The Lake Where the Loons Are Laughing Low

My father-in-law’s cousin owns a cabin on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota, not far from the Boundary Waters and the Canadian border. It was built in 1932, which seems a strange economic time to build a vacation home, but reminds me a bit of the Civilian Conservation Corps projects that began the next year.

This past week twenty of us – my husband, his parents, his three brothers and their families, and his honorary sister – all gathered at the cabin, converging from California, North Dakota, Ohio and Minnesota for four days together at the lake.

I love seeing and hearing the loons on the lake – in the day you can hear them laughing, at night their mournful calls float through the windows while I fall asleep.

I wrote week 26’s song for #songaweek2018 in the gazebo behind the cabin one afternoon while the cousins played in the water. The first lines came from the weekend before we were at the lake, when we took our kids sailing for the very first time, and I pointed out the sunlight glinting on the water. No camera can do it justice. The same is true of the sunsets over Lake Vermilion (or anywhere really!).

That evening I played the song a couple times for Nathan and his brother Micah while we sat around before dinner, and then asked my daughter to record us playing it.

Don’t take my word for it, you should go and
see for yourself how the sunlight glints on
waves of the water all around
your boat on the lake where the loons are laughing low

Breathe with the trees and the birds and the insects
so many creatures you never noticed
different from you but all the same
it’s life on the lake where the loons are laughing low

You can’t stay forever but you can drink it
deeply enough that you could keep it
down in your soul where you can always
feel the lake where the loons are laughing low

Lake Loveland

Day eight in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

One of my big questions when we were thinking of moving from Minnesota to the Front Range of Colorado was, where are the lakes? Where can we swim? And when I asked this question in an online forum, the general consensus from Coloradoans was, you are moving to the high desert from the land of ten thousand lakes. Might need to lower your expectations a bit in that department.

And they were right. One of the things I’m looking forward to in returning to Minnesota is the water.

BUT, if you were to look for a relatively (in 2013 that is) affordable place to live on the Front Range and wanted to have some water to play in, you could do worse than Loveland. Right in the middle of town is Lake Loveland (um, really, there’s a website called!), and it has a swim beach. Additionally, on the east side of town there’s actually a state park with a decent-sized lake that also has a swim beach, Boyd Lake State Park. Both of these beaches are easy bicycling distance from our house.


This is not a great photo of Lake Loveland, but it’s what I was able to snap as we walked out of our realtor’s office today after signing papers involving selling our house. That road is Highway 34, which runs along the south of the lake and goes all the way into Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (except, unfortunately, for this year, when it’s closed for construction a few miles west of town).

One very different thing about lakes here from Minnesota, is that they don’t often maintain their water level all year round. The dry climate contributes to that, and in Lake Loveland’s case, so does the fact that the nearby city of Greeley owns the water rights to this lake, and will drain it as needed.

Here’s Lake Loveland just over a year ago, February 2016:


The kids and the dog enjoyed walking around the lakebed. Luthien found a safety cone and some sort of shell in this photo. Cody (the dog) found several dead fish.