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The lake where you live

November 22, 2019 by Ted Rulseh

If you’re a lake-loving grandparent like me, your mission in life includes getting the grandkids hooked on lake life. One way to do that is through books. I’ve discovered a few this year that go straight to the heart of the up-north lake cabin experience.

Since it’s winter (already), I put “One Frozen Lake” at the top of the list. Our grandsons Tucker (7) and Perrin (6) love tramping around on the ice of Birch Lake, and I’ve given them a little intro to ice fishing. Last winter they loved helping me turn the hand auger to punch round holes in the ice and bring up a rush of crystal water.

That day someone else had been drilling 10-inch holes, which had just frozen over. I stomped on a couple with an insulated boot and broke them open again. Then Tucker gave it a try but, since wasn’t practiced at “pulling his punch,” his leg went in almost clear to the hip. He had snow pants on and so didn’t get soaked, but nonetheless his dad hurried him up to the house.

Anyway, in “One Frozen Lake,” by Debra Jo Larson (Minnesota Historical Society Press), a grandpa introduces a child to ice fishing in a little lake community of comfortable old shanties. The two go on several ice fishing expeditions, and folks from neighboring shanties share hot chocolate and entertaining tales. 

The child learns a little about the bright-colored ice jigs and lures, and a lot about patience as the fish aren’t very cooperative. It’s a touching story about a sport that, believe it or not, holds fascination for the little ones. I can’t wait until Tucker and Perrin pull their first bluegill up through a hole in the ice. 

Snorkeling is another activity I’ve shared with the grandsons, and it’s the subject of “The Magic Goggles,” by Lynn Markham. Well, not exactly. Maggie and younger brother Tate discover two pairs of old goggles in an old truck at their grandparents’ lake cabin. They strap them on and, down at the lake, discover that they can see clearly into the water and explore the sunken forest of lake weeds.

The kids enjoy a flight of fancy when a wood duck befriends them and takes them soaring around the lake, exploring the shoreline from above. From their lofty place they see the lake in its surroundings of forest, a summer camp, and a few houses. Published by the Center for Land Use Education, the book is available from the UW-Extension Bookstore.

Then there’s the dream of finding a special lake all one’s own — a lake that possibly no one else knows about or visits. That’s the premise of “The Lost Lake,” by Allen Say (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Early one Saturday a father wakes his son and together they search for, and find, a secret lake like the one the dad knew as a child. Publisher’s weekly stated, “The search for a childhood dream has a universal appeal, and Say’s watercolors beautifully enhance both the senses of loss and discovery.” Happy reading!

Ted Rulseh resides on Birch Lake in Harshaw and is an advocate for lake protection and improvement. His Lakeland Times and Northwoods River News columns are the basis for a book, “A Lakeside Companion,” published by The University of Wisconsin Press. Ted may be reached at [email protected]

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