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Perspective: The spring miracle of loons

Art Tower

The loons are on their way.

Despite the fact that in the upper Midwest many lakes are still frozen and snow still covers the ground, the loons are on their way. As a longtime loon ranger, I know this from a myriad of eyewitness reports. As soon as the ice goes out on a Northwoods lake, the loons arrive.

But how do they know? How do they know when to leave their winter habitats off the Atlantic coast or the Gulf of Mexico? How do they know where to stop and for how long? How do they know, flying over thousands of miles for days on end, to land at their designated lake precisely when the ice melts?

And yet they do.

Somehow, like the final note of a long, melodious symphony, they know exactly when to make their entrance. One can only wonder at what ancient instinct dictates their miraculously timed journey.

Oh, to have the inner wisdom of the loon! To know the mystery of when to go forward, when to pause, when to rest. Perhaps they are more attuned to listening. Listening to their surroundings, listening to an inner voice, listening to others who journey with them.

I won’t be North when the ice goes out, but I can imagine it. I can smell the cool air from wind whipped waves. I can see small chunks of ice still bobbing in the water. But most of all, I can hear the loons’ wild, mystical music singing their own version of the Song of Solomon as they land on open water: “For, lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone….The time of the singing of the birds is come…”

Marnie O. Mamminga has been a professional essayist and features writer for more than 20 years.