“You can’t force yourself to love nature. However, you can force yourself to get out and see nature. Let it come naturally.”
I can recall some of my earliest experiences with nature. It all started around 1976-77. We lived in northern MN, Baudette to be exact. Back in those days there used to be an AF base, my dad was stationed there. Well, my father enjoyed the great outdoors and was an avid hunter and trapper. As the story goes, during his free time from the service, he would trap beavers for the state of MN up in the Lake of Woods. When I look back to those times, I see my dad, and I head out in his 1956 blue Ford pickup. He had a pretty substantial trap line there, and when time allowed, I would accompany him. Most of the memories I have are of winter excursions.
One particular time he and I were out on the trail. It was pretty cold, then when is it not in MN in the winter. I remember him pulling the truck into a large filed behind a clump of trees. He built a large fire behind the truck and told me to stay put while he checked his nearby traps. Well nowadays leaving a 1st grader like that would probably result in much not wanted attention. However back in the late 70’s, it wasn’t a concern. And I probably wasn’t there very long.
When I close my eyes, I can see the feet of pure white snow covering everything. I can smell the fresh air and the smell of burning wood. I can hear a bird on occasion. The feeling of complete solitude resonates through my body when I take myself back.
The occasional treck with my dad through the deep MN snow on a trap line wasn’t one of my favorites at the time. Probably because the snow was nearly as deep as I was. or at least it seemed that way. However, one of my all-time favorites was to follow a small creek into the wilderness. The sound of a babbling creek under the snow gave me a sense of mystery. Along the banks of the stream, I would find pussy willow bushes. Large plants with seed pods opening that were very soft to the touch.
We never hiked very far, but the time spent with dad was priceless. I’d watch him locate and retrieve his traps he set days prior. Some empty, some full. He was mainly trapping beaver, however, on occasion, he would find mink, muskrat, and even Wolverine. Myself, I was more fascinated with my surroundings. This was the beginning of a love for nature.
We spent about 1.5 years in Baudette before returning to Hastings. Here, the trapping would taper off, but dad and I would continue our adventures through hunting. As a duo, we trekked over a lot of MN public land. Each time I would learn something new.
Around the age of 12 or so, I began to accompany my paternal grandparents to their cabin in Northen Wisconsin. A small little cottage nestled back about 500 feet from the gravel road. Tucked in among the forest with limited sunlight. These trips would rekindle my love for nature after a bustling week in school. I would spend numerous hours and countless miles on and around trails. Sometimes alone and sometimes with my grandparents. You could find us either on foot, motorcycle, snowmobile or skis. I would say in winter many miles were logged on skis. Cross-country skiing became a hobby while at the cabin. In the summer it was mostly on a motorcycle alone. It was during the summer on these trips we would also indulge in boating on one of the many lakes that densely covered the area.
These memories and experiences I have in and around nature are what made me who I am today. I want to see nature preserved. I long for the state parks and try to visit as many as I can. I also enjoy a good hike through the encharted land. Uncovering mysteries and discovering views left only for mother nature.
Find yourself by getting lost in nature. Go out and discover you. Take a small hike on a public trail or path. Visit a state park and enjoy what is preserved for the American people.