The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


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The geese were headed south this year much earlier than normal. There were many small groups of the birds which were bringing comments as to how low they were flying and that they were acting strangely and foretold of a hard winter to come. 

Like the geese, I had spent the last several months in the north woods. This year I had found every extreme of weather except for heat.

The winds, only a week ago, had swept through my camp at speeds close to 50 mph, and my morning swim had gone from bearable 60 plus degree temperatures to challenging low 50's in the blink of an eye. In the final week, there were icy frosts covering everything in the mornings. 

The color of the fall leaves would now be fading, and the weather forecast called for rain into the near future.

This year, I decided not to wait for the first snow and packed my gear away for another season. It was time to head for home.

As we traveled southward out of the land of birch trees, thick moss, wolves and moose, the countryside began to take on that unique richness that comes only when the land is bursting with crops just coming ready for harvest.

We were probably 15 miles away from the house when Quid, my Collie-Healer mix started to whine with excitement. Quid knew by the air coming out of the car's vent, that it was the sweet scent of home. 

The house was better than when I had left it months ago. Friends and neighbors had watched over everything. I was at home immediately.

I was surprised at the pleasure I felt when flipping a switch, turning a faucet, or adjusting the temperature with a dial:basic conveniences that I wondered how long until I again would take them for granted. 

In the first few days back, I found many roads had new surfaces, much of the flood damage had been cleared away, and new construction had made amazing progress.

Nothing seemed stagnate in our communities.  Two months had seen major differences much like the height of the crops.

Since returning home, each time I have left my drive I have met a neighbor or seen a friend.

The months of the Boundary Waters were such a contrast, not because of its unique qualities of nature, but because of the periods of solitude with nothing but miles of trees and water empty of human sounds. 

It was nice just to sit along the side of the road and catch up with my neighbors.

One encounter that particularly impressed me was my neighbor Jim who by coincidence had spent his career doing for the commercial airline industry a very similar job to what I had done for the government-aviation maintenance management. We both could speak the same professional language. What a small world.

I refer to the impressions that some people and places give me as "the Norman Rockwell America."

When I found Jim, he was along side the road driving his classic John Deere 50 hp diesel tractor. Jim had been using the bucket to tend to a low spot at the pasture gate. 

As we talked, Jim shared with me that he and his wife had been married 65 years and in love for seventy, it was about then that his cell phone rang. I could clearly hear from where I was standing, a very pleasant voice-Jim's wife. What was nicer yet, was what had to be an often repeated call of caring that was just to check if he was all right and to let him know that she was thinking of him. It just made for the total picture of the finished home in retirement years that was full of the right things that Rockwell would have appreciated.

Soon, I received a invitation to dinner from friends. Several other friends dropped in to welcome me home.

Another friend called to tell me my tractor was repaired and ready to pick up.

Life seemed to be the best part of what was being harvested all around me. And along with that is those rich fall colors that I am able to enjoy again.

The Heartland was showing itself in its best colors of people and season. It is good to be home.