Thursday, August 29, 2013

Storms like shows

Ă„quinoktium photo from flickr

So much changes in so little time

There is nothing quite like being jolted out of bed at four in the morning by a crack of lighting in your backyard. The thunder - which is strange to refer to as such because it happens simultaneously - is both piercing and blunt at the same time. So much energy happens so quickly, that it's only afterwards that you can begin to put it into words. In that single sizzling moment, most all that comes out of one's mouth is a "yelp!"

Given a sturdy roof to sleep under and a quick scan of the local weather forecast - maybe rushing around the house to close every window - it's back to bed until the sun comes up. And that's when you get to really settle in. Going back to bed for a few hours rest while listening to the gusting thunderstorm outside dump gallons worth of raindrops on the shingles above - few things are as cozy as this audible broadcast.

When I was a little kid we used to go outside on the front porch with a blanket. If it wasn't too late yet, my parents would let my sister and I sit on the bench swing hanging from the ceiling out there. We would wrap ourselves up in the blanket, pull our feet up inside it and watch the heavy rains come in. On the lookout for lightning, once we spotted it we'd count out on our fingers how long it took for the thunder to roll.

Of course our metrics were a little messed up at that age. I think we went back and forth between the number of fingers we counted were how many miles away the lightning struck, how fast the storm was traveling in miles per minute, or how much rain/how powerful the storm was with one being the highest. Oh the simple days…

*Note: This article is part III of a IV part series enveloping the four classical elements: firewaterearthair.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Looking forward

From Flickr

A kick in the pants

Sometimes I fall behind in my work. Other times I fall behind in my life. I mean to say that progress on one or another projects, personal or professional, has lagged, and I've become aware of it. Sometimes this happens when attempting to juggle too much, other times it's just a matter of distraction. I know you've experienced this - we all have experienced this to some degree.

It's frustrating, isn't it? When the realization rises to the front of your skull that you're slipping. You are not meeting certain requirements you've set for yourself; not hitting the goals you had your mind's eye turned to.

Maybe that's just it though - you're looking away when you could be looking ahead...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August afternoons

Fresh picked ‘Yooper’ blueberries!
Photo by Diane Hutte

Bounty in the northland

In addressing the apparently common conception that summer is nearly over - no it is not. We are in the midst of festival season, people! Shape up.

Now is a great time to run the rivers in a canoe. The rapids are raw with the water being low, and the water being low is the best time to scout out areas that are normally hidden from plain view. This is a good way to find potential fishing spots, and also track different sub-aquatic species that use the river like otters, mink, and muskrats.

August is also traditionally a prime time of year to go for a dip into Lake Superior. It may be a little cooler in the greatest of lakes right now due to an unseasonably cool past couple weeks and cool rain, but it's not going to get much warmer, either. I love swimming in this lake and recommend it to everyone who visits - it's incredibly refreshing. I always try to jump in Superior when visiting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, no matter the time of year.

Camping is also an excellent choice. With the cooler temperatures, a lot of the most irritating insects have waned greatly in their local populations. Mosquitos are seemingly hard to find, biting flies have not been an issue, and ticks have slowed to a crawl (haha).

Plus the cool nights are great for campfires, and if you're like me, make for wonderful sleeping comfort. Late afternoon still warms up nicely, especially if the sun comes out, setting a great stage for late summer fishing. Oh and just to clarify, there's plenty of daylight left. The sun rose at six o' clock sharp this morning, and looks to set at about 10 after eight tonight - don't waste those daylight hours!

Soon enough folks 'round here will be trudging to work in the dark, arriving home in the dark, and spending a lot of the day indoors. Life is passing us right by and if we don't reach out and grab it we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

It's not too late…

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Big Rama

Reflecting on the 61st Annual Flambeau Rama

The sugary scent of corn dogs, fried onions, and kettle corn. The salty fragrance of nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, and gyros. Burgers, brats, beer, and a grody condiment table nearby. The setting sun glaring through thick waves of heat over a fleet of open grills spattering grease into the atmosphere.
Music and laughter, singing and clapping. Old friends reunited, new couples testing the waters. Children running wild everywhere, herds of 30-somethings wearing matching t-shirts.
Welcome to Park Falls' annual Flambeau Rama festival - the weekend each year that the city pays tribute to it's unbreakable bond with the Flambeau River. As a reflection on the wealth of life the river brings to the area, a large portion of the downtown is closed to traffic so that family and friends can celebrate non-stop Thursday through Sunday.
The scene unfolds under a central tent housing two stages for different bands to perform each afternoon and evening. Inside, dozens of tables and hundreds of chairs are strewn about the dancing area. People mill around and dine in the daytime, but at night the place turns into a rip-roaring dance party. Probably due to the beer taps - that's why they call it the beer tent.
Outside that main tent (the beer tent), organized mostly to the south of it, is a collection of smaller tents lining the central walkway. This area is also known as "main street," "food ally," "food-tent causeway," "heart attack hall," or "maybe that's where my shoes are?" Butting up against the main tent and food tents is the carnival to the west. This is where you'll find the highest concentration of insanely-jacked-up-on-sugar kids. Proceed with caution...

Thursday, August 1, 2013


It was supposed to be a sunny day of fishing,
this is what we got.

Trying on the bad days

Last weekend was a bad time to wear shorts. I first realized this from the bow of a 14-foot fishing boat being tossed around by whitecaps on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. The high temperature that Saturday afternoon was around 55 degrees, but the wind was from the northeast and it was FREEZING.

As if that wasn't enough, it started to rain. Cold, slanted drops rocketing out of the dark gray clouds pierced the little protection I'd brought with me - a hoodie and baseball cap. For once, my two friends were better prepared than I was and all I could do was shiver and shake.

Oh, we fished, but it wasn't very comfortable. We tried to get out of the wind where possible, but the incoming storm still found ways to twist the boat around on us, which made it very difficult to cast and more difficult to feel your fingertips. 

Between the three of us, I think we were fishing for muskie, walleye, perch, and everything in between. We had some live bait, but mostly it was dead. When we first got in the boat, we forgot to check if there was any gas for the motor. We spent 20 minutes trolling through a narrow canal of lily pads to fish an adjacent lake, only to turn around and go back when we got there because it was just too darn cold. We were the example of well prepared.

Did we catch any fish? No. Karl hooked a northern for a bit, but lost it at the boat. When we finally gave up and headed back, it took a few swings at the dock before getting the correct approach to land the boat in the blowing rain, and by the time we finally got out, we were fairly soaked and very discouraged.

I've never been so excited to blast the car heater in the middle of July...