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Loony

SO here was my plan for beach week, which is the same was my plan for every other beach week I have ever attended: Paddleboard and snorkel all day, then gorge myself on wine and buttered prawns all night while hanging with my favorite people in the world. Lather, rinse, repeat with extra butter.

What I actually did was work on my book, nap, and toddle feebly down the sand on short walks. No wine allowed (mono inflames the liver) and I had no appetite for prawns. I went to bed right after dinner and missed all the games and family chats.

I am SO bored of being sick, and I am doing ALL THIS to MYSELF! Unconciously, so I don’t know how to stop… It is all stress related illnesses. I have crashed my immune system via angsting about mortality. Meanwhile, Mortality gives not a fig for all my angst, and goes right on existing without any stress at all. Mortality is practically BLITHE.

On Thursday, A BIG STORM came around 5 and cleared the beaches. Just after it was over, Scott and I went on a sunset walk, and only a few other people were out. Sitting on the sand, we saw a BIG OL’ BIRD. Bigger than a duck, but with a very sharp beak. He looked like this, if this was lying tipped on its side with one leg jutting out at an odd, uncomfortable angle:

photo by dick daniels

The bird had apparently been battered down to earth in the storm. He looked agitated as we got close, but couldn’t seem to stand or fly. We backed away until he was calm – about 8 feet from him – and sat down in the sand to rest and consider how to help him.

Me: Oh no. He is SO hurt!

Scott: What is he?

Me: I do not know. I want to say LOON but I don’t really know what a loon likes like. All I really know about them is they lived On Golden Pond and this is the ocean. SO maybe not.

Possible Loon: *lays head down on sand and regards us with sorrowful, dying eyes.*

Passing man: Oh man, that bird is a goner.

Me: WE CANNOT LEAVE IT HERE SUFFERING! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! WE HAVE TO HELP THE POSSIBLE LOON!

Scott gets out his phone and starts looking for wildlife rescue groups in the area. We find a couple and call, but they have all JUST closed. I leave messages on the machines of ones who promise to call back. The possible loon lays there tipped sideways onto one wing, pale belly showing, his breathing shallow and sad, his head flopped onto the sand, his poor jutting leg all jutted.

Scott: Let me see what the rescue website says to do *pokes at phone*

Me: *I am now weepy and maudlin* OH HE IS DYING! EVERYTHING DIES! ALL THIS INEVITABLE EXHAUSTING DEATH, AND NOW IT IS HIS TURN, AND HERE HE SITS WAITING FOR IT IN SUFFERING. It IS TOO AWFUL! I WISH I HAD A HOE SO I COULD POP HIS HEAD OF WITH IT! POP! AT LEAST THAT WOULD BE QUICK!!!

Scott: You not going to pop the head off a possible loon with a hoe. You wouldn’t be able to do that even if you had a hoe.

Possible Loon: *flops a little, languishing in obvious agony*

Me: I KNOW! I COULD NEVER! I WOULD FLINCH AND ONLY HALF POP THE HEAD OFF AND HE WOULD SUFFER MORE AND BE TERRORIZED! I CANNOT EUTHANIZE HIM BUT OH I WISH I COULD! LOOK AT THE SUFFERING!!! LOOK AT THE SUFFERING! IT IS A METAPHOR FOR ALL THE SUFFERING OF EARTH. WE SHOULD ALL HAVE OUR HEADS POPPED OFF WITH HOES IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE DEATH ALWAYS WINSSSSS! WAHHHHHH

Scott: *peering into phone* Uh huh. Okay, on this rescue website, it says to put him in a box some place warm and quiet. If he is alive in the morning, we can take him to the rescue.

Me: *sniffling* Since we don’t have a hoe and I lack the fortitude to wield it decisively ANYWAY, I guess it is best he die warm and quiet in a box.

Scott goes off to get a box and a towel to catch The Possible Loon.

As I sit there, one of the Rescues calls me back and asks me to describe him. I do so.

Rescue Lady: Oh, that’s a loon. He is not hurt. He just had a big lunch.

Me: Um, but he has his head lying in the sand and his eyes keep slow-blinking in a dying manner.

Her: Yeah that sounds right. Sometimes loons eat too much and they get all exhausted and bloated. They have to go sit on the sand and digest.

Me: But he is tipped over and I see his belly! I see his jutty leg all jutted!

Her: Wow, He must have eaten a LOT. Loons can’t walk or take off from land, and he sounds like he impacted himself pretty good.. He just washed himself up to rest and recover from his food bloat. When the tide comes in, he will let himself wash back out.

Identified Loon: *burp*

SO I sit there, watching him, and sure enough, as the tide creeps close, He hunches himself onto his belly proper and worm wriggles with his legs going like paddles. His legs went just like the arms of the last three wind-up toys:

Scott returns with the loon-catchers in time to see him as he hunches and shoves with his revolving cartoon feet, until at last he heaves himself into the surf, where he instantly becomes this lovely, graceful TOTALLY unharmed and NON-DYING perfect loon, swimming about.

Me: Apparently he was only dying of lunch. He had food bloat.

Scott: *wisely* SO life won this round. Isn’t it cool when that happens? SEE HOW LIFE CAN WIN?

Me: *darkly* Life can win the battles. Death always wins the war.

Scott: *in a fake, hearty tone* I’m sure glad no one popped his head off with a hoe!

You know what? I AM TOO. I am GLAD no one popped his gluttonous head off. I am GLAD life won this round. It’s lovely to see life win, even when its only opponent turns out to be a double meat burrito, or whatever it was he gorged himself upon.

I’m also glad we didn’t engage in battle with a completely healthy, huge, pointy beaked loon, trying to shove his gassy, food-impacted body into a box and keep him someplace dark and quiet all night. Can you imagine?

This is why it is very important to talk to someone who knows wildlife before you go all commando-rescue on them. *nodnodnod* Thank God for smart phones.

SO what did YOU do on your summer vacation? Pop anything’s head off? Eat anything good with butter? Discover a way to manage angst about mortality? Languishing mono infested people need to know.

ALSO check back this week as William Morrow will announce winners in the IMAGE contest, there will be another sweepstakes, and Lydia Netzer will be stopping by with something awesome to help you while away the brief hours you have left. *sweet smile*

13 comments to Loony

  • Brigitte

    I love this story! I say dark stuff too, but I’m more compartmentalized, so I can say it without actually FEELing it at the time. On the other hand, Mr. Hubby is extremely angsty this summer, what with knowing of multiple people our age who have had sudden cardiac issues and/or suddenly dropped dead. He has a physical at the end of the summer, so now that he is completely freaked out about his mortality, we have to eat all healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-carb, low-sodium . . not all bad, of course, but if *I* want prawns floating in a pool o’ melted butter, I’ll have to sneak ’em in while he’s at work. (by “our age”, I mean hubby’s and mine, we’re a bit older than you)

  • This gadget helps me accept the fact that death wins the war (BECAUSE YES, IT DOES).
    http://heartmathstore.com/category/emWave2/
    It is a device that you use instead of stupid meditation. You have to make your heart be coherent or whatever. Good. Behaving. Calm. It has something to do with the distance between heartbeats or something. Positive humors. Sciency.
    Anyhow, for ME, when I try to meditate I find myself sitting still (trying to sit still, except that I’m either slumping or my back hurts from sitting up straight like a fakey faker, what is UP with my core strength anyhow?), closing my eyes (except people in the house keep making alarming noises, and how am I supposed to not look helplessly in the direction of a loud thump, followed by the hissed pronouncement, “I TOLD YOU TO KEEP THE LID ON. NOW THERE IS GOING TO BE PEANUT BUTTER IN HER SOCKS.”?), and trying to focus on my breathing and my happy place (I’m pretty sure I’ve picked the wrong happy place. Again. It’s just a mildly pleasant place, and that’s not REALLY happy, now is it?). Meditation is stupid and stressful.
    Instead, I clip my borg device on my ear and make the light go green. I can do that. I can ACTUALLY DO THAT. And it feels better.
    Mostly, I just hope you feel better. And get your wine and butter soaked prawns. All of them.

  • We went to Iowa, because doesn’t EVERYone want to go to Iowa on vacation? No? Well, me neither, but the in-laws live there. But this trip, it turns out, I enjoyed myself. The sky there is big, big, BIG. Much bigger than it is here in North Carolina where the trees are tall and fill up the horizon. And I thoroughly enjoyed the sky. We were in BFE Iowa and there is almost NO light pollution so the stars are brilliant and amazing. Then when the weather fronts are moving through, you can see the whole edge of it and see the rain headed your way. It was really cool, and it’s not like I haven’t been places where these things are true, you understand, but I was truly appreciative on this visit.

    Right before we left on this trip, which me made in the car, which was for 17 hours of driving, which would be really cool if we were driving somewhere NEW and not all across the great flat nothing that is Illinois, my daughter got sick. Just like virally sick, but with a fever and super sore throat that made me take her for a step test that came back negative and was completely unhelpful. This virus made us leave a day late and ONE THE MORNING of our departure, it gave her pink-eye, which made our departure even later. We gave her the meds and washed hands religiously and she got pink-eye in her other eye on the second leg of our trip. I was sure that EVERYONE would have pink-eye by the time we got out of, what I was sure was, the viral incubator my vehicle had become. LUCKILY, only Hubs got pink-eye and only after our trip was concluded. And my daughter got better so that by the time we left her and her brothers at their grandparents’ house she was no longer complaining of a sore throat.

    So the sickness didn’t spread and I appreciated the scenery as never before and got along with my MiL better than ever before and left my kids there for two whole extra weeks (which is like a weird extra vacation that I want but have a hard time enjoying). So all in all, a success!

  • I have an appointment this Friday to make out my will. Immediately after it is signed and witnessed, I expect I will drop dead (which is truly better than dropping dead just *before* it is signed and witnessed, but not by much). On the bright side, I live in Wisconsin, where butter is so revered, margarine was illegal when I was a child (and may technically still be so, since I’m not sure that particular law was ever repealed). We don’t get many fresh prawns around here, but we do get a lot of corn on the cob.

    While there are no actual vacation plans, I will be sewing like a crazy person, trying to reduce the stack of partially finished quilting projects languishing in the corner. If I cannot die until the projects are done, I am immortal. For every one I finish, two more take its place.

  • erinanne

    Loling forever at ‘Possible Loon’ and ‘Identified Loon’.

  • I have been feeling angsty about mortality, too, and some days are worse than others. Today was a let’s-worry-about-all-the-things-we-cannot-control day, so your post was just the tonic I needed. I’m in Maine and we have loons on the lakes but I didn’t know anything about the behavior your described, and now I have terrific trivia to slip into conversations. That will be good for months! Thank you. I’m sorry you’re feeling poorly and truly sorry the worrying is not helping. I am going to repeat over and over again that sometimes LIFE WINS.

  • the celt

    I’m not going to tell you about my vacation and the subsequent interruption of said vacation, because nothing good will come of that. I’m already too angsty about mortality and how people should be immortal together on Earth, but we aren’t, and that just stresses me out, because life should follow my rules and not those stupid natural ones.

    But I will tell you that I absolutely love loons, even if they are can’t-walk-on-land bird oddities. Ours are the common loon, and they are beautiful and call out in a haunting way that causes shivers. The sad part is that sometimes they think a wet parking lot or roadway is water, and they dive down to land and *smack* into the pavement. It’s distressing, but sometimes they are rescued and scooted over to water, where they can also swim away. (I’ve never seen a land-locked, bloated one, though. I think your loons are gluttons.)

  • Kacie

    I’m picturing that scene from Tommy Boy where they’ve scooped the “dead” deer into the backseat from the side of the road and then it suddenly comes back to life and destroys the car. I bet loon in a box would turn out strangely similar…

  • Shelley

    Our dollar is called a loonie. Because it has a loon on it. Yet our two-dollar coin is called a toonie, because it has a bear on it?

    But I digress. Today I got an eyelash in my eye, and within 15 seconds I had projected a future whereby I was blind and wondering if I could adapt quickly enough to return to teaching in the fall so we wouldn’t starve. Not quite mortality angst, but close. However, if I do go blind while on vacation, we will have to stay on vacation forever because I’m the only driver.

    Glad to hear from you – I miss your blogging!

  • SueSume

    Love you/your writing, love butter, hope that in your case (as in mine) an exception will be made, vis-a-vis the mortality issue.

    I have no feelings about loons, other than I am glad you didn’t pop it’s head off with a hoe.

  • LaurieB

    Once I “rescued” a baby opossum. The real rescue folks told me I’d kidnapped a perfectly happy little creature. Apparently, little opossums leave the metaphorical nest when very small making humans believe they’re in trouble. Liars!!
    Glad you didn’t have a hoe, heh.

  • Jenny

    They did tell you that “malaise” is a symptom of Mono, right?

  • We just returned from Galveston. Mortality has not won some of the battles in northwest Harris County OR in Montgomery County over the past week, so I’m not speaking to Mortality–just enjoying Its many evidences by getting to watch a VASTLY pregnant woman stroll the beach in a bikini–being amazed that 100 years ago they probably wouldn’t have let her out of the house that far along much less in a bikini–loving the fact that she was incubating a little human for whom I am not responsible while I watched the two little humans for which I am VERY responsible be not so little anymore but still totally dig playing with hermit crabs and splashing about in waves and making sand castles and flying kites. The eldest has her first boyfriend and is turning 16 in 10 days. She does not have permission–actually she DOES have permission for the boyfriend–she asked and everything–no lie. She does not have permission to turn 16 or be gorgeous in her bathing suit or be old enough to learn to drive my car. Alas–it is happening. And her “little” brother is as tall as she is. *sigh* But–beach, waves, putt-putt, naps, reading, Oreos. . .it’s been a good, good summer.

    BTW–you do not have permission to have mono. Kick it to. the. curb.