Thursday, October 31, 2013


Me in my gorrilla costume and Chris not so impressed.

An old soul and a child at heart

Some kids would make fun of me for dressing up as a gorilla almost every Halloween in grade school. Those same kids always froze their butts off while trick or treating. I got the last laugh and more candy.

The gorilla suit worked well for a few reasons. The first, of course, was because it was warm. It was comprised of a black sweatshirt and sweatpants with patches of fake black fur attached by safety pins. I had a rubber, roaring gorilla mask, and each year I added to the costume. Sometimes it was more fur, or different color fur, or one year, I made a big commitment and ordered a set of gorilla hands and feet.

At least one of those Halloweens, I even inspired a couple of my friends to dress up as gorillas with me. We went out trick or treating as a trio of tiny, chest-pounding apes and terrorized neighbors until they filled our plastic pails with sweets.

Ah, the good old days.

It seems like such a long time ago now - the excitement for the parade at school with an early dismissal afterwards, trick or treating, staying up late with friends, old vampire movies on TV. As a kid, Halloween was magic. It was something to look forward to and celebrate, and even though I wore the same costume most of my trick or treating prime, I still loved getting dressed up.

However, now that I'm an adult, I can think of a million different reasons not to get dressed up for Halloween. I'm grown up and I don't have time or money to put on a silly costume or mask. I have to be to work the next day. Trick or treating is for kids. Candy will rot your teeth, don'tcha know?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The mass of memories I have behind a dirty windshield
on old cars and trucks making their way down cracked and crooked
back roads in northern Wisconsin is immeasurable and irreplaceable.

Highways and forest roads

Growing up in rural northern Wisconsin was difficult for a lot of reasons, but one of the hardest things to cope with was the lack of activities for high school age kids. If you were not in sports, you were pretty much out of luck.

Instead, my friends and I had to come up with our own thing. We organized get togethers over video games, paintball, music, films, and fast food.

For whatever reason, I remember spending a lot of time in parking lots. Stores that had lots along the highway were prime locations as anyone could venture past on the road and stop to say hi. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure we congregated in those lots because one of us was usually working in the store the blacktop was in front of.

I guess we just had different interests than were offered by the school. We used to make short films, music videos, trade music, listen to music from whoever's car was parked in the lot. We laughed a lot, did impressions, picked on each other.

Another popular thing to do back then was drive the back roads outside of town. You know, the Wisconsin county trunk highways. Driving all those winding routes through the woods and meadows, past lakes and rivers, finding what linked up with what, hitting dead ends and back tracking to civilization. A lot of trial and error and beautiful sunsets. It worked good for dates...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Welcome back apples

Apples sprouted from every available space on the
branches of this backyard apple tree in Glidden.

A northland reunited with its fruit

I went through a stage in my earlier life when I slowly became allergic to several different fruits and vegetables. For a few years, I couldn't eat watermelon, cantaloupe, peas, carrots, bananas, or strawberries. All of the above made my throat swell and itch and it was all I could do to not have a panicked, choking sensation.

At that time, I learned to avoid eating those items, but as the list grew and grew I started to feel a bit desperate at losing all those foods I really enjoyed. Right around that time, apples also began to affect me, and I just about panicked at losing one of my most favorite fruits. After some experimentation though (dangerous as it may have been), I discovered peeling the apple before eating it spared me the itchy / scratchy / impending doom sensation.

Lucky for me, the allergy to these foods was something I eventually outgrew, and I can now eat all of them again (even though, on very rare occasions, a certain melon or carrot may still give me a hint of itchy-throat. If you can explain this phenomenon to me, please write).

Last year, though, I had to go through losing apples all over again. The early spring tempted our local flora out of hibernation very early on. It was wonderful to have buds sprouting and warm, sunny days in April, but it also proved to be quite costly to some early budding crops. One of those crops was our north midwestern yield of apples, and when a frost swept through the region, almost all of those apple flowers were burned away. The result was a very poor crop of apples last fall, and to me at least, it seemed like losing my favorite fruit all over again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Scouting season

The lay of the land

Time to get out the guns. Time to take out the bolt, clean the action, polish the barrel, the bore, treat the wood stock. Time to sight in the scope, track down some extra ammunition, and remember this or that rifle has always shot a little high and to the left.

Time to get out and walk some county land. Time to take out the Platbook, the Gazetteer, the compass, the GPS. Let’s talk to some landowners, farmers, guides; take a drive down the forest roads, check the creeks, see who's already up at their cabins.

A trip to the store for some new boot laces, load up on hand warmers, get the licenses required by the state, maybe even pick out a new Stormy Kromer hat - all part of preparing, part of gearing up...

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Fog, islands, and inspiration on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.
Samuel Larson on Flickr

Deli meats, beers, and bird dogs in a boat

Commonly, the first rule of writing is just this - write what you know (perhaps that’s the only rule). So, if you want to truly write about something, about 90 to 95 percent of your time should be dedicated to learning about that thing. When you look at it from such an angle, it's easy to wonder how anyone writes about anything at all.

More commonly, though, I think, folks arrive at writing in the opposite fashion. Yes, rather than choosing a topic arbitrarily to study for several years, I think it must be true that most educated, passionate authors of anything arrive at their passionate, learned selves of said topic only after living out what they write about.

That is, one does not simply wake up one day and say, "I shall write about the best way to make sandwiches," and then go ahead scrawling all his or her ideas down about breads, meats and cheeses without first having some experience with those ingredients. Most likely the author first has been eating sandwiches all his or her life, or at least making them - perhaps in a delicatessen...