As the calendar months get closer to turning from summer to fall, I’ve been thinking about the epitome of a Minnesota summer. Although it’s many things to many people, to me it’s characterized by sun, water, and pines. If you live in the urban Twin Cities, a summer highlight is a trip “up north” whether for a weekend or a week. As the car noses northward the landscape changes, the sky gets bluer, the lakes become more numerous, and the smell of pines is evident. It’s here that I relax and breathe deeply – the smells of summer. When the cell phone is out of range and the days are marked by the sunrise and sunset, life becomes simpler and I am more concentrated. Sure, I still try to rush to cram all the “things” I want to do into each day, but it’s a slower sense of urgency. A sense that the day will be delightful no matter what activities take place (or what leisure and quiet is enjoyed). A walk down the path to the lake, some quiet time sitting on the dock watching the sun reflect off the water, and listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees, the fish surfacing, and the loons calling — this, to me, is the epitome of summer in Minnesota.
As the temperature soared into the 90’s in the Twin Cities last Friday, we did what many Minnesotans do and headed “up north” for the weekend. A small cabin at Whitewood Resort overlooking Spirit Lake was the perfect relief. We spent the time keeping cool either by swimming in the lake or fishing. The first night we were treated to a beautiful glowing sunset with the reflection slicing through the wild rice that is in this lake. As I lay in bed that night I was lulled to sleep by the loons calling back and forth. We caught our share of sunfish and crappies the next day, watched an eagle swoop down and get his fish from the lake, and our second night was highlighted by a view of the Northern Lights as we sat on the dock with our feet in the lake. A few hours later, a storm rolled through with lightning and thunder and dropped the temperatures considerably. This morning we wandered amongst the many lakes in Aitkin County then shared lunch with good friends we haven’t seen in a long time. As we headed back to the cities we found ourselves refreshed and relaxed and thankful for a quick escape up north.
“Up north to the lake” is the common weekend occurrence here, whether it’s a small lake or a big lake. And the biggest lake is Lake Superior. We spent the weekend in Ashland, Wisconsin, along the southern shore of Lake Superior. It was a perfect summer weekend — warm daytime temperatures, cooler nighttime temps, the lake close by, along with a special 4th of July celebration. We were treated to beautiful sunsets with calm waters that reflected the boats in the marina as well as the fireworks that were set off after dark. A perfect dose of summer relaxation!