Friday, June 11, 2010 5:21am CDT

58 degrees  Thunderstorms and Rain   Wind East 8mph
There she sits.
Our loon.  Majestic.  Regal.  Unfazed in the middle of a downpour.
The raindrops on her head reflect the light of the infrared camera and the first light of dawn like diamonds in her crown.
The heaviest part of the storm with its thunder and lightening has passed.  But the forecast is for rain to continue for most of the day.  At times heavy rain.
But the rain does not bother our loon.  In fact, for her it sure is better than hot sun beating down on her hour after hour.  She is in her element.  When the peak of the storm was passing through, some of the lightening strikes and the thunder got her attention.  But the rain did not bother her at all.
In addition to keeping her cool, it also kept the bugs away!
And so she continues to faithfully sit on the remaining egg.  One wonders what goes through her mind, if anything.  Does she somehow sense or know that this has now gone on at least a week beyond when the eggs should have hatched?  Does she realize that there is now only one egg where there were two before?
Just how much does she actually understand and how much is instinct?  How much is 'hard wired' into her?  How much is learned behavior?  And who taught her?
Today is day 37 for the first egg that was laid and day 35 for the second egg that was laid.
We are now almost certainly beyond the dates that we can expect a successful hatch from the remaining egg.  But we will wait for a few days yet to see if they continue to stay on the nest and incubate the egg .... much like it would be in nature had there been no human intervention of any form.
As much as all of us looked forward to seeing those unbelievably cute chicks peeking out from under a wing, it does not look like it was meant to be this year.  And, oh, a THOUSAND questions of why!
Is this a new pair?  Are they too old?  Are they too young?  Are they too inexperienced?  Are they too uncommitted?  Are they too careless?  Did the eggs get too cold?  Did the eggs get too hot?  Were they affected by the frost?  Were they affected by the hot sun?  Were they fertile?  Were they infertile?  Did a chick start to form?  If it did, why did it die?
Questions.  Questions.  Endless questions!
Most of them that we will never have definitive answers for, as much as we would like to have answers.
It is a reminder of what nature does.  Of what life means.
This is not a scripted reality show with a known ending.
This is the first time in almost ten years that we have not had at least one chick hatch.  A remarkably successful record that is hard to match.  So maybe a year like this was inevitable.
We have gone along for the ride with the loons.  Never knowing what the ending would be.  In fact, sometimes never knowing what surprise the next minute would bring.
But that is the beauty and magnificence of being able to be a part of something so wonderful as this.  Being able to watch up close and personal these beautiful birds without once disturbing them or making them change their behavior as we watched them and listened to them.
Can you imagine even trying to explain this to your grandparents or even your parents 20 years ago?!?!  What do you mean you are able to sit at a 'computer' and watch a loon sitting on eggs on a nest on a lake in Minnesota?!!?  Are you dreaming?  Have you lost your mind?  Are you hallucinating?  That isn't possible!
And yet now we take it for granted!
We can watch it all the way around the world!
How blessed we are to be able to be a part of this.
May I give you a suggestion?  I know many of you have loved ones and friends scattered around the world.  Some of them in the armed services and  in very difficult circumstances in Afghanistan or Iraq or countless other 'hotspots' around the world.  Away from family and friends and everything that is familiar.
While we still have at least a week that the LoonCam will still be on, why not forward the link to them.  In the midst of all that they have to contend with today, let them have a little taste of home and of peace.
You may very well help them make it through their day.
There is something so soothing and so calming about the sound of rain on a Minnesota lake.  Let these sounds and sights soothe your soul today.  And even marvel at the occasional strike of lightening and the thunder that shakes to the very core of your soul.
Enjoy today and the miracles that have been placed all around us.  If only we will stop to look for them!