Thursday, May 29, 2014

Socioeconomic intervention

An open letter to Northwoods citizens


There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than recognizing someone’s vast potential for success and then witnessing them squander it right in front of you.

Often this seems to happen with the naturally talented folks who are not fully aware of the great gift they possess. Other times it happens with people who simply take for granted all that they have been given. And still yet it happens to those in denial or who are blinded by something to distract themselves with, whether that be money, substance abuse, or even a pious nature. Focusing inward too long breeds these deviations.

Each of us reacts differently in this scenario, but if it’s someone close you normally try to help if you can. Maybe you’ll stage a sit-down talk or an intervention or even acquire the resources you think will help that person and hand them over as gifts (be forewarned that money does not mend hearts). Maybe you’ll be as innovative as to ask what they really want out of life, or maybe you’ll just cut ties and get on with your own business.

Probably the hardest thing to do is confront the individual. A confrontation means you’ll be putting all your thoughts and feelings on the line, and that may either force the person away from you or leave yourself open to cross-examination. If you really care though, that’s exactly what you’ll do...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A couple of busy guys

My father and I wearing matching jackets to celebrate
his birthday during a fishing trip on the
Ontonagon River and Lake Superior.

Attempting to fish the big lake


“It’s kinda like we’re on a vacation together or something,” dad said and tossed more driftwood on the beach fire at his feet.

“Yeah, I guess that’s because we are,” I replied. The sun was setting but the fire was keeping the chill off of us as we stood on the shore of Lake Superior just outside of Ontonagon, Michigan. We were spending the weekend at a friend’s house with the intent to learn how to fish on the big water, and fish we did.

No, we didn’t catch anything with scales, but a few beer cans did find their way to our boat. According to our guide we were a bit premature in the season for the optimal bite of cohos, lake trout, and walleye, but he showed us the ropes anyway. Literally, the ropes.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spring beaver

Considering traditions and resources


My dad tossing a beaver onto the marsh bank
after pulling it up from the depths of a drowning set in late April. 
Trapping beaver in the spring is far easier than in the winter. In the winter a trapper has to chop his way through pond ice with chisels. And that’s after trudging through the snow (oftentimes including tag alders, slopes, banks, and frozen marsh structures) for a half mile or more. Think about doing that while you’re bundled up against the sub-zero wind, hauling a basket or sled full of steel and stakes. That’s not to mention the return trip out, when you’re wringing wet with sweat, which will soon be freezing to your skin in all sorts of places, slowly encapsulating your entire body in a suit of extreme uncomfort.

Oh, and if you do catch your beaver, back there, in the far reaches of the woods, have fun hauling the 45-pound carcass of the largest North American rodent out of those woods on your own two legs. Heaven forbid you double up in there.

Then you have to consider that trapping a single beaver pond is going to severely limit your catch. If you want to make any money with your endeavor, you’ll need to visit at least a half dozen ponds, if not more. In addition, you’ll have to add up your own time and investment in traps, clothing, and other tools such as knives, wire, stretching boards, etc.

And remember, that’s trapping just one pond, way back in the woods. Now, imagine doing that on a large scale and tell me why trapping isn’t profitable...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pooj grows up

My youngest brother, Bo.

Happy birthday little brother


Eighteen years ago today my youngest brother was born. He was a stubby little thing back then, with fiery red hair and pale, freckled cheeks. I would call him “Poogie,” or “Pooj” for short because he was a round, little jellybean as a toddler. He loved it, I’m sure.

I had already been an older brother twice before Pooj, but each time it was different for me. My sister was too close in age for me to remember graphically, and when my first brother was born I was five and just excited to have a baby brother to play ninjas with (no offense sis, you tried).

By the time Pooj entered the equation, I was already nine and well on my way to becoming a starter in the NFL…or a fighter jet pilot…or possibly a Power Ranger. Whatever the case, I already knew how to be a big brother. I knew that babies were not good at war games, that they did not sleep at night, and that all they did was make messes, smell, and get all the attention. Despite the obstacles though, I fell right in line with the rest of my family adoring the little tyke.

My sister, no doubt, had the best time with him as a baby. She would dress him in doll clothes when he was old enough and make him play house. She may even have tricked him into holding (gnawing) on Barbies at one point...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fanatic for a day

Hook, line, and sinker


The monofilament fishing line unwinds from between his forefinger and thumb when a sharp gust of wind saps his ability to feel the thin material. The fishing knot comes undone before it was finished.

The fisherman hunkers down a bit lower in his boat, leaning over his lap to guard against the gales howling across the lake at his rickety little boat. He does not flinch but sets to tying the knot once more.

Again Mother Nature throws her vigor at the man, this time with freezing rain, sleet, and broad, wet snowflakes carried on the wind. The fisherman remains hunkered over his tackle like a fisherman should, unaffected by elements around him that would make anyone else miserable.

Finally, he finishes his knot by cinching it tightly. Affixed to the line, in a fashion taught to him by his great-grandfather, is a small treble hook on a spinner, surrounded by red and black squirrel fur and accessorized by a brass spoon the size of a fingernail. The fisherman smiles down at the tackle, satisfied with his work and confident he’s chosen the right color and action type given the season, weather conditions, and time of day. Now to try his hand…