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I'm a children's book writer, a campground owner and a special education teacher's assistant. It makes for a very busy year with lots of writing inspiration.
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Late yesterday afternoon the sun peeked out of the clouds, just before the it dipped below the treetops. I waffled on taking a walk with the camera. It was getting dark. It was chilly. I had things I should be doing.
But I went. Because I hadn’t taken a walk in like, forever.
And I discovered something new . . .
I was standing still, very still, watching a pair of robins feasting on fall berries, when I heard the sound of water moving. As if something was swimming. I tiptoed between the crunchy leaves until I had a clear view through the bushes and gasped.
I’d found muskrat’s getting their den ready for winter. Right. Off. Shore.
I watched the pair for forty minutes or more, swimming out into the lake a few feet, then coming back to the hut to drop things on top of it.
I wish the light had been better.
When I pushed down on the camera button, it sound like Cli . . . . . ick.
There were two of them, Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam perhaps? (Okay, that dates me just a little bit)
You can bet I’ll be going lakeside again tomorrow. This time, I’ll go a little earlier AND bring my monopod to stabilize the camera in low light.
I want to catch some sharp clear pictures of these two before they winter up.
And since I’m about to embark on Cooper’s third adventure, the research wouldn’t hurt either.
GNG Middle School Rocks!
I met with Mrs. Hodge and Mrs. Carbonneau’s classes a few weeks ago. They are taking part in Maine Botanical Gardens’ conservation program, and Cooper and Packrat fit in nicely with it.
I brought my descriptive language presentation, as it ties in with the reading portion of the grant. Using passages from Cooper and Packrat along with photos from the up-close-hands-on-research which inspired them, I showed the difference between “telling” the reader something and “showing”. We practiced ‘how to describe’, using Packrat’s Coat game. then took some boring ‘ol sentences and jazzed them up.
What an imaginative, creative class they were!
Afterward, I was presented with illustrations and notes inspired from their classroom reading.
This past summer, our loons nested twice, but each time the eggs didn’t hatch. I think the cold, heavy rain was to blame, and I always feel badly for the loons when this happens. I used those feelings in my writing so you would connect with the loons too.
By the way, I’m hoping for two babies next year!
Loon illustration gifts are always such a treat. I love the red eye detail.
What a perfect entrance sign for Wilder Family Campground!
I wanted that s’more scene to be perfect, so I made a vow. Even if I had to eat two hundred and fifty two s’mores in the name of research, so every word could be perfectly placed, and my readers would feel like they were eating those ooey-gooey marshmallow-y treats themselves, well . . . then . . . . I’d make that sacrifice.
It was worth every bite.
This sign made me smile!
Such a sad loon . . . this illustration has a picture book feel to it. Very clever!
The picture above and the two below brought me right back to any given night in July or August. The smell of the wood smoke, and the crackle of sparks. Scary stories being told as marshmallows are twirled near the campfire’s orange yellow flames. And when you least expect it, you hear the wail of the loon.
I hear Mrs. Hodge’s students were quite upset with her for leaving them with Chapter 22′s cliffhanger ending last Friday. And right before a long weekend too! Oh, the horror! How could she do that to you???
Keep up the great work, Mrs. Hodge and Mrs. Carbonneau’s classes!
A few weeks ago, I visited Ms. McPherson’s class in Buxton, Maine. I gave them a presentation on descriptive writing, showed them how I research to get all the little details just right, and we played a game to illustrate why it’s so important in the stories we write and share.
The students gave *me* amazing Thank You letters and illustrations inspired by Cooper and Packrat.
I love the rainy day details, and the soft hoot of the loon from off page
Why, yes! I AM going to write more! Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest will be out next August. A draft of it is sitting on my editors desk right now.
Where do I write these books? Good question! And one I don’t think I answered while I visited. I write anywhere and everywhere I can! Sometimes in the backyard in the summer, hotel rooms (if I’m on the road), the living room if it’s quiet, in school with my students. But mostly, at my desk, in my house . . .
Isn’t this adorable? An origami loon.
I love books too! I have piles of them in the house and have been known to sneak up to 10 books in my suitcase when we go on vacation.
” . . . nature, wildlife, friendship and family”. Exactly! That’s Cooper and Packrat in a nutshell.
I LOVE loons! There are photos on my bathroom wall. Statues sit on my desk. Carl DiRocco’s lovely art hangs on my office wall. I giant loon photo hangs behind the campground registration desk. I have a loon bedspread AND a loon cookie jar.
I’m a little loon crazy.
(Don’t you love how the loons are looking at the questions?)
Other outdoor books? Have you read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen? It’s all about kids who save owls. Or how about Touch Blue, by Cindy Lord, which is about Maine Island life and lobstering.
I HAVE seen loon chicks, and they are the most adorable things! Sadly, our loons didn’t have babies last year, so I wasn’t able to take photos personally, but here’s one taken by a camper friend of mine . . .
The feelings came from deep down inside, which is why I don’t have a favorite character. It’s kind of like asking a Mom which of her kids she loves best. We love them all!
And yes, even Mr. Beakman, um, I mean, Mr. Bakeman.
Thank YOU for reading and studying Mystery on Pine Lake . . .
I created a Pintrest board.
Or two . . .
Okay. five! Five Pintrest boards in all.
One board for Cooper and Packrat’s images from launches and signings and Carl’s illustrations.
The second board is for Cooper and Packrat inspiration. Photos of loons, campground life and kids hanging out at Poland Spring Campground. I was hoping teachers would find it helpful for writing prompts and such.
There’s the board for Cooper and Packrat as it’s being used in the classroom. Here I’d like teachers to share the ways in which they’ve integrated the book into their curriculum. Mostly recently, Nancy Cooper, teacher and author, shared a Cooper and Packrat crossword puzzle.
I’ve posted some of my favorite books and movies too, of course. I especially liked how my childhood books are now labeled as vintage.
These are the books who shaped my reading and writing childhood.
If you’re on Pintrest, follow me! Let me know how you’re liking or using Cooper and Packrat.
Otherwise, I’ll just be procrastinating by searching for the newest, yummiest, s’more recipe.
This is the last weekend of the 2013 camping season. Where has the time gone? As always, there’s a mixed bag of emotions involved. I’m sad to see close friends, my parents and my campers leave .. .
but glad to get weekends off to walk the property . . .
Sad not to have groups of people around my campfire . . .
but glad to have family time again . . .
Sad not to have little campers stand at the counter and talk to me about books, wildlife, and other kid-like interests . . .
but very, very glad to gain some writing time!
Cooper and Packrat’s second book has a working title now. Cooper and Packrat: Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest. It makes it all the more real somehow to have settled on that. I’m 95% done with the revisions to it, the last of these based on a talented friend’s critique. It should be in my editor’s hands by the end of the month. She’s going to send me some revision notes (Yikes!) and I’ll revise again.
And probably again.
And maybe one more quick revision.
Then I’ll start research for a new book!
Buuuuut, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
I’ve been assisting the very knowledgeable Shannon Shanning Maine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year) as she creates a curriculum guide for Mystery on Pine Lake. It’s incredible! A chapter by chapter guide for educators, complete with the common core standards it covers. I’m putting the finishing touches on it now and will post it under the Teacher heading very soon.
You’ll also be glad to hear the trail camera is going out next week, too. Last year I caught the fox family, some squirrels, a fischer and a neighbor (walking the trail). This year I hope to catch much more, as I’ve been watching for signs and I’m more aware of where things are happening on the outer reaches of the property.
With the camp closing, I’m going to have more time to post here, too. Come back often so I can update you on where I’ll be with Cooper and Packrat and what’s happening with book two.
The deadline has passed! I will be drawing the winner tonight after supper!
I just need to find a sticky marshmallow to draw the winning name . . .
I wonder where I can find one of those?
Hmmmmmm . . .
All through school, the appointment afterward and supper, I kept thinking about drawing the name for the Cooper and Packrat Giveaway.
As promised, all the names went into the bag, along with a slightly sticky marshmallow. I made sure the bag was full of air . . .
and I shook it!
This was the lucky, winner!
Neil, message me through Facebook (or e-mail me) with your address and I’ll get your copy right out to you.
Thanks to everyone for playing!
I have a copy of Cooper and Packrat signed by not just little ‘ol me . . .
. . . but by the amazing Carl DiRocco too!
I’m looking to add it to somebody’s bookshelf! All you have to do to put your name in the basket, is to:
1) Share this blog post link on your Facebook wall (you can share the Facebook announcement from my Tamra Wight-Children’s Author wall, if it’s easier)
2) Reply to this blog post with your ultimate combination of s’more ingredients
Is it chocolate graham crackers, a marshmallow, and a York Peppermint Patty?
How about cinnamon grahams, with a chocolate marshmallow and a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup?
Three grahams and two marshmallows?
Or perhaps you find it hard to resist a classic s’more?
Do you like a cold marshmallow between the layers? Or a warm, drippy, gooey one to melt the chocolate?
On October 4th, names on the replies posted below will be thrown into a basket and shaken up. The winning name will be chosen by a slightly sticky marshmallow.
The deadline for entry is Thursday, October 3rd . . . midnight . . . my time.
Over my Writer’s Camp ‘n Schmooze weekend, two of my friends, Cindy and Mona, went kayaking in the early morning hours to watch the sunrise. They asked me to go too, but I was sooooo tired from juggling teaching, writing and camp, I decided to get the extra couple hours of sleep instead.
After seeing their photos and hearing about how they’d seen the fall loons . . . well, I’ve been regretting that decision ever since.
So when my friend Linda arrived for the weekend, I asked, “Want to see a sunrise tomorrow?”
Of course she said yes . . .
But there was no sunrise. The fog was thick. It danced across the water toward us, around us. It clung to everything . . .
It made it hard to take photos of the ducks and geese, which have begun to gather for their trip south.
We followed the sound of the loons mournful cry to find them.
My how they’ve changed!
Loons molt in September, changing from their brilliant black and white colors to a gray, not unlike a juveniles. After they fly to their winter home, they’ll molt again, this time becoming flightless for a time until their new feathers grow in and they return north.
We watched them for awhile . . . fishing and preening. Then we continued down toward the state park.
Right on the park’s shoreline, we saw a duck-like bird we didn’t recognize. Five of them. Diving, coming back up with little minnows, chasing each other.
It turns out it’s a common grebe! I believe these are all females. They were interesting to watch. A new birding find!
As we headed for home, the fog lifted and the sun came out.
It was going to be a glorious day . . .
but we’d already seen the best part of it.
I’m such a lucky author. Not only can I boast of having fabulous camping friends and customers. But I live and work in the most amazing community ever! For weeks now, students, community members and colleagues from RSU 16 have cheered for Cooper and Packrat’s release. People I don’t even know, have congratulated me on the street.
This past week, our principal declared Thursday, September 19th, Tami Wight Day. (I still turn red whenever I think of it!) A challenge was put forth for staff and students to dress in “camp clothes” or in loon colors. What fun we had with that!
And on Thursday night, my colleagues put together the most precious Cooper and Packrat celebration . . .
The ambiance was set with shrubs, mums, and a kayak on loan from Shaker Hill Nursery on Route 26. Tents were borrowed from teaching friends. And voila!, we had a camping atmosphere!
There was a Meet The Author station, with the help of Mrs. Ustach’s students. They interviewed me during the school day, asking amazing questions, and then created this board which I can now take to ALL my signings. One of my favorite questions . . .
“If you could be a Super Hero, what would you be?”
Of course, we had book sales . . .
The s’more smorgasbord was a hit! As were the craft tables. Carl DiRocco had left behind some blank book covers for the kids to create their own illustrations. You can see several of the artists work on my Facebook page. You could create your own loon or do a Cooper and Packrat word search.
And of course, I had plenty of time to chat with some of my favorite people!
Soon enough, Mr. Vincent was introducing me (more blushing involved) and it was time for my favorite part of a signing/celebration.
I got to read aloud.
And this time, I read with my wildlife and campground photographs displayed behind me.
While I read, many attendees followed along in their newly purchased books. Although not ALL of them did it in style, like this young man!
It was a great turnout! I met new people, saw some old friends and was able to connect with some of the students who were already reading Cooper and Packrat in their RSU 16 classrooms.
We also raffled off some Cooper and Packrat books, as well as a loon statue. To close the night though, Ms. Purdy, our BMW and PRHS librarian, had a special contest.
A loon calling contest!
I wish I had photos for you, but to be honest, my husband was sooooo caught up in practicing his own loon call, that he forgot to take pictures! What a fun time we had, though!
I started to list everyone who’d helped, but was afraid I’d forget someone in the process. So let me just give a huge thank you to the staff and friends at RSU 16 who helped to make it possible.
Cooper, Packrat and I thank you for an extraordinary night . . .
Whew, it’s been awhile since I posted, but Cooper’s second adventure needed to be written in spite of a busy campground and school starting. Every spare minute went to his and Packrat’s story. I’m happy to report it’s done.
Okay, it’s not totally done. The first draft is done. Before I dig into the many revisions to come, and while it’s being read by a keen eye for feedback, I finally got a chance to take my camera on the trails.
I’d been itching to go since I’d had a wildlife tip from one of my young campers, “Where were you all day, Tami!” he’d said, early Sunday morning. “It was RIGHT THERE!”
The blue heron he was talking about wasn’t quite “right there” by the time I got lakeside. I followed the trail, in hopes of seeing something, anything. But then I stumbled upon him wading silently amongst the lily pads . . .
I quickly crouched down to hide behind a small bush. He’d seen me though, and we stayed still, staring at each other for at least ten minutes. Him measuring me. Me willing him to stay put long enough to take a couple pictures.
Stay, he did.
He even started preening, feather by feather.
I took over two hundred photos of this gorgeous juvenile heron.
When I had enough, I thanked him quietly. Then we both left.
I hope I meet him again sometime.
I was humbled and amazed by the number of people who showed up for Cooper and Packrat’s launch. As I told the crowd, I really thought we’d have 20 or 30, not counting David’s parents and my parents.
It seems I underestimated by just a little bit.
I never would have imagined I could fit 130+ on my front lawn! Teaching colleagues, campers, friends, writing colleagues, wildlife lovers, and of course, family.
I was grateful to have each and every one of you there!
Carl DiRocco and his family camped with us over the weekend leading up to the launch. I really enjoyed meeting him, Gina and the boys in person.
On Sunday, he and Melissa Kim arrived at the launch , just as some early launch-goers gathered to make a toast before the big event . . .
A huge thank you to my friend and recreation director extraordinaire, Debbie Letourneau , for organizing it! Just what I needed . . .
All too soon it was to time for Melissa to get the show rolling.
I was a nervous wreck . . . shaking in my boots . . . well, flip flops. But Melissa began with her reasons for choosing Cooper and Packrat. Then she went on to announce it had been chosen by the Junior Library Guild! We were going into a second printing!
When it was my turn to speak I remembered my daughter’s words of wisdom: “Don’t cry!”
I came close, as I glanced at my husband in the beginning. But I managed to blink the tears back.
Shannon, the teacher in who’s room I teach, knows how much I enjoy reading out loud. She predicted that once I was a couple paragraphs in, that love would overtake the nervousness of having so many people I know and love in the audience.
She was absolutely right.
And to see some of them reading along, their lips moving silently . .. .
well, the feeling was indescribable, really.
After me, Carl presented in a big way!
He showed everyone how he created the cover and the inspiration he used in its development.
And then it was time for the kids activities!
Carl had brought blank Cooper and Packrat covers for the kids to create their own.
We saw some very talented artists in the crowd!
And my amazing and very giving Poland Spring recreation staff (Debbie, MJ, Maggie and Ron) manned a campfire so the attendees could roast marshmallows for the s’more smorgasbord
There were three different kinds of graham crackers, umpteen different kinds of candy bars and some of my mother’s very special, very secret recipe punch.
And while that was all happening, Carl and I happily signed books.
And signed books . . .
And signed books . . .
Toward the end of the line, were some very special friends of mine. Friends who encouraged, kicked me in the butt, and helped edit Cooper and Packrat along the way.
My writing group, the Schmoozers. So glad you were there!
All in all, I sold every one of the six cases I’d brought home with me two weeks ago. I remember thinking it was probably overkill, but I didn’t want to run out. Instead, I ended up having to purchase more from Islandport so I’d be sure to have them through the Fall!
As always, the best part of the day was talking to so many young readers, students and campers.
At one point, just before the signing, two young campers who’d spent the weekend chatting with me in the store, approached me:
“Tami, who’s the writer?”
They were speechless for a second. “YOU wrote THIS!”
Why, yes, yes I did.
Waiting for Cooper and Packrat’s launch is hard.
Luckily, I have a whole campground full of people, paperwork, activities, problems and happy gatherings to distract me.
The Poland Spring Campground Justice League, chasing off the campground villains with the waterballoon slingshot during Super Hero Weekend
The 2013 Poland Spring Campground Justice League
But the only thing that can really, really distract me, is to point the camera lens at something.
I etched out some time on the lake for myself last week. Or was it the week before? No matter. I just want to post some photos and distract myself all over again, by sharing them with you and reliving my mini-adventure.
Before heading out, I stopped on the front lawn to get my camera in order. Suddenly, a hummingbird buzzed my head, then landed on the honeysuckle with a aren’t-you-going-to-take-my-photo look, before zipping off again.
While zooming in on him, I noticed a honeysuckle branch off to the left wiggle once. Then twice. So I zoomed in on that . . .
Isn’t he cute! A spring peeper, perhaps? There’s a pair who climb the side of the Wight House every night to dine together under my porch light.
Once out on the lake, it proved to be pretty windy, so I set off into the cove again. Alas, I didn’t see the beaver or the Belted Kingfisher this time. But I did catch a glimpse of the elusive heron . . .
but only after all the little sparrows ratted him out and chased him from his perch in the tree.
Shortly after that, one of the eagle parents flew overhead towards it’s hollering eaglet.
Notice there’s nothing in the adult’s talons. It think she was just doing a fly-by to check in on her youngster. But to my surprise, the eaglet took off after its parent!
It flew in a circle, banking right in front of me. I was so startled, I didn’t have time to focus properly!
He finally went back to his nest and hollered some more. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s hunting on his own now. That may have been the last time I get such a good look at him.
I never tire of watching the wildlife on our lake. Every time I go out, I see or hear something new.
The launch for Cooper and Packrat is next Sunday, the 18th. The s’more ingredients are bought. The raffle prizes sit waiting to be won. Carl’s campsite is reserved.
I’m still deciding on whether to read Chapter 1 or Chapter 4 . . .
It was Family Day, but we couldn’t leave to find adventure first thing in the morning like we always do because the pool needed testing . . . our truck needed to be towed to the local garage . . . and the weather report was funky.
So I sulked and sipped coffee while hubby took care of a few details.
But then, Ben’s friend said, “Hey. I didn’t know hummingbirds sat for so long.”
I ran to the window and sure enough, a hummingbird sat on the branch of my honeysuckle bush.
“Well, I’ll go get my camera, but I’m sure he’ll be gone before I get back, ” I grumbled.
To my surprise, he was still there when I returned. So I snapped a few photos through the window.
He posed and posed.
“These won’t come out the greatest, because I’m taking them through the window,” I declared. “Dirty windows.”
“I’m gonna open the front door and try to get pics from outside.” I sighed. “But he’ll probably fly away the minute I crack it open.”
As you can see, he didn’t fly away. I captured some amazing photos, even through my dirty windows and my gray mood. If I’d planned to sit on the front lawn to capture this amazing little bird, I would have failed. I should have remembered that things happen for a reason. If the brakes on the truck hadn’t of gone on a Sunday when the garage wasn’t open, if David had forgotten to test the pool, if the weather had been gorgeous . . . . we would have been on the road hours before this brave hummingbird came to my front window.
Half an hour later my son called across the driveway to me from the front of the office. “Mom! You’ve taken like 2,000 photos!”
Trust in the universe.
It’s been a couple weeks since I made the time, but I finally got out on the lake again.
I didn’t go far, as there was the threat of a thundershower. But as it turns out, I didn’t have to go far. I wasn’t on the water more than ten minutes, when I came across an Eastern Phoebe . . .
He posed and posed for me . . .
Now the real reason I had headed out on the lake, or specifically into the cove, was to catch some pictures of the beavers. All my campers tell me all the time how they see them working or swimming or hear them slap their tails in warning.
I never have. Not in the 20 years I’d been kayaking Lower Range.
So I sat amongst the lily pads and quietly waited.
The eaglet hollered from his nest. Now I know he can fly off to other parts of the lake, as my campers have seen him do it. He’s just being a teen and insisting Mom and Dad come to feed him.
He got his wish in the form of a big fish dropped at his feet. And I chuckled to think of how I myself will give in sometimes, when my kids beg long enough.
Then I saw a bird I’d never seen before. It cackled loudly from its perch on the tree over the beaver hut. I didn’t get a good photo of it there as it was so far away (even with my long lens), but it had a poofy crest on it’s head when sitting.
And the crest flattened as it took flight, swooping and diving into the water for fish . . . so interesting to watch!
It was a Belted Kingfisher!
Then I heard a different call from behind me; the osprey. And I remember thinking what a fabulous fishing spot I stumbled upon!
Sadly, he didn’t dive for his supper in front of me like the Kingfisher. I couldn’t complaing though, as these are the best osprey photos I’ve gotten so far this summer.
I snapped some more pictures and here and there as I sat in the back corner of the cove.
And then, finally, I saw it.
A beaver glided through the water right in front of me. He was so quiet, I almost didn’t see him at all, and only snapped three photos before he disappeared into the grasses.
I waited a little longer, until the wind had shifted and the leaves on the trees at the golf course turned. A sure sign a storm is on the way, my grandmother would have said.
I’m already planning my next visit to the cove. Beavers and Kingfishers are on my short list of amazing photos that must be captured!
The launch details are official!
Everyone is invited!
We have several raffle prizes to give away, including a s’more basket, a ceramic loon, original art by Carl, Cooper and Packrat books and a fishing pole!
I’ll be reading from Cooper and Packrat, and Carl will do an Art Demonstration as well.
So much fun to pack into one event!
Oh! And I almost forgot . . .
We’ll be making s’mores too!
I’m very late in posting this loon report on the blog, but there will be no loon chicks this year.
Just before the 4th of July, while I was on the lake, I watched both loons swimming and diving together for over an hour. Neither one got on the nest.
And two days after that, when I paddled out, I saw four loons socializing.
Loons who do not have chicks to raise, or have had nests fail, gather together to socialize. Seeing these four so close to the nest site, should have reaffirmed for me that my loons were done trying.
But I’m a romantic. A die hard optimist. So I paddled to the spot where they raised their chick last year in hopes the egg had hatched and no one had noticed yet. The four trailed behind me as I went. When I reached the spot, they went ahead of me to meet up with a fifth loon.
There was no chick in sight. All five seemed happy to be together.
Even I had to admit it was time to call it.
Our eagle chick is thriving though! The adults drop off food now and again. He calls out for attention quite often too. I haven’t had a chance to personally check on him since the sixth of this month, but when I was last down there, he was branching to the branches over his head. I haven’t heard a report of him leaving the aerie yet, though.
Now that the 4th of July camping week has passed, and we’ve all settled into a routine here at Poland Spring Campground, I hope to get out on the lake more often. My goal is to catch beavers working on their hut . . . or to photograph the doe who walks through a section of the campground at dusk.
So many wildlife photo opportunities, so little time!
With this big lens of mine, I’ve been able to keep track of our loons better than I ever have.
Back on April 29th, I happened to see them mate. I counted out the days and marked my calendar for chicks somewhere around May 30th.
The very first nesting picture I took was May 18th . . . a not-so-great photo, but it shows exactly where the nest was.
And here we are on June 24th.
© 2013 Tamra Wight
IF I happened to catch the loon when she was first on the nest,(which seems odd they’d go that long between mating and nesting) this would be day 40, ten days after the incubation period. I began to wonder if she was sitting on a non-viable egg.
But look again and tell me if you see, what I see:
The water level is lower, which would be normal, except for all this rain we’ve been having the last week.
Her nest is more level.
In all my pictures around June 24th, the leaning tree is directly behind her.
The neighbors report having seen two eggs early on and thought perhaps an eagle or raven had gotten to one of them, when I told them I had proof of only one egg on the 24th.
© 2013 Tamra Wight
So . . . maybe this is wishful thinking, but Dave and I have a theory. We believe the first nest flooded again in May, as it did last year. Or something got to the eggs. Or they rolled off. At any rate, they were lost and no one saw it happen, or even suspected it because the loons went on to re-nest, in almost the same exact spot.
We think they’re getting a second chance at having a family, with this one egg.
Which is very ironic, considering Cooper and Packrat is all about re-nesting and second chances, too.
© 2013 Tamra Wight
I will continue to keep tabs, ever hopeful this pair will raise another adorable chick in 2013.
© 2013 Tamra Wight
© 2013 Tamra Wight
© 2013 Tamra Wight
When I went back down to the lake on Saturday, the eagles were back to fluffing their nest. There’s been at least one adult on or in the nest all weekend.
What I love about their new nest location, is how they now have branches to sit on over it, which gives me so many different poses to shoot! In prior years, they’d either hang out on the edge of the nest, which became a bit crowded when the little ones were born, or they flew off to another tree.
Hopping down into the nest
Climbing down into the nest
I’m thinking I’ll be getting some gorgeous family photos this year.
When I left on Sunday, one of the adult eagles had settled into the nest. I’m fairly certain the eggs have been laid or were just about to be.
Wish them luck!
The trail camera snapped a couple great photos of the fox . . .
I’m going to try to use a higher resolution on it next week to get clearer photos.
This cutie looks very healthy, doesn’t he? With all the spring-time love in the air, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll get lucky and see some cubs. It seems that March is the cubbing season, and the female relies on the male to bring her food. This might be why I’ve only been seeing one fox in each photo.
In April, the cubs venture out for the first time. So I believe I’ll leave the trail camera right where it is for the next few months, just in case. I’ll keep you posted on any new news!
So I’d finished my very rough draft of a second Cooper book and using a cool tip I’d learned from a fabulous Kate Messner presentation, I began to read it through while charting my characters, their habits, the weather, setting locations, clues and much more
in order to make sure I used all these elements consistently throughout the manuscript.
And there, standing out like a sore thumb was my very clever subplot. I loved it’s subject matter. I gave me one very funny scene for Cooper and a new character for him to hang out with. But it had wicked major flaws when written with the main plot. No matter how I tried to finagle it, it didn’t really fit.
“That’s it. We have to cut it,” said my practical dot-your-i’s-and-cross-your-t’s self.
“But we looooooove it,” said my hate-to-let-any-words-escape self. “And we’ll have to cut our new character too!”
It took some sun in the fun to convince my word-loving self I wasn’t really cutting-cutting, I was cutting-saving for another story. And it could be the “major” plot next time in (dare I say it) Book 3?
So I replotted all the chapters and created another new character, getting more and more excited as the pieces fell into place.
All except one. One teeny tiny worry in the back of my mind.
Wouldn’t Cooper tell his Mom if this *un-named problem* happened?
I thought about it during the school day. It kept me up at night. I doodled it all over my notebook while staring at the words ‘Chapter Six’, on my computer screen.
So I did what any writer would do. I asked my teen.
He said, “Nah.”
“You wouldn’t?” Relief poured through me. My plot was good!
One second later, eyes narrowed, I slowly said, “What do you mean you wouldn’t?”
“Really?? Really?” I said.
Still, I thought he was messing with me. I was the Mom, right? That was his job. So the very next day, while I was in the middle of explaining the importance of hands-on research such as watching loons behavior, throwing cement blocks out of kayaks for cause and effect and watching people interact, I threw my hands in the aira and said, “Hey! You can all help me do some research.”
They enthusiastically agreed. I asked my question; If you had this *un-named problem* happen to you, wouldn’t you tell your Mom or Dad?”
The students looked at each other, then at me with grins. Every single one of them shook their heads giving me clear reasons why not. At first I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But then, some of their responses reminded me of my own childhood, and of all the things I hadn’t told my mom for one silly reason or another.
And then it hit me. I was thinking like a mom again, darn it.
Now I have a sticky on my writing desk to remind me:
“Find Your Inner Middle-schooler – Then Begin to Write”
Edited to add: Mom, if you’re reading this, I survived, so it’s all good, right??? Love you!
Look who’s been out and about!
This pic was taken with the trail camera on the 13th of this month.
And here, he’s wandered into our backyard for a little shut eye the next morning. I can’t help but wonder if his den is full of cubs and he was looking for a quiet place . . .
He stayed for quite awhile and made me late to work! Hubby took over with the camera after I left.
I can’t wait to see what the trail camera picks up this week!
Today, I hung up my teaching hat for the summer. The campground hat sits facing forward, with my writing hat tucked underneath, waiting for it’s chance to be worn on top.
Before I pulled down on the brim of either one though, I needed to take a little time for myself.
On the lake.
In the kayak.
With my camera.
Sitting on the water at 7:30am, sipping coffee and watching my loon, I let the stillness of the lake envelope me.
Eventually, I picked up my camera and began shooting photo after photo.
A raven called out overhead, and the loon looked upward.
(c) 2013 – Tamra Wight
A fish jumped between us and she looked down.
(c) 2013 – Tamra Wight
Ever watchful, is our loon pair.
As I lowered the paddle to take another sip of coffee, the breeze kicked up a bit. At the same time, the water one hundred yards to my right began to bubble. It churned. And it was moving toward me! Thoughts of the Loch Ness Monster and Ogopogo ran through my head. (In defense of such outlandish thoughts – Shannon’s and my students had done an extensive Fact/Fiction/Faction research unit on these two urban legends in the last months of school. Fascinating stuff!)
But my lake monster turned out to be a school of small silver fish, jumping out of the water.
Ha! I thought. Good thing the other loon isn’t nearby-
(c) 2013 – Tamra Wight
It was! He came from behind me to pass inches from the front of my kayak, not giving me a second glance. I held my breath as he surged toward the school, almost forgetting the camera in my hand. He took that school of fish by storm.
In all the excitement, I hadn’t paid attention to where the breeze had carried me.
(c) 2013 – Tamra Wight
I quietly picked up my paddle and turned the nose of my kayak away from the nest. Then I paddled backward as quietly and quickly as possible. I hadn’t even taken five strokes, when she was back to sitting upright.
These solitary, solemn moments on the lake are precious to me right now. Not only do they make me think of Cooper and his story, but they are a meditation of sorts as I switch from one busy job to another. In a week or two, there won’t be many opportunities to get out on the water.
But that’s okay too.
(c) 2013 – Tamra Wight
Because there’s plenty of wildlife right out my window . . .
Sadly, sometime over Memorial Day Weekend, the younger of the eaglets disappeared.
There were heavy winds, so perhaps it stretched its wings and was lifted away.
A wildlife photographer I know witnessed an osprey dive bombing the nest on Memorial Day itself.
And then there’s the possibility the oldest eaglet attacked the younger.
I’d like to think it’s one of the first two myself.
I searched for a week, hoping the younger was just hunkered down out of the wind and rain. But today, it was time to face the facts. He was gone.
Still, I couldn’t help searching for him again today. And as I did, Mom came in with a fish.
Kind of looks like Junior wants to chew on Mom’s foot instead of the fish, doesn’t it?
She didn’t feed him. And she didn’t hang around for very long . . . which surprised me. The adults are leaving him alone now for longer and longer periods of time.
I got some gorgeous flight shots though!
And check this out! Our big bad eagle was chased away from the nest by a little sparrow . . .
Leaving poor Junior all alone on the nest again.
But don’t feel too bad for him . . . he spent the next twenty minutes digging into the fish he was served. I have a feeling this one will be very self sufficient very soon!
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I was so worried about my loons all weekend. The idea for Cooper and Packrat, didn’t come out of thin air, you know. Lower Range has risen to flood the loon nest three times in the last twenty-two years.
2013 Loon Nest
(2013) Tamra Wight
This weekend had all the ingredients for history to repeat itself. Days of downpours coupled with thrashing winds. But I wasn’t really worried, until one of my campers mentioned seeing both loons together.
They’re never together when the nest needs sitting on.
“They were pretty agitated,” he told me.
I quizzed him some more. He told me he hadn’t wanted to get to close, but he did notice they’d taken off for the other end of the lake.
Another camper came in mid-morning. “I saw the loon alone,” she told me.
Still another told me the pair had been circling the island.
So when 3 o’clock Monday afternoon arrived, I was out of that office, with a kayak paddle gripped in both hands. Wind whipped down the lake, practically lifting my kayak out of the water and pushing me back toward shore. But I had to see for myself.
The kayak rocked. The sun shone in my eyes. I paddled past where I knew the loon had been, then let the wind drift me backward as I lifted the camera to look through my telephoto lens. And there I saw her . . .
I think I smiled as I was pushed all the way back to the eagle nest.
What a relief!
One of the adults sat off-island, but close enough to watch the nest.
Can you see her talon? *Shudder* It’s so sharp. She sat poised on her branch until another kayaker paddled underneath her, then she flew back into the nest.
My new friend Lisa, who’s a wildlife photographer , was out on the lake too. She was worried because she hadn’t seen two eaglets.
“Oh, I’m sure they’re there,” I assured her.
But I’m sorry to say, I didn’t see two.
I only saw one. In all one hundred photos, there’s only one. He’s big and strong, and stretching his wings.
Big gusts of wind cut across the lake every few minutes or so.
I’m hoping one was brave enough to come up high into the nest, while the younger of the two stayed hunkered down.
Maybe Lisa has some proof for us! Or another camper? At any rate, I’ll be back down at the lake tomorrow to check again!