You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
The cats return to the lake
Our annual summer pilgrimage to the Wisconsin Northwoods
The car is almost all packed up, and it's time to summon the troops.
-- Come on, guys. We've got a long day ahead.
(It's 19 June 2020, and we're bound for Winchester, Kentucky, today.)
-- We're ready, chief.
Kristin's cottage on the lake in northern Wisconsin, late afternoon on 21 June. Melvin slept through the entire trip -- Choupette behaved appallingly on the first day, but resigned herself and managed very well for the rest of it.
The familiar boathouse at the end of Mussent Point, at the northern end of the lake.
Brother Eric has got everything set up for us, how kind of him.
Two small cats who've just spent eight months in a condo, the windows of which we can't even open -- views of the Great Outdoors in real time will have to sink in a bit.
The next day -- Melvin is a veteran of three previous summers on the property, and must just remind himself of what his opportunities and responsibilities will be. Choupette, on the other hand, has never been out of doors on her own -- last summer, when she was the size of a peanut with a tail, eagle-bait in other words, she had to stare with envy at all the hijinks on the lawn.
So now they're loose -- to negotiate their own relationships with La Nature.
After eight months of incarceration, Melvin may not be sure that he's not just dreaming this.
But then the call of the shrubberies rings out, and he's stalking the insects just like in the old days.
Choupette, on the other hand, has never encountered a shrubbery or fern before.
But she's picking up the stalking of insects very quickly (though, alas, later in the summer she progressed to stalking tiny shrews and batting them around)
-- And what's this all about then?
All that said, we did have to keep a watchful eye for the eagles, and several times during the summer we scrambled to yank our little friend into the cottage when one of them came swooping in low among the treetops.
Melvin's looking confused -- he needs a little time for adjusting.
The Choupette Welcoming Committee has arrived within minutes.
Cats exploring one of the gardens
-- That's called a 'tree', Choupette.
Back to the shrubs and grasses, buzzing with tiny winged provocations
A little dance of joy atop a disused grill from many decades ago
Kristin and George helping Choupette get used to being surrounded by water -- on the dock at Mussent Point
Choupette may be wondering what water even is.
Inaugurating the hydrobikes for another summer
The semi-religious cult of the hydrobikes is called to order.
We're off to join Cousin Rob somewhere down the lake a mile or so, 25 June 2020, here passing 'Pradt's Point' out of our little bay.
Mind the airplane!
The plane has landed, if that's the right term, immediately swiveled about and is revving up to take off again. Cousin Rob, one hopes, will not be in the way.
And off he goes -- either he was practicing takeoffs and landings, or he's just realized that he's on the wrong lake.
Along the shore at the southern end of the lake, what the map unfortunately refers to as 'Indian Bay', there is this little swamp or marsh bounded by a line of logs.
It's evidently humanmade, but when, and by whom? We find no clues.
But the entire shoreline along here is bounded by erratic boulders, many with trees more or less growing right out of them.
This is last year's lightning casualty.
Another hefty one -- all left behind by receding glaciers, we're given to understand.
And here is the pièce de résistance . . .
. . . probably the largest erratic on the lake.
A few more. It's hard to say why they are so fascinating. Or rather, why we find them so fascinating anyway.
A half-submerged dock and its television dish
Another new casualty in the South Bay
There's evidently something in the state's lake conservation regulations that these have to be left where they've fallen.
These guys are getting ready -- one good sign of their readiness: they're thoroughly pocked up by woodpecker assaults on the insects hiding in their rotten insides.
And this little one, fallen in last year, is languishing about 3½ kilometres to the north, round the corner from the dock at Mussent Point.
Stephanie and Kristin off on the pedalboards
Coordinated insect-attack planning
Another cat resides on the property, variously called 'Sweetheart' or 'Pinkie', or, by those who don't want to choose sides, 'the white cat'.
The White Cat has been spotted
-- Get off our turf!
Territorial vigilance (in fact, all the cats subsequently renewed their acquaintances and got along very well.)
The first foray this year back to the canal, 27 June 2020
For another consecutive year, the lake level is high, and the propellers can stay down for most of the way.
The canal is made up of two lengths leading to the much larger adjacent lake, separated by a mid-lake, sometimes called 'Mirror Lake'. This first part is 180 metres long and pretty easy going, except for one submerged fallen tree a bit farther along.
The mid-lake, 150m long, used to be a fine venue for turtle- or frog-spotting, sunning themselves out on the fallen trees. There are not so many these days, for some reason, but we persist on trying to sneak up on them, without scaring them back off their logs.
None of them around today, unfortunately -- it's sad; twice we've even seen snakes out sunbathing along here.
Over to the entrance of the second leg of the canal
The culvert under the road that runs round the eastern side of the lake
The canal was constructed in the late 19th century to float trees 'harvested' around the farther lake to the sawmill on ours -- it didn't work out so well, we've been told, since our lake level proved to be higher than the other one, and by the end of the first decade of the 20th century, there were no more trees left anyway.
The farther length of canal is a bit over 400m long, and that newly diagonal little tree is going to be awkward getting a hydrobike under.
It was indeed awkward getting past it, as it happened -- we'll have to come back with a small saw -- but here we are at the little dam and sluice gate leading into the farther lake. We've come today, in fact, to find out whether some authority or other has been out here lowering the sluice gate to drop our lake level to suit their own tastes.
There's no water flowing over the gate at the moment, so our healthy water level seems to be safe for a while.
Back to the mid-lake
No turtles. No frogs. Certainly no snakes. Some fairly interesting ferns though.
Following a patriotic boat through the No Wake zone
Parting of the ways: we leave Cousin Rob to his own devices and proceed solo out onto the main part of the lake.
Mussent Point is about 2km straight ahead northward.
The Lake in the Wisconsin Northwoods
Mussent Point is at no. 12.