In a little over 12 hours I’ll be heading north through the mitten toward The Bridge and then into God’s country, which continues almost uninterrupted for almost 500 miles through dark tamarack and cedar swamps, aging popple stands, ancient pines, Great Lake shoreline, and stony farmland until I reach the family deer hunting camp in the arrowhead of Minnesota.
Nothing speaks to me of home like the North Woods. Moose, deer, wolves, pine martens, whiskeyjacks, red squirrels, brook trout and northern pike. No city lights; for that matter, no electric lights. Some years, Northern Lights. And maybe most importantly, family and family history. I know I’m getting close when the road names change from French and English to Finn.
One of the best parts of this yearly trip is that it usually starts out in a world of browns, yellows, reds and greens and ends in a snowy monochrome. Evergreens look black when the only comparison is grey popple trees and blinding snow.
Maybe I’ll even see a deer to shoot at. I’ll have venison either way. There are probably already one or two hanging. We always do okay.