Monday, February 7, 2011

How It Begins....

After a series of posts on plants and some specific gardening techniques, I like to do some free writes on things that relate indirectly to gardening and just being outdoors exploring.  Sometimes I'll share things that I find interesting, work projects, travel information, or just some personal experiences from my past that have lead me to where I am today. So today is one of those days where I break away from my gardening journal and write about something different. 
This pic is an example of how cold the Lakeshore can get in Wisconsin

I grew up in a LARGE Catholic family.  Monty Python had it right when they sang the tune, "Every sperm is sacred".Today my family numbers in the thousands as nephews and nieces are born everyday. Okay I exaggerate on that last part, but our family has doubled in much for going green and helping out this world:)  Every year I return home to visit, I meet 2 new family members.  And to think that those two above, my parents, began all of it.  Well I'd rather not.....:)
At the cabin in Minnesota
 I was very lucky to be raised in the incredibly beautiful city of Two Rivers that has about 13,000 people living in it. Growing up in our large family on a single parent income wasn't terrible, but it did mean that my parents had to budget their money.  Instead of the trips kids today take to Disneyland or Europe, our family purchased a Starcraft camper and visited the State Parks of Wisconsin.  Exotic places would include a week at a Minnesota cabin near Leech Lake(yes there is a reason why that lake has that name).  The memories we all have from these family experiences are wonderful.  At the time, we all wanted to kill each other, but today there is nothing better or funnier than reminiscing about the past.  For example, there was nothing like the time when we had a random snow storm in October and hid in the forest using snowballs to attack one another. Or afterwards, nearly freezing to death, Mom making a nice bowl of chile and hot cocoa. Or the time Mom was super sick and opened the camper door with a skunk crawling out from underneath her. The faces on everyone around the campfire were priceless.  I could go on and on about the importance of spending time with your kids in a setting like this. Even if you don't have kids, this is still a wonderful time spent with a loved one or by yourself to reflect.  The simple truth is that you don't have to go far to find peace of mind.
Our tradition is going to Point Beach State Park in winter for family pics and having a hot bowl of Mom's awesome chile. If we don't do it in winter, we then plan it when we are all together. This is the nuclear family without all the spouses.  It has more than doubled in size today.

When kids are introduced to the natural elements at an early age, it stays with them for life.  Traditions begin and it's a time to escape with family and friends.  Leave technology behind and just enjoy one another's presence.  Of course you also discover their pet peeves:)
The family today.  A couple members aren't present.  Get togethers become more difficult and quite the production.
I'm not sure what baby my sister is holding....but it's one of the "thousands" born everyday:)
My niece on a nature hike during fall at Point Beach State Park

The brothers

Today my nephews and nieces go hunting, camping, boating, and love to be outdoors. Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful places in the States, and because it's so lovely, Illinois people, mostly from uptight Chicago, flee their own state:) It could also be our cheese:) 

In my earlier days at college, I used to take foreigners on canoe trips or around the state and show them around our awesome state park system.  I remember torturing the Japanese exchange students on a 25 mile bike trail.  They had a great time and couldn't believe how big and spread out everything was!

When sweater vests were in....although I don't think this one ever was:) A packrat later chewed through it. I would still wear it today if I could just so I could hear my students complain.

The simple fact is that things don't have to cost a lot of money to be enjoyed together.  We learned that lesson early on in life and had a blast playing cops and robbers in the woods.  Or watching bears, from a distance, eat out of dumpsters.  Or accidentally walk up on one and freak out! If you haven't done so already in your area,  check out your state or national parks and create some beautiful memories that will last for years to come.

High Cliff State Park

Looking out to Leech Lake, Minnesota


  1. Two Rivers..I know that are so right that we Chicagoans love your home state...Even now I love the trip up to Ellison Bay to The Clearing
    But from where I stand you were a rich kid...camping trips and all that fun
    We NEVER went on a vacation when I was growing dad worked 6 days a week ..mostly night shift...and on Sunday and chores for all of us.....And there were other issues..but anyway....I am so happy to see that you see that you had a great family...and the world is blessed by all your family's procreating
    and its love of nature and each other's company..good people
    I say you are one lucky fella
    ...loved the sweater vest

  2. I hope you get to do all that fun stuff now....although I have to admit...mosquitos are nasty and no matter where I go, they are attracted to me. It's rather disturbing. On my next trip home, in summer, I hope to see the Chicago Botanical garden on Lakeshore Drive. We always go by it because everyone else has an agenda....well this time, my agenda will happen:) I saw it from afar several years ago and was bummed not to be able to go. But the Shedd aquarium is always fun:)

  3. Very cool background; our family was large and spread out in ages. But never went to MN or WI. Looks nice, especially when not shovelling snow!

  4. I love Minnesota in the summer. All except of the mosquitoes of course. They are awful here right now. My Dad was raised in Pipestone and his family lived there when I was a kid. I spent many a hour fishing with my family. Lots of bullheads! On the way home we would pick some corn and head to Grandma's. In the basement my Dad and Uncle would skin and take the heads off so Grandma could fry them up and we would have them with rice potatoes. Usually fresh tomatoes too! I remember catching them on bubblegum. They would bite on anything. We only went camping once or twice.

    Ever since my kids have been born we have gone on vacation 2 times a year. One week in the snow for Christmas and snow skiing. Summer is always at the beach somewhere down south. Everyone has great memories of these times. There are 8 grandkids and the oldest is 24. I wish that we would have taken the kids camping but we just aren't campers.

    You have wonderful memories and I am so glad your family loves the outdoors like you do. Your photos are wonderful.


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