When I look out at all the beauties in this creation of God’s, I am utterly amazed at the incredible sites, magnificent Earthly formations, and the breathtaking beauty of everything, from the animals to the lands, and yes to the people. We could take the smartest minds on this Earth, pull them all together in an effort to map out and design the most perfect, awe-inspiring world, and we collectively couldn’t come close to the many wonders which God has both surrounded us and provided us. God you were so right when you declared, in Genesis 1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
There are indeed so many magnificent wonders and beauties in this world, but for me anyway, the most beautiful and spectacular of these places is a small little 2500 acre lake in northwest Wisconsin, known as Teal Lake. Up there, it is truly God’s country. Everyday surrounded by Deer, Elk, Eagles, Loons, Black Bear, fish galore, and virtually every deep woods critter you can think of. The landscape, and all the lakes and forests are just breathtaking in their beauty and vastness. This lake is 26 miles to the nearest town, 13 miles to the nearest general store, and not a phone or television in sight, unless of course you want one. For me this is paradise!!!
I first started going to this lake literally before I knew it. My parents first visited this lake 4 years before I was born and on their fourth trip, my mother was 3 months pregnant with me at this time. From that time forward, I have spent all of, or parts of, every summer visiting this lake from 1955-2000. We have also been to this lake several times since, so I would make my best guess at about 50 years or so that I have spent at least one week enjoying and surrounded by, this magnificent place. For several years, we spent the entire summers up there. My parents were teachers and it used to be that teachers only got paid during the school year. So, most teachers would take part time jobs during the summers, but my parents would save every penny, all year long, and we would spend the entire summer breaks at Teal Lake. So much so that my parents had bought some property and put a trailer on the land for a temporary home. We were building a cabin when they changed their minds and my father went back to college to get his doctorate degree. But as I said we have been back several times and it will always be a very dear place to me.
My memories of this place will last forever and the “Sharp” men (most of them anyway) will be visiting Teal Lake again this year for a guys outing – I’m really so excited and looking forward to it!!! I have to say my first memory was of a young deer we affectionately called Bambi. I’ll admit that what I know now makes this possibly the wrong thing to do, but Bambi became a part of our lives for a few years. You see her mother had been killed and she was all alone in this forest when we first saw her and we gave her food and milk to make her stronger. For the next few years, Bambi would visit every week and she was so loving and adorable. According to the rangers, she eventually mated with a young buck and they lived happily ever after, as they say.
My next memory is as a 5-year-old just, out on the lake for one of our normal fishing evenings with mom and dad. I hooked a 32-inch musky on that night and my mother had to hold me in the boat while I reeled him in – wow was that exciting. For the next few years, the locals affectionately called me the “Musky Fisherman” – it did my youthful heart very well, thank you!
Next, I remember one particular summer that was so hot nearly every day was approaching 100 degrees – unheard of for northwest Wisconsin; about one hour south of the US-Canada line. My aunt and uncle came to our place for a relaxing Saturday and we all decided to take a dip in the lake to cool off. Unfortunately, my Uncle Lloyd forgot his bathing suit. So, my mother being the good sport she was, and not that excited about swimming, loaned her one-piece black bathing suit to my uncle. There was uncle Lloyd prancing around in his women’s bathing suit, like a model for all of our amusements. My uncle was quite a character with an incredible sense of humor.
There were a lot of great times throughout my youth but my next memories were after Sarah and I married and we had a family. Now Sarah already kinda-sorta new how to fish but she learned a lot during these summer trips from my grandfather, father and myself, and this too was true for our kids. Even though fishing was the main passion or attraction, the pure beauty of communing with nature was God’s bonus. We had some marvelous times together up there and it was so very sad every time we had to leave. I remember Sarah catching her first musky, both Nicole and Gina catching some really nice fish, and I remember my son catching his first bass. It was pretty small but huge in his young eyes.
I remember one particular day we had just arrived from the 13-hour trip to the lake, from Indiana, and we all decided to cast some lines after we had unpacked everything. Sarah came over to me and asked me if a hula popper would work very well. Being the brilliant fisherman, I had become, and the fact that a hula popper was a top water bait and we had at least 2–3-foot waves, I told her no way that will work; the lake is too rough and it’s too early in the day. So, she went down to the next pier and started casting the hula-popper anyway. I’ll bet it wasn’t two or three casts before she caught the largest small mouth bass I have ever seen in person. This 5-pound fish was big enough to be a state record in 5 states. (see the picture). Well, it just goes to show you that when a wife doesn’t listen to her husband’s advice, it sometimes leads to great things 😊!!!
The following year, my dear wife again shattered one of my personal bests by catching a 34-inch musky. Well, I thought I was a good fisherman but obviously I am a better teacher. The following year, I hooked into a pretty good musky and I was sure I had finally taken back the family bragging rights from Sarah. I got the musky to the boat, was about to pull him in while Sarah and my Dad fumbled for the landing net. We held the line so they could net him and we were able to clearly see his whole length and size (had to be 42-44 inches), and before they got the net under him, he opened his mouth and just let go of the bluegill I had hooked and he had tried to eat. The new family best was gone - not landed, thus it didn’t count. Personally, I think it was a conspiracy between Sarah and my dad!!!
We got to spend only three more times at the lake, in my parents later years. It was getting tough for them, our kids were raising their families and trying to make their own livings, and quite frankly it started to get too expensive. We spent one last time with all the entire family together in 2000. Nicole had just had her youngest, Zachary, Gina had just had her oldest, Logan, and Christopher had just graduated. One of the cool things around this lake is that there are some huge rocks around the lake, some measuring as high as 15 feet, and about equally as wide and thick. You can see the family picture we took on one of those rocks.
A couple of years later, we made our last trip with my parents, but Nicole, Paul, and the kids could not make this trip due to work obligations. It would be the last time I would spend with my mother and father at this place we had some come to love for now over 47 years. (see picture)
Sarah and I got to make another trip, a few years later, when Zachary and Logan were ten or eleven years old. We had a great time and we took the boys home the long way, through the upper peninsula of Michigan, so they could see the Mackinac bridge. It was another great trip as all have been to this place of beauty.
Soon, the “Sharp” men will be spending a week at Teal Lake getting to experience God’s magnificent wonders. I’m so glad the men get to go now that they are older and able to appreciate it more. Unfortunately, Zach can’t go as he is in the middle of his apprenticeship and we certainly don’t want to possibly negatively impact his career training. And newest member of the family Brian, Hayley’s husband, can’t go due to work and saving money for the little one on the way. I truly wish they could go but understand life, family, and career come first, at least certainly at their age.
They say words don’t do justice to a beautiful place like this, and whomever “They” is, is certainly right. As much as I have pumped up this places’ beauty, I haven’t come close to adequately describing it – you honestly have to experience it or a place like it. John Denver once wrote these words in a song: “I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly.” Well at Teal lake we will be rich. Because we will see eagles, we will most definitely see deer, we will see otters, beavers, muskrats, minks, ducks, loons, and a possible elk or bear sighting. I most sincerely hope we will see lots of fish. But more than anything, we will see God’s creation at its best - infinite beauty. Thank you so very much God, for creating such an incredible Earth for us all to enjoy. I pray that you help my family, especially the “Sharp” men, understand what beauty and wonders you have created for them, and for all to see and enjoy.
There are many places on Earth that deserve the admirable and most appropriate title “God’s” country…for me it is Teal Lake Wisconsin!!!