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This past fourth of July weekend, which is a time for celebration, the Stultz family suffered the loss of their daughter Sophie in a tragic accident. I know her mother Sarah from the Tribune and I had first heard about the accident when I saw Sophie’s picture on Facebook. I am a softie when it comes to hearing about the loss of any child, whether it be in a traffic accident, farm accident or a shooting in Chicago. My heart is always heavy when I hear of these stories; not only for the child but for the family left to grieve. When I heard about Sophie I had a hard time wrapping my head around it so I went to my son Brad’s house and got a hug from each of my two beautiful granddaughters.

We are lucky to live in such an amazing community where the people stepped up and showed their support for the Stultz family. Although we may, at times disagree, the caring and support that was shown makes me proud to say that I live in Albert Lea. Hopefully the many wonderful memories that the family has of Sophie along with their faith and the overwhelming outpouring of support shown by this community will help, in some way, to ease the pain.

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This past week I had spent some time up north at the cabin with my grandson Trevor. I wrote last week about some of our fishing experiences and I can only add that I did reaffirm what I have always felt; Spider Lake has always been a good lake to fish and a great lake to spend a day not only fishing but enjoying the outdoors in general.

We spotted deer and other wildlife on the way to the cabin and on the day that we first arrived I put up the feeders in anticipation of a visit from a few feathered friends. It didn’t take very long before we were visited by many different species of birds. There were black capped chickadees, finches, and red breasted grosbeaks and one morning four ravens visited. The birds that were the most entertaining were a pair of downy woodpeckers. My son Brian and his family had given me a wooden suet feeder for Christmas which hangs from a wire and has holes that you insert round suet blocks into. That pair of woodpeckers would perch on opposite sides of that block and one would take food and when the other peeked around the side it would put food in its mouth. I have seen cardinals do this but it was the first time that I’d seen woodpeckers do that; it must be love.

I had put up a trail cam just to see what wildlife may be frequenting the cabin at night and on the last night I thought we had hit the mother lode. Our cabin has two patio doors side by side that open out onto a deck. On the last night while Trevor and I were fast asleep we were roused out of a deep sleep by a noise. I had the deck door open but the sliding screen part shut and then I heard the noise again; I was now fully awake and that’s when another deep, throaty roar followed by a series of one or two growls got my attention. Trevor had awoken in time to hear the second half of the festivities. I found a flashlight and shined it out of the door to see if I could see what we were dealing with but, just then I heard it go off into the woods without a sighting.

I have heard raccoons before when they were fighting and growling at each other and this noise that I heard was definitely not from a raccoon. Our guess was either a bear, wolf or cougar and all that I know for sure is that it was a much deeper, throatier growl and most likely from a much larger animal. That was quite a sound to wake up to in the middle of the night. In my haste I didn’t shut the patio door, just the screen and I quickly fell back to sleep. When I awoke in the morning the patio door was shut; I knew who had shut it and in hind sight I should have shut it before going back to sleep but never gave it a thought. I know that Trevor had no plans of becoming an easy meal for some wild critter. The trail cam hadn’t caught anything on camera but it had been activated so whatever it was must have been just out of range. Nothing like a little excitement to finish off another fun trip to the cabin.

Take a little time to make a few summer memories by sharing time in the outdoors with family. This is a great time to get away from all your electronics and make your own outdoors adventure.

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

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