Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Who needs excitement?

6

Photo by Doreen Wigderson


Who needs excitement?

Family trip offers splendid isolation

    So we’re in the heart of summer and the question everyone asks each other is: What are you doing this summer? There is always the assumption that something exciting is happening during the summer.
    This summer, the family and I did do something different over the Fourth of July weekend. We got away from it all. Way away. Way up north to a little cabin close to the Upper Peninsula in a scene from the beginning of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
    The major difference is that I would shop in town rather than shootin’ at some food and the only thing bubbling up along the lake would be iron. If you think radium-enriched Waukesha water is fun to drink, take a plastic gallon container of this stuff and hang your refrigerator magnets on it.
    (I think my son qualified for a science pin in scouting with that experiment.)
    I don’t want to make fun of the cabin we stayed in mostly because my in-laws are very generous in allowing us to use it occasionally. The cabin has two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a nice porch overlooking a small lake. It has water in the kitchen sink. There is electricity, a small stove, a refrigerator and even an oil-burning stove that cranks out the heat on cold nights.
    Talk about luxury, the cabin even has a rather solidly built outhouse – a two-seater. Haven’t gotten a splinter yet.
    The Lovely Doreen’s dad is rather handy and keeps the place in good condition despite the harsh conditions up there.
    Do you know the joke about the hundred-year-old ax? The handle’s been replaced five times and the head only six times. But it’s an antique.
    The cabin is much the same way. Perhaps there is some part of the cabin that hasn’t been completely rebuilt since it was purchased in the 1970s, but I doubt it.
    A couple of summers ago, it was the walls. Shows how dumb I am about these things. My natural assumption was that if the walls needed to be replaced, isn’t it time to build a new cabin?
    One summer, it was time to replace the kitchen floor. No, not just the linoleum in the kitchen. The entire kitchen floor, boards and all.
    I offered to help. The Lovely Doreen from Waukesha and I loaded up the car with whatever power tools I had (gifts from my in-laws) and headed north. When we arrived, the floor had already been replaced. Apparently my father-in-law decided that, with the nearest hospital 100 miles away, power tools and me were not a good combination.
    But it would have made a great newspaper column if I had any fingers left to type it.
    The cabin is in perfect Unabomber isolation. Our first trip up there the road in front of the property was still dirt. A couple of years later, it was paved. Thank you, road builders, for making those donations to Gov. Tommy Thompson.
    The “driveway” to the cabin is fighting a losing battle with Mother Nature, and my father-in-law is on Mother Nature’s side. There is no sign marking the cabin, just the obligatory fire marker. It would be perfect for hiding the entrance to the Batcave.
    The isolation even extends to cell phone coverage. Maybe it’s the iron in the hills, maybe it’s because the logging trucks keep knocking over the cell towers, but getting a signal usually involves a short hike and the breeze blowing the right direction.
    Well, you’re probably wondering, if you’re that isolated, how could that be exciting?
    The excitement was when we drove all the way into town to watch the small-town fireworks, or loaded up the van to go visit good friends who were staying at another cabin on another lake 26 miles away.
    But in that little cabin in the woods you can hear the frogs croaking at night or the wings of the hummingbirds outside your window. Across the lake a pair of loons sing to each other while you settle in with a good book. In the morning a walk down to the pier might be in time to see the eagle over the birch trees.
    Who needs excitement?

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