The Loon King

CrabbingThe interstate has given way to a small country road and the sky is blocked out by the surrounding forest and trees that hang over the road like leafy umbrellas. It’s dark up in the north country, far from any city or town that might have a movie theater or, well, a dentist. As we turn off the country road onto a gravel path, the horror movie atmosphere is enhanced by an eerie mist which rises off the road and grass. We put on the Danse Macabre just to perfect the imminent feeling of doom that is now pervading the car. In an attempt to lighten the spooky mood, we make jokes and laugh, just like two kids walking past a graveyard at night.

“Did you see that?” Collin asks.

“I did. What the hell was it?”

It is quiet in the car. “There’s another!” he yells. It takes us a moment to realize what is happening on the dark and narrow road around us, but it soon becomes clear:

We are surrounded by frogs.

“Oh dammit,” I say, and I hold on for dear life. We left for the lake house in the evening. The plan was simple – meet Collin’s brother, make a fire, have a few beers and spend tomorrow swimming in the lake and doing water sports before heading to River Falls. We did not, however, count on the eerie attack of  the animal planet. So far, we have been attacked by kamikaze bugs, laughed at by large dogs and, uh, bombed by a fleet of birds who had apparently just eaten Taco Bell. And now, a plague of frogs are jumping along the road and out of the forest as if daring us to run over their warty hides. Their Modus Operandi seem to be hopping innocuously into the path of the tires and then stopping to look at the big metal thing coming towards them. To my horror, Collin tries to avoid hitting them by veering to the edge of the road and hitting the breaks. I am not upset that he is trying to not kill frogs, I am upset because I believe he is playing directly into their little webbed hands. I imagine several frogs jumping out of the forest and pulling open the doors to the stopped car before forcing our legs into a massive deep-fryer.

This does not happen.

Though the frog assault is creepy, it remains harmless and we arrive at the lake house with both our thirst and limbs intact. But that is not all that nature has planned for us this evening. Collin’s brother builds a fire and we sit around it telling stories, talking and drinking scotch. Bats are zooming around and the mosquitoes treat me like a stocky pin cushion.

Then there are the loons.

Now, the loon is a harmless aquatic bird that probably tastes great covered in an apple honey sauce and filled with bacon stuffing. No doubt they are friendlier than the frog, their aggressive lake neighbor. But If you have ever heard a loon call then you know the eerie moan that they echo across a lake. This call comes to us through a dark night with thunder brewing in the distance, lighting flashing in the hills and a mist rising off the lake in the darkness. We are somewhat enchanted by this, built up by a bravery that comes from a combination of malt scotch and being six feet from your house. The loon call evidently being a required course in Wisconsin universities, Collin goes to the pier and answers the call. At first, nothing happens, but then he must hit upon a secret frequency because every loon in the lake gets riled up and decides to visit us in an organized intelligence and reconnaissance party.

We head to the pier and stare across the dark water in the direction of a wild clucking that is growing in volume at a disconcerting speed. I imagine a squad of loons led by a large loon with a beard and a crown: the Loon King. Nobody in our party knows what to do, but we have silently agreed to sacrifice Collin to the Loon King should it become evident that he has tripped upon some advanced language of loon warfare. I am just as ready to claim him as an ally should he have stumble upon another secret call that allows him to be named successor to the throne of the Loon King.

But then it stops on a dime. To his chagrin, I call Collin the Loon King for the remainder of the evening.

With the exception of a rowdy discussion on World War II submarine warfare, the remainder of the evening passed without further event. In the morning we swim in the lake that has lost its ominous quality and is now fresh and cool and welcome on a hot summer morning. We paddle board and go tubing, swim and kayak around the lake. It is a perfect way to spend the day. Though as we spin around the lake on various vehicles and boards, I am sure that a couple of birds have been shooting reproachful glances at us. My suspicions are proven when a frog jumps into the shower with me.

“Be cool,” I tell him. “I know the Loon King.”

  1. #1 by Chris on July 23, 2012 - 6:19 pm

    This is one of your best blogs. Really well written. PS.. That stupid word I had to type at the bottom was Espokety occtulted.

  2. #3 by Megha on July 23, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    Remind me to tell you what water sports are. It’s not what you think.

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