C.W. Gusewell


A delightful hiatus from the march of life

DOOR COUNTY, Wis. | One long day’s drive and part of a second delivered us out of the Midwestern cooker into this more northern place – a peninsula thrust like a slender blade into the restless, shining waters of Lake Michigan.

Our lodging here for much too short a week has been a 75-year-old log cabin, tucked into the shadowed stillness of the mixed hardwood and conifer forest, whose occasional maples have just begun to flame from green to scarlet.

The days, with one exception, have been perfection – afternoons in the 60s, bright with puffy cloud ships racing, the mornings in the 50s and 40s.

Almost in the space of a drawn breath we could sense the season turning.

Just two days after the hurricane that savaged the East Coast, our New York daughter flew to Milwaukee, where we and her Kansas City sister collected her for the trip’s last leg.

More than anything, just being together – away from the claims and crowding of busy lives – has been the joy of this brief vacation.

That’s not to say we idled the time away. A short drive, no more than 10 minutes from our woodland refuge, there’s a series of linked villages, each one with a considerable variety of antique shops and galleries.

My ladies love prowling those – not so much to buy as just to look. I don’t do antiques. But I’d brought some books to read, one of them a dismaying true account of a tragic time in our nation’s life, about which I’ll comment another week.

I’d also packed for the trip our fishing gear, but that turned out to be of little use. The angling here is different from our midlands variety. I asked what lures produced the best result in these waters.

Not lures, the locals told me. The bait of choice is leeches. But as with antiques, I don’t do leeches.

The cuisine in Door County, however, is spectacular. It’s cherry country, famous for its pies. Good eating places are everywhere, and fish – walleye and perch – were featured on most menus.

So, in between the girls antiquing and my reading, we ate.

Much too soon, then, the week was spent. We left the key on a table, shut the cabin door and drove out from that forest hideaway onto the open road, to drop the New York daughter at the Milwaukee airport and turn toward home.

The northern farm fields we passed, blessed by a summer of moderate temperatures and plentiful rains, were wonderfully luxuriant – the soybeans waist high, the corn taller than a man, with leaves still glossy green – promising an abundant harvest.

But farther south, across Illinois into southern Iowa and then Missouri, all looked stunted, burned and pale. That’s the difference latitude and the luck of weather can make.

As always, when we’re away for a time, our one great ache was missing the furred creatures with whom we share our lives.

But the cats were waiting just inside the door, plainly fit and happy, thanks to the care and loving attention they’d received from the dear friend who’d tended them through the week. That night, to prove we were forgiven, they joined us in their usual places on the bed.

The next morning, we woke to an unexpected coolness, which suggested the season had begun changing here as well. In the afternoon I retrieved the dogs, Cyrus and Buddy, from the boarding kennel they think of as their spa.

So life has resumed its accustomed march, but brightened with the rich, shared memories of where we spent that week, with no duty except to relish those precious, unencumbered days together.