For each of our first two years on the lake, the loon couple that nests on what we’ve nicknamed “Belly Button Island” raised two chicks. This is the Summer of 2008 family. We watched them from April to October, often at close range in our kayaks. The chicks were born at the end of June. Sometimes we could be floating nearby, figuring we should keep a respectful distance, when the loons would swim toward us to as close as about 8 feet. We’ve seen the chicks riding on their parents’ backs and, as here, paddling along in a family group. We’ve heard the adults suddenly sound their alarm calls when a bald eagle circles overhead. We’ve seen the adults stash the chicks in Ghost Bay while they visited with other loons near the island. At times like that we hope the big snapping turtle isn’t hungry. The attentive parents feed the chicks all summer long, but the chicks fish on their own from fairly early on also. We’ve fretted when the parents leave in September for their migration, leaving the adolescents alone for another few weeks. And then, the lake goes silent. To hear what it sounds like living on a lake that loons call home, click here.
My Long Lake neighbors’ grandaughter, estimated age 9 years old, and her “new best friend” started the day early in the water. The lake temperature is around 60–warmer in the shallows but not by all that much. The air temperature reached a high of about 74. Winds were brisk throughout the day. By day’s end, other agemates (3 more) had somehow appeared. These girls peddled the paddleboat (yes, all sensibly life-jacketed). They peddled the paddleboat pulling their buddies on tubes. Not a whiner or a cream puff among them. No complaints about the at-times mucky bottom. No fretting about crayfish. “We left our shoes on the deck!” “Good, we’ll have to run across the lawn in the dark.” My neighbor practically had to drag them off the water at 9:45 after sunset. The mosquitos had to have been fierce and still they were having a great time.
In case any non-Michigander ever finds this blog, we all call the northern part of our lower peninsula “up north.” Hillman is in the northeast part of “up north.” That’s not the snazzy part. It’s more like the real part. We don’t do art festivals. We have the Hillman Apple Days, the Blessing of the Bikes, and a V-J Parade. I don’t think a lot of places in America celebrate Victory Over Japan anymore. We don’t have fancy restaurants in Hillman–just great home cooked meals at Jacques. (They repaired their sign last fall, so now the “C” isn’t dangling upside down). Kids can come here and forget the dance lessons, the soccer teams, the schedule of birthday bashes. Just let them out in the morning, keep an ear-out in case they call for help and make sure the same number come back in at night.
I had my firepit going yesterday, burning the winter’s deposit of sticks. Seemed a shame to let a good campfire go to waste, so I brought out my trusty stash of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows and the girls warmed themselves by the fire and roasted some marshmallows. At first they were toasting them kind of precisely. But pretty soon they just let them catch fire and blew them out like I used to. Yum. I turned the bag of marshmallows over, while the girls stood there shivering in their bathing suits and bare feet roasting marshmallows. I have a feeling that the bag didn’t used to say this when I was nine:
Eat one at a time.
For children under 6, cut marshmallows into
bite-sized pieces. Children should always be
seated and supervised while eating.
Seated and supervised. Wow. To eat marshmallows? Who knew? I wonder what the KraftKidsSafe would think of young kids roasting marshmallows on sticks on a windy day dancing around barefoot in their bathing suits. I wonder what makes a marshmallow “jet puffed” as I stuff two in my mouth at the same time just to see what would happen. Shucks, no lawsuits. No one choked.
It looks like this internet “thing” is going to stick after all. My son’s mother’s day present 2009 was creating this page for me and encouraging me to get started. I’ve been thinking about blogging for awhile but was put off by the notion that there might be internet hordes reading what I write. The truth is, hardly anyone will read it. That sets me at ease. There will be a heavy dose of my two favorite places: Hillman, Michigan’s Long Lake and where it is that my knitting takes me. Knitting has been what my hands have done since my mom, Clare, taught me to knit when I was about 8 years old. That first Christmas after I learned to knit everyone I gave gifts to got a pair of mittens–all the same simple two needle pattern and almost all in different colors. I’m 56 now–so obviously knitting was something that stuck. And then Long Lake came into my life 3 years ago. There is no better place for me. I come here stressed out from work and it calms me. I’ll try to capture matters better. For now…I think the point is to begin.