She was relentless in her endeavor, wings subtly outstretched, graceful lines of her neck arched, patiently waiting, ceaselessly, occasionally switching duties with her mate, the expectant pair. Few things in my life have been marked in my memory so much as that gentle July day when I rounded the corner and unexpectedly captured her on her nest. In the weeks that followed, I felt myself catching my breath each time a guest maneuvered out onto the pond near her domain. But my worry was for naught, for few were sharp enough to notice her abode, and for those few that did, they were equally respectful, joyfully enamored, and like me swept up in the magic and the mystery of Spencer Pond. Loon Magic. The haunting wail piercing the warm summer nights, yodels echoing off the cliffs of the mountain, this was their home, the place they had chosen to raise their young. No better decision had been made. On the nights of the full moon the expectant father would strike out directly in front of the camps, only a few feet from shore, and sing his ancient and distinctive call, echoing around , filling each cabin with sound, we would fall asleep to the melodic notes, sparking the memories of wilderness within, of solitude, of silence, of peace, of Spencer Pond. We waited over the ensuing weeks with bated breath, we had heard reports that there were two eggs, each day we wondered any babies? As rain threatened or we heard a distinctive or agitated tremolo our hearts would waiver, and we would wonder, shouldn’t they have hatched by now? And then sometime in the first week of August between a Sunday night and Tuesday the first reports came in, Mama had been seen toting two fluffy chicks along her back. Adorable little mascots, they instantly captured our hearts and minds. Shortly thereafter the news came in, only one chick was to be seen. Our minds puzzled over the possibilities, eagle? Turtle? In my mind I have settled upon eagle. Their nest is within close proximity of the nursery. So far this little one has survived and we are like proud grandparents overjoyed and anxiously awaiting future reports and remarks on the little one’s progress.
Herons have also been serenading the camp yard this summer in the late evening. We hear the harsh croak of Great Blue’s flying back to the rookery, and it is not uncommon to hear the wail of the loon in answer. Great Horned owls have also been reported this summer, their calls igniting the still summer air, piercing the silence of rustling pine boughs and waves gently lapping against the shore.
Most amusingly we have had a nest of Blue Jays outside our window. I have wondered if the parents actually raised this flock of defiant and precocious chicks or if some poor robin or large finch was suckered into feeding this batch of rambunctious little demons. They enjoy raiding our feeder, and the chickens love it when they visit, soaring down from the tree with raucous calls, eating birdseed like peasants at a medieval banquet. All the chickens have to do is wait and a smorgasbord of black oil seed drops into their path. Symbiotic, perhaps, the relationship seems to work, and it does provide entertainment.
Each passing year something new is revealed for us at Spencer Pond. Sights that will only be captured once in a lifetime appear. So it was when I walked quietly along the trail with two little girls, peeping at emerging fungi, searching for spotted slugs, analyzing bark and trees, hopping streamside to catch frogs. The girls were full of life, giggling, racing, and spotting treasure after treasure. Suddenly the air was pierced with a loud sneeze-like sound. The girls rapidly stopped eyes wide, they wondered and peered round, again it was heard and then the oldest spotted the movement, a white tail, the legs visible as two deer bounded away through tall grass. Hearts pounding they walked silently on, their mother slowly smiling in her pursuit. They drew up near the edge of the water, just in time to witness the pair wading across the water, fording the pond. A sight of ancient beauty, of remoteness, conveying an image that the goddess Diana herself would be proud of, two young girls stopped, transfixed, breathlessly watching, as their mom wordlessly snapped photos capturing the moment for the world to see.
The Merlins like to remind us on occasion that they have not departed, the drama that ensues as they hunt mercilessly across the campyard is the height of entertainment to those of us who are lucky enough to watch. Songbirds are plucked mid-air while the screeching crescendo of the calls is heard as they fly over defending their territory. Summer is passing, days spent idle, soaking up the warm solar rays, and cooling off in the pond are quickly departing. The Moose still frequent the edges of the pond and feed throughout, sticking their heads underwater and emerging with vegetation hanging out of their mouths. Often this summer while providing a tour of the camp yard, or welcoming new guests and orienting them on the pond, moose could be seen browsing along the opposite shore. Soon the cool winds of fall will be blowing in their introductions, the welcome smell of wood smoke will waft on the cool evening air, and yet the days will remain warm and blissful, allowing plenty of time for hiking and new adventures.