The wind blew hard across the lake yesterday, a steady 15-20 out of the southeast, kicking swells up to three feet. I thought I felt your hand on my shoulder, but there was no need to worry when it came to navigating those perilous waters, I had a good teacher.
As promised, I have returned to our beloved Leech Lake to bid you farewell. The two of us here together again, one last time. It was here as a child that I watched you breathe in the crisp northern air, draw in the view with a smile and saw the worries drop from your shoulders, any troubles left well behind you. In this place you were at peace with your lot in life.
It’s raining here today. A solitary loon sings its haunting melody in the nearby shallows. I close my eyes, recalling the smell of bacon frying as I lay in bed, the mass of rods and reels forever entangled with one another and your pipe, firmly wedged against your square jaw as you captained our boat across the rough expanses of water seeking out a worthy prey ~ the mighty walleye. These scenes, well-etched in my mind, were repeated so often they became legend. And this magical place, replete with its mystical sites: Submarine, The Annex, Red Rocks, Chippewa Bar, Bear Island . . . will never be quite the same without you.
Yesterday, as I worked the lake in search of your prized fish, I realized much of what I needed to know about living well, I learned as a youngster on these very waters: get up early, work hard, persevere, get a good nights rest, embrace each day as a new beginning and life will be full. I would not have learned these lessons had you not been there to guide me.
I landed a nice walleye for you off the northwest tip of Bear, but then, you knew I would. I named him, Oscar. Are you smiling?
The time has come to leave this holy ground you so cherished. The car awaits, the compass points south. I’m counting on you to send a mighty tailwind my way and ease the journey home. Onward, through the familiar way stations of Sauk Centre, Windom, Spirit Lake and onto other grand adventures, yet to be discovered.
With love and gratitude always, Eli.