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Home for the Summer: Goodbye for now, see you next summer

Goodbye, goodbye. Summer, or whatever it was, is over — at least for us. When we came up it was cold and rainy. Doing laundry was a huge task. We got one round washed, hung out on the lines and more or less dried.

Our second try got us damp things draped here and there in the cabin for a couple of days. After that, family and friends started to come up and good weather seemed to come up with them. By then we didn't want to waste summer weather, so we decided to give up on north woods laundry and take it back home grubby. The cars will have quite a bit of that as cargo. We will probably need to drive with the windows open.

Add family and friends to the beautiful North Shore and it's an even more beautiful thing. With good fishing added to that mix it was about perfect. The fish-catchers and the fish-eaters were happy. (The fish-cookers and cleaner-uppers not always so much.) Especially happy were the gulls. Les takes his fish-cleaning glove, filet knife and fish-cleaning board down to the edge of the lake and the process begins.

Early in the season only a few gulls turned up, and they were nervous. A fish head tossed 20 feet got taken right away. One that landed 8 feet away got looked at and longed for, but wasn't scooped up until all humans were off the beach. By the middle of summer a huge number of gulls showed up as soon as Les arrived with his equipment. They came closer and closer to gobble up any fish bits, and we had to keep the pan of filets closely guarded or only the birds would have had dinner.

Watching little birds from the screened porch is high on the list of favorite things. There are comfortable chairs out there, and I have the air chair that I bought in 2002 at the Blueberry Festival in Ely. Add a cup of coffee and the scene is complete.

We could see the hummingbirds doing their fancy maneuvers and the other birds — goldfinches, nuthatches, chickadees, purple finches — doing their best to eat as many sunflower seeds as possible. Often, the first bird on the cylinder feeder seemed to try to establish that it belonged to him, and chased other birds away.

It wasn't long, however, before they all settled in on their respective perches and picked seeds out of the opening next to it. Some seemed to be slow learners, though, and sat up on a high perch, trying to get seeds even though the level had dropped below where they were sitting. So far we haven't seen a bird fall into the feeder, but we're waiting.

The whole scene changed suddenly when our local eagle flew over and all birds, except the hummers, suddenly disappeared.

So now we head south and back to the city. We're always happy to reunite with family and friends and neighbors. But it's sad to leave the people up here that we've spent time with at homes and the Finland Co-op and the library and at the Finland Community Center and the Little Marais Community Club.

Summer will come again, but for now it's goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

Jan Kent spends her summers in a log cabin on Lake Superior and her winters in a suburb northwest of Chicago. Her column, Home for the Summer, first appeared in the News-Chronicle in 1993.