Cabin Time

Wednesday Night:

We sit around the campfire with sticks sharpened to a point for skewering marshmallows on for roasting. After some toasted brown marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers, we tell stories. Each person goes around the circle adding one word to the sentence that is forming. Often we forget where we're at in a sentence after a bout of laughter.

My son is in his socks, so I hoist him on my shoulders. Barefoot, I make my way carefully down the steps to the beach. We stand on the shore for a minute and listen and look. We walk over to the dock and walk out on it. We lay down and look up at the stars. I point out the creamy swirl of the Milky Way. He finds the Big Dipper. I trace the "W" of Casseopiea. Then he sees his first shooting star. A few minutes later, his second one whizzes through the sky. We find a couple satellites making their orbital path across the sky. He lays on top of me.


After breakfast walk down to the lake to explore some more. I cleaned off a paddle-boat the day before, which Anders gets into with a fishing pole and some crackers. I kayak with him over to a spot where someone else has thrown in their old Christmas trees and felled timber. A myriad of pan fish swim in the shelter of the branches and nearby reeds. A few larger trout patrol nearby. After a while we see a larger bass.

Nils walks down the beach toward our direction with Aunt Wendy. I paddle over and board him into the kayak with me and take him out to the paddle-boat with Anders. A few crackers are crumbled into the water; the lure and bobber drop into the water nearby in hopes of a catch. 

Later, as we land the boats I notice a couple of leopard frogs along the beach. I point them out to the boys and they go to work trying to catch them. We find another batch of them later. In the end the boys have caught eight or nine brown and green amphibians. They are kept in a kayak for a while. I hear Anders talking to them as he paddles them around. 

After lunch the three of us do some work gathering rocks for a fire ring and other places around Aunt Wendy and Uncle Pete's new cabin. Then we each get into a kayak and head across the lake. The boys are remarkably good at paddling a little boat by themselves. 


In addition to Beth's sister and her husband who are hosting us the cabin that belongs to my brother-in-law's sister (long story, but Beth's sister and husband are building a new cabin, in the meantime, his sister is letting them use hers which is next door), we were joined by two other couples last night. I've heard there is another family joining us tonight. One of Beth's brothers was here the first night with us. Everyone else is here to help on the new cabin. Beth has helped a little bit, but frankly I'm here to vacation. I start back to school a week from today. Plus, and I realize these are long-seated issues I'm working through, I feel inadequate when helping others who are more skilled--and more inadequate when my wife is helping them. Stupid, I know. I could learn a lot by being up there helping with whatever area they're working on now. But I also haven't been asked and someone needs to be with the kids. 

And it's not easy for an introvert to vacation with strangers. We did this last year on our Boundary Waters canoe trip. It wasn't bad because it was only two other couples that we were planning on spending the time with, so we got to know them and had a good time. The quiet weekend at the cabin reading, writing, playing guitar, and enjoying the great outdoors isn't quite the way I expected it would be, but it's still a good time.

So we had more time at the lake today. A couple more frogs were caught (we let the eight that were in buckets go at the end of the day yesterday so that the raccoons didn't have a feast). Holes were dug. We paddled over where the fish are. Anders caught a small pan fish, but didn't like getting the hook out, so we headed back.

We tried doing a bike ride along the back roads through the north woods. It didn't go as desired.

Which means that the boys spent the first mile and a half whining, and I was tired of it, so we turned around. After attitudes improved we did a little more kayaking. 

The boys and I kayaked out to a little island (usually partly submerged, but out of the water this year--it's where the loons breed) and explored (which takes all of ninety seconds to circumnavigate it). They headed back to the bay and I went to the north part of the lake where I hadn't been yet. The water is deeper there, so that's where the loons hang out now.

There is something about loons that attracts me. Maybe its because they're mainly found in secluded lakes in the north woods, found in places where I enjoy exploring and relaxing. Places surrounded by tall white pines and birch trees. Places where large rocks dot the landscape left from glaciers long ago.  Places where wild animals lurk in the woods and leave their tracks along the beach. Places where there is more wilderness than civilization. 

As I was headed back to the cabin, the male loon surfaced near me. I presumed it was the male loon because I had seen another adult loon few minutes earlier with two children, and as far as I'm aware, penguins are one of the few species of birds where the male spends time with the children. I'm fairly certain loons don't behave this way. 

So I sat there stared at the male loon for a while, and he stared back at me. His long black beak protruding from an even blacker head and white dappled body floated on the body, as my kayak floated several yards away. We just sat and watched each other in reverence--at least I was giving a measure of reverence to brother loon; he was maybe just being wary of me. He slowly paddled off toward his family, I slowly turned around and headed back toward mine.


The last full day here. We'll take off in the morning in able to get back in time to come up with some food for supper at church tomorrow night. We headed into town this afternoon. We explored a few antique shops and an ice cream parlor. There really isn't much to say about going into town. 

I haven't gotten as much reading done as I'd hoped. I've done a bit of writing. And we've spent a lot of time down by the lake. I could kayak every day--oh, wait, I did. A few times each day. I had hoped to swim. None of us did much more than wading. Except for Nils, who was just in up to his neck, despite saying that the water is the coldest it's been. The previous two days I saw a guy who was swimming around the lake. I was feeling ashamed that it was too cold for me to get in--until I saw his wetsuit yesterday. Now I don't feel so bad--even thought I would have liked to have done some swimming. The past few weeks just haven't been typical summer temperatures.

After roasting marshmallows with everyone around the campfire, Nils and I headed back down to the dock. He had been waiting for the Perseid Meteor Shower to occur all week. No, it wasn't the best time of night or the height of the activity, but I would guess he saw at least 15 meteors in the forty minutes we lay there. Some were really fantastic bright lights that left a little tail behind them. Anders join3ed us for a few minutes, but he wasn't wearing warm enough clothes. It was nice to just lay their with my little one cuddling against me, laying on my arm, and talking about the vastness of the universe and how cool it is. A great way to end the time up north.

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