The Loon Call

Lost and Found Sound:

Grandpa Jim carrying a canoe over his head

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Brent's father Don trying to teach Brent how to do the Loon Call

Brent's father Don trying to teach Brent how to do the Loon Call. hide caption

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A loon

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My grandfather is a kind of mythic figure in my family. That's him holding the canoe on his head. That picture was taken when he was seventy.

My parent's house is filled with the wooden statues Grandpa Jim used to do, carved from logs and driftwood he'd find on his hikes up in Michigan. Almost all of them are human figures, beautiful, graceful forms. There are dancers, walkers, waders, star gazers. They're a constant reminder of the kind of man he was, and the kind of man my Dad and I would both like to be.

When my Dad was growing up in Michigan, Grandpa Jim would call him for dinner using a loon call. A sound he made by clasping his hands together like two big C's and blowing between his thumbs.

Brent's father Don trying to teach Brent how to do the Loon Call. My Dad used the same call to bring my brother and me home from playing kickball in the culdesac where we grew up in the Finger Lakes region of Central, New York.

I'm twenty-four now and I've been trying to make the loon call my whole life. Somehow I've never been able to do it, and what's worse, I'm the only man in my family who can't do it. But I've decided now that I'm really going to try and learn.

This story from Lost and Found Sound was produced by Brent Runyon, with help from Jay Allison and Christina Egloff. Brent Runyon is a radio producer with Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. His work has been heard on This American Life and Living on Earth. He is from Ithaca, New York.

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