Collecting wild blueberries that the forest creatures missed. Visiting the resident beaver lodge by rowboat and canoe. Chicken wire wrapped around sacred, dwindling birch trees to thwart said beaver attempts at claiming them. Nibbling on wild spearmint, foraged for fun and flavor. The scent of funghi closeby, but where? Fishing with nets, because it’s easy to snag them with bread. Loons approaching, safe in quiet waters and near humans’ watchful eyes. Wild turkeys scrambling and rambling the forest floor. But not a single, solitary other person, except those that invited us in to share, thanks to one wise old lady who wanted to retreat to her own private part of the north woods long, long ago.
This was a first experience for all of us — for me, Luna and Scot — to the wander in the solitude of a private land and lake. Friends of ours from Michigan had invited us to spend time with them on their family property as we would be crossing paths in northern Wisconsin over the Fourth of July holiday. We didn’t know what to expect from this adventure, but we arrived excited to visit with our friends for some great conversation over lunch and beers, and probably a walk in the woods. But we knew things were different — much more than we had ever anticipated — when the wooded entrance was arched by an old sign made of wood, split by a two-track leading to this private, enchanted forest. We were in for a treat.
We parked away from the cabin and outbuildings and were greeted by our friends and their son, who is Luna’s age. We had no plan, so we met the rest of the family and became familiar with the property. Then we hiked in the woods through well-traveled trails to find blueberries, bogs, islands, herbs, mushrooms, dragonflies, trees, frogs and ferns. Then we found our way to the lake and learned that there would be no one else around — no other families, boaters, fishermen, no one — because the lake belonged to them, too. The forward-thinking matriarch of the family, who wanted to spend time in the woods, purchased three hundred acres of land and lake originally and a long time ago. Her own slice of heaven to share with family, and now with us.
So, a cabin in the woods is great. A cabin on a lake is better. A family cabin on a private, family-owned property is completely mind blowing, and humbling, and glorious.
Scot kept looking across the lake as we canoed to the beaver lodge expecting to see other cottages, but there was not one to be found. When it finally set in for him that, indeed, there was no one else around — nor could there be — it changed him. As he said, he “had never experienced this feeling before. Being on a private lake was exhilarating. Freeing. [He] was moved.” As for Luna, she was thoroughly engaged with her friend, catching fish, eating blueberry and spearmint snacks, and dragging her fingers along the water’s surface, while Scot paddled our canoe. As for me, I am at home in the woods and in or on the water and in the peace and quiet of a cabin. The sounds of the forest or the silent glide of the canoe always is exhilarating and meditative. We felt honored to set foot on this beautiful property. We left changed and enlightened.
It was a humbling and magical day, filled with great friends and their families, people who so generously shared their wilderness. It helps that the caretakers of this property, with its rustic cabin and a few more outbuildings, are considerate, nurturing conservationists, appreciative of the gift that one old lady created and bequeathed, and respectful of the land that they continue to share.
Thank you, dear friends, for sharing your treasure. We had a wonderful day.