Star Date: April 2018
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
"Aniin. Aaniish naa ezhiyaayin?"
(Hello. How are you? Ojibwa Nation)
Simplicity. Thoreau desired to experience life and it's meaning by living by the simplest terms possible; at Walden Pond. He lived off of the land. He built his own house. He hunted and fished his own food. He lived in solitude. Through these things, Thoreau experienced how life truly is meant to be lived.
He desired to live a mindfully rich life, rather than a monetarily rich life, and to do that he had to prove that living off of the most base means is not only possible, but worthwhile.
"Nature, to Thoreau was beautiful, rich, alive, and helpful. It provided him with all the aesthetic beauty and material goods that he could ever desire. From walking through the woods to taking his raft out, he spent all of his time outdoors, fully immersing himself in the natural world; for that was where he was truly alive. He pitied those who felt not the desire but the need for luxurious material goods.
He wrote "Walden" not to get others to follow in his footsteps and live a year in the woods; he was simply showing that it is important for one to follow their heart and find meaning in their lives. Many people "have found themselves trapped in life that is fruitful in works but barren in happiness and life."
And so we went into the woods and spent 2 weeks at the 'Shack', in Wisconsin's North Woods. A remote, serene log cabin 10 miles from any town, without electricity or water. Sounds bleak? It was anything but! Our trip home to organize a Memorial service for my dear Mom, LaVerne, was a logistical challenge. When my good cousin, Mike, offered the use of our formerly owned family cabin, everything fell into place. Walking through the door memories flooded my mind. First the old 'Shack' then this newer log cabin 'Shack Jr.' were the pride and joy of my Dad and Mom. They turned this retreat and it's 40 acres, in the middle of thousands of acres of wild forest, into a loving place that accepted with open welcoming arms, anyone who made the long trip.
As a kid myself and brother Paul spent some of our most cherished childhood memories right on this spot. This was a place where we all relaxed and blended into Nature. This is Nature. Sitting quietly outside the cabin, observing, one will most likely see deer, raccoon, chipmunks, birds of all sizes, including owls and bald eagles, butterflies, fox and possibly even a bear. By the pond there are endless frogs croaking and turtles splashing. Nights were full of coyotes and wolves howling to the moon. You don't have to go looking for Nature, Nature comes to you.
I was raised out in Nature, as were my kids; fishing, hiking, camping, exploring. Perhaps the more time one spends in Nature the more flexible and adjusted we are when we return to this crazy outside world. I know it has helped me to be flexible and more accepting as a World Nomad. Time in Nature is a great way to clear your mind from the modern stress and clutter and connect. Thoreau was definitely on to something.
As a child I remember sleeping in the old shack. In the middle of the night a black bear decided to come up and start scratching and clawing the logs right near our heads. My Dad, my hero, sent him on his way.
went fishing at the Big Hole and brought fresh trout back to be
cooked on the wood stove, along with fried potatoes and baked beans.
Maybe a cup of collected wild onion soup or a freshly baked Gami pie
for dessert. We collected water from a
natural spring and picked fresh wild flowers to grace the 100 year
old oak dining table. This place was anything but luxurious
but it had heart. It was a hunting cabin and no women's
touches were allowed. Built by my Dad and Grandfather, Emil, it
the original granite stone fireplace. Sitting by the roaring
fire in the old oak rocking chair, the bottom worn from years
of rocking, I smiled and reflected on how thankful I was for a good
childhood overflowing with love and for a life full of warm memories.
For a minute my Mom and Dad were sitting next to me enjoying the
fire. Some memories are eternal.
We lived each day of our adventure fully. My daughter, Mariah and husband, Shane and two grandchildren Kayla and Kaimana; plus son, Kevin flew in from Hawaii. We soaked in the beauty of that magic feeling "Nowhere to Go." The North Woods in the summer are spectacular. Autumn sees the trees turn into an artists pallet of colors and winter covers everything with up to 6 ft of snow. We attended a colorful, powerful Native American Pow Wow, celebrating with the Chippewas of the Ojibwa Nation and visiting tribes. We walked the streets of Hayward eating treats and seeing sites like the Fishing Hall of Fame, housed inside a 143 ft Musky. We fished and hiked and explored the area along the shore of the Great Lake Superior, of course eating a traditional pasty for lunch, near the 52 ft high statue of Hiawatha. We hiked and camped in beautiful Copper Falls State Park. We visited and caught up with brother and Uncle Paul. We retraced steps and found old remote fishing spots from memory. We were tired and muddy at times but you couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces. Back at the Shack we sat around the campfire at night roasting marshmallows and talking under the blanket of stars. Not a single light for miles.
Located in an authentic small town America, (500 miles north of Chicago in the Midwest) a trip into Mellen was like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting. Besides a lovely well attended Memorial Service for my Mom we were lucky to be visiting over the 4th of July holidays. There was a frog jumping contest, home baked pie social, 'rolly polly' dinner, a ride on the big fire truck, baseball games, a hula hoop and pie eating contest, talent show, street dance, a parade full of floats, tractors and marching bands and the ever exciting fire works display to top it off with a bang. Yes, Norman, life is good in a small town!
Once my dear family returned to Hawaii I said farewell to brother Paul, cousins Mike and Carolyn, friends Renee, Pam and Kathy, my 101 year old Godmother, Theresa. I was met by another good friend, Nancy from Lacrosse. Together she drove along the western shore of Lake Superior, to friends south. Joe and lovely wife had a great place along a lake and welcomed us warmly with good food and family. Nancy & I had fun catching up, stopping by for more pie at the Norske Nook plus a fun night and boat trip at my cousin Mike and Mary's delightful gentleman's farm. There I picked and ate green peas and raspberries from the bush until I burst.
On to Lacrosse. Lacrosse is a lovely spot along the Mississippi River and we enjoyed hiking and touring, going to local fairs, eating, meeting friends and eating. Did I mention eating? What fun we had. Nancy organized a drop in party for neighbors and I met someone I hadn't seen in over 40 years. My gracious host and good friend sent me on my way fat and happy. Off I went into the unknown to join my dear husband Joseph somewhere in Asia.
Life is simple and essential in Wisconsin. I had tasted the best it had to offer. A fun trip down Memory Lane. Now like a dream full of more warm memories.
And so it goes.........................................Next traveling over 10,000 miles from the forests of Northern Wisconsin to the jungles of Northern Sumatra. Until next month let's remember to, from this day forward, live our lives deliberately so when we come to die we don't discover that we had not truly lived. We are glad you stopped by. Thanks for keeping in touch. We love your emails. Take care!
Love, Light & Laughter,
$1.00US = A lot more groceries in N Wisconsin than in Hawaii.
Wisconsin North Woods
Minneapolis MSP airport: We flew in and out of here (250 miles from the Shack). We missed having Joseph and daughter-in-law Laura there. Maybe next time.
At the airport I met Adjovi from Togo at a little cafe. We had an interesting conversation and made me miss Africa!