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Blog Archives

Into the woods

Seasons spinnin’ round again

The Call of the Wild … bagpipes

Go instead where there’s no path and leave a trail cam

Five things that happened when I put down my smartphone

Splendid Folks

A lovely spring tramp

The summer before he died, my dad spent all of his free time chopping a walking path along the Oconto River.

He’d emerge after spending hours in the woods, dirty, sweaty, all scratched up from tree branches and wild blackberry bushes, and grinning like an eight-year old on the first day of summer vacation.

The project began with a simple sickle and an axe, but became more sophisticated with every chop. Eventually, he enlisted friends and family to ferry wood pieces via a small river boat to designated drop off points. He’d emerge from the woods to the river’s edge, gather the two-by-fours, and disappear again into the depths.

That summer he built nine bridges along the mile-long path and, sweetly, marked the end of the route by carving two wood chairs out of fallen trees for his grandchildren, five-year old Charlie and three-year old Katherine.

On Friday, we took a lovely spring tramp along the route my dad carved more than 23 years ago. We had our doubts, but the bridges held our weight, though they’d languished untended all this time.

We marveled as we crunched through the knee-deep snow — at the freshness of the air, the stillness of the woods, the promise of new life under all that frozen ground, and, mostly, at my dad’s profound legacy.

We intend to resurrect “Peggy’s Bridle Path,” which is what my dad called his summer project, and we’re deeply grateful for the opportunity to do so. We’re not particularly handy, but we know that’s okay.

We’ll make our way slowly, gratefully accept advice from our talented friends, and follow the generous path my dad carved for us so enthusiastically during the hot summer of 1992.

The bench

My dad built this deck too and we’ve made good use of it through the years. We enter the bridle path just to the left of it.

Snow covered bridge

I thought this bridge looked beautiful though, I must confess, I was not the first in our little tramping party to brave crossing it.

Reflectin in the river

The river was uncharacteristically still on Friday, owing to deep waters and very little wind.

The first bridge

This poor bridge looked a little less sturdy, but it held up under all of us. Whew!

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I just like this picture of Molly, her shadow and her reflection in the pond next to another bridge my dad built.

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And I liked the pattern of snow on this tall evergreen.

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We paused every now and then in our tramping to enjoy the day’s beauty.

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The little chair I’m sitting on and the giant blaze orange snow suit I’m wearing are both legacies from my dad. Molly refused to wear the blaze orange but, I’m telling you, I stayed warm and dry on that two hour tramp. This is one of the chairs my dad carved for his grandchildren.

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I also love this picture of Molly dancing through the woods. We never take for granted the unique ability to make our own tracks through these beautiful woods.

 

 

On wily deer and the road not taken

Appropriately guided by a blaze orange sunset, we went tramping Saturday.

We followed an impressive line of tracks into the woods, our boots recklessly crunching through the hoof prints of a hundred deer.

I imagined them rolling their big doe eyes at us as we cautioned each other to be quiet so we might spot them.

Thick-coated, relaxed and wily, they rested, easily hidden, while we clomped along. We’d been down this road before, and they knew our visit would be brief. They may have passed each other big bowls of tasty roots as they kicked back their hoofs and enjoyed our show.

We followed our frozen breath around their favorite spots, circled a pond, and waited near a small hill where our paths diverged.

Darkness spread and cast an eerie air over our adventure. I heard a howl.

“Wolf?” I asked.

“Dog.”

Both relieved and disappointed, I walked on, eyes darting back and forth, cold finger poised on my camera’s shutter release.

In other seasons, I’d seen plenty of wildlife as I tramped through these woods, and had even found myself embarrassingly pinned by a porcupine once on that very path. We’d seen twin eagles swooping high above our heads, whole families of deer darting back and forth across the path, gaggles of turkeys loudly running with their awkward wattle waddles.

Saturday, though, we tramped alone, eventually consoling ourselves with the wonder of a rare opportunity to make our own tracks through the snow.

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I like this sign, with its optimistic martini glasses and the ice shanty city growing behind it.

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I thought the angled line of these trees looked cool with that little sliver of sunset.

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White winter sky, white frozen snow, and a blaze of light in between.

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Those are all deer tracks and we followed their winding trail into the woods.

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But we didn’t see any deer so, eventually, we left that path and enjoyed the rare opportunity to make our own.

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And this was our reward as we made our way out of the woods. So beautiful!

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It’s always good to see the warm lights of the cabin after a good winter tramp.

Turkey in the straw Ha Ha Ha

On Black Friday, we woke to the sound of a turkey dance.

They came from the woods, gathered in the sun, and thumbed their little beards at us from the cornfield next to our cabin.

Still a little doped up on tryptophan from our Thanksgiving feast, we gathered at the window to watch them play.

Turkey in the straw. Ha Ha Ha.

All hepped up on the sweet taste of freedom, they partied in honor of their national holiday. They looked like middle school students lined up in the gym on a Friday night; the Toms strutted, the hens preened and they all flirted a bit with their wattles and snoods. It took a while for the actual dancing to begin.

The cocky ones looked up disdainfully a time or two, having caught a movement from behind the cabin window. Nobody likes a chaperone.

Still jammied up, I stuck my feet in borrowed slippers, stepped out on the front porch, poked my head around the chimney and tried to snap a photo or two.

This irritated them in a noisy, OMG-do-you-have-to-do-that-now way, so I left them alone.

The birds prattled on, gossiping about the season and supremely happy we hadn’t gobble, gobbled them.

 

Turkey in the straw beautiful morning

Black Friday dawned all sparkly white.

Turkey in the straw turkeys take over

We knew this because the turkeys told us so as they gathered loudly in the field next to our cabin.

Turkey in the straw dance

They looked like middle schoolers lined up at a dance.

Turkey in the straw closeup

Ever see a turkey do the chicken dance?

Turkey in the straw hokey pokey

They did the hokey pokey and they turned themselves around. 

Turkey in the straw turkey dinner no. 1

We did some celebrating too. In fact, this year we enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners. One as a Packer game tailgate…

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…and one at the cabin the next day.

Turkey in the straw turkey dinner

Too soon?

 

 

 

Happy Memorial Day from Jack, Molly B and Me