Friday, June 29, 2007

Out with Stress

Last night I had a reminder of why I live up here. I spent Wednesday and Thursday in Duluth taking a friend of mine for medical tests and a doctor’s visit. The outcome was that this elderly woman would be facing some shoulder replacement surgery. I spent the 2 hours driving from Duluth to Grand Marais explaining this surgery over and over. By the time I got home about 5:00 p.m., I was beat.

There just enough time at home to change into some old shoes, grab my sweatshirt, and jump into the boat. Bruce and I had been invited to a fish fry on Campers’ Island with a bunch of friends. It could not have happened on a better evening.

The sky was clear and there was very little wind on the water. Our boat seemed to zip along down the lake. The water washed the tension from my back and neck. My mind was cleared by just looking at the passing shoreline.

Approaching the island, we could see the boats of our friends. The fire was already burning. As is usual with this group, the table was groaning with its load of food. Bruce joined Bob as the cooks. Bob took care of the potatoes and baked beans. Bruce did the fish – walleye, bass, and lake trout. Even the smoke smelled wonderful. While the two men cooked, we all snacked on veggies and dip or smoked trout.

When it came time to eat, everyone chowed down. In fact I think every single person went back for seconds. In addition to the food mentioned, we had homemade dinner rolls, pickled home-grown cucumbers, fresh Iowa strawberries, apple salad, and two kinds of homemade cookies. It was a feast that anyone would love to eat.

After dinner, we put some wood on the fire, gathered round in chairs, and just sat talking easily. We could hear the water flowing over Bridal Falls. One boat rocked gently against a rock. The mosquitoes were almost totally absent. A couple loons were calling back and forth.

Melissa and Ken got out their cameras to record the event. That was our most organized activity. Otherwise, ever so often, someone would get up and put a little more wood on the fire. We must have sat there for an hour or more with no one showing any inclination to move.

Only the approach of sunset got us moving. Then everyone pitched in to clean up. A couple 5-gal buckets of water and a stirring stick took care of the fire. Boats were loaded. Chairs folded and put in boats. Food packed up. Garbage accounted for. One last look around the campsite assured us that it was left better than we found it.

It is evenings like this that bring sanity into my life. The stress of the last couple days was gone. I hope that you have a nearby natural area where you can also get a little of the stress out of your life.

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