Every once in a while, a guest will write to us not long after departing—to express gratitude for the lodging and share something they've written online about our little resort: a comment, a review, or a blog post. Such was the case this past August, when Michael Rhines was so taken in by the charms of Tranquility that he wrote about his family's cottage-style quarantine on his blog, North Woods River Runner. Michael has graciously allowed us to cross-publish his story here, but we recommend clicking over to his blog where he's posted even more photos and videos.
BY MICHAEL RHINES
I’ve been here a million times before; under the needled boughs, alongside the lake, and upon the pine duff. That is the landscape. It’s a cabin setting that doesn’t require the manicured lawn and its combination of fertilizers and pesticides meant to beautify the extremities but destroy the water and its inhabitants. Instead it’s simplistic and all-natural; moss, lichen, and the plants that grow under the branches of the Northwood trees. It’s the pieces to the puzzle that fit.
Although it was the first time on this plot of land, the familiarity came from deep within. It was authentic and resonated throughout my soul. Having been born and raised in the Northwoods, its secret allure and branded trademark shape my heart, my character, and is the core of who I am as those who know me well will attest to. I share excerpts of that spirit with family and friends.
Several weeks ago, together with my wife Cindy and daughter Jodi, we found such a place to stay. It was about as last-minute as possible, just short of showing up on some random person’s doorstep. In the midst of social distancing and wanting to do something together with the girls after five months of being here at home, I spent almost three days searching, calling, and emailing various resorts trying to find openings or availability. What we found was a blessing in disguise, but God didn’t seem to work too hard to hide it. Nestled between Tomahawk and Hazelhurst in the small community of Harshaw, Wisconsin, we found ourselves the proud recipients of a week’s stay at Jung’s Birch Lake Cottages. Nicer hosts you’ll be hard-pressed to find! Don and Betty Jung were gracious, accommodating, and easy to talk to and share stories with as they showed us the cottage.
We quickly melded with the cabin and its sacred frontage. Spending time on the lake allowed us to take a deep breath, shrug off the last of the harried pressures of what we have endured over the last half of the year, and put a capstone on the close-knit time we’ve spent together throughout this pandemic ordeal.
While our activities were varied and numerous, they centered on simplicity with the result being relaxation. We enjoyed things such as cooking, running and hiking the Bearskin Trail, fishing, and taking a couple of evening drives. We explored the waters by kayak and canoe, journaled, took pictures, and watched absolutely no T.V. While we did watch two classic old movies, we also read at least 2 to 3 books apiece, and found a great little place to get ice cream cones (twice). We went swimming off the dock, sat in our hammocks, and helped rebuild the cabin’s land-dock. We enjoyed campfires, cool evenings as the fans drew the fresh air indoors, and listened to the sounds of the lake. We looked for wildlife and saw numerous deer each and every day, along with mallards, mergansers, eagles and loons at close range, huge fishing spiders, bear scat, hummingbirds, chipmunks, painted turtles, and the black, gray, and rowdy little red squirrels. We launched into space on the swing, watched sunrises and sunsets, and reunited with the many trees, plants, and flowers so familiar to my Northland upbringing.
Life “Up North” was exactly that; life breathed into us while Up North. Without a doubt the time that the three of us spent in Jung’s “Tranquility Cottage” was a culminating activity that helped bring our summer slowly to a close. The whisper of silence permeated us the week-long. While it was tranquil, it was also full of simplicity; simplicity centered within the sacred Northwoods.
See you along The Way…
“This was a time for silence, for being in pace with ancient rhythms and timelessness, the breathing of the lake, the slow growth of living things.”
— Sigurd F. Olson, The Listening Point