Black Friday started like any day in the wilderness. There was no clock or alarm, rather I awoke when my body was rested. During the long nights of winter I go to bed early and get up an hour or so before first light. This morning I awoke early, tricked by the light of the full moon, but instead of getting up I drifted back into deep, adventure filled dreams. I awoke a second time, remembered it was a special day of relaxation and drifted back into dreams again. Finally when I opened my eyes I looked out from my bedroom window to see the orb of the full moon setting above the ridge. It was first light. I had slept in.
Venus and Jupiter greeted me through the picture window as I lit the fire. I opened the door and called for Homer the cat, who had been hunting mice in the wood shed, but he ignored me. I sat in a chair by the stove as it crackled and watched the light change as the sun rose above the pines. It was a crystal clear day; the cold had a bite to it.
Later I walked down to the lodge to find that a half dozen friends had arrived late the night before. They where cooking breakfast, hanging out and talking. I had tea, chatted for a while and then browsed through the library. Picking up a book here and there, I paged through old books, read a little poetry, studied a photo or two and then got into a discussion with Peter about Plato’s Republic.
I drifted over to the shop, stoked the stoves, and checked on some of my woodwork that I had glued up the evening before. The woodworking shop is my favorite place during the winter. It is always snug and warm with the intoxicating fragrance of wood. I am based out of the shop most of the day. Beth, an instructor at Summit Academy on the north side of Minneapolis, assisted me on some of the projects. I had been working on a production run of a dozen doors for the center, but seeing that it was a wilderness holiday, I worked on small personal projects, a cutting board for my cabin, a picture frame for my houseboat, simple things. Friends came in and out, often sitting on the stools near the fire to get warm, drinking coffee and chatting. Homer the cat came in and was constantly under foot complaining about something, being an all around nuisance. Later I kicked him out. Shortly he returned with a better attitude and was soon back to his affectionate self.
Lunch came and went, the twilight colors returned, ushering in the stars that barely twinkled in the crystalline sky. Everyone gathered in the lodge for the much-anticipated Black Friday dinner. We ate and drank and toasted friendship and peace. Later everyone sat around the big table, some in conversations, some reading, and some playing games. Homer sat in front of the stove, content after eating his holiday tuna.
The moon rose, the sauna was stoked and people jumped into the hole in the ice. Shrieks of joy and exhilaration swirled and curled with the wood smoke that drifted up into the starry heavens.
By Will Steger