Boomer thinks if he sleeps with his head on my travel bag I won't be able to sneak away without him.
I don't know what the cat thinks.
Contributions from friends to our hideaway and the White Pine Palace... Consider this your invitation to join us.
We like wildlife around the camp. For many years I have declared our property a sanctuary and, despite the love of a fine fat Fort Severn goose in the pan, a local moose roast on the barbeque, or the treat of a couple grouse breasts smothered and bubbling in gravy, we'd rather watch these animals around camp than shoot them.
We have even made a tentative friendship with Ray and Honey, the raven pair that has nested 100 yards down the shoreline from us for the last seven years. I call them Neighbor, as in "Howdy Neighbor" when they fly low overhead several times a day. (They call me Squawk as they reply, outward bound from their flyover... "Squawk!")
For the past few weekends the crawl space beneath our hideaway cabin has sounded like Saturday night aboard a Carnival cruise ship... squirrels chirping, chattering, and chasing themselves around like square dancers learning the hokey pokey.
Finally, I put my right foot down, and my left foot in, and shook all about, and set a live trap out at the bird feeder.
And then I watched, from my big bird watching chair, out the window, as the squirrels taunted me by climbing inside and outside, all over the trap. They ate the black oil sunflower seeds meant for the chickadees and the grosbeaks.
They went in the trap and licked the gobs of peanut butter I had enticed them in with. One even sat right on the trip plate, that's spring loaded to slam the door shut and capture his pretty little fluffy twitching tail.
For less than the cost of a month's cable TV, I had bought a trap and spent hours watching the drama, blue faced from holding my breath, and numb in the brain from silently urging, "Go in. Go in..."
And then Eureka!!! Friday afternoon I looked and there was a little red squirrel securely closed in the wire cage. I named her Squirlie.
Squirlie wasn't pleased, but surrounded by sunflower seeds and peanut butter she made the best of the afternoon. And then the thrill - Squirlie got to go for a snowmobile ride to her new home three miles away. I don't like to think Squirlie was unappreciative, but she didn't hang around to express her thanks when I knelt down and opened the trap door. Matter of fact, she'd have put Northern Dancer to shame lunging out of the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby.
By Sunday I was pretty worn out, watching and telepathing another furry partner as he raided my trap at will. Finally I declared war and introduced my secret weapon - BACON.
Within minutes the door had slammed on Reddy (His real name was Red Squirrel, but that sounded so formal I nicknamed him Reddy). I was ecstatic, knowing I'd soon drop off Reddy to get back together with Squirlie in their new home, and confident that Mary and I would now be able to listen to music again without all the racket under the floor.
And then, Sunday afternoon before I even got to treat Reddy to his snowmobile ride across the lake and through the trees to his new home in the forest, I looked out to view the chickadees feeding and... there were two more squirrels, proud as pumpkins in October, perched on the bird feeder, filling their cute, chubby little cheeks full of black oil sunflower seeds... getting ready, no doubt, for a night of celebration in the dance hall beneath the floor of the hideaway.
Cooking potatoes with onions and butter wrapped in foil and tossed in the fire.
The process requires patience and hot chocolate with Panama Jack's.
Turned out real good. Ribeye was done on the barbeque. Potato in foil in the fire.
I cheated, though. Cooked the potatoes slow, so needed two cups of hot chocolate with Panama Jack's to complete the job.
Saturday evening at about sunset Mary took a picture from inside the cabin of me sitting beside my fire on the deck of the Palace. I was deeply in thought and deeply into my bottle of Cabernet. Maybe it wasn't the first bottle of the afternoon, which had been pleasantly cold, and smoky from the fire and from my smoker full of chicken drumsticks.
Gazing fondly at the fire flames blending into the dimming sun I debated whether I like olives or pineapples the best.
I remember the longest days and weeks and months of my life many years ago when I would start in February pining for summer. I wished and wished and hoped for June to arrive.
Every year summer did arrive and it was wonderful. But I sure missed some fine months between February and June, and caused myself huge anguish, waiting for June.
Saturday I spent all afternoon and evening outside, six layers of clothes, boots, and mitts insulating me from minus 30 degree temperatures. I loved the ambiance and appreciated the opportunity. As thoughts turned occasionally to the coming summer I asked myself, "Which do you like better, summer or winter?"
As my mind muddled and the wine iced up I kept coming back to the olives vs pineapples question, and the answer eventually dribbled in as gently as the drops from a melting icicle on a sunny day.
When I'm having a Martini, olives are my favorite. If it's a Pina Colada kind of afternoon, give me the pineapple.
I propose a cheese tasting - maybe sometime in May. Today I smoked some aged Cheddar and have wrapped a few small bricks in foil and plastic to refrigerate for a few weeks.
Meantime, smoked drumsticks for a romantic Valentine's dinner at camp.
Seems sensual to me, but I can hear my mother's voice, after an afternoon sitting in the aromatic clouds, "You stink to high heaven."
It's not always easy to build a beautiful piece of delicious.
Cool start to a warm, long weekend.
"Follow me," I winked. "I know a secret way to keep warm."
And away we went, at sundown, to our hideaway in the forest. Winter was blessing us with a last severe kick, in mid-February, just in time for Valentine's Day.
Wind, out in the open on the frozen lake crossing, whistled past our covered ears and poked icy talons into tiny patches of naked cheeks. Dunes of pure white snow, whipped by the north wind, glistened golden in the sunset glow, as we bounced our way, laughing, gloating, and grunting, toward a crescent moon in the darkening sky.
We arrived after sunset. The chickadees were already bedded for the night. The fire I had started earlier in the cabin stove welcomed us like a good host, and the wine had warmed up to a smooth slush.
Romance beckoned for the weekend Valentine retreat.
From the smoker to a heap on a Kaiser roll, with an afternoon layover in the slow cooker, the pork roast turned out pretty darn good.