Loon Recovery Project


Late last night, while my daughter ate a grilled cheese sandwich before the wood stove, we talked about a slideshow about Vermont loons we’d attended at our library and, with the cold deepening around our house, reminisced about summer nights camping at Ricker Pond in Groton, when we lay awake in our tent and listened to the loons’ wildly beautiful tremolo – a call so bizarre it hovers between our world and the mystery of the unknown.

Remember? she asked. Remember?

Perhaps for no other reason than it’s the last day of January, and winter’s teeth are easing sufficiently I know spring isn’t far in the offing, here’s a Mary Oliver poem.


Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing.,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.


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