Dick Herfindahl: Enjoying one last trip to the cabin

Published 12:09 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


This past week I was up north at our cabin for one last time before the snow flies. On my drive up here on Monday, I saw three eagles in different locations. One was standing in the ditch by the road and took off just before I got there. That eagle flew straight towards my vehicle but was about 10 feet above it, now that was pretty cool.

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It is always tough to make my last trip of the year because I know that it means I won’t be back until the beginning of spring in April or somewhere around then. The weather, for the most part, was pretty typical for fall in the north country, cold, rainy and breezy. The only thing missing was the sun. Wednesday was to be my best chance to see the sun. The morning was clear and sunny, but by late afternoon I was getting only a peek here and there. Although the week wasn’t perfect weather-wise, I was just glad to be able to spend some time at our little cabin in the north woods.

When I was a few years younger, I would have cherished this weather because overcast, misty and temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s is a perfect scenario for good fishing action. Fishing alone and having to launch a boat on a cool windy day gets to be more of a challenge as you get older. If I was running at 100 percent I would still try it, but because I am still recovering from some health issues I took the better safe than sorry approach.

With that being said, I am not going to let it keep me from exploring a few new lakes by driving to the access and checking them out. This is something that I like to do in the fall and finding a new lake to explore is what helps get me through the winter, especially February and March. I’d guess you could put that in the enjoying the anticipation category. Many times I have found that exploring these lakes brings me back to that lake in the early summer.

Even though the weather is damp and cool, I enjoy spending time at the cabin in the fall as there are usually no neighbors around during the week. Don’t get me wrong, our neighbors really aren’t that close to us. Still, there is a lot to be said about having this piece of the forest all to myself. I do enjoy the peace and tranquility that fall in the north woods can bring. It seems to make the noise of the birds chirping and squirrels chattering more noticeable.

I have noticed the difference in the type of birds that we now have at the feeders. The hummingbirds are not around, and the finches and grosbeaks are noticeably missing as well. The blue jays, which would appear for a short time each day and eat off of the ground, are now here in numbers for most of the day and are eating from the feeders. There are still the nuthatches and chickadees along with a pair of downy woodpeckers. One of which is feeding on the suet block as I write this column. With such a variety of birds to watch at the feeders right in front of the cabin, I really don’t need a TV.

Another thing about fall in the woods is the smell. The forest offers up a smell that is hard to describe to someone who has never taken a walk in the woods after a fall rain. There is something about walking out of the cabin in early morning and inhaling the smell of the wood smoke that is coming from the chimney of our little cabin. These are some of the smells that I can inhale, close my eyes and get the feeling of being one with nature.

The pheasant season, which starts on October 13th, was shown a glimmer of hope by the Minnesota DNR’s roadside survey. The survey showed a 19 percent increase from last year’s numbers. Weather and available habitat are the two main factors that can impact the population. The available nesting habitat peaked in 2007, but has been on the decline since then. Minnesota added 82,500 acres this past year, but nearly 297,000 acres of CRP land may be lost within the next two years. This doesn’t make for a promising outlook for passing this sport on to our youth. This is a sport that Minnesotans enjoy and have passed on or have had it passed on for many years. It is a huge part of our outdoors heritage.

Until next time, enjoy the colors of the outdoors as the changes take place. As the fall colors start to emerge in our part of the state, it is a great time to take advantage of some of the many parks that we have around the area. White’s Woods, south of Twin Lakes, is a nice park with walking trails, outhouse and pavilion. It can be really pretty in the fall and the best part of fall is the lack of bugs. We have many nice parks scattered around the area and right here within our own city limits. If you take a drive to St. Olav Lake by New Richland or to the park at Beaver Lake you can pack a lunch and enjoy an afternoon at a lake and you will also have access to fishing piers at both locations; talk about a great way to spend a fall day.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the wonderful freedoms we enjoy today.