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  • Writer's pictureAram Mitchell

slap against the surface

I remember sitting on the bank of one of the many lakes in Algonquin Provincial Park early one morning. The water was glass and much of the world was just beginning to dust itself off from a hard night’s sleep. The stillness, as audible as it was visual, was pushed aside by one creature. A loon flew across the mouth of my vision with twenty or so flaps of the wings. Loon was near enough to the water that each flap made a slap against the surface and each slap punched the stillness of the morning with a moment of action, of muscle, of momentum.

Last week Lauren and I were camping at a secret spot we have where there is a lean-to at the end of a dirt road. There is a fire pit out in front of the lean-to and a pond fifty paces from the fire pit. And there are three moose that graze throughout the day, into the night, and early in the morning on plants growing from the bottom of the pond. When a bull moose, grazing deep in a pond that is deep in the woods in Maine, raises his funny head out of the water with reeds dangling from his mouth, and shakes off the wet, his ears slap against the surface in a way that sounds like a loon in Canada flying across a lake on a still morning fifteen years ago.

Yesterday I stood at the kitchen sink and heard the gurgle of water pour through the faucet and hit a dish I was washing. I heard the water tumble down the drain and through the pipes underfoot. Not quite the same as moose ears and loon’s wings striking the surface of stillness. But not so different either: We creatures colliding with water in all sorts of ways as we go about our days. For all that divides us and makes us distinct, there are some things at least that we share. Elemental stuff like water, earth, air, and the heat of our appetites, the drive of some purpose that keeps us alive.

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