Imagine a quaint little white cottage settled beneath towering pine trees set only a few yards from a quiet inland lake. I’m on a writer’s retreat in northern Wisconsin. I’ve spent most of this getaway sitting at a table on the screened porch, sipping coffee and tapping away on my laptop. Works in progress seem less daunting here. Deadlines don’t rule me the way they do at home. The only interruptions are the welcome sounds of waves gently lapping against the shore and the cry of a loon echoing across the lake.
This morning a heavy mist hugged the water trapping the sweet scent of pine in the air. After breakfast I went on a walk. God’s little blessings were everywhere: an eagle riding the wind above the lake; fish surfacing, creating tiny rings in the mirror-like water; butterflies resting on the last of summer wildflowers, determined chipmunks gathering acorns under an old oak tree (I remembered to slip a few into my pockets for the squirrels back home.) . . .
Northwoods Country seems to attract those who prefer a solitary and somewhat quirky lifestyle. I’ve decided this place would be the perfect destination for someone who writes cozy mysteries. In the little towns around here I found “characters” who fit that genre.
I met a chatty lady who summers in a cottage near here. She gave me a lengthy tutorial on juvenile bald eagles. “Did you know they are terrible landers?” she asked. “They sometimes plop down at the edge of the water and then wonder what to do. You should see! They spread their wings wide open and just look at the sky.” She also told me about a twelve-point buck, “big as a moose. He shows up down there at the very end of Shiller’s Road. Comes out of the woods at 6:38, almost every night.” (She keeps a record —6:38.)
At Cathy’s Ice Cream Shop, I enjoyed two generous scoops of ice cream, Raspberry Chocolate Chunk and French Silk. No other customers were there, so Cathy, a plump, little darked-haired lady, sat and talked with me about the “Big Wave.” It’s an annual event here on Labor Day when the locals stand along highways leading out of town and wave goodbye to the “summer people”. Cathy says the goodbye is bittersweet. Tourists and those with summer homes on the lakes provide most of the income for shop owners like her. Still, it’s a happy day when they leave and peace and quiet return to the woods.
It’s evening now. As I rest on the porch, the lake turns glassy clear reflecting the trees and sky. The setting sun creates hues that remind me of carrots and candied ginger. My words slow with the waning day. It’s been a good one, productive . . .
There’s nothing like the north woods for a writer’s retreat.
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