Winter brings snow to the Northwoods. Tons of it. When we arrive, we careen our necks around the mailbox to ensure that Joe Thorn plowed our driveway. You see, we've never met this mysterious plower. We've never laid eyes on him. We've only spoken to him once - in 2005 when we bought the cabin. Despite his elusiveness, Mr. Thorn stealthily arrives every year after a solid base of snow accumulates to keep our driveway clear so we can pull in late at night without incident. But he doesn't plow too much so we can still get the winter toys out. Then we get a bill at the end of the winter, which we happily pay. I love Mr. Thorn, who eludes explanation or comprehension. In my mind he is Jason Bourne, so it's probably best I never see him in the flesh.
I love fires in our fireplace. Our little cabin warms up quickly, and with the lights turned low, candles flickering on the shelf and firelight flames dancing in the corner, the calm overcomes us.
The other day I shared a few blissful moments with my parents before our Christmas Eve guests arrived. We just returned from Church, the food was all prepped, the house looked festive and welcoming, and we had a few minutes to spare before the celebration began. We sat down in front of the Christmas tree, put our feet up (can you say heaven?) and sipped a cocktail. I announced: "I probably should not enjoy cocktails as much as I do," to chuckles of agreement from my parents, who were also imbibing. But at that moment, Mr. Ketel and his cranberry accompaniment were working their magic and I just had to pay homage.
Like I do in the Northwoods. There is something remarkable about the warm, amber coloring of Mr. Rye that works so well with the surroundings, the fireplace, the candles and especially the snow falling from the sky. I love Templeton Rye. It is my favorite Northwoods, holiday-playground beverage. And for some reason, it tastes better here. Like it was meant to be here. In a big, demonstrative way.
For the record - I did not drink all of this whiskey! Mr. Rye works his magic on many a cabin guest - even my mother.
I love the replica of Mr. Musky's first Esox accomplishment compliments of Stone Lake, forever immortalized where all can see, complete with the lure that captured the beast dangling from his mouth.
I love the little plaque that perfectly encapsulates the maddening irony of fishing, and the decomposed deer skull we found on a hike in the woods.
Most of all, I love how it all works together.
I love Mr. Musky's unsolicited Executive Decisions, but only when they work. Like the lure fan pull, and the Welcome sign that greets us and our guests as we pull into our paradise.
Finally, I love the way that winter and cold weather reunites us as a family. Although I miss the loon calls and lakeside-fireside dinners of summertime, it is just as heartwarming to cozy up as a foursome and play games together.
I prefer to listen to music when we compete boys vs. girls in euchre, and the other night Mr. Musky played DJ. He started with Jim Morrison, but after "LA Woman" and "People are Strange" and "Break on Through", our offspring about lost it with the repetitive lyrics of "L'America". To avoid total meltdown, Mr. Musky accommodated the women in his life with a little Edie Brickell since we were kickin' it Old School. Which reminded me of a ridiculous, carefree time of fantasy-like wonderment during my Senior year of college so I insisted upon "No Rain" by Blind Melon. By then, our 21st century, 20 on 20 XM children were nearing total insanity, so he obliged our daughter's request and played Ingrid Michelson. Within the first few bars of "Everybody", he declared we might as well castrate him. Giggling, my girl and I serenaded him with the lyrics to "The Way I Am". If he thought he should have been castrated with the first song, he was begging for crucifixion with this one. Consider the lyrics:
If you were falling, then I would catch you. You need a light, I'd find a match.
Cause I love the way you say good morning. And you take me the way I am.
If you are chilly, here take my sweater. Your head is aching, I'll make it better.
Cause I love the way you call me baby. And you take me the way I am.
I'd buy you Rogaine when you start using all your hair. Sew on patches to all you tear.
Cause I love you more than I could promise. And you take me the way I am.
Ugh. Can you say sap? This song drips and oozes mush, the absolute antithesis of Mr. Musky. So in the middle of our sweet song, he man-screamed. You know the kind - the deep, guttural, animal-like growl that only men can produce.
The daughter squealed like a little girl. So did I.
Then I laughed until I cried and almost peed.
That is what I love about the cabin in Winter.