Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Shack

The accompanying pictures show our family's hunting shack. It's a venerable piece of our family's history even though, relatively speaking, it's pretty recent history. It only goes back to the 1950's. Bing's dad and four of his friends from Milwaukee leased an acre of land from a northwoods lumber company and built the little structure on weekends. It's about 250 miles from Milwaukee and they scavenged the wood and materials to build it. Bernie, Bing's dad, was in his 30's and the others were in their early twenties. The whole group loved fishing and hunting and the shack became their headquarters for both sports. It was nestled in the woods in a county of 1200 lakes and the tall timber loomed nearby. Heaven to the five guys who headed north to the shack whenever life offered the time to do so. I didn't know two of the five men well because they died pretty young. But the other three, Bernie, Don and Norbie, all were fun loving, hardworking, generous guys who really loved hunting and fishing. Their times at the shack were filled with love and laughter, fresh air, card playing and well earned sleep in the double sized bunk beds complete with mattresses. There was a national forest nearby where they pumped water from the ground for dishes and cooking and drinking. They had gas lights - no electricity. They had an old fashioned ice box for cooling and an oil burner for heat. A short walk out the door led to the outhouse which faced away from the highway because it had no door. As our three sons grew in wisdom and knowledge, they each were welcomed into the shack for the all important deer season opening weekend each November. Their grandpa, Bernie, was dead by then, but Don and Norbie and Bing and his older brother, Paul, mentored them and taught them the secret wisdoms of the shack. Of course, I don't know what they are, because long before the saying became synonomous with Las Vegas, the shack people had the saying, " what's said at the shack stays at the shack. " I do know that the shack is where Bing and his older brother, Paul, have excellent memories of their dad and their dad's love for nature - where they learned good old fashioned values of hard work and enjoyment of god's bounty. Where our kids in turn, learned to appreciate the powerful energy of our natural resources and the fact that one can get along in life and enjoy its moments with a very simple lifestyle. Today is opening day of this year's deer season and there are four at the shack for the weekend. Bing, Bernie the son, Don, who almost didn't make it this year and Bernie's brother-in-law, Doug, who seems to also have the hunting,/fishing gene. Tomorrow I'll know if any deer were slain. Part of our tradition is that when the hunters return home from the hunt, they back into the garage if they have a deer. If the truck comes home frontwards, I know that the hunt goes on and no venison yet!

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