Once again I have been blessed by being able to spend time at the cabin with my grandson Dylan. I always know going in that whenever he and I go to the cabin it will be pretty much all about fishing.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that my wife Jean and I were at the cabin for a few days. We had planned on relaxing and getting some work done on the cabin which we did. The days that we spent there seemed to go by all too fast and I can’t remember the last time that I spent a good chunk of time in the North Country and didn’t fish; well this was one of those times. I asked Jean if she wanted to go fishing but she decided not to so we left it at that. In the back of my mind I knew that Dylan and I would be doing our fair share in another week.
I can’t say enough good things about time spent up north away from the daily routine. Where else can you be greeted each morning by a chorus of birds singing and loons calling to each other? There is entertainment galore when watching the birds at the feeder or the chipmunks as they scour the ground for dropped seeds. We have one feeder that looks like a red barn which they can reach by climbing a tree. Sometimes they will slide off the roof of the feeder and bounce to the ground and after shaking the cobwebs out like a Disney cartoon character they keep right on trying. This is more entertaining to me than anything you will ever find on TV.
One observation that I have made is that there just doesn’t seem to be the tourist traffic that I can remember from years gone by. When I was growing up folks took their vacation a week at a time and that had to be planned plenty far in advance. I just don’t see the typical vacationer that I saw as a kid and later on when I entered the working world. My Dad had two weeks of vacation a year and we usually never went on a real vacation like most folks. If we went anywhere it was only for a day but there were a couple of times that I remember when we went to visit a distant relative or friend of my folks.
I do recall this one time when we went to visit their friend Vern Johnson and his family who had moved to Milaca where he had purchased a bar-gas station which was quite common back then. I guess that was what some folks referred to in those days as a “beer joint”. I was really excited because to me that was going “up north” and to an aspiring young fisherman that is where the good fishing was. Well, things didn’t exactly turn out as I had expected when we finally got to go fishing. We went to the banks of the Rum River to fish for that elusive game fish (to some) the bullhead! We actually drove home with a gunny sack full of bullheads in the trunk of our ’49 Buick. When we hauled that sack of bullheads to the basement to clean them, I couldn’t believe it - some of those dumb fish were still alive!
I was actually introduced to real vacations by my Uncle Ben and Aunt Marcie when they would take me along on their fishing vacations “up north”. I still have some of the souvenirs that we had bought from roadside stands. It was pretty common to see folks selling miniature birch bark canoes and tee pees along with assorted other Indian related items. I believe my favorite was this drum with the face of an Indian Chief on it. That drum could really put out the sound but eventually it wore out much to my parents dismay I’m sure.
Yes, it almost seems like the weekly family vacations are being replaced by day trips to Valley Fair or Mall of America. This is a little disheartening to me but sadly it is the sign of the times. I believe that we need to introduce our future generations to the beauty of the outdoors so that they can appreciate and preserve it for generations to come. I realize that not everyone will be a fisherman or hunter but taking the time to get a break from the neighbors barking dog or the guy a block over that doesn’t know the 4th of July has passed can be rewarding. You may be surprised at how relaxing something as simple as a drive in the country or maybe even a trip to one of those nice little communities to the southeast corner of the state can be.
As I sit here writing this column I am looking out between the pines at the beauty of our little lake as the sun disappears below the horizon. There are many scenes like this that cannot be duplicated by a camera or even an artist’s brush because these are things of beauty that are there for a fleeting second or two and can only be captured in our memories.
Until next time; enjoy the great outdoors and take some time to go for a walk, take a bike ride or introduce a youth to the great outdoors. We could all take a little time out of our busy lives to step back and take in some of the wonders of nature that we have nearby.
Please take a little time to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.