An April visit to the cabin

Published 1:09 pm Saturday, April 23, 2011

Freshly fallen snow covers the path used to get down to the lakeshore.

Once again we have suffered a minor setback in the weather department. It seems like every time I get revved up for spring something happens to change the glass from half full to half empty. I’m usually a pretty positive guy but there are times when I feel like I’m being tested.

This past weekend my wife, Jean, oldest son, Brian, and I headed north to the cabin for a few short days. We went to mainly see if it had survived the winter and to bring up a few things in anticipation of the upcoming season. As we approached the Grand Rapids area I started meeting vehicles heading south with significant snow piled on their roofs. I was thinking to myself this can’t be a good sign and indeed it was a sign of things to come.

As we started passing some of the lakes along the way, the ice had barely started to melt along the shoreline on some and not at all on others. Once we arrived at our lake there was plenty of snow on the road and half way up our driveway a pine tree had fallen across. Luckily Brian had his chain saw along and we made short work of cutting the tree up and moving it. I began to look back to last year when I came up and there was a large birch tree that had fallen across the drive and all I had to work with was an axe and a hand saw. This is all part of being in the woods and I wouldn’t have it any other way, although I’d rather not have to cut a tree up every time I go there.

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Sunday was cold and windy but Monday proved to be sunny and without that blustery wind it made even the high of 37 degrees seem nice. Brian split a bunch of wood and I helped him stack it (need to take credit when I can). This wood will be ready to burn in the fall when the weather turns cold again. We sat around the fire ring that afternoon talking and enjoying just being there in the outdoors, watching all the birds that were visiting the new feeders that we had just put up.

There was also a chipmunk and this one red squirrel in particular seemed to be trying to take over one of the feeders. Brian was throwing snowballs at the squirrel hoping to chase it away. Fortunately for the squirrel it seemed to have Brian’s number and when he threw the squirrel would move only a few inches to avoid being hit and then it would just sit there and stare at him as if to taunt him. This went on for most of the time we were there with the squirrel not being deterred by the snowball-throwing Brian. I told him that he would have to take it easy or he’d be in line for Tommy John surgery on his arm.

When I was packing to head for the cabin I looked at my winter boots and thought “I won’t need them, I’ll just take my old Red Wings.” It seems that my old Red Wings have no tread left on the bottom so it’s more like wearing a pair of skis when it comes to walking on snow. I can now imagine what a new born deer must feel like when it tries to walk on a frozen pond for the first time. I could get absolutely no traction and was slipping and sliding everywhere. This, no doubt, was not a pretty sight and although my wife and her eldest kept their chuckles to a minimum I just knew they were laughing on the inside.

Being able to see a lot of wildlife is always one of the rewards of being up in the north woods. On this trip we saw plenty of deer, some wild turkey and both bald and golden eagles. There is no substitute for seeing these critters in the wild. The morning that we were getting ready to leave our resident loons let us know that they had indeed returned to the lake for another season. Although the lake isn’t totally open there was enough open water for them to enjoy.

There is just a special feeling that I get each time that I’m outdoors in the north woods. When you add in a little snow on the ground and a campfire it makes it even better. I don’t think you can match the quiet beauty of the woods in the winter. Our cabin has no running water or electricity so you might say in some ways it is pretty primitive but I wouldn’t really want it any other way. We have an awesome wood stove that keeps that cabin toasty, a good cook stove and a radio so it just doesn’t seem like it could get any better than that.

The fishing opener is just not that far off and by the looks of the North Country old Mother Nature has a little catching up to do. I have no doubt that the lakes statewide will be ready in plenty of time for the opener.

Until next time, it’s time to do a little fishing and get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can keep enjoying the freedoms that we have today.