My apologies for the delayed posts. I have been goofing off. Like you, I am a bit bored with tiresome sales stories and even more tiresome clients. So let’s take a little adventure north and visit Sweet Lake. This post will give you a brief lay-of-the-land kind of overview of the place. I have more to say when we stroll, explore, and goof around more. (What happens when you put a decades-old gas can on a bonfire, for example.)
Sweet Lake is a small spring fed lake in northwest Wisconsin. My family has had property on the lake for over 30 years. Prior to that we stayed at resorts on Upper Eau Clair and Middle Eau Claire lakes on the same chain of lakes with Sweet Lake. There have been many changes — some of the small cabins on our side of the lake have been lost and replaced by larger homes — but for the most part Sweet Lake is very much like it has always been. Clean, quiet, and understated. It is a brilliant little treasure in the north woods.
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the lake, perhaps the best time to visit the lake. The air is crisp, dry, clean. The air smells sweet and earthy. And the forests are alive and beginning to turn. If you don’t see wildlife, you hear it, although our list of spotted wildlife was fairly impressive: Countless birds, deer, a black bear (hanging at a DNR big game registration station), and what appeared to be a coyote sniffing through drying ferns and blueberry bushes. It might have been a wolf — they are in the area — in fact late at night a group of coyotes — or maybe wolves — made quite a racket calling and yelping in a pack not far in the woods behind us.
What I like most about autumn at the lake, however, is the quiet beautiful change. There isn’t anything about the fall season that a person can complain about. Even the coming cold feels right (28 degrees at our last check before rolling out blankets and sleeping bags for the night). Most people prefer summer at the lake, but a person can do everything they want to do in the summer during the fall and enjoy all the extra benefits the season brings.
My uncle has a great old cabin on Sweet Lake. I’ll guess it is about 70 years old and is loaded with character. Unlike so many hideous “cabins” being built today, this one still has a lot of charm. It is a real cabin. I have better pictures of the cabin, unfortunately none of them was taken this last weekend.
The cabin was part of an old resort; it was the resort owner’s cabin. Inside the cabin are many artificats from the old resort. Stacks of old dishes, a row of stove top perculating cofeemakers, and a treasure of old books and pamphlets and things.
My family has a large lot on the lake just a short walk down the road from my uncle’s cabin. We are at the other end of the old resort on the last piece of undeveloped property. It is a wide piece of lake frontage that runs very deep into the woods.
We have a building plot ready, but for now a sturdy camper, an outhouse, and a fire ring work well on the property. There’s a dock on the water and a couple small boats. A large boat isn’t necessary. The lake is only 88 acres large.
In the Sweet Lake area we have access to an assortment of northern Wisconsin bars, which — for the uninitiated – can be a challenge. Bars in Wisconsin are indeed friendly for the most part, but be prepared to drink beer and possibly some of the most horrible liquor ever concocted for unknown reasons. It is just what they do.
We also have a few restaurants (usually attached to or surrounded by a bar) to enjoy. Generally these are quite good. Can’t really say that about our recent visit, however; the regular staff must have been tied up in the basement. Nevertheless these places are extremely comfortable and traditional.
And we have options for groceries, batteries, bait and things. We opt for Jim’s Bait and have for more than 30 years. And it has been about as long since we purchased any bait. Can’t say a heck of a lot about the fishing because the lake is more like a swimming pool than fishing hole, but people do catch fish. In fact we have this somewhat gruesome reminder that fish do indeed lurk in the crystal clear waters of Sweet Lake. We have our own Kurtz with his Heart of Darkness moments and a sense of the macabre on our row of cabins.
My brother, two cousins along with a friend of theirs, and Uncle Ed spent a short weekend at the lake to get things ready for the winter. It left us with plenty of time to clear some brush, build a fire, and drink some beer. Not a bad way to spend a spectacular late-September weekend. The skies were absolutely brilliant and blue, with only wisps of clouds here and there. Perfect weather for viewing the fall colors, which were nearly at peak on the county highway immediately south of the lake.
We had plenty of opportunity for fun and I want to take you on a walking tour, but right now I feel like Jack Nicholson post-lobotomy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But I do want to take you on that tour and I believe I can load up a photo gallery. Be excited!
Until then…sleep well.