I always dreamed of living somewhere close to water. Close to lakes, to be precise because I grew up near the Rock River in Oregon, Illinois. Back home I would ride my bike over to the Honey Creek on gravel roads that meandered into town the long way; the back way. I could sit there, when I got the chance, for hours watching a bobber or flipping a Mepps spinner over and over again. Occasionally Dad and I would park our car near the dam in town, walk down the bank and stand on the rocks to cast for walleye in the rushing water.
We swam in the town pool with enough chlorine to turn your hair green on long summer days. Those days only made me long for a country of lakes even more. Just to be able to sit by one. To cast a line when I wanted, to jump in when it got too hot. To listen to its songs after the darkness fell.
My dream wasn't huge… I didn't have to own property on a lake or a second home/cabin with my own beach. I just wanted to be nearer to water than I was. Preferably water that didn't have its own perfume of "river".
For many people, Ely, Minnesota is the personification of that dream. When they think of such a place as I did during my childhood, they ultimately see a green sign with only three letters: "ELY".
As I grew older I thought about how great it would be to leave work at the end of the day and go fishing somewhere. To grab a canoe and just go. In my mind I saw only water and endless possibilities. That was my Ely. More lakes than I knew what to do with.
Somehow I made it here and began life all over again as a husband and then a new father and life itself got busier and busier. The dream stayed alive, but now that I was living it, it changed to encompass Little League and ballet and church and friends and family and a career and traveling and art and new books and more art and antiques and hobbies and…
The lakes are calling and I must go. Yes, it is a take off from a John Muir quote, but it is a fact. A fact of life. They call. Loudly. So now, I answer the call.
One of the most exciting things is to go to work with the knowledge that when your work day is over a canoe trip awaits. Portage packs full, family ready, dog ready, canoes on the van, Zups Polish in the cooler, fishing rods and hammocks -- check, check. I can hardly wait.
When I am loaded up and the afternoon sun is tattooing its mark on the back of my neck as I stretch my paddle to the campsite up ahead, then I relax and think, how lucky I am to be living my dream.
Do the Lakes call you? We're going to make this design into a t-shirt for next year. Look for it in a catalog coming to you in March! Answer the call!