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Disheveled Theologian: Loony for loons

I am obsessed with watching the birds on the lake.

The wood ducks, which I’d only seen once before, are adorable. The Eagles, as I have mentioned previously in this column, I love. (Especially when they fly within 15 feet of my kitchen window as they did last Friday.) Even the silly little coots — mud hens — are fun to watch.

I’ve seen Northern Shovelers, Buffleheads, and those roundy little guys… oh yeah, the grebes. Even the Canada Geese make me smile, though the pair that laid two eggs on our shoreline seem to have abandoned them, which makes me want to go buy a discounted Easter egg dye kit just so I can blow the eggs out and keep them forever.

Is that legal?

I’ve seen pelicans and cormorants — I love them, too — and, oh, yes, I’ve seen loons.

Oy, vey, the loons!

What is it about them that is so gorgeous? Is it the fact that they win Best-Dressed Water Bird in their black and white polka dotted tuxedos? Is it their red eyes, so startling in their black, black heads? Is it their timid ways? Their stand-offish nature? Their rarity in these southern parts?

Whatever it is, I am fascinated by them. Smitten.

It is because of the loons that I pulled out my old camera, dusted off the lens, and charged up the battery. It is because of the loons that I have been late to work more than once this past week. It is because of the loons that I burned a batch of cookies.

When we moved to this house on the lake, friends commented that if they lived here they’d never get anything done. I am proof that this is true, at least during loon migration season. It’s a good thing, I guess, that they don’t stay all summer, though I can’t believe I’m saying so.

I have lived in the Worthington area for almost 20 years but I’ve never before seen an actual, live loon. I used to hear them when I spent summers up at the Bible camp where Colin and I met just south of Duluth, but I never saw one. I had no time to look. I honestly wasn’t sure I’d see them here, either, as we really aren’t in their migration route. And then, one day: there he was.

Suddenly I need a better camera. Suddenly I need a better bird book. Suddenly I need a vacation so I can stare out of my window all day long and take far away photos of little tiny black heads on the water.

Oh, how delightful of God to give us such beauty to enjoy! And I haven’t even talked about the songbirds! They will have to wait. For now, I am thankful beyond words for the lovely water birds.

“The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.Psalm 104:12

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is