I recently spent some time up in Northern Wisconsin, taking kayak and tent to spend some time in a beautiful place. We have gotten pretty good at it — sleeping on an air mattress helps, as does the gourmet meals and regular trips to town for ice, wine, and ice cream.

french toastHot coffee, french toast, cherries cooked down with a little sweet wine

On this trip we saw deer coming to the lake to drink the cool, clear water,  as well as eagle parents and a juvenile who swooped overhead several times.  My camping companion saw otters clambering through the mud to feast on the plentiful fish. Unfortunately, I missed seeing that, being on another part of the lake.  We stalked the same place the rest of the trip, but did not see them again.

bald eagleBald Eagle.  Definitely need a better telephoto lens – they just would not let me get very close.

Of course, all of this is so inspirational to me, and creating something is always in my thoughts.  A typical day involved me puttering along the shoreline, collecting interesting pieces of driftwood.

driftwood on my kayakDriftwood collection and a stick (bark neatly chewed off by a beaver)

There are always a lot of downed birch trees in the woods.  Birch bark is invaluable for starting a campfire; it is always instant success.  I also have a project in mind, so spent some time stripping bark to take home and finding branches.  Of course, I would never damage a live tree for any of that – plenty of findings on the ground.

birch barkBirch bark and sticks

In the evening, we took the kayaks onto the lake to wait for the stars to peek out.  The loons called, with their eerie sound. A campfire or two twinkled in the distance, and we were lucky to have neighbors that loved the silence and natural sounds as much as we do (no radios to destroy the peace).

sunset on the lakeEvening falls on the lake

Now I have a new store of creative materials in stock.  I’ll have to get to work and make something so that others can bring a little piece of the north woods into their own home.

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