Showtime at Summit Lake – Getting Back to Nature

Every summer I return to my roots and renew my soul at my little red family cabin rocking in the boughs of evergreen, deep in the woods on Summit Lake, Wisconsin.

his majesty the Loon swims by

his majesty the Loon swims by

At daybreak on the dock, I sipped coffee as the sun rose behind the tree line across the lake where loons danced in the morning mist. Six loons circled in a ballet of synchronized swimmers, one after another bobbing under, black hinds pointing skyward. One loon cried out, flapped his wings and scooted across the water 100 yards past the island toward the opposite point. Another loon followed. They swam one behind the other for 20 yards, then suddenly took flight soaring overhead looping around half of the lake then landing back where they started.

After breakfast, I biked the winding blacktops around the neighboring lakes, under the canopy of trees. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a deer standing so still by a sign post that I thought it was one of those Wisconsinite yard gnomes. I braked and turned to stare as the statue came to life. Timidly, with a flick of her white tail, the deer stepped onto the pavement. She stared at me and tilted her ears as if listening for predators.

Mama deer stares at me

Mama deer stares at me

After crossing to my side of the road, the doe posed, wide-eyed and hyper vigilant. I met her gaze equally alert, a prayer on my lips, hoping no car would rumble past breaking the spell. She nibbled on leaves, glancing back over her shoulder as if being tracked. Minutes later, she darted back across the road and a white-spotted baby deer bound out of the brush and to her side. The mother nuzzled Bambi forward onto the blacktop, turning to peer back over her shoulder. Suddenly a smaller newborn, leaped out of the woods. The babies, like frisky puppies, darted separate directions. Mama deer nervously corralled them  toward my side of the road, her eyes pleading, « Please don’t shoot. »

I appreciated her parental anxiety. I remember when my young brood wandered out of reach on busy Parisian boulevards. Finally safely across the street, a baby at each side, Mama deer locked her big brown eyes in mine, nodded her head, and then disappeared into the woods. I felt like the deer whisperer.

In the late afternoon as if on a private lake, I swam alone. No jet skis, no motorboats, no pontoons were out to break the silence. I heard ducks quacking and looked up to see Mama Mallard followed by five babies swimming single file in the reeds just in front of me.

swimming in the lake by the ol' log cabin

swimming in the lake by the ol’ log cabin

The show never ends in Northern Wisconsin. When the evening sun sets, mesmerized by the lake, a silver mirror of glass, I stare at my reflection. A family of lake otters startled me out of my reverie, breaking through the still water to dip and glide off shore.

I am living in a state of grace in perfect harmony with Mother Nature.

Posted in education, humor, inspiration, relationships, social view.


  1. What a sense of peace you must have felt! What a privilege to be part of the life and rhythm of the Lake Summit woodlands each summer. I believe here are places in our lives that have the ability to ground us. Just knowing we’ll be there soon can calm us, and I think there is a physical feeling that welcomes and envelopes us when we unfold ourselves from the car, and breathe in the air. Not surprisingly this place is different for each of us. For some, returning to the bustle and noise of the city is a comfort. For others the heavy silence between the sounds of lapping waves, scampering chipmunks and lonely loon calls brings that sense of grounding… I am here. I can Be. You have sent me back to those places I cherish! Thanks!

    • Oh Amy, you write just like the artist that you are. “I am here. I can Be.” I remember how your calm, cheerfulness and faith used to keep me grounded at ISU whenever I felt overwhelmed with worries in college. Where is your special place of retreat?

  2. Pat,
    Your rich and vibrant stories are the highlight of my Saturdays! This one brought me right back to my own warm Wisconsin memories. You capture not only the beauty of nature but the importance of looking around and appreciating the moments each day. Lake Summit is truly your little piece of heaven on earth!

  3. What a beautiful moment to enjoy as I just sat down to rest from making 4 quart of applesauce from fallen apples that needed attention before deteriating to garbage…. of course I love applesaue……and hoard it in the freezer for winter…

  4. Ah, Pat, your beautiful words took me right back to our beloved Summit Lake and the wonder that we find in nature when we take the time to fully appreciate all it has to offer. Thanks for reminding me.

  5. Pat, your beautiful story made me homesick! Guess I will jump in the car and head for Rhinelander next weekend. Enjoy your time in “God’s Country!!”

    • Great idea! Jump in the car and head north…that’s what my parents will be doing next week, but I am back in Switzerland, so you will have to enjoy God’s Country for me. Sure would love to see the fall colors.

  6. That’s such an amazing thing in the US compared to the Netherlands, the wildlife you actually get to see! I saw deer in a backyard with friends of my girlfriend in North Michigan, and actually some raccoons that were alive instead of flattened on the road.

  7. Sis,
    Just got back from a wonderful weekend at SL and was once again reminded daily of all God’s blessings! Love the pics….was that you and me swimming to the camp??? Mother Nature did not disappoint our friends as we were entertained by chippies, a loon, wood ducks, a muskrat, frogs and a full moon every evening glowing like an enormous floodlight over the lake. To top it off, Jackson’s witnessed a black bear on cty road 17 on the way home. Beautifully written about a spectacular place with our precious nature!

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