently on a log, waiting. Then it came, almost like trickling over a waterfall. An evening breeze helped carry musical lyrics tumbling from one another, towards a waiting man and boy.
A pair of loons called one to another in playful chords. They seemed to understand an audience was listening. A feeling of peace and melodic beauty crisscrossed the lake and was absorbed into a little boy's heart.
I knew David's own song was one of love for his family. Like the loons he would bring back a message on how they could work together.
David placed an arm on my shoulder. He squeezed really hard.
* * *
Richard L. Provencher 2007
81 Queen Street, Unit 6, Truro, Nova Scotia
Canada B2N 2B2 Phone (902) 897-2344
Word Count = 900 for the above story
Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.
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