Last Friday Cody and I ditched out on a bleak weekend forecast for a three-day getaway 'Up North.' We woke to an alarm to get an early start and did the rounds 1) food 2) dog food 3) beer etc... with impressive grace and fluidity while juggling over-easy eggs and the 'proofing' of the house.
The day prior, my temp employers dropped the hint that there wasn't enough work to do, at least for pay. I hadn't made a single plan yet for the weekend, so when they pushed me to decide what I'd do with an extra free day, I gave a goofy face. But they badgered on, maybe because they felt too uncomfortable to let it quiet; to some, like them, the opportunity to work is their only means to survive. I probably should adapt to that mentality soon; running on memories of decent paychecks doesn't get you far. So I threw out the idea of going Up North to ease their worries; I'd enjoy the time off.
Yes, 'Up North' is a proper noun here. It's a common a reference as going Home, to Menards or Fleet Farm, or to Work. It's similar to how folks in the UP refer to Camp. Game hunting, especially white-tail deer, is huge in Wisconsin and most families have owned acres of land for hunting purposes for generations. Because of the climate you need elevation and shelter [from the snow and frozen ground] to keep warm, so you build a 'second home;' blue-collars, too. During hunting season it is not uncommon to see a train of camouflaged men (and some women) driving North on 41 to their respective cabins or shacks every weekend, leaving behind wives and children to make do without. It's just as common to see deer corpses peeking out from the sometimes too small confines of a pick-up truck on Sundays.
I think my Dad imagined our cabin to be more of a hunting retreat when he purchased the lot in the late-80s, but he soon found there was little game on the 20 acres to hunt. So instead, the four of us, Mom, Dad, Carrie and Me, weekended together Up North with board games [played on the dining table pictured, which my Dad built as a gift to my Mom for her 30th bday] in lieu of compound bows and marshmallows for jerky.
We used to go up three out of the four weekends every month, but as Carrie and I got older we wanted to spend more time with friends and less with 'the family.' [Always looking for something more, eh? Glad I've come to my senses now, not after it's too late to enjoy their company.] The past few years, the cabin is lucky to see us once every season. Other family members will go up and enjoy the wide open space; you can be as loud as you want to be, no one around to complain. But with the main traffic coming from visitors, some of the minor repairs have fallen to the wayside. I set out for the cabin this past weekend on a mission to restore my favorite piece of Wisconsin.
Cody was less than pleased by the work I had set out to do; he just wanted to play. In between refinishing the exterior window trims, shampooing the entire floor-plan of carpet, gardening and other general duties, Cody and I would walk the path my Dad sickled around the property. While I was working he would sit nearby and watch, which did get a little annoying at times, because it had an awesome guilt affect. [Cody pictured, waiting for me to finish weeding]
There is one important rule to abide at the cabin: no stickin' TV. Seems obvious, right? You'd be surprised... I find the experience of just being within walls that breath satisfying. I can sit for hours and stare up at the canopies of trees, the ripple of chatter among the leaves, the heartbreaking contrast in line and color against the heavens and so on. I think I could possibly lose my mind if I never breaked from the absorbing tractor beam of elemental life. Like old folks in their wheelchairs seated by a window overlooking a peaceful garden. Empty filler.
I woke up Saturday morning, after ten wonderful hours of rest, with a smile on my face. Cody was already awake and stirring next to the bed, 'Wake up! Wake up! Let's play! I'm hungry!' I turned onto my side so that my hand would reach him below the level of the mattres. My gaze was directed out the West facing window and I spied a woodpecker doing his spazmatic dance on a tree not twenty feet away. It was so cool, made me laugh. The force of this little guy's pecking almost disjointed him from the tree trunk, his little body was all a jiggle and jerk.
There is a radio positioned above the kitchen cabinets that is permanently tuned to 93.5 WOZZ, all classic rock all the time. There is never a time when the radio isn't on, except overnight, which might come off a little strange considering the supposed break from 'city' life and noise. However, the sweet sounds of Zep and Skynard are their own frequency, one with the gods. Since I was alone I changed the channel to the local NPR broadcast for breakfast; even I wasn't ready to rock quite yet. I like to futz with crossword puzzles while I'm eating, although I'm finding that I greet them with increasing labor as the week progresses. It seems to me that the paper increases the level of puzzle difficulty throughout the week. Mondays' puzzles are my favorite, 'I'm a genius!'
I surprised myself Sunday morning by waking up and getting the move on out the door. I could have stayed the day and relaxed, but my body woke up in third gear. I had had my share of hard work, my hands and wrists were sore from scraping the paint off the window frames and my allergies were still bugging me despite the carpet cleaning. I was also in need of some serious sudsing. There is a small shower stall in the bathroom, but it's hard to get a proper wash with limited hot water and immediate contact with 'the elements' following the shower. While I was weeding I came into contact with far too many insects and arachnids for my liking. Some of them ambushed me by hiding in the leaves, when I grabbed a handful to remove from the flowerbeds, miniature paintballs were fired into my palm. Paintballs of a gooey sort, yellow and brown in colors. I tried to wipe the mess off on the grass, but it's wild grass Up North, not manicured, there is more earth showing than green, so I ended up adding a layer of mud to the mix. So I tried spitting on my hand and using a leaf as a scraping instrument, nil. It just IS up there, no fighting it.
I rewarded myself for a good job done by stopping at Dairy Queen in Shawno on the way home. I was ready to order the standby [Butterfinger Blizzard] but was convinced by the monthly special advertisement to side with the Girl Scout Thin Mint Blizzard. I'd stick with the Butterfinger unless you can convince the pimple faced teens to skip the mint syrup and double the cookie!