I’ve had several folks ask me why I retired to the Northwods of Wisconsin. They would prefer a warmer place to live like the Florida Keys, Arizona, or Southern California.
But I prefer a wilderness setting overlooking water. And we live on the banks of the Huge Pond, Golden Pond, the Flowage, or the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, which is this body of water’s real name; a gigantic wilderness lake approaching 19,000 acres in size dotted by thousands of islands.
We like living with the wildlife. Eagles, bear, wolves, giant osprey, otter, fox, and coyotes are our neighbors.
Where else can you find this much solitude? No traffic, no people, no noise, no stress. Just water and dense forests in every direction. Arizona doesn’t even have any water. The Florida Keys are beautiful. But you won’t find much wildlife or forests there. Southern California is, well, just like the rest of California. Traffic, noise, a dense population, hardly a place for solitude and getting away from the stress of life.
We’re getting ready to sink into a deep cold winter. The Big Pond began buildings its initial ice seal yesterday. It snowed last night putting a white coating on the portions of the Pond that have ice. The water is still open about ¼ mile from shore.
I was eating breakfast. Our dining room overlooks the Flowage from atop the small hill that we live on near the shore. Out of my peripheral vision I saw what appeared to be a small airplane gliding along the shoreline and then it came to rest atop a tree in the woods between the house and the lakeshore. The airplane was a giant osprey; two of them. Eagles hover over the house during the summer but we had never been visited by giant osprey.
They were hunting for fish. The newly formed ice on the lake had formed a shelf half way across the lake and they were using it as a platform to hunt for fish in deeper waters. We watched them for about an hour as they spread those huge wings, swooped along the ice shelf, secured their prey and used our backyard trees as a landing zone on which to eat their meal. We marveled at how agile they were. Their huge bodies with a wing span of over six feet glided in and through the trees as if they were not even there.
Moments like these are why we live where we do. The huge glass windows on the lakeside of our house serves as our theater screen. As the ice solidifies, soon the featured episode will be wolves traveling across the ice in search of deer, or bears looking for a place to sleep for the winter, or ice fisherman setting up a shanty town where they will fish through the ice for walleye, crappie, and an occasional musky. The crude little huts, each with a tail of smoke emitting from the hut’s tiny little chimneys, reminds me of a Norman Rockwell scene painted on canvas from life in the Northeast during the late 1800’s.
Yes, the winters are long and cold here. But I’ve come to enjoy, even look forward to the cold winter days while warming myself by the fireplace with a hot cup of coffee and a good book. When a break from the quiet and solitude becomes necessary, the computer in the study connects us to reality over DSL. The computer and the telephone are the only lifelines that we need to connect us to any corner of the plant.
Why the Northwoods? Hopefully, this little post allowed your thoughts to drift away to places and times less complicated and demanding. Yet you can interrupt your isolation whenever you choose and within seconds you are connected to the six-lane highway we call the Internet.
Would you prefer to live within a couple of blocks of the mall and vacation to a place with less concrete, stoplights, and noise? Or would you like to live where there is solitude and dirt roads and visit the mall a few times a year? Again, the purpose of this impromptu post is to stimulate your thinking regarding such matters. There’s plenty of room on the lake for your little cabin get-away. And good neighbors are always welcome.