Friends ~ I’m excited to announce a collaboration with the Loon Lake Times, the local newspaper of my new hometown, here in Eastern Washington! My letter to the editor just appeared in the May/June 2016 edition, to launch my upcoming column, Celebrate! Life & Times at Loon Lake.
I am SO enraptured with this beautiful piece of paradise that we’ve stumbled upon, that I just have to share a longer version of my letter here with you! I hope you’ll enjoy the story of my first otter sighting on the lake this spring; as well as my reflections on embracing this new sense of a wild childhood, that I hardly knew I needed. I truly hope you’ll delight in the stories of my adventures here around Loon Lake…and perhaps they’ll even inspire you to head out, roll around in, and marvel at the great, wild, beautiful gifts of Mother Nature in your neck of the woods! I’m wishing you great love, light, joy, and peace always!
CELEBRATING LIFE AT LOON LAKE!
A Newcomer’s Perspective
By ElizaBeth Coira – ©2016
I write to you today; not with a concern, frustration, protest, or fight. No…
Instead I write to you today with joy…admiration…and wonder.
Indeed, I write to you today in celebration… of the unfathomable, natural beauty that is Loon Lake… this incredible piece of the planet that we are lucky enough to call our home.
I write to you today in sheer awe… of the open, kind hearts; warm, welcoming neighbors; and committed, caring community that make life at Loon Lake a truly unique, special sort of treasured existence.
I write to you today to say thank you…
Greetings! I’m ElizaBeth Coira, and I’m a newcomer to the area. I originally hail from San Antonio, Texas; though I spent the past few years living in Germany, hiking through some of the incredible, vast European landscapes of many of my ancestors. I return to the US renewed, invigorated, a more complete person. And despite my adventures winding through flowering trails of the German Alps, wandering ‘round barrenly beautiful Scottish highlands, clamoring past glittering Irish coastal cliffs, and a good many other meanderings; nothing has prepared me for the spectacular natural wonders of my new home– Loon Lake, Washington.
But I wonder, do you, my Loon Lake neighbors, realize just what a gift we have here? Have you, like me, sat at dock’s end, soaking in the luxurious sun, rocked soothingly by the gentle ebb and flow of quiet waters? Have you, like me, spied in child-like wonder, the untold numbers of busy bustling birds making their seasonal nests and homes on our lovely lake? Have you, like me, stared down into the seemingly empty, watery depths; only to be surprised by a playful, swimming school of iridescent, darting fish?
I could hardly believe my eyes the recent morning a squawking flock of wild turkey woke me early. I took advantage of their alarm to wander down to the still-sleepy, glass lake…and there at the end of a neighboring dock I saw quite a curious figure…long and large, dark, but not a bird or trumpeting goose. What oh what could it possibly be? Had I been up too late, reading too many Irish folkloric tales of the infamous selchie—the seal people? I rubbed my eyes, and wandered quietly closer, hoping to better understand the enchanting being before me. He noticed my trudging through the sand though, as I drug my feet like a half-woken child, reticent to head out the door to school. Into the water he silently slipped. I continued forth though, not ready to give up, out to dock’s end, straining and searching for any sign of him. What sort of seal-like creature inhabits a lake? My mind raced through a laundry list of random, ill-informed ideas…a beaver, a musk-rat…but no, he was so large!
And then he reappeared to answer my question. The lovely, little, whiskered face of an otter poked up from the great, cold, blue mirror of the lake. His inquiring eyes studied me for a moment, then he let out a bark, before diving as gracefully as a dolphin back to the depths below. Then another, and another time he surfaced, curious to see just who I might be!
Just when I thought this moment, this morning, this life couldn’t get any better…there she was too. A second little whiskered otter face poked up through the water’s surface; joining her slightly larger companion in their inquisitive investigation. They dove then re-surfaced, examining me from all sides around. They issued dry little barks, truly as though they were dogs! I’m not sure if they liked me, for I had disturbed their human-free solace that morning; but my enthusiasm and love for them was instant. One last bark then down, down, down they dove for quite some time, leaving me basking in the giddy glow of wild wonder.
What is it that is so beyond-breathtaking, so spectacularly special, about connecting…sharing in existence, with those that are not of our own kind. Sure, nothing beats the kindness of our fellow human beings; but what about the love of… a dog for example? Does it too give you joy to witness the presence of such diverse, incredible expressions of life? Isn’t there something extraordinarily wonderful about coexisting…in this life, this moment, this unique lake ecosystem… with all manner of life, as our planet seemingly intended it to be?
Well, if there’s anything more I can say about those otters, I think they must have had an ornery streak in them, kind of like some of my new favorite neighbors! As I stared off into the distance across the lake I spotted them, only thanks to the squawks of a couple of water-loving birds; who had evidently been “goosed” from below by the rambunctious pair. Then I saw them one last time, waving and weaving their way–off, off, and away– through the loving waters of our very own Loon Lake.
I was lucky enough to have my smartphone camera with me, during this spectacular meeting. Boy have my otter pictures earned me a lot of “street cred” in my new neighborhood! This is precisely why I started this letter by saying thank you…neighbors of Loon Lake…for I know you too hold the lake and all her life near and dear to your heart; just as you might your child, spouse, or parent. You too have heard and cherished the haunting call of the loon, one of whom I met just the other day, a mere 7 feet from where I sat at dock’s end, as I opened my eyes from my morning meditation. You too find yourself unexplainably drawn to the simple, quiet, nourishing calm of lake life… refreshed, transformed, and renewed after every visit or day spent it her sparkling, soothing, blue embrace. So many of you have grown up on these peaceful, nurturing shores; with a lifetime of beautiful memories, and more still to come!
So I suppose I really don’t have to tell you what it’s like…the sheer and utter joy of being released from society’s confines, like a child, into a great loving wild. I suppose I don’t really have to tell you how essential it is; to protect and preserve places just like our very own Loon Lake, here on Earth. Because so many of you already know this. Your parents knew this. Perhaps even your grandparents. And so too will future generations of your family.
Perhaps you may even feel that this lake is in many ways like your nurturing, loving parents. The heron and grebe your silly and wildly-different siblings. The soaring eagle and osprey your elusive, cool, older cousins. The towering pines your ever-steady, best pals. What would life here be without the swimming fish? And the loon, with his distinct and ancient call…would it be appropriate to call him our very own special spirit of the wild…the spirit that also rests within you and me, and all of us?
Sadly today loons, perhaps like our interconnection with nature; have gone missing, been exiled, pushed off and out by the hum of modern human life, machines, and technology. But together we can call back the loon, and in the process invite back that intrinsic part of ourselves that shall be forever nourished by the wild and untamed. Thank you neighbors for what you have already carefully cultivated here at Loon Lake over the years. I know it hasn’t always been easy to choose between the natural, and the latest and greatest…but this delicate and essential balance of wild and only-slightly-civilized is something I thank you for, and celebrate every waking moment of my days here.
All greatness in this world deserves to be applauded; though it is so frequently forgotten, taken for granted, or overlooked in favor of whatever seems to be screaming loudest in the moment. May our beautiful lake community; nestled in the loving, green, pine-forested mountains endure; and the people, flora, fauna, and ecosystem be celebrated as testament to a greater, quieter, more contemplative way of life…this way of life that we all value, cherish, seek, live here on the shores of Loon Lake.
In support of this idea, Loon Lake Times editor, Loren Grube, and I have discussed the launch of a regular column that I’ll be contributing to the newspaper, called Celebrate! Life & Times at Loon Lake; to ensure we do indeed recognize the unique and beautiful aspects of our lives here! And please neighbors, we’d love to hear from you!!! Tell us what you LOVE most about your life at Loon Lake, and it could end up as the core of an upcoming article! What amazing animal or bird did you see on the lake yesterday? Do you have a neighbor doing incredible work for the community? Know of any undiscovered super talent in your lake neighborhood? Did you get a fabulous photo of the full moon over the lake or an eagle soaring by? What does Loon Lake mean to you and your family? How do you celebrate and cherish Loon Lake? E-mail us your thoughts and ideas to: ILoveLoonLakeWA@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from, and celebrating, with you!