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October 27th, 2011

Published by: mooresb

Twlight of the August Loon everyone of them hears the eagles.

By Robert W. Butche October 27th, 2011

By Robert W. Butche On the lakes of the high plains, the fleeting sights and sounds of eventide presage the inevitable darkness of the night. Although nearly imperceptible to eye and ear, images and sounds of the lake slowly fade into graying shapes and gentle quietude. They call it 6th Crow Wing lake. By Minnesota standards, it is not that large, but it is connected to others in the Crow Wing chain by the tiny river that gives them name. At this latitude, being but a mere 40 miles from Bemidji, summer is short -- and sometimes hot. Late in the August Moon, summer's cold fronts bring dramatic changes in weather and cooling afternoons that transpose into a gentle fog that falls quietly onto the surface of the lake like dust on an old piano. Even in the heat of August, when day yields to night, life around the Crow Wing chain goes on as it has for eons untold. For these eleven small lakes, the diurnal passage of the terminator intertwines the life and death struggles of the day creatures with those who will soon become the denizens of the night. If one listens you can almost hear the twain of twilight settling o’er the stillness of the placid waters. Even as the creatures of the day exit the stage, the night cast is ready in the wings to carry on the eternal struggle for survival. Soon, lake beaver, sometimes called the the night construction crew in these parts, will be heard slamming their flat tails on the still waters. When lake dwellers hear the beaver, they know the third-shift building and demolition team has punched in for the night.

Just outside of Keith Bemis' beautiful cabin, the dominant Eagle alights on a dead limb. It takes less than a minute for her to down a wiggly Bluegill. Afterwards, she sits majestically and surveys her domain. She knows that night is at hand, but as long as there is daylight, she remains queen of all she surveys. For the longest time she sits there -- perhaps enjoying the view, perhaps just waiting for the moment to leave. Everyone around 6th Crow Wing knows the Minnesota Lakes country belongs to our national emblem -- for she and her kin have been the top of the food chain around here as long as the lakes themselves. Suddenly, the eagle turns toward the lake. Then, without a sound, and in a blur of motion, she silently lifts from her perch, climbs above the settling fog and disappears into the accumulating mist. It's official: Day is done. In eventide, when even the Mallard chatter fades magically into the spreading mist, a sense of tranquility engulfs the lake. Gone now are dozens of Gulls who so earnestly wing against an azure sky in the afternoon sun. The day’s fishermen will soon be gone as well as the last boat pulls anchor -- its fishermen heading home with big tales and wide smiles. All the better for sharing the rich bounty of the Crow Wing over dinner with family and friends.

Then, as the last rays of sun dance along the tops of trees on the distant north shore, the authoritative voices of Eagles slice through the developing silence for the last time. None of the night critters is really listening, but

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October 27th, 2011

Published by: mooresb

By the time the last rays of sun disappear far beyond the horizon, the gentle breeze of day will come to rest in the stillness of the night. Before long the spreading quiet is punctuated by a splashing oar nearby. If one looks closely, where the fog marries the water, we can see the last of the fishermen reeling in for the day. Soon the happy fishermen will disappear into the permeating mist. Even as we watch, the misty fog drops quietly over the lake -- reminiscent of a blanket slowly floating onto a bed of freshly bathed children. Even as we climb to The Bear's Den, we can see the lights snapping on at the Star Resort across the channel. As darkness spreads, only the chatter of Cicadas and the songs of loons penetrate the deepening darkness. Everywhere around us, the critters of the night are ready to come on stage. Nighttime in these woods is accompanied by a symphony played on many discordant instruments. We will hear many creatures during the night -- and if we're lucky -- we'll awake to the plaintive baying of wolves on far away shores. Summers here are far too short -- for soon the mists of August will turn into the gales of November. But, alas, the rhythm of the seasons will turn full circle. Then, for those who know to watch for the eagles, slow down for the deer, and listen for the gentle song of the loon, there just may be one more twilight of the August loon. Nevis Minnesota, August, 2003 As a youth, Keith had access to both camera and darkroom -and watchful supervision from one of University School's war veteran faculty, Adrian Stilson -- himself a skilled lensman. After a great career with Sears, Keith retired to his first love -- America's great outdoors. Today, Keith and wife Lois, are the proprietors of a lovely new home in the Minnesota Lakes country. Keith calls the place The Bears Den -- but its far more like heaven to those who visit. This year's visitors included Ellen Doan ('54) and her husband -- and one of Keith's oldest and most enduring fishing friends -- Robert Butche. This story is Butche's remembrance of yet another August on the iridescent waters of the Crow Wing Lakes.

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Twlight of The August Loon