Last Monday was an odd day.
The morning and afternoon were blissfully warm and breezy, and my mom made a comment that this was the last day that would feel like summer. I kind of huffed a little in response. We always say that, in the Northwoods. We are quick to make declarations on the weather – “It’s gonna be a long winter”…”Spring isn’t too far off, now”…”Fall has begun!”…and it never really ends up being true. There’s always some surprise, tucked down deep in nature’s pocket. Sometimes it’s a good one. Sometimes it makes you wanna tell Mother Nature to go fuck herself. But the lesson is usually just this: Don’t think you know what’s coming up next, because you never really do.
The skies were still sunny and clear when the thunderstorm warning rudely interrupted the show I was watching. I stared outside and sighed. A thunderstorm had not only ruined almost every meteor shower we were supposed to see this summer, but now it was going to ruin the Harvest Moon…and it didn’t even look bad outside! WTF.
It came during dinner – a sprinkling, then a breezy rain, then the wind. Hard wind. We sat at the table and watched, and then, as if on cue, all three of us jumped up and ran to different windows in the house. Hail. Balls of hail were plummeting down to the green ground and grey lake. The power went out, and within a few seconds the deck and ground were covered in white. The wind and pounding hail made the lake look like a rolling sea that was about to rise up and crest over the land.
When it was over, we took pictures of the hail, and I walked outside to see if there had been any huge damage. The first breath stopped me in my tracks: The hail had stripped the trees, leaving an overwhelming scent of pine mingled with the fresh chill of the hail. It was literally all I could do, to just stand there and breathe in and out.
For hours I laid on Daniel’s bed, holding up a book and a flashlight, waiting for the power to come on. When it finally did, around 9:30, I walked outside to see that the skies had cleared, leaving a few sparkling stars and the Harvest Moon, hanging in balance over the lake.
I pulled my wellies on, grabbed a plaid flannel, and walked down the little hill to the dock. The Harvest Moon is my favorite. It always feels more like a living, breathing thing than during any other phase. The light reflected off the chilly lake, and I stood on the dock, thinking about this summer. It was finally over, I thought.
When I first got here, I wrote this post about it, about making it into this magical thing. And it actually worked. Looking back at the things I wrote, the pictures I took, and the memories I created…I kind of want to cry. I was lucky, this summer. It wasn’t always awesome or perfect or exactly how I thought it would be, but it was definitely one kick-ass season in my life.
Here is a collection of sorts.
When I first got to the cabin in the beginning of May, it was flippin’ cold. I’m talking seeing-your-own-breath, hands-and-nose-cold, can’t-even-stand-to-be-there-for-longer-than-20-min cold. So I taught myself how to build fires in the fireplace. And I got pretty good, too…although my super sweet ARTCRANK volunteer t-shirt ended up laying victim to an ill-fated match-lighting session.
Every day, I would take my family’s dog, Dutch, for a walk with me in the woods. These became so beloved that I often did it twice a day – I’d throw on my plaid flannel, a pair of jeans, strap on boots, cue up the Nerdist podcast, and set out with Dutch down the snowmobile trails. Most of the time I would zone out on the podcast and start formulating plots to YA novels I wanted to write…seriously, where better to think up a kick-ass YA Fantasy than in the middle of the woods, right? And what better inspiration for one than an evil demonic tree:
The deck, dock, and lake were also a huge part of the summer. The deck, of course, was where I learned that my dream of being like Snow White had finally come true, and the forest animals had seen into my good, kind soul and decided to become friends with me. (“Forest animals” meaning “hummingbirds.”)
And, as often as I could, I took myself down to the dock to read, meditate, swim, flip off wave runners, stare at clouds, drink beer, watch the sunset/sunrise…
There was also a lot of stellar time on the pontoon with my family. And beer. But mostly, my family.
If that’s not a stellar endorsement to buy one, I don’t know what else is.
In an effort to maintain my sparkling social skills and ensure that I did not become a crazy lady who wanders the woods at night, I participated in a writing group, made a few trips down to Minneapolis to see my friends…
Took on a barista job…
Met friends for stuff in the surrounding area…
And ended August with an amazing four days with the Bauschy crew up at their cabins in Longville, MN, where I proceeded to do nothing but take pictures of my niece-by-proxy Madelyn during her every waking hour.
As for the things that I did not do this summer, the list is as follows:
Finish my book
Morph into Heidi Klum’s body double
Make a million dollars by sitting around on the internet
Befriend a mystical wolf
Write a box-office-busting teen movie
Get eaten by a demon from the Evil Tree
So goodbye, summer adventure in the woods.
It was pretty magical, wasn’t it?
Written & published September 21st, 2011
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