These two years have not been kind to us, over and above what our world has experienced due to Covid-19. Early in the pandemic in April 2020, we lost my mother, Hua-nien Chien Yin. She was 101 so it was certainly not unexpected but her last month was very sad because the nursing home she was in locked down, as they should have, and we were not able to go visit in person nor to take her out for dinner as we had been doing every week for as long as she was there. I think she lost the will to live when she could no longer see us.

Then in the late summer of 2020 our beloved Maple was diagnosed with a very aggressive and deadly cancer on her heart with only months to live. We decided to try to do as much as we could which meant radiation therapy (in St Paul, MN) and then chemotherapy here. We lost her in July, 2021.

But the worst is that Lil was also diagnosed with a stage 4 gall bladder cancer in late January, 2021. It had already metastasized to other organs so surgery was not an option. She has also been having chemo since February. With the pandemic still raging unpredictably, we have been able to come up to our cabin on the island and enjoy nature in the northwoods. As these photos show, we have been able to enjoy nature, despite our medical issues.

Chemo warriors enjoying the sunshine and outdoors.

Fishing for minnows

What’s taking so long?

Bald eagles

The resident bald eagle pair, who have a nest on the mainland just opposite our island, provide a constant source of photographic material. They have successfully raised either one or two eaglets every year. This past year, 2021, there were two eaglets. In the late summer and early fall, they are large and flying about but still dependent upon the parents for food drops which they signal loudly with squawks and cries. Both parents do the hunting, though I don’t think they are very happy about it. We’ve seen instances when the eaglets were calling loudly and the parent caught a fish but didn’t feed it to the kids.

Autumn splendor

Note the pine needles that have been dislodged when it took off.

I didn’t notice that the eagle had a small fish in its talons until post-processsing the image.

Here the eagle was clear of the trees still clutching the fish

Eagle on a perch

Can you find the 3 eagles in the trees?

This year there were two eaglets. Here they are waiting impatiently for a food drop. The one on the lower branch is craning its head to watch us as we float by.

Soaring bald eaglet

Soaring bald eaglet

Common loons

The lake is large enough to support two pairs of loons, one at each end of the lake. One pair had a chick well into the fall so we had many opportunities to watch the parents dive for food and come up to feed the chick. One surprise is that in addition to fish, they also often come up with crayfish for the chick. The chick also dives and is sometimes successful in coming up with a small fish. Apparently they usually swallow the fish underwater so we aren’t able to see it.

Loon family magic

Hitching a ride

Wingersizing with stubby wings

In the right lighting the loon’s red eye is striking.

Nice catch!

Nice catch by the chick

The beak-off

Chick with crayfish

Common loon with uncommon behavior

Other wildlife

Green heron

Myrtle warbler in flight

Signs of beaver

Other visitors

Laura and Sarah brought their dog Carol up to the island. She seemed to enjoy running around and exploring all the new smells.

It’s become a tradition to celebrate Sarah’s birthday at the cabin

Nighttime sing-a-long

Please note: All text and photos are copyrighted to Tom Yin. You are welcome to share the URL, however re-production of text or photos is not permitted. If you would like to purchase any of the photos or feature this story, contact me and I would be happy to provide you with details, photos, text etc. Thanks!

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