Into the woods

Some Wisconsin days develop soothingly, like a deep breath, a sweet segue from the staccato pace of summer, though hints of winter hover on the edges of the trees.

Sunday felt like that for us and we unwrapped her slowly; tea on the front porch of our cabin, church in town, a stroll through the woods, a float down the river, a late Packer game on TV and a glorious sunset.

We finally, finally pulled two kayaks out onto the water, paddled up river for a bit, and then floated comfortably down. A bald eagle flew overhead, turkeys squawked from shore, and ducks practiced their takeoffs and landings on the water around us.

We silenced our cellphones and enjoyed the onomatopoeia music of the woods, a paddle’s steady splash, the lead goose’s bossy honk, the wind’s whisper through the creaking trees.  

We never saw another human, which made me think of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself (not the whole thing. Our float wasn’t THAT long). Just this stanza:

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,

Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not

even the best,

Only the lull I like, the hum of your valvèd voice.

Whitman may have been writing about his soul, but I like to think of the valved voice of our river and the stories it could tell.

We once looked up from a river float to see a giant buck staring at us, a dignified host tolerant of our shenanigans but ready to lock the door behind us as we floated through his woods.

I used to tell Molly bedtime stories about what happened in the woods near our cabin when we humans had left for the day. They were full of fun-loving baby bears, gentle deer and mischievous ducks. I still wonder what goes on when we shut the gate behind us and head home for the week, though Molly is all grown up and our trail cams have hinted at cycle of life encounters I’d rather not see.

Winter waits on the near end of October, and summer has sadly expired. How lucky for us, then, to get a whole day to stave off worry, turn our faces toward the sun, and let the river’s current carry us a while.

It’s not quite color season in our neck of the woods, but I’ll always appreciate the reflections of the woods on the water.
We had no idea what we were doing, but we were pretty excited about our little kayaking adventure.
It turned out to be a lovely, relaxing trip (once we gave up the up-stream battle and floated back toward our cabin).
That warm summer sun felt like a gift.
For most of the trip back, we didn’t really even need our paddles. So, we could sit back and listen to the rhythm of the woods.
I am pretty fascinated by that birch tree, which bends low toward the river but, so far, has not broken.
I have to try very hard not to burst into “Just around the riverbend” every time I hit this spot on the river. I rarely succeed.
We enjoyed this glorious sunset for most of our trip home from the cabin.

3 thoughts on “Into the woods

  1. I know your dad is happy you love the outdoors as much as he did. About the garlic ? Is the cloves you have left from what i sent you or did you you plant it in the spring? If it’s mine it will be too old. I’ll send you some from this years crop. I’ll be planting mine toward the end of the month instead of around the 15th. because of the extreme warm weather were having. Not complaining. NICK…………….

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