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Once again I am writing my column while enjoying the surroundings of our little cabin in the north woods. Each time I am at the cabin I feel thankful that I have this little piece of what I call God’s Country. Spending time in the woods with no noise except the birds and critters may not be for everyone, and I can understand that, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

When my son Brian first approached me about going together and buying a place up north, I saw it as an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream that I had all but given up on. We had spent most of one summer driving north to Grand Rapids to look at different lakeshore properties. We finally settled on six acres of forest land on a secluded little lake north of Deer River.

It has taken a few years to get it to where it is today, but with the help of our family and some friends it has come a long way from six acres of woods to what it is today. We actually have access to electricity now but still carry water in. It is what most consider a rustic cabin and slowly but surely it is turning into what I pictured it would be.

The fishing this week hasn’t been what I would call spectacular, but for the little lakes that I like to fish it has been okay. I asked my old friend Russ Laite if he would like to go along with me to the cabin for a few days. Russ and I go back a long ways and for many years our families did a lot of camping and vacationing together, but as our families grew and other interests moved to the forefront we just lost touch. A while ago we started having coffee together a couple of mornings a week and now I am glad that I was able to share with Russ what it’s like to spend a few peaceful days in the north woods where a person can pretty much leave any worries or problems at home. Like I mentioned earlier, this may not be for everyone, but it’s what I enjoy.

While writing this column I watched a Pileated woodpecker come to our feeders and then move from tree to tree in search of the right one to start working on. As soon as that bird disappeared a downy woodpecker came to feed. This is one of the reasons I love spending time in the outdoors; you just never know what you’ll see next. I have already mentioned the numerous animals I have seen in just the past two years. While Russ and I were fishing a secluded little bay on a nearby lake, a loon kept swimming around and under our boat. I am pretty sure there was a nest nearby and the bird was trying to distract us; it’s just an act of nature and a joy to watch.

Not hearing the sound of sirens, squealing tires, barking dogs, loud music or noisy neighbors is always worth any small inconvenience that a person may encounter in the north woods. By the way, the first Minnesota state bird (mosquito) is alive and well in Northern Minnesota, but that is a given whenever you are spending time in the woods.

A few years ago when I had my camper at Best Point on Tetonka Lake in Waterville, the owner, Jerry Miller, and I were having a conversation about mosquitoes and black flies. He said he’d had a guest staying in one of his cabins who came to the office and asked him what he was going to do about the flies. Jerry said it was out of his hands, but the man was insistent, so he finally asked the man what he did about them at home, and the man paused and then said “Nothing” — end of conversation.

When it comes to nature there are very few things we can actually control, but there are some things that we can do to make our time in the outdoors better. Picking up after ourselves is one of the easiest things we can do. I love seeing folks using the parks and pavilions for family get-togethers, but when you walk past the park the next day and see litter left over from the festivities of the previous day, it shows little respect for a resource that has been made available for public use. When someone abuses these resources and just takes for granted that it’s alright to leave the mess for someone else to clean up, it shows no appreciation.

Take a little time to get out and enjoy the outdoors and take in one of the many nice parks we have available for our use. Taking a little time out to do a little fishing can also be a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

Please take some time to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Take a little time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops who are serving today.

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