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Posted By Susan Bernhardt

This past weekend my husband, Bill and I went up to the northwoods of Wisconsin. Our 100+ year old, 3 bedroom cabin, that we rent every September, is on a wooded island surrounded by a pristine lake. It was the first time in ten years we would be up there alone. My ideal weekend consisted of relaxation, romance, and to decompress from the internet, cellphones, etc.

Early Friday evening after getting unpacked and a fire started in the stone fireplace, Bill asked me put on some music while he poured us a glass of wine. I had packed music that I thought Bill would enjoy: jazz, classical and included an album that I loved and thought would be romantic. Clearly, it was the best album of the weekend. I put on Santana's, Supernatural Album.

Bill said immediately, "That's not cabin music."

I responded, "I think it is."

There is a song called "Smooth" and when that came on, I suggested that we dance. With the wood fire crackling, the dimmed lights (I hadn't replaced the bulbs yet with higher wattage ones I had brought along for reading.) I thought it was incredibly romantic.

That night the temperature went down to 30 degrees.

Around 9:30 the next morning, Bill announced that it was warming up and that we should go kayaking. I looked at the thermometer on the screened porch. It read 39 degrees. Agreeing, I started looking for my winter hat and gloves that I had packed while Bill put on sunscreen. Soon he headed off to the kayaks. I asked him to please check out mine for snakes, insects, etc. (I'm very outdoorsy.) as they are stored outside, upside down. (Once there was a toad in my kayak.)

Last summer I had experienced a near drowning incident while kayaking with friends on a wild river, that was way out of our league. After hitting a limestone bluff, my kayak overturned. The current was strong in that area. Under water, I was unable to get my legs out of the kayak. Luckily I was pulled out by my friend, Lisa who had once been a life guard. I had bruises over most of both lower legs and on my arms. This kayaking experience is told in my third Kay Driscoll mystery when Kay has a similar experience. By the way, for those of you who have been asking, "Murder Under the Tree," the second Kay Driscoll mystery is coming out this fall.

When I got to the kayak, the compartment for my legs looked incredibly tiny. I undid the upper clasp on my life jacket, as I felt closed in and was having trouble taking a deep breath. I got in, but kept my legs on top of the kayak.

The lake was calm, the surface smooth like a mirror. It was the most peaceful feeling, gliding along past the trees. I felt again like I had previous to the accident. When we got to the other side of the island the water was more choppy, the wind was blowing us out more towards the center of the lake. We went around the island in a little over an hour.

I had brought along three jackets. One for falling into the lake, a winter jacket that I wore most of the weekend, and a lighter jacket that I immediately put back in the car as it was cold. Actually I also bought three pair of shoes along. Two for falling into the lake. Like I would ever really need two pairs for that.

The rest of the weekend we boated, kayaked again, went for walks around the area, into town to the gift shops much to Bill's delight. ;), read, listened to music, watched movies, had fires, drank a glass or two more of wine. It was relaxing.

Saturday evening we went out to dinner. Seated by a window, we overlooked another lake. As I watched the water, I commented to Bill that the lake reminded me of a Monet painting, with the lily pads, the reflection of the sky, and the ripples in the water. In his lily pad painting, Monet had captured what was in motion and I could see why.

Bill said, "Reality isn't always perfectly in focus."

Profound, I thought.

Posted By Susan Bernhardt

In August I went on a mini-road trip to the Milwaukee area to visit my brother and sister-in-law and to meet up later in the week with some friends in Sheboygan. I drove our new SUV that my husband usually took to work. To date, I had only driven this vehicle for about twenty minutes total.

Earlier that morning, my husband, Bill left for work in our other car where I kept CDs that were great for driving (and singing), i.e. Cher, Cyndi Lauper, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, etc. (or Excedrin as Bill would say.) So on the way out of the house, I grabbed a few CDs out of our living room cabinet. In the few minutes I had to pick out the music, I chose Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms, Meat Loaf - Storytellers, Tom Petty's Greatest Hits, John Prine, and Queen.

I had my sunglasses on, the windows down, and the wind in my hair. I figured some captivating music was in order to begin my six hour drive and you couldn't go wrong with Queen so I put it in the CD player first. It's amazing the high notes Freddy Mercury reaches. When the music ended, I pushed nearly each of the thirty buttons on the sound dashboard trying to eject the CD while still watching the road.

I saw the Sirius music button on the car and I didn't even want to try to go there. Bill has a USB media stick that plugs into the car stereo with mp3s on it that he gives verbal commands to. Again, no way was I going to try and figure that out either. So I put Meatloaf's Storytellers in and drove like a "Bat Out Of Hell." By the time I finished listening to it, I wanted to tell Meatloaf, "Enough with the talking. Sing!" He has a great voice and the music was brilliant...lots of great singing parts.

Bill and I had just gone to listen to a Tom Petty tribute band in July so next I put in Tom Petty's Greatest Hits. Well some of them were but I skipped over the rest.

The two remaining CDs were John Prine and Dire Straits. I remembered there was a sad song on the John Prine CD that made me cry every time I heard it and I didn't want to mess up my makeup, so I decided instead to listen to Dire Straits. One Christmas many years ago, I gave almost everyone I knew the Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms CD. I thought it was great music with a strong beat. Almost right away I had had enough of MTV but the other songs were pretty good.

I looked at the John Prine CD. I didn't want to play it but I had listened to everything else. I drove in silence for a while. Finally I put it in. There wasn't just the one sad song I remembered but four! I was trying hard not to cry. I kept wiping my eyes with a tissue. They were brimming with tears. When I was about twenty minutes from my brother's home, I thought, I couldn't show up on his doorstep like this, so I ejected the CD and put Queen back in. And sang "We Are the Champions" to perk myself up.

I am going to be travelling this week again. I'll be sure to set out the right music the night before, plus now I know how to use the media stick.




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Susan Bernhardt


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