"The day began as all such Northwoods days should -"

The day began as all such Northwoods days should - early, with the alarm clock sounding an invitation to join a glorious Minnesota morning already in progress. (Could this be the same alarm which blares obnoxiously on weekday mornings at home?) No shower or shave - not today and perhaps not all week. Not while a sauna sits patiently by the shore awaiting the afternoon ritual.

My clothes lie where they were dropped last evening- dirty, crumpled and smelling ever so slightly of walleye. As I pull these disgusting garments onto my still-groggy carcass I am aware that they feel better against my skin than any dress shirt or suit ever will. A battered and soiled blue corduroy ball cap hangs from the doorknob, a Heileman's Old Style patch gallantly holding on by a few gold threads. Smiling, I cover my greasy hair for the millionth time with this sadly misshapen piece of headgear which has faithfully served me for at least five years. Only at the cabin can a feller be dressed and ready for business in under two minutes.

Coffee in hand, I grab an armload of assorted gear and step out the cabin door. The lake greets me as it always does - with beauty, serenity and an awesome dignity. Facing directly east as I take in the lake’s majesty, I bask in the first moments of the sun's slow ascent over the distant treeline. Squinting into its rays, I am nearly blinded as they burst through the tops of the distant Norway and White pines silhouetted on the horizon. The 45 degree May air draws a light mist up and away from the calm water.

Sloshing hot coffee from my cup I slowly walk across the yard to the dock. The grass shimmers with dew and a dog barks somewhere across the lake. There is no other sound. With my gear piled haphazardly on the end of the dock I stand motionless, slowly sipping the hot java and letting it steam up my glasses just for the hell of it. I wait for the sound.

The distant sound of the Ramboat grows from a faint whine to a full-throttled roar as it bursts into view from around the point. Cutting a wide and graceful arc through the still water, it proudly slices through the morning mist as if it is the finest vessel on the lake. Peering out from beneath his own well-worn hat, Captain Ed waves his usual morning salute as he slows to approach the dock. At that moment I am convinced that the Ramboat is the finest damn fishing boat any guy could ever own. And so begins another day in paradise.

Lake Vermilion - around May 1989 or so


(story by Steve Bradt - submitted by Nick Babich)