… on loons and kurt vonnegut

Oh, I know.


I spotted that guy from the window yesterday afternoon as the sun was sinking to the bottom of the sky. With my binoculars. I mean, I saw him through my binoculars. The ones I keep on the kitchen window sash just in case there is something in the water, or in a tree… or in case Ryan Gosling rents my friend’s house across the cove and decides to sunbathe shirt-less-ly.

Just kidding.

I don’t need binoculars to see what’s in my trees.

But when I saw the loon in the water out front, I grabbed my camera, dialed on the big lens, and went outside to hang out with him for a bit. Right now, he’s all shambly in his winter feathers. But when he’s ready to go a-courtin’ in the spring? That bird will dump me and my cove faster than a hot potato for those loon-y ladies, and he will totally spiff himself up.


He’ll trade in his nondescript greys for a black and white striped collar and a checkerboard suit. He’ll even change his whole head to a sleek jet-black orb decked out in teeny-tiny feathers to top it all off. Then he’ll high-tail it on back to the inland lakes (maybe even as far as Minnesota   (no, I am not kidding)) and step – well, flap – out as a high-class man.

Happens every year.

These guys show up in the fall like Richard Gere and his newly-minted naval aviator bros struttin’ ashore in their dress whites. But, almost immediately, they stop combing their hair, shaving, and even showering. They just toss on a pair of old grey sweats and occasionally apply deodorant when things get really bad.

I’m pretty sure the loons hanging out around my house even fart in public. That’s probably what the one above did just before I snapped the photo. Totally explains the head tossed back in laughter (“Here, here, pull my wing feathers!”).

But, hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself on a 20 degree February afternoon, whilst paddling around in 31 degree ocean water (I googled that!), then when can you laugh at yourself?

Oh wait.

You can laugh at yourself at any time, actually.

It’s kind of a thing.

I mean, you can cry at yourself too, and this I have also done many times.

Kurt Vonnegut (oh yeah, we’re going there) was pretty much the bane of my literary-focused academic existence at one time, for penning Slaughterhouse Five. But I like to imagine him as someone I would have loved knowing, for his oft very funny (while simultaneously incredibly ‘wow!’) insights, his generalized wHeirdness, his belief that kindness might be a cure for nearly everything (which I agree with), and his overall deep pessimism (a trait that I do not possess, but would like to argue about with him). Where was I?


Kurt Vonnegut said – possibly whilst channeling a combination of Kate Hepburn and Dorothy Parker – “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

I. Love. That.

If Kurt Vonnegut had written that as a Facebook status I would have used the emoji with heart eyes to express my joy and would STILL have wanted an animated one that nodded. Rapidly.

… I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

If I were sitting with Kurt Vonnegut, he’d calm me down about Slaughterhouse Five, by reminding me that he’d once said, “Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae”.  I would laugh at myself and point out that his disarm-ability could be a superpower.

Then we would talk about a lot of things, and eventually we would touch upon his preference to laugh in the face of frustration and exhaustion because it is easier to clean up, I would nod in appreciation (just like my emoji would have) and then point out something that I also know to be true.

Laughter might be less messy than tears…

But I have cleaned up my own tired-assed, tear-soaked soul – many, many times – with a great laugh.

And Kurt Vonnegut would chuckle and then I would make him tell me about being awarded the Purple Heart for frostbite.

Because he was, and I didn’t know that was even a thing.

Thanks for readin’.

You can comment below, or join fellow ponderers on Just Ponderin’s Facebook page… or both! You are in total control.