We stole a slice of summer Wednesday night, which felt exactly right.
With just hours of July to spare, we snuck out of the city and headed north toward tranquility. By 6 p.m. we were on the river and we let its current drift us home, to our cabin that, shockingly, I had seen just one other time this whole crazy, busy summer.
A froggy croak-chorus provided a summer serenade. Soon, the geese and turkeys joined in. Our young companion tested the river’s echo with increasing vigor, which should have, but did not bother a mellow duck family enjoying an evening paddle a few yards downstream.
That perfect river float would have been enough. But, because I always get a little freaked out when the calendar flips to August and I worry I have not seized all that summer in Wisconsin has to offer, we snuck a little more time.
I took a very brief photo walk through the woods, ran into a standing black bear on the southeast corner of our pond, acknowledged our mutual surprise and then cautiously ceded the woods to him. (I briefly considered claiming the path as my own, but quickly talked myself out of that foolishness. Besides, whom am I, really, to say that land is mine when all the deer, turkeys, eagles, bob cats, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, porcupines, beavers and owls I’ve spotted on my roams there say otherwise?)
Later, we lounged around a snapping campfire under a million stars made visible by the black moon I learned about that day. Coyotes sang out a yippy, howling melody, which doesn’t always happen, and I felt properly welcomed home.
In the morning, I treated myself to another river show as I watched the rising sun chase away a cool morning mist.
I drove back to town with my top down. The only traffic obstructing my morning commute came by way of a trio of deer that scampered across the road in front of me.
In the end, we spent 14 hours in the magical place we Wisconsinites call “Up North”, just enough to time to send off July properly and welcome August with gratitude and anticipation.
Stay a little while, summer. We need you.