“With every dawn, every place on earth is a new place.”
— Paul Gruchow, Journey of a Prairie Year

View of the dawning day from the dock on Big Turtle Lake

View of the dawning day from the dock on Big Turtle Lake

“Red and pink light began to stream from a place below the horizon in the east like the notes of a silent fanfare.  For a long time the sun lingered just below the horizon, like a performer behind a curtain. . . . Suddenly the sun burst into view and the whole world was radiant. . . It began to climb, taking command of the day.”
— Paul Gruchow, The Necessity of Empty Places

On this trip to Minnesota, more than ever before, I was constantly amazed by the drama in the skies.  The clouds were ever-changing and in perceptible motion across the spacious skies.  Look how this sunrise unfolds:

Boat dock on Big Turtle Lake in northern Minnesota

Boat dock on Big Turtle Lake in northern Minnesota

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Looking west at sunrise

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Looking east

Looking east at dawn

Same view, later in the day

Same view, later in the day

Same view, nearing sunset

Same view, nearing sunset

 

 

 

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Plaque hanging on the wall of my sister's cabin

Plaque hanging on the wall of my sister’s cabin

To Minnesotans, “Up North” is a state of mind.  For me it evokes fantasies of hot summers on cool lakes, vacation cabins nestled in the woods, contemplative fishermen watching their bobbers.  During my childhood I would overhear people talk about going “Up North” and it stirred longings to escape our land-locked farm with its interminable chores.

On my recent visit to Minnesota, I finally got a taste of living on lake time Up North.  My youngest sister and her husband have a new cabin on Big Turtle Lake near Bemidji (which is about 5 hours north of our family farm in southern Minnesota) — and it has a guest room!  Staying in this quiet, peaceful place for the first two nights after my arrival was the perfect start to my vacation.  I couldn’t help but unwind listening to the lapping of the water against the dock, watching the ever-changing clouds move across the sky, hearing the haunting call of loons across the lake.

Sunset over Big Turtle Lake

Sunset over Big Turtle Lake

Sunset reflections with reeds

Sunset reflections with reeds

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My sister and I went kayaking on the mirror smooth lake in the early hours before breakfast and again near sunset.  This was my first time kayaking, and although I couldn’t seem to paddle in a straight line, I loved it!  In the heat of the day, we waded into the reedy lake and swam to cool off.

Kayaks, Big Turtle Lake

Kayaks, Big Turtle Lake

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Watercolor sketch in my travel journal

The cabin itself was set back from the lake, but a wall of windows gave a view of the lake through a line of trees.  To get down to the lake, we walked across a marshy patch on a wooden boardwalk.

View from the cabin windows

View from the cabin windows

My watercolor sketch of the view

My watercolor sketch of the view

Boardwalk down to the lake

Boardwalk down to the lake

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Watercolor sketch of boardwalk

Dock and boat

Dock and boat

My experience living the lake life was almost exactly as I had imagined it all these years.  Even the mosquitoes stayed away for the most part — a few bites couldn’t mar my enjoyment.  I hope to be back!