"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

06 December 2016


Hall, Sunrise, undated

We’d lived in nice places before, but this was different, and the first time we listened to the loons wail like wolves through the night, we knew we were lifers. Everyone needs something in the landscape to orient by: a mountain, a garden, a lake. We took our cues from Number 10’s mood. Was it a swimming day? A sailing day? A day to simply watch the light play across the surface? We named every corner. Birch Point. Cedar Shore. Loon Lagoon. We discovered the log where the turtles like to sun, and the water lilies where the catfish gang hides out. When our son and his friends got bigger, we sent them to the rope swing on their own.

But mostly we swim. We like to say that we enjoy the lake in every season—there’s the occasional miraculous Christmas ice skate—but let’s face it: November through April is an acquired taste. Mostly we leave it to the ice fishermen, unmoving black specks on a grainy white scrim. For us, rebirth comes in April, when the ice breaks up and the loons come barreling in like overenthusiastic summer people. I don’t know how they get the word at their Atlantic winter quarters, but they arrive as soon as the first channels open. They don’t even have enough runway to take off again, though when the ice gets soft, my son and I launch our canoe and use it like an icebreaker to help them. They hang tough until late fall—the parents leaving first, the kid a few weeks later, just ahead of the ice.

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