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More Essays that Worked

Why My Friends Didn't Visit Last Summer

By Riley Smith '12, Rhinelander, Wis.

Illustration: No VistorsMaybe it's because I live in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where Brett Favre draws more of a crowd on Sunday than any religious service, cheese is a staple food, it's sub-zero during global warming, current "fashions" come three years after they've hit it big with the rest of the world, and where all children by the age of ten can use a 12-gauge like it's their job.

I shouldn't have told them I live on a farm with a barn, ten chickens, a dog, a canary, two thousand deer, coyotes and beautiful Silver Bass Lake. When I say beautiful lake, I mean it in the past tense. Each year the water level drops several inches, and we now refer to it more accurately as "the puddle" threatening to transform into a wetland. But even though you can't swim because of the weeds that entangle your appendages, you can still kayak! Just be sure you wear muck boots with your swimsuit because we traditionally portage the kayak a quarter mile down the bank to find water deep enough to push in. The bloodsuckers are also a turnoff. In the last year I have only had two bloodsuckers (leeches with small teeth) attach to me. The anticoagulant kept my leg bleeding for around two hours while I lay with my leg elevated; my neurotic mother pacing the room and crying while on hold with the local ER. But really, that's no reason to postpone a visit!

Another fabulous addition to our "farmstead" is the field that Papa was able to mow into a running trail. In order to escape the locusts that cling to your legs and spit brown juice on anything they come in contact with, you have to run early in the morning, and by early I mean quarter to five and still dark. However, this does pose another problem. Recently we've spotted some bear scat, indicating there is a bear somewhere on our property. This was confirmed when my sister ran into two cubs and a mother sow during her morning run. Rule number one for human survival; do not run into a mother bear with her two cubs. Luckily my sister is an elite cross country runner and was out of the woods by the time the bears even realized an intruder's presence. But I still find it an excellent excuse to not use the "awesome" running trail.

Being a true-blooded Wisconsinite, naturally winter is my favorite time of year. The amphitheatre in our field provides ideal opportunity for break-neck tobogganing, and the running path is converted annually into a cross country ski trail. Two years ago we recorded five feet of snow in our field. It's great for my brother and sister who just prance around happily on the icy surface, however, I tend to sink down to somewhere around my mid-thighs. If you've ever watched the movie A Christmas Story with Ralphie's little brother in the intense snowsuit that resembles the Michelin Man, you would understand what I look like. Adding to my attire of boots, mittens, hat, scarf, face mask, long johns with snow pants and two sweaters, my mother insists I wear an oversized blaze orange jacket, because in Rhinelander, every season is deer season.

It probably wasn't the best idea to mention my two uncles. Uncle Pete is fun; he always comes to watch the Packers game on Sunday and enjoy my mother's home-cooked brunch. But the partial he received last year, after he knocked out his two front teeth dog sledding with his huskies through downtown Rhinelander, does at times make you lose your appetite. My Uncle John sometimes can be mistaken for a mountain man. His assortment of furs and strange bags full of fishing gear and other odd tools whose uses are a mystery to everyone but Johnny himself, add to his "Yooper" appearance. To clarify for those non-Midwesterners, a Yooper is a term used to describe those from the backwoods of the Upper Peninsula. So sometimes he's a little strange. However, he is probably one of the most well-known men in all of northern Wisconsin; famous for providing fresh bluegills to the Franciscan nuns, his state-renowned loon calls, and his never-ending repertoire of jokes. He's burst into our house on several occasions with a dripping and still-twitching forty-eight-inch musky. And did I mention he's a part-time grave digger?

But no matter how hick it may seem, in the end, I just feel sorry for everyone who scoffed at a visit to Rhinelander. Long nature walks in the woods, fresh little red potatoes from the garden, glowing sunsets off the porch, families of loons and whippoorwill calls, rhubarb and asparagus patches, freshly fallen snow, fiery reds, tangerine oranges and the sunburst golds of autumn, making apple pie with the apples from our orchard, playing piano at night in front of a blazing fire — they're the ones missing out.
 

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Illustration: The Rhythm of My Days

The Rhythm of My Days,
Measure by Measure
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Bedford, N.Y.

Illustration: Auntie El

Auntie El
By Samuel Choate '12

Illustration: No Visitors

Why My Friends Didn't
Visit Last Summer
By Riley Smith '12
Rhinelander, Wis.

Illustration: Music for Prague 1968

Music for Prague 1968
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Illustration: There is Something about Africa

There is Something
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Paris, France

Illustration: Exposed

Exposed
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Illustration: Hameau Farm

Hameau Farm
By Hayden Kiessling '12
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Illustration: Block by Block

Block by Block,
Word by Word

By Daniel Steinman '12
Short Hills, N.J.

Cupola