Summer officially arrived in Lake Hallie on Friday at 10:54 am. Yes, that is when the sun gets are far north as it will all year and we have the shortest night of the year. The sun came up at 5:19 am and set at 8:56. The day is 6 hours, 49 minutes longer than on December Solstice. On June 23 we begin to lose about 1 minute of daylight each day. Yes, we are headed back to winter. Heaven forbid! But in this case heaven does not have much to say about it; physics does.

In her poem “The Summer Day,” Mary Oliver an American poet writes a line “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” That is a really good question. We all have one life that is precious to us. But is that life a wild one? In most cases probably not.

Summer is a time of recollection. We all move through life’s milestones as they come: birthday, entering school, driver’s license, graduating from school, choosing a spouse, kids (or not), working, grandkids (or not), loss of parents, Social Security, retirement and then well, we really don’t know for sure. It all happens as Earth rotates around the sun and the seasons pass.

There is an old play called “Our Town” written by Thornton Wilder. In one scene he writes that people don’t really realize life while they live it; except saints and maybe poets. I agree. We are tied up in daily decisions that mask the fact summer is here and now is the time to be about enjoying it. The blue skies of June rival the blue skies of October.

For an example, Hallie Station 1 debated about using part of our July training for a picnic or potluck dinner for the firefighters and their families. Most people went along with the idea until several members became concerned that training sessions are important and that our time to train was always limited. I can see the point. But I also have to say that our time to get to know our firefighters and their families is also limited.

I like summer, but in some ways I am not a fan. I really dislike summer days that are hot and humid. The only thing I hate worse is Florida summer days that are hot and humid. As most parents did, we took our kids to Disney World in early June. The kids had fun. Weather? Hot morning, followed by cloud build up, heavy rain, clearing, hot evening humid, then start all over the next day.

We are drawn to places that summer beckons us to: Disney World (check), Wisconsin Dells (check), Lake Superior (check), Summerfest in Milwaukee (check), Memorial Day (check), 4th of July Fireworks (check), Country Fest (check), Country Jam (check), Rock Fest (check), Northern Wisconsin State Fair (check), Neighbor Days (check), back to school supplies (check), you name it we be there (check). Emergency room visit (check and double check).

My favorite vacation spot is Lake Superior — Ashland and Bayfield areas. Cornucopia, Madeline Island and the Apostle Islands all are fond memories of the kids growing up. You have not lived until you see the blue sky reflected in Lake Superior or have seen a Lake Superior sunrise or sunset. Lake Superior is not for the faint of heart. It is an old lake, a deep lake and a cold lake.

Even during July days, if you are on Lake Superior, keep a warm jacket and raingear with you. Unless you are taking the ferry to Madeline Island and stay inside the cabin, a trip across the bay can be brisk to say the least. Even the most experienced sailor can be surprised by how rough the trip can be.

To answer the question posed in the poem “The Summer Day,” “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I have no immediate answer. What I can answer is that I will enjoy my summer days. I will enjoy having my kids home and I will enjoy the festivities of summer which I have been privileged to enjoy for another year. Please enjoy your summer also.

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John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.


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