looking out over the tip of a kayak on Lake Superior

Lake Superior over the tip of my kayak.

As Laura recently pointed out, things have been busy around here. Not just at Mudminnow but with everything else the three of us do. Hence, the unintended hiatus of Musings from the Minnow.  But, work or not, I’ve had a new kayak sitting in my garage for the last three weeks and because the weather finally cooperated I took it out this past week – several times. I suppose I could have taken it out earlier but it would have involved hauling it over snow and then paddling through icebergs. And honestly? My love of kayaking does have its limits. I’d rather work than haul a kayak through snow.

But the first place I headed was a couple miles down the beach to check out the bald eagle nest. The nest is still there, but there were no signs or sounds of eaglets in there. On one visit there was an adult hopping around on the rocks nearby, and on another visit there was one soaring overhead. But neither was exhibiting territorial or protective behavior. And on the last visit, no adults were visible.

And that’s kind of the tell tale sign – the lack of adult eagles around the nest. If there are eggs or eaglets in a nest there’s usually at least one adult eagle very nearby. But this year the nest is just part of the northwoods scenery.

Which brings me to the title of this blog. In the years I’ve been watching that nest, there have always been eagles there. I didn’t think I did, but obviously I took it for granted that I would always paddle down there and see eagles tending their nest and young. And there are plenty of eagles around here – the other morning I stepped out on the beach and there were 6 soaring overhead. There was one sitting on the rocks this morning. There just aren’t eagles on “my” nest.

It’s easy to forget that it’s a rough world out there for so many of our fellow creatures. When a spring snowstorm dumps on us, we mutter “Damn! I have to plow the driveway again? Aren’t we done with winter?” But for nesting and migrating birds it’s not an inconvenience … it’s deadly.

I’m hoping I’m wrong, that the next time I paddle down there I’ll hear squawking and see adults around. But sad as that, apparently, empty nest is, it’s also good to be reminded: Things change, treasure your present moments.  

                                                                                               — Lesley

"Willow Wisp Cottage" aka the old post office in Copper Harbor.

“Willow Wisp Cottage” aka the old post office in Copper Harbor.

Mudminnow’s often”silent” partner–by which I mean she steadfastly refuses to blog (howdy Lloyd)–occasionally lends me the use of this adorable little yellow house in Copper Harbor so that I can clear my head of the usual pressures of book design, small press publishing, teaching, and parenting long enough to remember that I set out in life to write poetry.

I spent a weekend reading and writing without interruption here in March when the snow was so deep I couldn’t find trails without snow shoes. And just last weekend spent another two days when the only change in the landscape was that I could sometimes find bare pavement to walk on. All the more reason to stay inside and write.

So today is just a small thank you for all those unsung patrons out there who help artists be artists in whatever ways they can, large or small.

Here is my suggested list, just in case you want to enter the ranks of patron but don’t have an entire cottage to lend someone:

1. Do not mock (this includes that slightly surprised look when you hear for the first time that your sibling, child, spouse, friend, etc. is writing).

2. Do not interrupt. Yes I know it was just to pop your head in and say good morning or how’s it going but that’s how the train of thought gets derailed.

3. Do not insist on reading something before it is ready to be read (only the writer will decide this).

4. When in doubt about how to characterize what your particular artist is up to don’t try. This is the “silence is golden” rule of art patronage.

5. And when your artist does attempt to share something of what they’ve been pouring their poor heart and soul into (not always successfully) listen closely enough to make an intelligent comment. And false praise is never good, but encouragement is always welcome.

There, pretty simple really. Off you go…


Spring is in the air

April 2, 2013

Immature eagles on the beach at Eagle River, Michigan.

Immature eagles on the beach at Eagle River, Michigan.

Literally. In the land of 15 foot snowdrifts the first herald of spring is rarely a crocus. It’s usually birds. They don’t care if there’s three feet of snow on flat ground, they’re on their own personal navigation systems. And those systems say “Go North!”

At my house, the first heralds are usually eagles. Lots of juvenile bald eagles. Bald eagles are around all winter. All they need is open water for fishing, and since Lake Superior usually has plenty of that they hang around. But in the spring they show up in flocks. The increasing sunlight and slightly warmer lake temperatures bring the salmon and trout fry swarming to the surface close to the shoreline and the eagles eat them – like little sushi bites.

This morning six immature bald eagles showed up in front of my house. The photos aren’t good because I was shooting through a screened window with an iPhone. I’d have loved to stand on my balcony and take pics but I couldn’t get out there because of the snowdrift in front of the door. Spring … it’s all relative.

— Lesley

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