By ALEXI VENICE
The culture of the upper Midwest is to go even farther north on the weekends—where only fur trappers and voyageurs live—to frolic on the lakes the retreating glaciers left behind. Life can get wild up there, so I feel compelled to write about the 4th of July weekend.
We have a cabin on a relatively small spring-fed lake that’s over 100 feet deep in the center. We know it’s over 100 feet deep because Bill has a fancy depth finder on our boat that creates a perfect picture of the bottom of the lake. Personally, I think he’s more of a cartographer/ultrasonographer than a fisherman, mapping every valley and contour of the bottom, but he comes through occasionally with a good catch. (After all, he caught yours truly.)
Bill likes to fish for Muskies (technically—the muskellunge, or locally—da Muskie), which involves trolling around the lake from dawn till dusk, sometimes catching nothing. He’s asked me to join him a few times. I can fish anywhere, anytime, for fifteen minutes. There’s no way I’m getting trapped on a boat all day.
He, however, is dedicated to the sport, so sometimes he catches the big one! Here’s Bill with a 46-inch Muskie that he caught last October. He fishes for Muskie in cold weather; that’s why he’s wearing a coat. Look at the mouth on that thing—the fish, not Bill. (Bill has an ordinary mouth with luscious lips.) The Muskie’s mouth is as big as Bill’s head—and he has a very large head. Ask his mother. She’ll tell you that her vagina was never the same after giving birth to him.
I can’t imagine how Bill wrestled that monster into the boat. Yes, he’s a catch-and-release guy, but he has to hold it for a sec to take a pic. That Muskie returned to the depths of the lake, left to resurface next summer to eat small dogs who retrieve tennis balls off the end of the dock.
There’s a fair amount of wildlife that moves through our property, too. Here’s a pic of a bear crossing our yard at 8 o’clock one spring. Fortunately, my two duck tolling retrievers were inside at the time, or the little disabled one, Daisy, would have chased the bear down, barking, “I’m gonna kick your ass.”
My other duck toller, Zane, was so afraid of getting eaten by the bear that he sat on my daughter’s lap by the fire that night.
Here’s a pic of one of the foxes that have a den by our boathouse. They like to sun themselves on the driveway because they seem to know that the dogs have an electric fence, the foxes’ ally in survival. If you look closely, you can see this fox saying, “Zane, I ate the dog food in your outdoor bowl last night then peed all over your lawn. Catch me if you can, sucker!”
Below is a deer looking at Zane that very same morning, who is by the front door on the other side of the pickup truck, standing next to his dog food bowl that the fox emptied. The security cam indicates it was about 7 a.m. when the deer crossed the driveway. The doe just couldn’t stop herself from throwing over her shoulder, “Too bad, Flea Bag, you’re wearing an electric dog collar!”
Back to the lake. The residents on our lake go for a cocktail cruise between 5 and 7 p.m. every night, so there’s a steady parade of boats we can join to socialize.
Over the Fourth, my sister-in-law, Cinnamon Bandi, and her husband, Chap Daddy, visited with their children. We went on an extended cocktail cruise, and Bandi—being of English descent—drank a handle of Tanqueray and tonic with heaps of fresh cilantro stirred into them. Yuck—juniper berries meet pico degallo flavor. I couldn’t do it. Bill joined her though.
Several glasses in, Bandi started talking to her pug—who she named Margot Robbie—muttering sweet nothings like “I love you.” The feature pic for this article is Bandi and her puppy. That’s right, Bandi, Margot is your bestie and you should hold onto her for dear life while boating because she sinks like a rock in the water. Her small paws can’t possibly keep all those sexy Margot neck rolls afloat. Moreover, Margot closely resembles Muskie bait.
After a few beers into our cocktail cruise, I insisted on water skiing—because alcohol makes me feel like I’m 20 and invincible, which I’m reminded I’m NOT the next day when I crawl to the kitchen for coffee and aspirin. Here’s an evening pic of me hitting it hard. I’m a little stiff in my 50’s, but it’s worth it. On a calm night, the water feels like I’m skiing in vanilla pudding. Hear that, Bill? Vanilla pudding!
A little further down the lake, Bill suddenly jumped off the boat—with his clothes on—making a spectacular dive into the water. We were confused and surprised as to why he launched himself, but when he came up for air, he insisted that Margot had fallen in and a Muskie was about to get her. And, if you believe that…. I’m pretty sure he just had to take a leak. Below is a pic of him back on board, Margot by his side. He’s not an arrogant man, so that self-satisfied grin means that he either saved Margot from the jaws of a Muskie, or he took a leak. You decide.
We returned from our cocktail cruise and Bill and Bandi became grill masters, making pork, chicken and shrimp fajitas—finally, an appropriate dish for all that cilantro. Bandi spruced up her G&T with even more fruits and veggies when I wasn’t looking. It was a regular fruit cup.
Here’s a bad-ass pic of Bandi and Chap Daddy in their 4th of July regalia. Happy Red, White and Boom from up north, baby!
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