“I wonder what those loons were talking about?” I said this to Kathy the other evening when I observed six loons bunched up in front of our lakeshore. Off to the side were two chicks. Was it some kind of end of July meeting? Were they planning a potluck? Were they talking about their kids? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear what loons talk about. Let’s listen in to hear Mildred and Mike, Gertrude and Louis and Harriet and Joe are talking about.
“Well, Mildred, how has your summer been going so far?”
“Gertrude, it has been a dandy summer. I have never seen so many small fish, just the right eating size. I’m watching how much I eat or I will never be able to make our fall trip to the Gulf. I think I put on a couple of pounds. How are your chicks doing? You sure have some cuties.
“I told them to go off by themselves for a while and let us grownups visit. You never know what they hear that they shouldn’t hear, especially when the guys get going. Plus, it will be good practice for when they have to be by themselves for awhile after we fly south early to find a place to stay. It will be crowded in the Gulf as usual. I’ll have to admit that it will be so sad to leave them behind. I keep telling them that we will see them again but it’s hard for them to understand. They are good chicks. They do what we tell them to do. Have you noticed the five wood duck chicks that come out in the evening with their mother? Now that’s cute!”
Mike, the father of the two chicks, says, “The mother wood duck needs to be careful because I noticed a big eagle flying over. Those eagles have a voracious appetite. Speaking of eating too much, where have you found the most fish?”
Louis, speaks up, “Like MIldred said, those small fish are pretty much all over the lake. No matter where the Mrs. and I dive, we find fish. Believe it or not catching so many fish is becoming boring. I would like to try one of those bullheads some time. Have you ever eaten one?”
“I have and to be honest, you can’t tell the difference. You just have to eat them slower. That back bone is kind of tough.”
“Yeah,” says Joe, “it’s been a good summer so far. I just wish those fast boats would be more careful. One just about hit our chick a week or so ago. They just don’t look where they are going. There seems to be more fast boats on the lake this year than other years. What do you think?”
“I think you’re right, Joe,” says Mike. “I remember my grandparents telling us stories they heard from their grandparents when there were no speedboats on the lake. People got around just by paddling or by using oars. Life was a lot quieter then, and safer, too.”
“Speaking of chicks,” says Harriet, “our little one wants to come over to visit sometime. Would that be OK?”
Mildred replies, “Absolutely, the twins would like a playmate and they are getting too big to carry around on my back all day. I think they, too, are also getting a bit bored. They can’t wait to start flying. It will be super when our whole family can fly to another lake to eat. I really enjoy eating out. Your chick would give them something to talk about. Bring her over any time. They can play who can dive the deepest and fastest.”
“I used to love playing that game when I was just a chick,” says Joe. “I think we did it to impress the girls. No doubt your twins will do the same.”
Now that they have grown quite a bit, says Mike, “we don’t have to be as careful. We have been telling them about eagles and speed boats. I hope Mrs. Wood Duck has been doing the same with her chicks. Maybe you gals ought to pay her a visit to tell her we have been seeing eagles around.”
“That’s a good idea, We lost one of our chicks to an eagle two years ago and you just don’t get over it,” says Mildred. “We thought we were so careful. It was misting and foggy at the time and the chicks were enjoying themselves when out from the mist comes this giant eagle with claws outstretched. We gave a warning call but it was too late. I am telling you, you just can’t be too careful when it comes to raising chicks.”
Mike calls out to his two chicks, “Don’t you two get too far away from us. Understand?”
The chicks call back, “We hear you, Pop.”
“We should get together more often like this,” says Gertrude “All of us seem to stick to our part of the lake when we should be more neighborly.”
“I agree,” says Joe. “The summer goes by so fast. Maybe we adults should play who can dive the fastest and farthest.”
“Oh, Joe,” says Harriet, “when will you ever grow up?”
Riddle: Do you know why loons fly south for the winter? (It’s too far to walk.) That’s a classic riddle that every child should know.
100 percent graduation
A local movement is underway to ensure the area has a 100 percent high school graduation rate. Thanks to Sanford Behavioral Health for sponsoring the publication of a parent/child book to help parents teach young people the importance of graduating from high school.
Students will graduate more often when:
They feel they have ownership in the school.
Teachers give kids classroom jobs to do in school.
Business leaders need to remind their employees to remind kids about the need to graduate from high school
John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.