Of Bug Bites and Army Worms

We all returned home from the cabin with tangible reminders of our stay in the North Woods. The itchy red welts dotting our arms, legs and faces are testimony to the many hours we spent outdoors. Or the nights we spent fending off the persistent buzzing mosquitoes that found their way inside. It wouldn’t be the cabin if it were a pristine environment. And we wouldn’t keep going if we didn’t love it there.

The notoriously late spring and summer this year brought a new attraction at the end of our dock. Odd round divots appeared on the murky bottom, each continuously guarded by a small fish. They only abandoned their posts when a huge Leopard Muskie came into the shallows to lurk. It would appear we had spawning grounds still active in July! When I stood too close to their territory, the fish aggressively bumped my ankles. It seemed a small price to pay to watch nature at work.

The Army Worms that infested the area on our last visit were still strongly in evidence. They continued to crawl up the outside logs of the cabin, swarm the branches of the birch trees and defoliate the impatiens I so carefully planted in pots. We learned to carefully inspect the towels hung out on the line to dry. The record population was 14. But by week’s end, they had finally started cocooning which reduced the population of wiggly caterpillars. Fortunately, not even the grandkids were squeamish about picking them off their clothes and toys, and took it right in stride.

We’ve never had a nice lake bottom for swimming. It’s a combination of squishy dirt, clay that pulverizes when stepped on, and pesky weeds. But the water is super clear and always “refreshing” due to being spring-fed. Three year old Ben came prepared with water shoes to shield his tender feet (or sensitivities) from the yucky bottom. But they mostly went unused. It’s a lake after all. We just deal with it. And in Ben’s words, “I love the lake.”

Every so often, a bat makes its way inside the cabin. We’ve found them hanging up-side-down on the fireplace screen. And we’ve chased them around the cabin in the wee hours of the morning with a butterfly net. Some family members are not at all pleased with these guests. But so far their infrequent appearances have only left us with some funny stories.

I could go on and include the baby mice that popped up through the burners of the stove one winter. The kids took great pride in capturing them under a glass. But perhaps that would be overdoing it. After all, it’s really a very cozy cabin. Complete with creature comforts. And we love it there.

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