Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Loons of Cranberry Lake

Loon painting

Here at the western gateway to the Adirondacks lies a quaint, often overlooked town called Cranberry Lake. If you’ve traversed Route 3 into the high peaks, you’ve likely passed through Cranberry Lake without even realizing it. Blink too many times, and you might miss this hidden gem entirely. Both the town and the expansive lake at its heart share the name Cranberry Lake, a place where nature’s spectacles unfold daily. 

Countless times, I’ve stood on the shores of Cranberry Lake, captivated by the living wonder before me. It’s like having a personal National Geographic channel, with each scene more breathtaking than the last. Picture this: the water spray shimmering in the sunlight as a bass breaks the surface, its sleek body arcing through the air in pursuit of a horsefly. Nearby, a mother beaver glides gracefully across the lake, her tiny offspring hitching a ride on her back. Turtles bask on sun-warmed rocks, their heads stretched skyward in serene contentment. Each moment is a testament to the peace and beauty of the natural world.

As longtime residents of the Adirondacks, we treasure the unconventional friendships we’ve formed with the creatures around us, each as unique as a human fingerprint. For months, my gaze was fixed on the water, anticipating the return of two beloved feathered friends, a pair of loons I named Sebastian and Sabrina. Loons are territorial creatures, and year after year, this duo returns to Cranberry Lake as winter yields to spring. Their presence signals the renewal of the season and brings a sense of continuity to our lives. 

One morning, I heard a familiar sound—a wailing call, Sebastian’s signal when he loses sight of Sabrina. Over time, I’ve learned to interpret their calls, each one conveying a different message: “Where are you?” “Danger is near.” It’s a secret language we share, a magical connection to nature. This year, however, Sebastian’s wailing continued longer than usual. Where was Sabrina?  Later that evening, I spotted Sebastian, swimming back and forth across the lake, his calls growing increasingly desperate. A wave of sadness washed over me. Could last fall have been the final time I saw Sabrina? In the wild, creatures we grow attached to may not always return. It’s a reminder to cherish every moment.

Weeks passed, and Sebastian seemed to vanish. Had he given up, resigned to solitude, or had he flown off in search of Sabrina? Every Sunday morning, I made it a habit to scan the lake, hoping for a sign of my feathered friends. One morning, I noticed two small silhouettes floating on the water’s surface. My heart dared not hope—had they returned?  As the figures drew nearer, my anticipation grew. After nearly an hour, I could see them clearly: two loons gliding side by side. It was Sebastian and Sabrina! But they weren’t alone.  There was Two small chicks nestled on Sabrina’s back, with Sebastian protectively close by her side. My delight was immeasurable—Sebastian and Sabrina had not only returned but brought new life to the Lake.

The return of the loon family filled me with a profound sense of joy and wonder. Witnessing their reunion and the addition of their chicks was a true blessing, a testament to the resilience and beauty of nature. Sharing another season in the life of these loons reminded me of the deep connection between humans and the natural world. In the Adirondacks, if you stay long enough, you become part of the ebb and flow of the wild, the magic of the mountains seeping into your heart and soul.  

Cranberry Lake, with its serene beauty and vibrant wildlife, offers a glimpse into a world where nature reigns supreme. It’s a place where each visit promises new wonders, and every encounter with the wild leaves an indelible mark on your spirit. Whether it’s the graceful dance of a bass in the sunlight or the tender sight of loon chicks riding on their mother’s back, Cranberry Lake is a reminder of the enduring magic and tranquility found in nature’s embrace. So next time you find yourself on Route 3, don’t just pass through—pause, look around, and let Cranberry Lake work its enchantment on you.

Photo at top: Artwork by Jackie Woodcock.

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Jackie Woodcock was born and lives in the Adirondack Mountains. She is an apiarist, lepidopterist, conservationist, teacher, writer, artist, and a co-owner of SkyLyfeADK. You can find her SkyLyfeADK on Instagram and Facebook.




17 Responses

  1. Linda Friedman Ramirez says:

    What a beautiful photo!

  2. Jackie Woodcock says:

    Thank you! It’s enhanced from the original.

  3. Susan Sweeney Smith says:

    Jackie…. Your words resonate with me so clearly. The painting is amazing too! Glad to have you in our world.

    • Jackie says:

      Sue,
      Thank you so much! You are a Blessing to my life and a friend to my soul! Lots of Love to you always!

  4. Nancy Peters says:

    I was just thinking about you, and this morning I’m reading your beautiful testimony of the unique wonders of nature. They are such a blessing from God!
    I’m excited as a kid at Christmas when we’re up at Brant Lake and I hear that first call of the loons as it echos across the lake.
    Thank you for sharing your faithful attachment to your special loon friends. Nancy Peters

    • Jackie Woodcock says:

      Hi Nancy,
      You are too kind!! Thank you so much for your sweet comments! It’s hard to mistake a loon call. We are Blessed to live in such an amazing place. I hope you and Hank are well!!! Have a Blessed 4th of July. Lots of love

  5. J.E. Irvin says:

    Jackie, thank you for this lovely tribute to Cranberry Lake and the wild nature of its inhabitants – human and otherwise. As a visitor-turned-novelist about the area, I learn more about this western gateway each time I visit. Your article adds to that education.

    • Jackie Woodcock says:

      Hi there,
      Thank you for reading my article and for your kind comment! Maybe you can check out the Cranberry Lake one day! I hope you have many wonderful encounters is our neck of the Woods. Have a Great Independence Day!

  6. Genevieve Mary Ireton says:

    Beautiful story…must make a visit there.

    • Jackie Woodcock says:

      Thank you for the kind comment. I certainly hope you get a chance to visit! Its a beautiful little area of the Adirondacks.

  7. John Peterson says:

    Fantastic article. Growing up in Northern Wisconsin there were two loons on the lake we had a cottage on. They remain in my mind, and I cherish that sound. Thank you for the memories!

    • Jackie says:

      Hi John,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my article and for your kind comment! Such a unique sounding creature that is memorable now matter where they are. Have a great week.

  8. Christopher John Mulcahy says:

    Please don’t advertise this place. No one really need know.

  9. Agha Shahid Khan says:

    What beautiful petry in prose. To me loons reflect purity and perfection and a true miracle of nature. To have an eye and a heart to appreciate this delicate phenomenon is a testimony of the purity of the observer

    • Jackie says:

      Hi Agha,
      Thank you so much for your kind comment! I agree with your depiction of these unique creatures, beautifully said! When you have lived in the Mountains as long as I have, you frequently observe the Magnificent beauty Nature beholds and the Miracles there in. Have a great week!

  10. Claude says:

    What a wonderful story.I have been vacationing in the Adirondacks for the last ten years, I love this place.My week vacation there is the highlight of my year. Nothing like the sound of the loon , it’s like nature talking to you . If you haven’t been there, you must go.As soon as you enter the Adirondack Park on RT. 3 you can feel the stresses of life just melt away. Wish I could live there forever!

    • Jackie says:

      Hi Claude, thank you for the kind comment!! It’s true, there’s a peace and tranquility here that washes over you. The Summer is Amazing but Winter at times can be challenging. Hope you will continue to visit and soak up the great vibes.

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