Saturday, July 18, 2015

Life is in Balance: July Report from the Northwoods

Northern Wisconsin in July is a lovely place to be.   It is this time of year that annually reminds me "Aha! THIS is why we live here!", as the blue skies and waters, the varied and beautiful greens, and the divine smells of water, pines, Earth, and summer in general overload our senses.  The sensory joys of summer offset the cold drudgery of winter and the absent conveniences of the cities that many of us miss.  This summer especially, there is an added lushness to the vegetation as we've had frequent rainfall intermixed with sunny days.  This has made my gardening efforts at Mom's easier, but added to the work in keeping the property mowed and trimmed.
My beloved vintage glider allows a great view of the Wisconsin River.  But not until trimming is complete!
Iozi dons a backpack sprayer to tackle the vegetation on the roof. 

I am happy to report the adventure of gardening here is going well. We've kept animals out, we've grown organically, we have healthy lush plants.   I likely could have planned differently, so that we could be reaping more produce in the early months, but here at about 5 weeks in we have enjoyed lettuce and green onions at least.   A good half of the corn didn't germinate, but the plants that did emerge appear healthy, and they certainly have plenty of room around them to flourish. One of the things that has insured the garden health was the installation of the new pump. Thanks Pete! 

Late additions to the garden have included sweet potatoes, peas, cabbage, dill, celery, and parsley. Late additions to the pasture include...The Sheep! Two ewes and three lambs are tenants of the small field.  One mom has already demonstrated her protective self, posturing and intimidating Milo who was let in by mistake.

Raspberries, wild and domestic, are plentiful here.  Although the berries bordering Mom's garden are a variety that are small and don't hold together well, they are delicious and sweet.  One has to work pretty hard to get many, but they are always worth the effort. I anticipate doing some serious raspberry gathering over the next couple weeks.

The Fourth of July here in Rhinelander was one of my best ever (although my memory isn't that great) and I really had a wonderful time.  We spent the day on Crescent Lake, my childhood home, enjoying the hospitality of the Knutson family.  Here are a few photos from that excellent day, which was capped by fireworks over the lake as viewed from the pontoon.  After watching the display from boat (away from a crowded shoreline of people), I'm not sure I can ever go back to another way.  It was perfect.
Crescent Lake, in all her Glory. 
Does this look like a perfect evening or what? It was!

When I was growing up here, my teen and young adult summers were spent doing one thing: training.  I pretty much worked out all the time, whether it was running, lifting at the gym, or spending hours skill building with a basketball in my hand.  I was completely happy doing that and it occupied my days beautifully. I even recall an argument with Mom, who suggested that I was going to have to endure a full day of not training due to a family reunion.  At the time, the idea was appalling, and I wish I still had a few ounces of that training fervor in me.

When I moved back to this area at 49, I learned pretty quickly that I was going to need to discover Rhinelander anew.  Midway through my second summer, I continue to uncover fun things to occupy my grown up self and really enjoy not just the natural environment but the folks who live here.

Some of the things I have uncovered include the church league softball team.  I play for my mom's church where I grew up, the UCC,  and in theory we play on Monday nights.  It has stormed every Monday now for the last 4 or 5, but I still maintain hope that we will again get a chance to up our record from 1-5.  I pitch, which is also new, and its a good time.  No swearing.

Trivia on Wednesday nights at the Northwestern Lounge is another social engagement I look forward to as I fill my summer schedule.  It involves lots of folks much smarter than me and craft beer, a completely winning combination.
I'm not sure if this is actually craft beer, but it looks cool!

Anna models the coveted Trivia Champion Belt. As of this writing, my team is the current weekly champion. 

Yoga in Minocqua is for real.  I practice with some fun and fascinating folks and it challenges me in so many areas.  I've done yoga in fitness centers before, but this is the serious kind, where we do OMs and learn about the 8 arms of Yoga and the practice is a full 90 minutes. There is even a Feng shui element (yes, I know I am mixing cultures here) where keeping mats and props tidy and neatly arranged is required. My inner voice tells me that practicing yoga with these people in that setting is one of the best things I can do for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Paddleboarding and kayaking on the many lakes and rivers here is a new part of recreational culture that didn't exist in 1980.  Having a personal watercraft that you can throw into or on your car opens up the chance to explore, without much planning, the unlimited waterways here.  I'm paddling at least twice a week and thus far, and it is something I've been doing solo.  There is a group I joined early on here that coordinates local excursions, but I have yet to actually participate with them.
My paddle board is from Menard's and I love it!

Finally, I'll note that I have made continued progress on my home upgrades. 
This railing is upcycled from a wood stained knickknack shelf the previous owner left behind on the wall up here. Yes, I did cut out and dispose of the wall that once stood here, and I removed the plaster from the bricks you see. I am smiling now, but that was a messy, smelly, extremely tiresome pain of a job that took months to complete. :)

There is work and there is play, there is social and there is solo, there is inside and outside, sun and rain.

I am feeling life in balance on this July day.


  1. Thank you for letting us into your world. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Love, Jenny