Show us your summer

That’s it, then, eh? Summer’s over on Monday and then we wait for the sun to come back in this direction.

We will, again, go gently into the good night of the dark months, shielded only by our memories of summer. So let’s see and hear about yours.

This is our old pal Brent Olson from beautiful Clinton, Minn. It would be fair to say he’s chasing his latest passion — sailing — although in this depiction his passion is chasing him, if a bit reluctantly.

Here’s his story, which is provided on his Independently Speaking Facebook page, which you should be following. He graciously gave his approval for its republication here.

No leeches. That’s a plus.

People are asking for an explanation regarding a photo that appears to show me slogging through a swamp towing a sailboat.

The explanation is simple. Sunday evening, I was slogging through a swamp, towing a sailboat.

It’s because I don’t play golf.

Let me explain.

A few years ago, I got an email from my wife that read, “I think I may have bought you a boat.”

You see, I’ve always wanted to learn to fly and build an airplane. But the past five decades I’ve been busy making a living and now I’m almost 64, I have three years of projects left to do, and that’s if none of my children buy any more old houses in disrepair. So, the airplane plan has flown away, and along with it went what I felt was my last chance to acquire a hobby. But then the email from my wife.

It’s a tiny, thirty-year-old catamaran that is the perfect vessel for navigating what used to be a duck slough, but due to climate change is now a private lake six feet deep that starts at the edge of our lawn.

I don’t know anything about sailing and, apparently, the Viking blood surging through my veins doesn’t help as much as I would wish. It doesn’t help that the boat was really cheap because it was a little broken. The previous owner’s kids would wait until the wind was in the right direction, sail to the middle of the lake, drop the sail, work on their tans, and then phone for a tow when they were ready to come home.

No Viking blood in their veins…not if they thought a tan was a possibility.

Clearly, proper boat maintenance was not a priority. I keep finding little boat quirks that, in my ignorance, I hadn’t realized were flaws.

Since I don’t have anyone to fetch me if I get stranded downwind, I’ve been trying to learn how to sail.

“Why not have someone teach you?” some might say.

I might answer, “Why take classes when there’s YouTube.”

In addition to willful ignorance, the other problem with my sailing skills is that I’m not very good at hobbies. Instead of relentlessly practicing, I just say every couple of weeks, “Should we try sailing?” If I get a “yes,” we go out on the slough and float around with varying levels of success.

Last Sunday was one of those days. Things went okay until the rudder fell apart.

For those of you who don’t know anything about sailboats, catamarans are those boats with two hulls AND two rudders. You can steer with one rudder if the other one is completely missing. If you’re steering with one rudder and the other is aimlessly flopping about, guidance is a little tricky. We keep a canoe paddle on board as an alternative form of locomotion, but it was about that time that we lost it.

Don’t ask.

We kept working our way back to our home port, gradually getting closer. The little dog loves to sail and often perches out on the prow, like an inexplicably hairy Kate Winslet. She was along on this trip, but for some reason lost confidence in my skills. As soon as we got close to shore, she bailed out.

Sadly, she leaped out near a bed of cattails which towered about six feet above the water. She’s only about three inches above the water when she swims, so she was soon hopelessly lost, treading water in desperate circles. Someone needed to rescue her.

In all honesty, it was a short list of possible rescuers, made shorter by the need for the rescuer to be taller than the water was deep.

Well, the water was about four feet deep, and the mud added another foot or so of squishiness. I lost one shoe with my second step. Luckily, I lost the other about three steps further on, restoring my balance.

I set the soggy little dog back aboard ship. We were about a hundred yards from home, downwind, and trapped in a mat of seaweed. I’d had almost enough fun for one Sunday evening, so I grabbed the anchor rope and trudged home. As hobbies go, not perfect. But at least I hadn’t missed a three-foot putt.

And no leeches. That’s a plus.

Copyright 2018 Brent Olson

Alright, let’s see and hear yours. Please post your pictures and stories in the comments section below.

Don’t be intimidated if you don’t write prose in the manner of Brent. Nobody does.

  • KariBemidji

    This is my favorite picture of summer 2018. I’ve told my kids that my only regret in my life is that I didn’t study abroad when I was in college. I already had a lot of student loans and to be honest I was scared to do it. I didn’t have an adult in my life to nudge me out of the nest.

    So we made our kids do it. Our son went to Scandnavia two summer ago. And this summer my daughter and I went on tour of Ireland, UK and Paris.

    I love this picture. It was day 16 and our last day before going home and she whispered to me: “I’m so glad you came with me.”

    • lusophone

      Must have gotten there nice and early.

    • Mike Worcester

      Was there in June. Beautiful weather on our trip also. One highlight of Paris — being able to see a mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral. Amazing.

      • KariBemidji

        Wow! I would’ve loved to experience that.

        • Barton

          Trust me – when you travel, always go to services in the local cathedral (whether you are that religion or not) it really is the best (and cheapest) way to see these gorgeous churches. My favorite is still Evensong at Westminster Abbey – they sat up in the little alcove seats behind the choir. It was amazing.

          • KariBemidji

            We listened to a choir in York Minster. It was chilling.

    • Al

      If that memory isn’t perfection, I don’t know what is. I’m a little misty.

  • MrE85

    My wife and I have missed out on a lot of vacations trips we should have taken. Something else always seemed to come up. A work or family obligation, being short on money, not having enough time off so we both could go.

    As we near retirement, we realize that we have missed to much time traveling together. So we spent at least part of the summer preparing for our trip in the fall to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

    We plan on hitting all the highlights — Porcupine Mountains, Painted Rocks, Mackinac Island. We’re looking forward to it.

    • Kassie

      I want to go on this same trip so much. I especially want to do a couple days of backpacking at Painted Rocks. Have fun!!!

    • jon

      Hill top restaurant in L’ance, get a stick bun. (also there is a road side stop just south of l’ance with a lovely short leg stretch of a hike to some waterfall… very lovely.)

    • Jack Ungerleider

      Many years ago now, my wife and I did the Circle Tour of Lake Superior. If you find yourself in Marquette, check out the Maritime museum. The have a great collection of lighthouse Fresnel lenses.

    • boB from WA

      Don’t forget the “Mystery Spot” on US 2 west of St Ignace. 🙂

  • John F.

    Our first daughter (and first child!) was born this summer at the end of June (I won’t post any pictures online, however. We believe in letting her choose when she gets old enough). My summer has been filled with pleasant neighborhood walks with my wife and daughter, trips to Target and the local mall, something I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do now. These past few months have been some of the best days of my life.

    • lusophone

      Enjoy! It sounds like you are truly cherishing this special time. Congrats!

  • Mike Worcester

    This summer for the first time I was able to travel to Europe, thanks to being a chaperone on a student trip led by my better half. So much to take in during such a short amount of time. And we ended up with, thanks to a missed connection, with an unexpected day in Reykjavik. That time of the year, the sun basically never sets. And it was definitely sweatshirt and stocking cap weather. 🙂

  • AL287

    My grandson is just starting to walk and since my son is remodeling his bathroom, I haven’t been able to go visit as often as I’d like.

    My daughter-in-law is coming up tomorrow and we are going to the Como Park Zoo which is likely a little less crazy than the State Fair. He’s about 14 mos and just a little too young for the huge crowds.

    This will give my son some much needed time to get ahead on the remodel.

    We’ll save the State Fair for next summer when we can all go together and my grandson is more steady on his feet.

    • Barton

      is it hard to get in/out of Como Park while the State Fair is going on? I was trying to think of non-State Fair things to do with my sister and brother-in-law this weekend.

      • KariBemidji

        Enter on the east side via Lexington Parkway and you’ll avoid Snelling.

      • AL287

        You could also go to the Minnesota Arboretum or visit some of the local apple orchards.

        There are several orchards within easy driving distance of the Twin Cities. Check the MinnesotaGrown website for some locations.

        Explore Minnesota is another good resource for non-State Fair things to do.

    • John

      we visited Como Zoo a few years back during the state fair. It was positively heavenly – had the place almost to ourselves.

      By getting there near the opening time of the zoo, we were able to get parking in any of the lots adjacent to the zoo for free. The fairgoers weren’t up and at ’em yet, and apparently no one else was either. Highly recommend.

  • Al

    When you have small children, summers fly by–along with every other time of year. Maybe this is also true when you have large children. Or when you’re just getting older. It’s a little bittersweet. I’m about to take the afternoon off and go to the Fair, by myself. DECADENCE, I tell you.

    Young parents: Don’t set yourself on fire to keep your kids warm. Force time for yourself. Your kids will understand; if not now, then later.

    In the meantime, here’s what my summer actually looked like: Herding, herding, herding small children; in this case, toward hugs with the Mora dala horse.

  • Brian Simon

    My boy, 9, and I rode our tandem on the MN river bottoms trail last weekend. That bike has been a blast to ride this summer, to dinner, or surly, or around the neighborhood. But taking it off-road with my son was the best of all. 17 miles, no crashes, no complaints – just a little mud and a lot of fun.

  • John

    This has been a strange summer for us. My wife has had a lingering illness all summer, and we did a huge trip in the spring, so the adults hung around mostly close to home and spent our time delivering kids to various camps and events. A couple times I took weekend trips, the most notable being the Mesabi Trail Bike ride. My son and I (and a close friend of mine) rode it this year from Bovey to Eveleth as part of the organized ride. We then added another 29 miles to make it an even 100 on the day. His first century ride, and my third or fourth. (My friend’s first). It rained. Then it rained some more. Then we learned that his brakes are pretty mediocre when wet (nobody got hurt or even wiped out). Then it rained a little more, just for good measure.

    But, we made it. The picture is our lunch stop at mile 71 – aka the end of the organized bit.

    • Francis Rose

      I volunteered for this event to feed riders at Blessed Sacrament (Hibbing) in the past.

      I remember it so clearly because it was the last time I ate meat. I was already vegetarian. I was the manual laborer for the Italian ladies cooking the food in the parish kitchen.

      A little Italian lady was like, “What? You don’t want to taste my meatball?” What was I supposed to do?

      For the record there are vegetarians on that ride. The ladies at Blessed Sacrament had no clue how to cook the veggie patties and it was hilarious. That led to an argument about, “You don’t fry these. They go in the oven. I don’t care what you say.”

      • John

        And they probably knew instinctively how to cook a veggie burger better than those of us who grill them – the Italian ladies on the range know how to cook. (I’m not a vegetarian, but I make accommodations when I have visitors who are, because I’m not one to force my meatcentric views on other people.)

        I’d have taken the meatball too – because sometimes you accidentally take a trip back in time, and explaining the future is too difficult.

        • Francis Rose

          You are totally right. I been baking them ever since. ha! They are the best cooks.

          I miss it there. The food there was better than anything I have ate since I left all those years ago. Those Lybba/Sunrise guys are around here somewhere. Still have not found them.

          Have good day…

  • Ben Chorn

    I worked most of the summer, but managed to fit in one big vacation. I decided last spring to do a trip back to Colorado after finalizing my 2nd divorce. I found out about a family that had some great mining claims in Colorado when the daughter gave a talk at the rock club I am in, so I decided to make it official and do a vacation. Unfortunately the
    rock club overheard my plans, and I ended up trying to plan a week long trip to Colorado for the club. After months of planning the trip was set, and I was the only person who could go (except one person who could make it for 2 days). No worries, as I had an amazing trip. Found lots of rocks and fossils, and even fit in a fishing trip. It was a lot of self reflection and lots of happiness being back outside doing what I loved to do. The highlight of the trip was finding a 228 carat topaz halfway the week (pictured).

  • KTFoley
    • KTFoley

      The upper photo is yesterday evening, when I made some new friends and we went to Eau Claire for cheese curds. Among my Twin Cities friends, I’m the baldie.

      The lower photo is trail’s end at Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park (the week before it all caught fire). Among my college friends, I’m the baldest.

  • Barton

    Went to NYC with college friends this summer to see the Harry Potter play (which we’d actually all already seen in London – with the same cast – in January 2017) and I had the best time getting lost in Brooklyn! My friends made such fun of my picture taking – they’ve started calling it The Great Wrought Iron Scavenger Hunt (I took pictures of the wrought iron fences/banisters of about 50 brownstones….)

    • Barton

      (system won’t let me upload a photo, says I must be logged in to do so, but I am…. anyway, you don’t really want to see the 50+ photos…. 🙂 )

  • Jack Ungerleider

    As we head from the season of light to the season of dark some of us are looking forward not back. This summer I’ve spent some time getting to know a new “friend”. The Science Museum of Minnesota, where I volunteer, acquired a new (for us, and almost new generally) telescope. I’ve taken some time to figure out how to operate a “computer controlled” telescope and try and figure out how to get it set up so during the season of dark, which unfortunately is a companion to the season of cold, visitors can see what it sees from the warm confines of the museum.

    We also spent a Thursday night earlier this month doing some fun experiments we wouldn’t normally do. If you’re familiar with Thermite and Woosh Bottles you’ll understand why we had a fun evening.

  • Noelle

    I’ve been training for my first marathon this summer, and since it’s been a hot one, I have been fortunate enough to see (and photograph) a lot of sunrises when getting in early morning runs. Looking back through my photo feed, I also see lots of photos from time with family, photos of vegetables from our CSA boxes, photos from rides in our ’97 miata, and of course lots and of photos from various photogenic spots along the trails I’ve run on.

    It’s been a good summer.

  • Jay Sieling

    The Highlight of my summer: a baseball trip with my dad! I kept a journal through Twitter and compiled it as a Twitter moment with photos and remarks –

    Also got in a trip to Munich for a week. It was a summer of Gemutlich!