As I write this column I am sitting in the cabin looking out the deck door at the lake and watching the birds feeding busily at the feeders. My sister Judy and my brother-in-law Mike stopped by on their way home from their cabin, which is up by Northome, and that is about 40 miles northwest of my cabin. As we talked about different things Mike and I began discussing the different birds that we have visiting our feeders; just then a thought occurred to me – 40 years ago you’d never thought we’d be standing here today discussing birds.
It’s funny how time has a way of changing one’s priorities, I know part of it is the growing older thing but sometimes, not always, with age comes wisdom. I know some of the things that were important to me when I was younger have taken a back seat to other things. The only thing that hasn’t changed for me is my appreciation for the beauty of nature and the critters within. I’d have to say I have always been infatuated with wildlife and the habitat that is their home.
I love coming to the north woods because you can never tell what critters you may lay your eyes upon. So far this year we have had a porcupine walk under our deck on its way to the deep woods, and the last time I was up here I saw a bear standing on the edge of the woods about a mile north of the cabin. On my way to the cabin on Monday a wolf trotted across the road in front of me about two miles south of the cabin. This is what I love about the North Country and the area where we’ve built our cabin and even though it is over 300 miles from home, it’s well worth the drive.
I have written numerous times about my days as a youth and what a big part the “crick’ and the slough that surrounded it played in my appreciation of nature. I had many heroes, most fictional and some real, but they were always the guys in the white hats. My Uncle Ben was someone I always looked up to because he was the one that took me fishing; sometimes he and my Aunt Marcie would take me “up north” fishing for a week. This was about the only time while I was growing up that I actually got to experience a real vacation. They would leave early in the morning and I can remember standing in the yard looking down the road for headlights and getting chills of excitement every time a car’s headlights appeared in the distance.
Ben and Marcie had no children so that is probably why they liked taking me with them once in a while. Ben would also take me fishing for a day in the Waterville area. He taught me a lot about fishing, things that still hold true in today’s world of modern technology. To me the smell of fishing was the exhaust of that old green 5 horse Johnson as we trolled the shoreline for northern pike and bass. Basic, simple fishing that worked way back when and still works for me today.
For quite a few years I had gotten into painting landscapes and wildlife, not because of my Uncle Lloyd, but because of my Dad. He loved painting horses and when I started doing outdoors scenes and adding deer we would talk and he would give me pointers on painting animals and I would do the same for his background scenes. We fed off of each other and this gave me incentive to paint. My love of fishing and the outdoors showed in all of my paintings because I never did one without a fishing scene or, if it wasn’t about fishing, it had some form of water in it. Once Dad had his stroke and could no longer paint I lost my enthusiasm for painting and although my sister has done much to encourage me from time to time I haven’t been able to bring myself to get back into it.
My sister Judy has taken over as the family artist and has gotten very good at it. We used to vacation together with our families at Spider Lake and a couple of years ago on Christmas she gave me a watercolor painting she had done. One look at that picture and I could put myself in the boat on Spider in that exact same spot on the lake. I have looked at that painting on many a winter day and imagined I was there casting or trolling on a sunny summer day; talk about the gift that keeps on giving.
Until next time, take advantage of summer and get outdoors to enjoy a walk by a lake, have a picnic in one of our many city parks or visit a county or state park. Whatever you do, just get outdoors and enjoy!
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.