Hook and bullet club

by Nick Wognum

Call it cabin fever in reverse. I need to get to away from it all, to a place where there’s no television, no internet and no electricity. I need some shack time.<BR><BR> <BR><BR>Oh sure, I enjoyed watching the Minnesota women’s basketball team beat up on #1 Duke Tuesday night. But that’s an exception to the rule. As for the normal prime-time line-up on any network, cable or otherwise, you can have it. <BR><BR>Give me the hiss of a Humphrey propane light any night of the week. The fire crackling in the wood stove and the teapot set to boil on the stove with another batch of hot water for those dirty dishes in the sink. <BR><BR>Shack time. <BR><BR>Should I get up and get some more wood for the fire now or sit here and enjoy life without all the modern conveniences for a little while longer?<BR><BR> These are the questions one should be asking most weekends of the year. <BR><BR>But this is that inbetween time of the year when a number of shacks, including ours, are not quite as accessible as they are when the snow is gone from the deep woods. <BR><BR>It’s not that we couldn’t get there. Heck, between a 4x4 pickup, a snowmobile and/or a four-wheeler, we can darn near get anywhere anytime of the year. <BR><BR>But time is of the essence these days and burning up an extra couple of hours loading and unloading trailers and figuring out what you can and can’t bring along seem to be tougher at times than waiting it out one more weekend. <BR><BR>It’s the waiting it out that gets to be the hard part. I know guys who will throw a pack on and walk in if they have to, just to be able to spend a little time at the shack. They’ve got their priorities straight. <BR><BR>We did try to drive in last Sunday afternoon. I stopped the truck just as the gravel turned to snow and then ice. Evan looked at the road and then back at me as I shifted into four wheel drive. <BR><BR>“Maybe this isn’t a good idea,” he said.<BR><BR>But the shack was now only a few miles away. What the heck, let’s try it. We got about a half-mile at the most when we decided to turn around - except there was no turning around. All I could do was put the truck in reverse and back up slowly. <BR><BR>If you’ve ever backed up a pick-up in snow and ice you can sympathize here. The lightest part is now leading the way and wanting to go wherever the ruts go. And the heavy end is slip-sliding away, following the rear end like an overweight hound chasing a young pup down a muddy trail. <BR><BR>With more luck than skill we made it back to the gravel and decided the shack would have to wait. But the wanting to go didn’t go away. <BR><BR>I just know the south facing slopes are melting fast now, even though there’s over a foot of snow other places in the woods. <BR><BR>But the woodpile should be poking out by now and we could shovel a path to the outhouse for those middle-of-the-night-I-can’t-wait-till-morning runs. <BR><BR>There’s enough propane left to get us through a weekend. We haven’t stayed overnight since the last night of the 2003 deer season when the snow started falling in the morning and piled up to be measured by the foot before it was over.<BR><BR>That was an abrupt end to the shack season. Sure was a good thing we had started going early last fall. From the opening of bird season on through we found a reason to go out and enjoy ourselves. <BR><BR>There were those portable deer stands to get up well before the season started so the woods could settle down after we left. And that pile of wood just had to get split and stacked, even if it took us right up to the start of deer season. <BR><BR>There’s always something to do at the shack, including most guys’ favorite: absolutely nothing. That includes kicking back and watching the youngsters find things to do that don’t involve a keyboard, volume switch or a remote control.<BR><BR>Whether it’s a hammer and some nails, the BB guns or a deck of cards on a rainy day, shack time requires having to do things manually. That’s a good thing in today’s world. <BR><BR>Shack time. C’mon snow - melt. We had a great winter out on the trails and lakes, but it’s time for the white stuff to melt, the streams to swell and the ice to go out. <BR><BR>It’s shack time.