CHRISTMAS Day, 2012 3:09pm CDT

8 degrees   Sunny   Wind 4mph N
7:51am   4:35pm
Merry Christmas to all of you!
Whether you celebrate Christmas itself in its truest meaning or whether you celebrate some other holiday, may this time be a very special time for you and your family and friends.  May the love of this Christmas Season fill your hearts with warmth and those special memories for years to come.
Minnesota has entered what I call the "quiet season".
With the first snowfall, it seems as if the world slows down and everything gets quieter.
Everyday noises are muffled by the big white blanket that has descended on everything.  And with the snow and colder weather, people tend to remain inside more.  No longer do you hear all the activity in the outdoors that spring through fall bring.  Not nearly as many long conversations outdoors or laughs which carry throughout the neighborhood.
It is as if the "blanket" has quieted everything.
Unfortunately, that also means that we no longer hear the beautiful, haunting call of our loons echoing across that lake at night.  And for that, we are much the poorer during the winter months. 
Days are shorter.  The sun does not seem to want to get up in the cold morning air.   And it hurries to go down in late afternoon.
Right now at this special holiday time of year, we are also at our shortest days of the year.  But soon, inexorably the days will begin to lengthen.  Minute by minute.  And then one day it will suddenly become apparent to us that the day has gotten longer.
By then, there is no stopping it.  Every day seems to be noticeably  longer as we race toward spring.
And with that, hope springs eternal as we begin the watch for our beloved loons to once again start their migration north.
This year has been a hard year for our loons.
You will remember that we were able to band all of the loons on our lake this year - 6 in all - except for the chick from the LoonCam.  He was just a little too small and too young to be banded.
He was a fearless and independent and lovable little loon.
So active and so in love with the nest.
But unfortunately we lost him sometime in early August.  Probably to an eagle although we will probably never know for sure.
Then in October I got an email from the USGS that informed me that one of the chicks from the other family on the lake had been found on Lake Phalen in St Paul, MN.  He was rescued and taken to the Wildlife Rehabilition Center.  We could identify him from the bands and geo locater tag that we had placed on him this summer.
He had been found with a fish hook in his neck and with fishing line wrapped around him.
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center performed surgey to remove the hook.
Unfortunately he did not survive the surgery.  The injuries and stress had just been too much in spite of the efforts of the wonderful folks at the WRC.
After the Holidays, I want to meet with some of the people at the WRC to find out more details about what actually happened with our loon.  I will let you know when I find out something more.
But it is just another reminder of all the threats and stresses that our loons face every year.  And since most of that takes place out of our view, it is also something we do not think about.
I look forward to the possibility of recovering the data recorders from the other loons next year.  Then we will hopefully be able to find out how they did and where they went.
So much to learn.
In spite of our anxiousness to know right now, we will just have to wait.
During this Christmas and Holiday Season, may you know the warmth of the love of God and family and friends.  Cherish the times you have with them.  They are all too fleeting and too uncertain, as we have recently been reminded.
Thank you SO much for so many of you who sent Christmas cards and kind wishes!
May this be your best Christmas ever and as we look forward with renewed hope for the New Year.
And for the return of our loons!
Copyright 2012  Larry Backlund