We have been Up North, and the dogs are outraged that we are not still there. They are out in the yard right now, and I can tell they're thinking, "What's with the fence? Where's Mr. Fox? Why can't I run down to the dock?" And they go to the gate and bark and bark and bark their frustration.
I'm sure our neighbors are charmed.
It was a spectacular trip. Rosie was terrific. Riley was terrific. The weather was (mostly) terrific. And I came home wondering, as I always do, why we don't live there all the time.
(The answers are many and obvious: No jobs, at least none for us, being the main one.)
We were gone a week, but it was a great vacation in that it felt much longer than that. Drove up on Saturday, stopping, as always, to stretch our legs at Banning State Park, which was so crowded that we had to use the auxiliary parking lot. (This has never happened before.) Stopped in Silver Bay at the grocery store, where I was recognized by someone I am only Facebook, not face-to-face, friends with. (That was freaky.) (And this had never happened before, either.)
Made it to the cabin by 6 p.m. Our friend Erik, who had flown out from San Francisco, rented a car, and then drove up the Shore and was there by 10. Let the vacation begin!
We hiked, we canoed, we kayaked (well, we hiked; Erik canoed and kayaked), we went down to the lake and watched the Grebe Family, we read on the dock, we read on the deck, we watched old movies ("Chariots of Fire") ("Hannah and her Sisters"), we read books (five of them, me), we ate ourselves silly (steak, mashed potatoes, pancakes, sausage, ice cream, spaghetti, hamburgers, wine, beer). But mostly--we hiked. It was so beautiful, the leaves at their peak.
We wore silly-looking blaze-orange vests so as not to be shot by the grouse hunters whose guns we could hear booming off in the woods (but the leaves were at their peak and some of them were also blaze-orange, and I'm not sure it was that good of a defense).
And oh, the dogs were happy. So happy! They ran and ran and ran. Rosie stayed right by Riley's side on the trail, closer than Riley and Boscoe ever were, or Boscoe and Toby. Rosie just stayed right next to him, like Velcro, like glue, like his very best friend.
Early one morning, as we were driving into Lutsen to get the newspapers, we saw a wolf trot across the highway. Every morning, we saw a fox, either in our yard or on our road. And one night, under the starry sky and a full moon, we built a bonfire and heard a wolf pack howl not once, not twice, but three times.
Erik rented a kayak and I took a wobbly, insecure spin around the bay of our lake. Then he climbed in and paddled confidently off (and was gone for the whole afternoon).
Every morning we let the dogs out, early, and they raced around and checked out the lake, and dove into the bushes for squirrels and chipmunks, and then came in and had breakfast, and then went out again. Every afternoon we picked a different section of the trail and set off on a five- or seven- or eight-mile hike, and they'd race together through the underbrush and ahead of us on the trail, and then back down the trail to see where we were and what was taking so long, and then up the trail again.
And every night they'd conk out, exhausted and happy.
Side by side.
We've been home for a full day now, and they are still tired. Even Rosie! Oh how I wish they could live this way all the time. And I wish we could live this way, too, walking and reading and wasting an entire morning watching a little war between four blue jays, one chipmunk, and a red squirrel, all battling for the feeder full of sunflower seeds we set out for them. Would I get bored? Would I get lonely? Maybe. But wouldn't it be fun to try?