Thursday, June 26, 2014

106 weeks later

The journey is the destination


I’ve pictured for a long time writing this article. I’ve imagined what it would be about, visualized how it would look on paper, daydreamed about the feel of each keystroke. For two years this one here has been the goal to keep striving towards. And yet, now that I’m here, it’s not quite what I’d envisioned.

"The truth of the matter is that a good portion of my
week-to-week life revolves around Woodsman."
For the past two years I have tried to be the wizard (albeit a shabby one) behind the curtain of this column. That means each and every week, since June 14 of 2012, I’ve done my best to put myself in the mindset of a woodsman in training, just for the sake of writing a little bit about what that means - to redefine, perhaps, what that means.

When I began I had this notion that I would simply write about all my adventures outdoors. I had a lot of backlogged stories to share to fill the gaps between telling new tales, and that strategy worked… for awhile.

Then came times when I wanted to tackle broader topics. Some weeks I would struggle for hours to tie in all sorts of theoretical strings to everyday life and subject matter related to nature. I think this worked for a while, I had a good formula.

Eventually, though, my life grew and changed, and my intent, focus, and involvement with my career also developed. The types of things I wanted to talk about were soon much larger than a piece on canoeing the Flambeau in June or shoveling snow in January. Maybe I just grew up.

“You must write, whatever else comes,” has continued to be my motto. For the journey thus far I’ve put my faith in the relentless pursuit of content generation. I figure if I keep digging, someday, eventually, I’ll find something.

I go back and forth as to how insane that sounds...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tomato debate

Our tomatoes made it through the storm.

A drop in the bucket


Monday night was a blustery one. At dusk the sky turned into a fight between fire orange and blood red hues, battling it out in a vibrant fashion. The colors from the sunset radiated bright light across thick, low-hanging clouds resting just above the western skyline.

For a brief time, the world looked like an impressionist painting.

Then the winds rolled in. Warm, heavy gales turned up every leaf on every tree. The humidity still hung in the air, but now it was rushing around and smacking into things like a linebacker. The treetops danced to some silent yet violent song, with a heavy yet extraordinarily inconsistent bass beat.

We were already in bed by the time everything reached a fever pitch. Airbursts smacked against the walls of our house, making the four walls shudder and groan. I kept waiting for the sound of thunder to roll out of the blackness but it never came, only bright flashes of light on the interior walls thanks to the heat lightening without.

That’s when Bec mentioned the tomatoes. “Do you think they’ll be alright out there?” she asked.

All our poor little tomato plants, potted and sitting in the wind-swept yard. I lay in bed, wondering what the right answer was. Should I run out and usher them into the garage for the night? They’ve been coming along so nicely this spring and to see them snapped in half the next morning would be just terrible...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The good and the ugly


The cherry tomato plant outside our
Park Falls office has begun to bloom.

Fresh food and lots of bug bites


There are two headlines in town right now - gardening and mosquitos.

With the final winter frost just barley out of everyone’s rear view mirror, gardens have been going in like crazy. Tomatoes, beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, corn - everything delicious under the sun is being dumped into the soil right now.

My own effort has only a handful of cherry tomato plants in terra cotta pots, but hey it’s a start. We also planted petunias because they’re easy to take care of. We found some that are an interesting orange/pink color called papaya. In my eye, they mix really well with the classic purple ones.

We also started a little herb garden in separate pots and have been enjoying fresh oregano, parsley, chives, and dill in many recipes. If you’re like me, you’re probably sick of hearing people tell you that fresh is the best, but holy wow it’s the truth.

I guess that’s the bane of clichés, is that they’re clichés because they’re true. Still doesn't help the fact you get tired of hearing them. Anywho, if you like to cook, grow your own herbs...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Battle birds

Nature unfolds on the front lawn


They were sitting on the front porch when it happened. Back then, just a few weeks ago, this was a likely scenario. Lounging outside was still a possibility in the absence of the mosquito legions who had yet to hatch.

Three Common Robin chicks who have,
since the sudden and tragic death of their mother,
grown up and flown the nest and are
“on to bigger and better things,”
as my Mom puts it.
They were probably considering whether or not to play yard games, my sister and her boyfriend, sitting in wicker chairs alongside my mother and stepfather. I imagine the four of them gazing out onto the sunlit lawn late in the day on that fateful afternoon. I was not there when everything went down, but I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye.

In the lawn, below the tall dandelion stocks topped with fuzz, grew lush green grass. Can you see it? Bursting to life the way everything does in the spring. Below that lush green blanket sat life’s baser things - dirt namely, but also bugs, beetles, and worms.

For the better part of a week the most discussed item in the house (besides the last family high school graduation) had been the Robin’s nest in the rafters of the wood shed. In the nest, it was confirmed, lived three Robin chicks. Fuzzy, yet hardly feathered, the first thing anatomically developed by each member of the front yard trio was their gaping yellow mouths, into which their loving mother deposited the yard’s finest fair.

Earthworms...