Who invited the raccoons to the party?Published 6:51pm Saturday, September 8, 2012
For the past week I have been spending time at our cabin in the north woods and enjoying every moment of it. I had actually headed north to work on the cabin and hopefully get in a little fishing. Mission accomplished! I finished the work that I had planned on doing and still found the time to relax and take it all in. I am actually writing this column from that little piece of heaven in the woods.comments
I don’t think that there is anything more relaxing than watching the bird feeders as various birds busily go about their business filling their bellies. We now have five chipmunks that are also regulars at the feeders; there were originally only three but two more have now joined the festivities. The last two are no doubt young ones because they still don’t quite understand the concept. One in particular figured out how to get onto the feeder after a few failed attempts and falls to the ground. I am sure the critter was pretty proud of that accomplishment but unfortunately it had no clue as to how to get off of said feeder. While I was on the deck doing something I heard a small “thump” and spotted the little guy on the ground shaking its head. After that I watched as it once again mounted the feeder and when it had finished loading its cheeks it just jumped off making another thump as it hit the ground. I think it took about two days for him to figure out that jumping to the tree was a much less painful way to dismount but he still manages to fall off from time to time.
Yes, there is a lot to be said about just relaxing and watching nature. On the second night after I had gone to bed I awoke to a noise by the feeder, and when I looked out I could see the silhouette of a raccoon on the branch above the feeder and it was trying to open the lid. As I got out of bed it sensed me and took off down the hill. On the second night I was just too tired to hear anything and in the morning I discovered that the critter had slid the glass up and off one side of the feeder and emptied it without breaking anything. I have to give that coon credit for being pretty smart. The last time that I saw said coon he was at the feeder with a much larger coon and I can only imagine that he had to bring Dad along to show him the dumb human that keeps feeding him.
I was determined to “outsmart” that coon so with one of the feeders almost empty I decided to put the other one in the back of the pickup safe from harm’s way. I have to admit that I was feeling pretty brilliant about that time because he wasn’t about to open that topper but when I awoke in the morning I found that the joke was once again on me. It seems that a mouse had found its way into the back of the pickup during the night and helped itself to most of the black oil sunflower seeds that seem to be the favorite of almost all critters that live in the north woods.
During the week I was able to spend some time fishing on a couple of my favorite lakes. One lake that is only a couple of miles down the road is a very good northern lake and it didn’t disappoint. After going through an assortment of lures in my tackle box I finally stumbled onto the right combination of colors — pink and white to be exact. I proceeded to catch a couple of small pike at first and then I caught one that wasn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination. It was about 23 inches long and thick. I immediately thought “supper” because I was really getting tired of hotdogs. I have to say that there is nothing better than fish fresh out of the lake and into the skillet with some fried potatoes on the side. I found out that this one fish was larger than I had estimated and more than I could eat at one sitting. I will be bringing the rest home to share with Jean.
I can’t express the feeling that I get while spending time in the woods on a late summer day where even those warm days give a hint of what’s to come. There are subtle hints of fall as the softwoods such as maple and aspen are already turning color. I always have mixed feelings when I embrace the onset of fall, which is my favorite season. It’s hard to describe the warm feeling that I experience as I watch while Mother Nature splashes the forests and adjoining countryside with a multitude of colors. I also feel a little sadness when I realize that fall signals the end to another summer season. I guess that is what they mean when they say someone is in the autumn of their years. Oh well, I know that I’ll be making at least one more trip to the cabin in October to enjoy the woods and lakes another time before I call it a year.
As I was fishing on one of my favorite lakes this past week I had time to reflect on how lucky I was to be there sitting in my small fishing boat which seems to be my favorite boat to fish from lately, especially when I am fishing alone. I think it makes me feel more like I am one with nature because it has no depth finder and the only fish finder is what is sitting in my old brown tackle box. That box is actually one that my Mom and Dad had given to Brian on his birthday one year. Eventually he got a new one, and I claimed his old brown one. Although I have bigger and supposedly better ones now I still use this one most of the time. I know if you ever fished with me you’d wonder how I could ever possibly get that much stuff into that small an area. It’s like cleaning out the garage — I was looking for one of these about 30 years ago so I’d better hang onto it. I know that the old brown tackle box holds more than fishing tackle; it’s also full of many good memories.
Until next time, take a little time to step back and take in some of the wonders that nature has to show us.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the great freedoms that we have today.
Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.