St. Joseph Peninsula – January 12, 2012
The green water drained to black with the setting sun. The moon’s silver smile hung over a purple sky in the west. The wind died and the ocean turned into a sheet of glass.
I slide across the surface, cutting like a sharp knife, racing the fading light toward a distant beach.
A trembling whistle calls out as I pass. Then another and another, each one further than the next. The sound floats across the water, comforts like an old friend, conjures images of the Boundary Waters, of the strings of lakes hung in granite, of northern forests, of blue, gray, and green. For a moment, I’m there again, sliding across Basswood, watching the water turn pink with the setting sun, listening to loons call into the night, feeling new and fresh, remembering what it felt like when my arms didn’t ache, when I could breathe without any pain.
That was seven months ago.
The loons’ white spots are gone, their black feathers have faded to grey, they look dull and worn down by the journey south. I almost don’t recognize them, but their call is the same, beautiful and full, breaking across the night. I listen to them in the darkness, still singing, still wild, and wonder if they recognize me.