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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'd like to think that Maine has exclusive rights to the wonderful loon, but sadly it's not true. Other states apparently are allowed to host them, there's a franchise in Europe, and Canada must have a few, since their one-dollar coin has the queen on one side and the bird on the other and is bilaterally called the loonie.

Some aficionados here pay $20 extra for the loon license plate, some buy elaborate mailboxes. I understand the desire to capture the magic. The loon's sleek and painted body, its need for pure water and solitude, its eerie call, and most of all, its amazing dance are reminders of things we're losing. When we still had our camp in Smithfield, there were three or four pair on the lake, and every once in a while, quite rarely actually and usually in the late evening at the end of summer, they'd gather in a circle and go crazy, or so it seemed. The water was in a froth, the air full of calls and screams. There wasn't any danger around (the supposed reason why they do it), just a primitive, or joyous, or mating, or migratory, or drunk-on-life dance.

On the day we saw this mailbox, we also saw the real thing, four of them floating and diving, dignified and leisurely, like bankers on holiday. All propriety, no savagery, much like the civilized folks who try to capture them.

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