Celebrating the end of a year and the ringing in of a fresh year Northwoods style is a bit different than most. We don’t have the throngs of people all bunched together in a valley of buildings watching jumbo-trons and cheering as a giant crystal ball falls. The dress code up here does not included freshly pressed tuxedos or the most fashionable ball gowns. Even the paper party hats and noise makers are absent (although we could have had these if any one had remembered to pick up some at the store an hour away).
Instead we donned our warmest layers without concern for style as the wind chill was pushing -20. We headed outside into the cold pale winter sun, strapped on our skis, and headed off into the woods. We broke trail across the portage from Round Lake into West Round Lake. There are no crowds out here, not even a human track, at least not since the last snow fall. Otter slides cris-crossed the snow. Fox tracks hurried along their narrow little trails. But no foot prints, tire tracks, snowshoe or ski trails did we cross.
Pushing on between West Round and Edith Lake we started to pick up fire wood with a little help from Mackey. We shushed our way across the lake looking for a little sunny spot tucked away from the wind. Soon we had a merry little blaze crackling away on top the snow and ice. Who needs noise makers or sparklers when you have a fire with sappy pine in it! We kept warm hunting up downed wood to feed the hungry flames sputtering along in the winter wind. Once we had enough warmth to melt the ice off of ski bindings we broke into the snacks.
Our Northwoods version of champagne and caviar could all be toasted over open flame. Marshmallows for s’mores and pudgie pie PB&Js. Nothing tastes as fine as fire roasted sugar and slightly burnt sandwiches out in the woods. The water out of our bottles was as sparkling as the finest champagne with the ice crystals forming at the rim. Our jumbo-tron entertainment was feeding the flames and watching them crackle up with new flames.
Soon it was time to hurry off to catch the most magnificent of finales. We retraced our tracks back to Round Lake just in time to watch the sun set. No Time Square ball has ever been as beautiful as a December 31st sunset over the boreal forest. While the time might not be midnight (it was actually 4:19 pm) the day and the year were definitely done.
While we waited for the man-made end of the year to arrive, we nestled into cozy cabins with family and friends. The night black as pitch outside the windows was not noticed as we collaborated on homemade pizza masterpieces, sang along to the music, and laughed at old stories and new.
Where ever you may be this New Years, we hope you are celebrating in your own way. 2014 was a beautiful year and 2015 is a fresh adventure waiting to happen. Happy New Years to all of our Tuscarora friends!