Nature, a Friend, and a Fish Boil

Last week’s excursion was to Wisconsin, a state where I spent 10 summers as a camper and counselor in the 1960s and 1970s. When one is accustomed to the intense summer heat and humidity that comes with living in the south, the contrast of the cool climate of Wisconsin in July is a balm.

On July 4th I picked up my friend Tom Collinger, someone I met when I was 10 years old. I can share my deepest feelings and thoughts with Tom. He has my back regardless of what gets revealed, flaws and all.

Our first destination was Kettle Moraine State Forest, a park that covers 22,000 acres of kettle lakes and prairies. Kettle lakes are created by the retreating waters of glaciers where the remaining ice formed depressions many moons ago. The weather was hot in the afternoons, reaching 90 degrees. As a result, we hiked in the mornings and swam in the afternoons. Given the choice between swimming in the ocean, a river, a pool, or a lake, I’d choose a lake every time. I felt buoyant, cheerful, and invigorated. We observed a group of cranes next to one of the lakes. They honked liked they were playing bugles.

After three nights at Kettle Moraine we hit the mother lode in Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is on a peninsula in Lake Michigan above Green Bay. We stayed at Peninsula State Park where crisscrossed bike trails are fringed by limestone cliffs. The “wow” factor was large. The skies were blue, doubling the sparkling blue hue of the lake that punctuated the space between the trees as we hiked and biked on the park trails. Sailboats dotted the surface of the water. The park is a destination for kayakers. The woods bathed my inhales in beneficial bacteria, plant derived essential oils, and negatively charged ions.

The German writer Goethe once said, “Nature has neither kernel nor shell; she is everything at once.”

Other than one meal that we made over an open wood fire at our own campsite, our culinary highlight was an evening “fish boil” at a restaurant in the quaint town of Fish Creek. This spectacle consists of freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish cooked in a vat of boiling water along with red potatoes, sweet Texas onions, and corn on the cob. The bones remain in the fish to prevent it from flaking apart in the boiling pot. Oils from the fish rise to the top of the vat and are boiled over at the end of the cooking process. Kerosene is added to the fire at the end of the boil, causing the overflowing oils to burst into flame that dramatically rises high above the vat. When the flame expires shortly after the pot boils over, it’s time to eat. The fish gets pulled out of the vat, then plated, and served. The flavors are simple and delicious. The traditional end to the meal is cherry pie. We enjoyed every bite.

Spending time with a close friend is a gift. The drive together in the rig, “hang” time at our campsites, and the outdoor excursions fuel the fire of friendship. My heart is full today.

Published by jmlewisjr

Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We'll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor exact destination specifications. We'll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we'll cross the border.  The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to "Have what you need, and use what you have." As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I'm deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time. Sarla's death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn't need and couldn't possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I'll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I've heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.   I've set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I'll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won't have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won't be able to go "home" as I've known it. I'm jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas. My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I've been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we're hitting the road together. I'm confident that she'll do well. We've previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn't express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving. This trip isn't driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I'm motivated by a curiosity to follow the questions.

7 thoughts on “Nature, a Friend, and a Fish Boil

  1. ☺️ Love thinking about your wonderful Wisconsin time. (I also found the fish boil spectacle very interesting.) Keep on truckin’!

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    1. Hi Patti, Thanks for your sweet comment. I’ll be in Memphis during the week of August 19th. If you will be in town, it’d be nice to enjoy a walk with you.

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  2. A group of cranes: a construction, dance, sedge,siege, or swoop. Reminds me of when we named the group of approximately 25 cardinals a clock on our weekly hike at Shelby Farms.

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