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Along the Lakeshore: Condolences; plenty of ducks

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who wrote a note, sent a card or gave me a call to share feelings of sadness at the passing of Mr. Lemon. I have even had three offers of replacement dogs, but we just cannot handle a new dog at this time. Sue is going to have her knees replaced and her sister Dorry is very ill in Wyoming.

I don’t think we will ever be able to replace Mr. Lemon. He was so tuned to my lifestyle. Certainly, there are lots of super dogs available for adoption, but none will be Mr. Lemon. One of his big fans says I should assemble a book of my columns and Lemon stories, but I can’t quite think of myself as an author of a bound book.

The duck department has been very active with about 300 to 400 redheads intermixed with groups of scaups, buffleheads, a pair of mallards, and even a canvasback. It has been unusual in recent years to have a group that large and that stayed around for about eight days.

Last week, the air was very quiet and the ice skimmed over the whole lake. It built a bit of thickness, so I turned on the water circulator, melted out a hole about 100 feet around. This morning there were young female ring-necked ducks and a mallard pair swimming around.

Some years ago, my neighbor Dr. Giambartolomei used to clear a large 200-foot circle to protect the tracks for his marine railroad for his motorboat. The boat was docked on a little car and a transmitter like your car door controller started the winder upper and the boat would end up safe and sound inside the boathouse. I thought this was a pretty slick operation and it was the work of Tom Dean and Charlie Rounds. In those winters of almost total ice coverage of the lake, it was not uncommon to find a big flock of ducks dropping in to rest and feed in Dr. G’s nice round hole. On one such occasion, there were about 20 mallard pairs paddling around in this little hole and the local muskrat slipped in with them. I’m sure he was dreaming of having duck for dinner. Those mallards were no dummies. They just hopped out of the water and walked about 100 yards offshore. Mr. Muskrat did not like the idea of being exposed on the ice a long way from the safety of his hideout, so he gave up his hunt.

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