Terri Kaiser

Summer becomes such a busy time, doesn't it? Living here in the north woods you'd think life would be less hectic without all the constant commotion of larger communities. But it doesn't feel like it when the calendar suddenly fills up with picnics and weddings and fundraisers and celebrations of all kinds. And somewhere in there has to be time to chill — sit back, breathe, take it all in. We have worked darned hard to earn the time to do nothing but watch a campfire, read a book, throw in a line, splash in a lake, or glide upon the waves in whatever mode suits you.

Living where we do, we have to pack an awful lot into those months when the weather is more accommodating. Therefore, calendars begin to look like a daunting 'to do' list. During this last year, we had snow on the ground for six months! That leaves the other six months to fit in three seasons.

Hence the challenge of what to say 'yes' to, and what to avoid to balance it all out. As much as we may want to say yes to everything, we simply can't. Either we, or the wallet, are exhausted.

But there's so much fun out there waiting to be experienced or shared. Family reunions usually take place in the summer months and who wants to miss having to kiss Aunt Dodie's cheek to earn a quarter, hearing about the latest bout of gout from Grandpa, having to shout at the top of your lungs because Uncle Ed's hearing aids are on the fritz, watching as the kids roll around in the dirt pretending to be snakes, and having to eat a piece of your sister's God-awful cake?

Okay, I'm being silly. I love a good family reunion. There are relatives to hug that we haven't seen in a coons-age, old pictures to search for those family resemblances, new babies to marvel over, and precious elders to pass on what they know of our family histories. At one of our family reunions, we played family trivia. It was a big hit that led to a few 'discussions' and lots of giggles. And then there's that group photo you have to try to fit everyone into at the end. Pure gold!

Time with people is a treasure all year round, but the summer seems to add a certain flavor to it. Of course, if you're a winter person, that works too, but I love the summer. Can't get enough. Ice cream on a hot day, watching kids dog-paddle and splash, and the smell of a campfire just pulls me in every time.

Isn't it amazing how a simple thing like a campfire can entertain? We spent a great afternoon a few weeks ago at the river burning some of the downed brush. I kept thinking I should head home, accomplish something there, but somehow the dance of the fire kept me in place. Something so primitive, yet no matter how our society has advanced, nothing compares to a campfire on a summer day — unless it's at night, and there's someone playing a guitar.

I did take a break from the fire at one point to get the kayak out on the water. Between the fire and the kayak, I was lulled into relaxation big time. One thing missing — the loons. Usually we hear the loons singing, echoing off the water, calling for their mate, but not this year. I'm sure they will let us know they are there sooner or later.

Being on the kayak makes me want to be poetic, and I am not a poet. But if you listen to the song of the river, it's mesmerizing. The gentle lap of the water, the breeze ruffling the leaves, the scuffle of a squirrel searching for lunch, the call of one bird to another. Yes, I wish I could write a stirring poem about it all, but alas, I'm not a poet and I know it. Did you catch that there — poet, know it. Okay, that's bad. Sorry.

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