Country Cousin


In my teen years, I spent my summers in central Wisconsin with a cousin my age. He lived six miles north of town on a 50 acre wooded hill complete with a creek meandering along the north edge.

On summer evenings when the adults were playing cards in the brightly lit dining room of his home, he and I would coat ourselves with 6-12 Insect Repellent and steal away to an embankment of the creek. We would squirm into the leaves until we were comfortably and perfectly positioned at an angle that afforded us a view of the sky through the overhead trees.

We would talk, sharing our deepest thoughts, solving the profound problems of two boys in their early teens with earnest conversation and sage observations on the meaning of life. Oh we were so wise. Then, when our insightfulness ran its course, at some mutually agreed but unspoken moment, there came a natural break and we would fall quiet.

Absolute silence… that was the key. It would not take long before the woods around us came alive. The bubbling of the creek was always the first to present itself. It was always there of course, but in our self imposed silence it became the theme of what was no less than a natural symphony with Mother Nature conducting. Our eyes were now adjusted to the darkness and the moon and stars of the Milky Way cast a shimmering glow about us. Then the solo instruments of nature slowly resumed their parts in the performance. First a whippoorwill… then an owl. For the bass accompaniment a bullfrog. Treble notes from the treetop far above us—a series of short riffs, each one different—a mockingbird in search of a mate. A brief scurrying as a nearby nocturnal animal re-inhabited the area, unaware of our presence.

It was perhaps Mother Nature at her finest and we never grew tired of visiting her concert hall.

Reservations not required.

Best seats in the north woods.

No charge.


4 Comments on “Country Cousin”

  1. Tom says:

    Hi Jim,
    Nice story. It reminded me of some of my own adventures in Michigan at the same age. We were lucky kids having such wonderful places to go. Do you recall the time we took a row boat out in Lake Michigan (off the Ludington Coast) on a stormy day and the Coast Guard came to the rescue? They were going to fine us for not having life preservers until they found out we were city boys! As I recall, we were out about two miles from shore before we got up the nerve to turn around in the huge waves.

    • jimpadar says:

      Oh yes! Lots of good times in Ludington. I remember that row boat near disaster. The waves were so high we were afraid to turn the boat for fear of being swamped. Then came the Coast Guard to the rescue, or so I thought. They gave us a stern warning and told us to head for shore… and then they left us out in the waves! But at least, somehow, we got headed back in the right direction.

      Remember the Park Dairy? They had some super-sized banana split, so big they would give you a medal if you were able to finish it. You and I each ordered one and we polished it of. I still have the “medal” somewhere—it says “I WAS A PIG AT PARK DAIRY”

      Great memories, great times! Yes, we were very blessed as kids. Best part of all perhaps; your Mom’s homemade bread!

  2. Kaye says:

    Beatiful story, JIm. I have shared it with several friends. Keep writing!

  3. Silvia says:

    My nights in central Wisconsin, are dark and scary. Only you could write in such a poetic manner and make me realize that I have missed the big picture. Thank you!

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