And then there were eight

I like to imagine the loons were humouring me. And who am I to know if they were, or if I just happened to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Either way, I witnessed something unexpected. Something extraordinary. Something magical.

I’d been kayaking earlier that morning, only my paddle and the nose of the boat breaking the surface of the water. No other boaters, no wind. Just me, sometimes paddling, sometimes sitting still, the lake vast and deep around and under me.

Wishing for loons.

I sent them telegraphic messages. Tried a few vocalizations that really didn’t sound like loon calls at all, more likely just the antics of a silly woman.

Eventually I gave up and paddled my way home.

Later that day, I was sitting under the roof of the veranda watching rain splatter the lake, listening and puzzling over a curious sound. It was something between an owl’s hoot and a dog’s bark, but not exactly either one. Besides, it was midday, so too early for an owl. And the sound was coming from the lake, not the land. So not a dog.

And then they arrived. Not one, not two, not three or four. But eight. Eight loons, paddling as if on parade into the cove right in front of me. Then they broke formation and began circling, diving, rising up, flapping their wings. After a few moments, they’d reform their line and paddle leisurely along the shoreline, pausing now and then as if to play, forming circles, calling to each other, diving, surfacing. And then continuing on their way. All the way around the cove.

It was incredible.

The lake I love is big with many coves and more than enough territory for several pairs of loons. I’ve often seen four swimming together but never as many as eight.

Turns out loons sometimes come together in large groups, summoning one another with a call that sounds like a hoot. They may even fly in from nearby lakes, hanging out together for a while, letting down their territorial guard. There are studies and speculation about why they do this but the research isn’t conclusive.

That’s ok by me. I’m content to let the magic linger, to think that perhaps the loons did hear my heart as I sat calling to them from my kayak. And then, for some unfathomable reason, they put out a call of their own, offering me a chance to witness something I didn’t even know was possible.

But now I do.

When things you didn’t even know were possible become exactly that. Well, that’s a gift. Extraordinary. Unexpected. Magical.

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