Monday, July 19, 2004

"The Loons, Norman!"

Most people remember the loons from the movie "On Golden Pond" with Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda. Loons are odd shaped birds that are more at home in the water than on the land.
We have a mating pair that return to our pond each summer.  Last year they hatched two chicks.
One of the wonderful things about having loons on your pond is their haunting voice. They have four distinct calls which they use to communicate with other loons.
Two of these calls are the tremolo and the wail. The tremolo sounds like a wild laugh and is used to signal alarm and to express annoyance. If you paddle too close to a loon it will sound the alarm with a tremolo.The wail is one of the loveliest of loon calls. It is used to regain contact with a mate when they are fishing or during the night.
Frequently we will hear the long, soft wail of the loon looking for a partner that may still be under water or swimming, unseen in the shadows of the shoreline. Once the partner hears the wail it responds in kind - reestablishing the connection and the two loons swim towards each other in greeting.
They will do this all evening long - calling back and forth then greeting each other. Between the loons, the frogs and the beaver slapping the water with his tail some evenings sound like an all pond symphony.
Staying in communication is important for people too. Particularly in situations where we rely on folks to assist us. It is easy to get our feathers ruffled and just stop talking but that does not address the problem and hinders our ability to do what's right for other people. 
If you feel deserted  - call out! Let the other person know that you feel like you are doing it all on your own. You may be surprised that the other person had no idea how you felt and will be glad to help.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Even In Paradise...

While I was up at camp last summer I spent the better part of one day cutting up a tree that had fallen the previous winter. It had threatened rain all day so the skies were cloudy and an occasional light shower would pass through but not enough to stop working. I was enjoying the outdoors and the physical exertion.
I had just cut about half of the tree up into logs when my closest neighbor pulled up on his ATV and stopped for a chat. He is from New Jersey and lives on the pond each summer. We had only been talking for a few minutes when he turned very negative about his life as a retired person.
It was clear that even in this beautiful setting with the pond in front of us and the mountains all around us that he was very unhappy. I let him ramble on about his troubles for a while but the more I listened the more drained of energy I felt. Have you ever felt that way with negative people?
It seemed to me that he was full of excuses for himself and had lots of blame for other people.  His happiness was completely given over to other people - the last boss that "forced" him to retire 10 years ago, the kids that no longer listen him, the road commission that won't fix his road.
I was polite and tried to be encouraging but he was having none of it. His life was rotten and that was all there was to it.

Everyone has problems, but have you noticed that not everyone allows those problems to rule them. However, negative people have a way of spreading dark clouds around to anyone who will listen.
When he finally rode way I did not feel like finishing the job - but I did anyway. Not until I was finished, did I feel as if I had shed the negativity from our conversation.
Mahatma Gandhi said it well when he said: "I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet."
Life is short - none of us have the time to waste on the negative - my happiness is dependent on no one but myself.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


I enjoy being outdoors. I am a nature lover. There are few things I enjoy more than being on the water in my boat.

For my 40th birthday a few years back my wife surprised me with an Adirondack guideboat. The guideboat was developed in the early 1800's in upstate New York and is a hybrid of sorts. It looks like a canoe only wider and it sits lower in the water. It has cane backed seats that face each other unlike a canoe where one person is always looking at the other person's back.

The best experience of all is rowing out early in the morning just as the mist is rising up from the surface of the water in the sun's warmth. The pond is flat and calm and the only ripples are from the wake of the boat and from the oars as they move through the water.

I live for that experience a few times each year. I row out to the middle of Coles Pond and cast out a line and watched as the sun creeps slowly over the mountain.

Sitting there in the soft morning light, listening to the sounds of the woods around me is more peaceful than anything I have ever found.

I don't know what puts you at peace - but I think it is safe to say that we all need more of those moments.

We need moments where we can pull ourselves away from the rattle and bang of the world and have some time for peace.

And what brings you peace may not involve peace and quiet - but find a setting or an activity that brings you peace and take advantage of it as often as you can.