A Lake Adventure

by Laura Thomas

Murphy Lake, Fortine, Montana – photo by Laura Thomas


My life has opened a new chapter. All my life i have loved the outdoors and all the creatures that inhabit the wild places; yet I had never had the opportunity to learn about or experience those things, until now, ad my heart has been overjoyed by the experiences, let me explain.

There are many adventures one can be on, and putting a camera in my hands has proven to be not only fun but rewarding as well. And has given me a good excuse to be outside, no matter the weather, good, bad, or beautiful. It’s all part of the discovery of the world that surrounds me.  And going to “Our Lake” as I call it, has proven to be an experience of seeing, and hearing things not experienced before.

Our first trip to our lake was early spring, on a rainy, chilly day. The snows and ice of winter still clung to the landscape, letting us know that we were one of the early arrivals to the lake. The ice that covered the face of the waters was receding, and there was open water along the edges of the lake. As we stood there watching, I saw something dark swimming in the water. At first I thought, beavers, but when the animals came up on the ice, it was very clear we were not seeing beavers. We were seeing otter, two of them. Watching I was mesmerized, the otters frisked about on the ice as if showing off. Then suddenly they dived into the open waters, gone from view. I was fairly shaking with excitement. “Did I just see what I thought I saw?” I asked my love, “Yes” he assures me. And while I have seen pictures of otters, it was my first time to witness them in the wild. What an experience.

On a return trip to Our Lake, the day was cloudy and the wind was blowing hard across the waters, making it chilly. And once again, no other people save us were there. We hear something, listen. Calls ring out from across the lake and while hidden from our view, the calls are distinctly Canadian geese. The calls we were hearing were of their early spring courtship rituals and of establishing territories in which their young will soon arrive. The geese come out into view, honking and splashing in the water as the male chases off rivals. The pair are swimming with each other in unison, when suddenly they lift themselves from the waters to the sky, as one. “It’s beautiful”, I say as I catch my breath at the sight of the pair as they fly over my head. “A sight not often witnessed”, says my love, as we stand side by side, holding hands.

Our Lake again calls us to come for a visit and we are eager to go. This is our third trip in as many days and once again we find the parking lot free of other cars. I’m sure it’s because it’s raining, for many people don’t want to be out in the rain and be miserable. Yet, I find the rain adds to the atmosphere at the lake. Today we take a walk around the bend, following the trail along the lake. We find a spot to set up the camera and tripod along the shore, where we have a good view of the activities on the water. There ducks swimming, knowing its both male and females, though we can’t identify them then, we find out they are hooded mergansers. The male is in his full regalia for spring courting. He has a brown, tan colored body, black head with a white hood; he stands out beautiful, against the dark waters. As we were watching these ducks there are two large dark forms swimming towards our vantage point. “Oh, honey, look, they are the loons, the first pair of the season.” Loons are elusive creatures preferring to keep away from others and humans, so to see the pair, well what a sight to behold. They black with white strips and white spots on their body, they glide through the water with ease. And while we didn’t get to hear their call, it is a wild, wolf like call that is haunting to hear. As we walk away from the lake, a realization sets in. I have come away from the lake with new found experiences of seeing sights and hearing sounds not experienced before. I also realize I want more of this.

A Writer’s Entrance Exam

by Bob Hostetler

Copyright Bob Hostetler (www.bobhostetler.com). Used with the permission of the author. 

Say you wanted to enroll in studies at a respected educational institution—let’s call it Wisenheimer Academy for Clever Kids. You might expect to take an entrance exam to determine your degree of fitness for WACK, right? Just as you would to begin training for ministry, law enforcement, or interplanetary space travel.

Oddly, though, there is no entrance exam for writers. Until now.

That’s right. Thanks to this website, you can, with a modest investment of time and effort, determine your fitness to pursue the writing life. The following questions may reinforce your confidence in writing for publication–or save you much time and trouble by steering you away and into an easier, more rewarding line of work, such as lumberjack or Alaskan crab fisherperson.

Simply answer yes or no to the following questions, and calculate the results when you’re done:

Simply answer yes or no to the following questions, and calculate the results when you’re done:

  1. Do you love words? Sentences? Paragraphs?
  2. Do you have a favorite punctuation mark?
  3. Do you drink too much coffee? Or tea? Or wine?
  4. Are you constantly feeling assaulted by spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in magazines, newspapers, billboards, cereal boxes, and protest signs?
  5. Do you talk back to the television or movie screen to complain about poor characterization, unrealistic dialogue, and plot holes?
  6. Do you sometimes imagine story lines for strangers you see in stores, on the street, or on planes?
  7. Do you sometimes think, in the midst of a great or terrible experience, “I can use this?”
  8. Do you feel a rush when you enter a bookstore or office supply store?
  9. Do you critique birthday, Christmas, and anniversary cards you receive, thinking, I could’ve written a better greeting than that?
  10. Do you lose track of time when you’re on a writing tear?
  11. Does your Amazon delivery driver know your name?
  12. Does a word or idea often keep you awake—or wake you—at night?
  13. Have you cried because of something a character in your story did?
  14. Have you ever used toilet paper or a cash-register receipt as a bookmark?
  15. When you’re writing, do you alternate between “This is the best thing anyone’s ever written” and “This is the worst thing anyone’s ever written?”
  16. Have you ever named a pet after a character in literature?
  17. Have you ever named a child after a character in literature?
  18. Do family members refuse to play with you in Scrabble?
  19. Do you resent your parents for giving you a happy childhood?
  20. Have you ever used laundry, dirty dishes, or alphabetizing your canned goods as a distraction from writing?

Now, total your “yes” answers. How did you do?

5 or less = What kind of monster are you?

6-10 = You’re a writer.

11-15 = You should be in therapy.

16-20 = Forget therapy; it’s too late for you.

The post, A Writer’s Entrance Exam first appeared on:

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Thank you to Carol Buchanan for sharing this and getting Mr. Hostetler’s permission to pass it on.

April Book News


An audio version of my non-fiction Shhhh! It’s a Secret: How to Compete with Walmart and the Internet was just released.

I used a professional reader from Findaway, now bought out by Spotify, and it’s on Amazon.

The experience was almost painless. If you have the time, the right equipment and diction as professional sounding as Susan Purvis, doing your own recording is a great idea. For the rest of us, it is great to learn professional readers are an internet click away.