poetry and prose about place

mood of the lake

with 9 comments

One of the very enjoyable experiences of having a property near the lake is listening to the loons.  There is a least one pair of loons on our lake and we see them often.  Usually they call a few times at mid-day or in the evening.  Their cries are varied, ranging from a laughing tremolo to distinctive and melancholy wails, hoots, and yodels.   

We have always been interested in loons and the protection of their habitat.  Loons are especially vulnerable to quickly changing water levels and wave action because they build their nests just at water level.  `Watch Your Wake` programs help boaters protect loon habitat.

In 1994, we participated briefly in the North American Loon Project.  Today there is a similar program, the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, sponsored by Bird Studies Canada.  This is a long term study, using data from volunteers, to assess the health of Canada’s loon population.   

We had little time in those days to participate fully, but we did visit Peltoma Lake in southern New Brunswick, to look at the loons living there.  My journal entry for our visit to Peltoma Lake reads:

May 1, 1994  Sunday

Trip to Peltoma Lake to see if there are any loons.  We are preparing to canoe the lake

about three times this year to make observations.  Disappointed at first

as the lake is lined with cottages and we could see no loons. 

Then we stopped near a small bay and there they were

– nine black and white beauties!     They left the cove as soon as they saw us.


I also wrote a poem about the lake – the mood of the poem suggests it must have been a damp and miserable day.

Last Sunday, we drove out to Peltoma Lake to take some photographs.   The loons and most of the people are gone this time of year.   Although it was cold, the lake sparkled in the sunlight and was anything but dreary.


Peltoma Lake– Sunbury County


Peltoma in rain

is a faded black and white photo

layers of misery, thick and still

the lake, the shore, the mist

the thin chill drizzle


in the coves

the cedar and birch swoon above the water

moved to tears at reflection

the lake broods

over her loons

and the cell-thick pall of algae

smoothed to the shore


cottages hug the lake

like campers huddle a fire

cheerless and smoky

pines on the esker reach

blank windows keep watch

for sparkle on waves 

back flips from the dock

paddles flashing sun

the day is bleak without answer


a muskrat tows a line on the shallows

loons quit the cove

diminish to mist


Peltoma is scowling


© Jane Tims  1994


Written by jane tims

November 11, 2011 at 8:02 am

9 Responses

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  1. Hi Jane,

    I very much enjoyed your post! I practically grew up on this beautiful little lake. I spent all of my summers there and we spent a lot of time at our little cottage in both fall and winter as well. Our little cottage has been there since 1959. It is my most favourite spot to be and I loved recalling, as in your post, the call of the loons. I remember especially that they were very fond of the setting sun and I used to go out and sit on our little old wharf that my grandfather had built and listen to them singing and calling to one another and watching the sparkles on the water as the sun would set. You can’t help but think to yourself as they call that all could be well with the world, if only everyone could take the time to sit and listen to the lovely loons on the lake as they so easily portray and sing out life’s worth and beauty. It isn’t as easy as all that I know, but the call of those beautiful birds has always been so enchanting and so soothing to me. It is instant peace and calm. It is magical! I live on the other side of the country now but every time I visit home, I visit Peltoma, without fail or question. And it is just as wonderful every time I see it and I, quite honestly, never think of Peltoma without thinking of the loons and hearing them, even now, in my memories. They are such a part of its delight! I dearly hope the loon population is thriving, on this little lake and throughout the province. It could never ever be the same without them! Thanks again – lovely post!



    November 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    • Hi Jilian. Thanks for your comment and for sharing your memories of Peltoma Lake. I agree that hearing the loon call is one of the most enthralling experiences. I hope you are able to return often. Jane


      jane tims

      November 25, 2011 at 6:56 am

  2. Occasionally we see loons swimming close to the shore here in the winter. They do have an air of mystery about them. I love this line in your poem, “a muskrat tows a line on the shallows.” I agree with Ellen, your poems and drawings would make a lovely book, or several books with different themes…


    Barbara Rodgers

    November 13, 2011 at 7:48 am

    • Hi Barbara. Thanks for the comment and the encouragement. A book…sigh.
      I don’t know if the winter loons, spending the colder months in coastal waters, vocalize. I wonder if you ever hear their calls? Jane


      jane tims

      November 13, 2011 at 8:03 am

  3. Loons are fascinating creatures- their sounds are quite mysterious. Nice mood setting in this post!


    Watching Seasons

    November 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

  4. Interesting and good to read, Jane. Hope you collect your posts into a book someday.

    We watch the lake levels by Lake Michigan also. There is a special beauty in nature that is so restful during the colder months.

    My cousin, Paul, was a wildlife biologist for the Dept. of Natural Resources in Wisconsin. I think he helped bring back wild turkeys. He left his land to the Boscobel School District, now renamed the Paul Brandt School Forest. They planted a prairie there too.


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    November 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    • Hi Ellen. Thank you for your encouragement. My goal is a book. When I retire, I plan to assemble some of my poems and drawings on a particular theme (for example, wildflowers) and try to find a publisher. Your cousin sounds like he made a significant contribution to wilflife studies and protection. A life to honor! Jane


      jane tims

      November 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

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