Language of Loons.

Midwinter, I was working in the coffeeshop a few minutes’ walk from our house when a woman I once knew fairly well came in. We had started a preschool together, been in and out of each other’s houses, seen each of the other through a pregnancy.

While waiting for her coffee, she sat beside me and said my name, Brett, and that she wanted to mend the falling out between us.

I folded my notebook closed. I had a few more minutes before I needed to leave, and I could see I wasn’t going to put my pen to paper again that morning. We compared notes about a house fire. Our memories lined up with surprising accuracy, all the way down to slight and little things. And then our memories diverged, abruptly. We’ve both divorced, both moved, and yet the ashes of that fire lay deeply in each of our lives.

Midday today, I hurried along one of my favorite walks around the lake. Me and the bright daffodils, the cheery trout lilies, the striking bloodroot. As I walked through the woods, the loons called around the lake. Once upon a time, I would have heard their language as decorative sound, sweet ambiance. Today, I stopped, alone in these woods where the leaves haven’t yet spread out for the season and the sunlight dropped on my face. I understood the loons as much as I understood my old acquaintance, maybe as much as I understand myself, as they sang across the water, their voices echoing against the mountains.

I hear

outside, over the actual waves, the small,

perfect voice of the loon.

— Mary Oliver

17 thoughts on “Language of Loons.

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