It’s early morning and I’m sitting alone on the dock. I think this is my first moment of solitude in days. The lake is perfectly still and smooth, like plastic wrap stretched across this little bowl in the earth. The water makes no sound as tendrils of mist drift across its surface. The mist will disappear altogether as the sun climbs higher and eventually burns it away.
By contrast, the forest hums with life. I hear chirps and tweets, frilly riffs and cadenzas, with the occasional rough-sounding crow that overpowers the rest of the birds. The birds must be joyful about this exquisite morning, so full of sunlight, wispy clouds, and a blue sky. Everything feels fresh. The birds are lucky to sing the way they do; they always sound as if they’re celebrating.
A pitter-patter of footsteps disturbs my solitude. It’s my newly-turned-four-year-old who has decided to join me on the dock. He has brought a bag of grapes because he thinks I might need a snack. I’m happy to see him, though it means an end to the solitude. He delightedly points out the ‘upside-down trees’ in the lake. I am confused because I know there are no submerged logs where he’s pointing, but then I realize he’s looking at the reflection of the opposite shore in the still water.
The loon is out hunting for breakfast. It is big and sleek, with a speckled black-and-white back and a fierce beak that spears unsuspecting fish like a harpoon. It paddles silently past the reeds that grow out of the shoal near the dock, and then, once it reaches deep water again, dives in a flash. There is a faint trail of bubbles on the surface of the water. When the loon comes up again, it is far away, halfway across the bay.
I have always loved the loons, but I can’t help feeling sorry for them. They have a rough time sharing their lakes with cottagers. The biggest problem is that they lay their eggs in nests that are right beside the water because loons can’t walk well on land. So the wake from a passing motorboat can easily wash the unhatched eggs into the lake, and that’s probably why there hasn’t been a loon baby on this lake since I was a child.
Clouds have moved in all of a sudden and the morning has turned dark and cold. A. gets out of the motorboat, which he’s been examining from bow to stern, picks up his bag of grapes, and we make our way up the path to my parents’ house. While I do find beauty in a grey day, I don’t want to shiver on the dock any longer. I’m just glad I caught the sunshine when I did.