North Country Spring

I realized it was spring this morning when I looked out the window and saw patches of ground growing in the snow. Five squirrels ran by the woods edge as one of them was saying he remembers where he buried some nuts.

The lake ice is holding all the snow melt so I had to disassemble my ice fishing shanty while standing in 8″ of water which is held by 25″ of ice still on the lake. I found some open holes in the ice so I kept a wide berth. Meanwhile a couple of early spring swans are shouting encouragement from the far shore as I am in the middle of their swimming pool.

Hey Swans, you are a little early

The wind has even started to feel warm in the north country and the whole earth has shifted gears for the bottomless muddy patches ahead. Not all is well in the world seems to be an understatement.

I have a file called “Hope”. Do we not all need “Spring” in our lives? Click on any picture to enlarge or start a slide show.

Meanwhile, the swans are still talking. I can hear them from the deck wondering why the lake is still covered with ice. There may be snow in the forecast, frost and much to melt, but make no mistake, spring is here. Hope is here

On a personal note, it’s been a tough winter here. Lots of deep snow has hurt the deer population and also deprived lakes from the sun. The oxygen producing weeds die and the remaining oxygen is used in decay producing “winter kill.” The wolves that survived as well as the bear waking up from hibernation will clean up the woods and the eagles will clean up the lakes. Nature is efficient without blinking. Instinct, it is what it is. People however are different.

Our family, extended to cousins, uncles and aunts, has been dealing with a plane crash (miraculous survival story for another time for her to tell), personal connections to the war, memory loss on two fronts and a host of other life’s seasonal things. Every family system has their front line issues. We freeze, thaw, bud and blossom, and at some point we die. My wife and I miss our parents deeply.

My wife and I often talk about the substance of faith and hope. Not the fluffy beliefs or the religious mantras; they belong with Santa clause and the Easter bunny. Yes, we are Jesus followers and yes, all our faith and hope is based on his life, death and resurrection. If that didn’t happen we have nothing. Our “substance” discussion is our own experience in having joy in the throes of sorrow and loss. There is substance in experiencing peace in the middle of our most turbulent times (like life flighting a daughter). It’s real.

This is why spring means so much to me. It’s way more than meets the eye. It’s way more than nature calling “clean up on lake 10, need more eagles!” It’s even more than a 180 pound timber wolf moaning deep in it’s throat as it’s almost dark, just beyond eyesight, and that chills me deep into my bones.

Gary

Published by Gary Fultz

Outdoors Man, Hunter, Fisherman, Guide, Writer / Author, Photographer, Public Speaker, Musician, Song Writer, Story Teller, Follower Of Jesus. Love God and family and total strangers

82 thoughts on “North Country Spring

    1. Me too Jon. Ironically, I had driven a vehicle over that spot a couple weeks earlier. A spring must have opened up and made the ice really thin. I had to visit a flower shop to smell some roses after that.

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    1. She is as of this writing, thanks. Lots of physical issues. She has beat septic shock 4 times and has some artificial parts that keep her alive. 37 surgeries so far. Very intelligent gal with a deteriorating body. A miraculous life without being healed…something to ask God about some day.
      At this point in her life we take care of her

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      1. I cherish your prayers Erroll. One must live the life given. The Lord gave us a daughter born with an unconnected spinal cord with frayed ends like a rope sticking out her back. She was able to go thru a year of college but a needed surgery derailed her life of independence and now her fingers do not work either. She loves the Lord and like her unique body she has a unique spirit and is a unique tool used by God, so far in this way. Sometimes in praying for healing of her body God asks of us “Why should you ask me to change a chain hook into a chain link??

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  1. The dangers of living a poetic life, Gary. So interesting. Makes me want to dummy up of things I survived this winter. Thanks for the best read on the net in so many ways. “And you alone survived to tell the tale.” But you did survive another one, by God’s mercy and grace, to witness the beauty of another spring to summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am humbled GW. Many people remind me I have led a strange life. Even though I think of myself as a very careful calculated risk-taker. Maybe just another adventurer that sees stories in everything. Google plane crash on a lake in alaska. you will get part of our family’s story. All 5 people survived and are healing…many surgeries, many miracles.

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    1. Yes, it looks like all will survive. Possibly long roads of therapy among other surgeries. The storm took them down but an opening allowed snowmobilers (quite a rescue story there in finding the crash and keeping victims warm so they didn’t freeze to death) to find them laying in the snow on a lake (how many planes hit a lake going down?) they lay in the snow another 4 hours till the storm allowed two helicopters to extract them and then it stormed again. people with broken backs drug out others as fuel was pooling in the crash….the story just gets tough but miraculous.

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    1. You would go crazy with you camera in the spring Cindy. You take awesome pictures. The swans migrate through here, mostly in small groups in the spring. 6 swans came to our lake and then the couples went their separate ways. I see swans swimming in melted snow ponds on fields and in marsh areas. The geese are filtering in and the various species of ducks will follow. And, yes, those are robins. They come in flocks and I wish I had the camera ready faster so I could have put about 20 of them in frame on a little patch of ground under the spruce tree. They always come too early. No worms until the frost comes out of the ground from four feet down.
      I have seen over 100 bald eagles on a lake nearby standing on the ice. A sight to behold.
      Out our back door is Itasca state park, a photographers paradise. One of my pictures above is the headwaters of the Mississippi river where you can walk across on the rocks.

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  2. Hi Gary, thank you for sharing. A couple of your sentences caught my eye. “Not all is well in the world seems to be an understatement.” and “If that didn’t happen we have nothing.” The reality of this world as it is versus the reality of our God as He is. Plus those unanswered questions coupled with our limited understanding. And our hope, always our hope, that God continually reminds us of, every new spring. And then there is also God’s continued grace. For those that look, there is a balance, not always as we would necessarily have it, but sufficient, to go on towards that hope. I sense the heaviness and I feel it deeply too, it seems few are untouched these days and the effects can go deep. But life as we see it is not all there is and abundance awaits us, if we endure. Let us all hold one another up in prayer and trust in our redeemer, for He has conquered this world and because He lives, we shall also live. God’s blessings on your and yours brother.

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    1. Thanks for picking up on those statements Bruce. I have lead some very good-in-depth discussions on Sunday mornings with understatements. When you stand up front and say “Not all is well with this world…what are your thoughts to this statement?” I sure found out where teenagers were at in a hurry. I found out from these few words more than most of their parents knew about them. They would have ben shocked at the depth (and breadth) of thinking. I then encouraged them to share these thoughts at the dinner table after church…ya I got phone calls. Good one though.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. “But life as we see it is not all there is and abundance awaits us, if we endure.” — This is becoming more and more clear in these strange times! It’s easy to get discouraged if I only think of this life, but when I draw close to Jesus, the hope of salvation reminds me that this isn’t the main event. Real life still awaits!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, I think I felt winter in my bones more than usual this year…I’m actually a bit giddy over the rush of 60 degree warmer temps in the last week. this morning was t-shirt walk the dog weather at 35 degrees which is winter coat weather if it was october.

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  3. A heartfelt post. Yes, every family has its troubles. Some more than others. Faith makes those burdens bearable. And others are always watching. God bless you and your family.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m going through a rough season, too. Spring is extra special this year. And it’s not just me, as you said. Every family has struggles. And either the last couple of years have brought on extra struggles than usual, or else we’re all just more aware of the hurt around us. Either way, Jesus holds me fast. I’m learning to be more dependent on him than ever. I have no hope of surviving this storm without him. He brings joy amidst sorrow. And one day… no more sorrow! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alisha, Ah yes…the times we have all had and are still having. I believe we should write and take pictures of the times we have. In the short run, the pictures will outlast us. In the long run, we will see face to face and not need pictures to communicate. I do understand and am humbled by the Lords protection, even when I do things that are a bit risky.

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  5. What a soul wrenching post, Gary. Photos capture what our words can’t express. I have a motto, “spring always follows every winter season both literally and figuratively.” I really appreciate how you used the tree/flower life cycle as a metaphor for life. So true. Praying for God to encourage you and your family today.

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    1. Thanks Mandy, I meant to keep the “soul wrenching” to more of a chiropractor back pop level. Everyone who reads our posts are in a different place externally and internally with our own struggles at various levels.
      I remember my wife and I checking our daughter out of ICU from having a less than 10% chance to survive (she has survived a less than 1% so this was not so bad) About this time Covid hit and the Government and mass media said “Boo” and the world ran for cover with a 99% chance of survival. Our parents had just died and our perspective was different than most. We laughed and said to one another “really?” (Our perspective has not changed)
      As a Follower of Jesus with a 0% chance to survive this life (barring God’s intervention) and a 100% chance at eternal life, it’s just a really good thing to feel the glory and deep meanings of this season we call spring, however short. Only God has his finger on the button and says to us “Do you trust me?”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m glad you relate Mandy, not everyone does. I’m sure that’s true of all of us. If my writing was compared to a shotgun it would be on modified choke so I’m getting better at not being a scattergun.

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  6. This post touches my heart, Gary. There are many layers of miracles-from the pictures to your daughter’s fight for survival, your survival, the tough situations of family; my heart and prayers are with you. I understand. What spoke to me the most is you and your wife’s substantial belief and faith in Jesus Christ. I stand with you both in this truth. By the way, Gary, the pictures are just phenomenal. Animals and nature pictures are always a pleasure–but the little guy in the bunny suit was the cutest! God bless you and thank you for sharing. 🙏😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, Karla, thanks so much. I am going to have to pass that comment on to “the little guy”, Liz will like that.
      Life is tough in seasons. I am just glad that there is a season of spring in life and relationships, not just in weather.
      Seasons of change. I am also glad that we even have the option to have a faith which develops substance and penetrates the vail of all pain, suffering, and carries into eternity. That substance is way more powerful than any physical material listed on the scientific table of elements.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thought of you a few weeks ago as I installed my Paragon bed cover. The most important thing about Spring is it, sooner or later, comes around again. Like hope, it gets here in the nick of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, good to hear from you Ted. A couple years ago you would have received a “Friends” discount on that cover (if you admitted friendship with “Gary”)…I miss the old work place and the crew.
      You are sure right about spring. last year this started mid February, now it’s trying to make up time but we can still fish on the ice, carefully as there are holes in the lake. I’ll catch some walleye in your honor!!

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    1. It’s a different life than the city for sure Ted. Think of it as cross-cultural. I just took a ride on the ATV. When I get stuck in the deeper snow I hook on to a tree with the winch and keep going. I was able to get 13 deer in one picture on a small field. When I rode down to the lake I saw a couple young guys drove their pickup onto it to fish…they will find out like I did when I was young that they will fall through at the landing in shallow water, enough for a good scare. hopefully they take a run at it as the ice broke as they went out….kids!

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  8. Great post Gary. What an adventure. I too am happy spring is here, especially for you. Prayers for your family, you and your wife’s strength and for your daughter as well. So many things we don’t understand here, but one day it will all be clear. Glad you’re safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Laurette. Now that I post about spring it’s snowing and right on that freezing mark outside. I guess that’s the nature of spring. As with each season there is a tussle from the last season to continue. A lot like life’s seasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hope does abound in this post…you have captured the beauty of nature and the elegant return of the swans. The Lord provides with His healing grace in ways we cannot fully understand. Life is a sort of dance and God is our conductor. We don’t have all the answers, but we trust His guidance. You have expressed your deep faith which keeps you grounded in God’s promises. I pray for your beautiful daughter and all of your family that was involved in the plane crash. You have witnessed so many miracles…thank you for sharing your faith stories. It inspires others in a profound way.

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    1. Thankyou Linda. In spite of all the crazy stuff that has happened in our little space of the world, we are well. It is well with our soul as the song says. We do relate to the being people who may be wasting away on the outside but being renewed on the inside. It might be merely symbolic as two feet of ice need to melt, but I’m getting my boat ready. hope is a wonderful creation we are blessed with.

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  10. Glad to see you are thawing out. Without winter we wouldn’t appreciate spring. Without bad times we wouldn’t appreciate the good times. Don’t remember where I read that but there is some truth there. Mother Earth has come full circle and it begins again. Such is life. Without faith there would be no hope. We have to have faith that spring and tomorrow will come because they aren’t guaranteed. As always excellent pictures and great blog. Thanks for sharing my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Wayne. Winter was hard enough to get giddy at seeing puddles of water in the woods. Yes, you are right about the hardship bringing appreciation. maybe someday the world will appreciate peace over war.
      There is still a foot of snow most places but bare patches as well. It snowed again last night and the flocks of robins and sparrows are a bit confused. I took a picture of 13 deer in a small field so they are getting some food finally. Hope to get out ice fishing before that gets less safe.

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    1. Deb, you have quite a way with words. It can be confusing to have grief and joy at the same time. Exhilaration and confusion run around in the back eddie of the river of life as well. As long as hope flows over the banks or laps on the sandy shores we are good! God is good. Thankyou.

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  11. I scrolled through many of the comments and feel the only things I can add are my prayers for you and yours with thanksgiving for the great testimony God has given you all. God bless and keep you and yours—and we know He will.

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    1. Thankyou so much. It ends up being a team effort in the total conversation and that’s how it should be. I find that the comments section is sometimes the ice cream and the blog was just a cone seeded with a small scoop. It’s kind of like sitting around the campfire and someone gets a good conversation going…

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    1. Thanks Jim, It will be awhile on the story, but you can google “plane crash on lake in Alaska” for reference. There is long road ahead for these 5. Our gal is getting on a plane again (can’t imagine how hard this will be) this coming weekend hopefully to come home for a whole lot of therapy.

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    1. Thanks Jeff. I am enjoying it but I can’t find my ATV key to get out on the lake for some last ice fishing(every spring this happens since we put the pickup through the ice.. The prophets (Fultz..err false ones) in the family tell me that when my knees get too wobbly with age, I’ll probably use my cane as a stirring stick for more trouble. It has followed me all my life (bunch of superstition nonsense of course).
      Take care Jeff and keep dancing with the upcomers

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      1. Lol! You can have your own “Ice Road Trucker” show!! Some people sink brush in the lakes here to back a couple of weeks later to catch crappie by the droves. You can do the same….except with pickups. And it seems to me wobbly knees over time is a blessing if there is a straight stare up with the eyes!

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  12. Oh man, that’s all I need is the whole world watching me put a truck through the ice …camera pans to the oil slick left on top of the dark water in the hole and the moderator “serves him right!”
    Funny thing about staring up with the eyes…The (very loud) trumpeter swans early morning give me cheap thrills.

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  13. First, your pictures are absolutely amazing!!! Second, I love how you addressed family situations as front line issues.
    The world has it’s problems, but our families also experience their unique challenges and pains. The difference is that the world (speaking in general terms), doesn’t have faith to get them through it. Those families with a foundation of faith can still find joy in the midst of sorrow. Peace in the midst of chaos. It doesn’t make human sense, but it’s a spiritual connection to Jesus that enables us to get through it all.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie. Very Kind words. So many people who claim faith as their answer may not even realize that the object of their faith is not really on Jesus. Even many believers think they must get through tough times on “Their” faith, thinking that they must supply faith from themselves (ie…if I muster up enough faith God will help me).
      A bit like God is like a powerful tractor but we supply the gas. Faith IS as our relationship IS with Jesus.

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  14. Beautiful and profound in both word and thought (and let’s not forget photo). I share your pain and your beliefs; life is tough but without the belief of rebirth, regrowth, Spring awakening and resurrecting, what are we left with? One day at a time, as the saying goes, and savor each day because we never know what’s around the bend or under the ice. Excellent write. 🌟

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    1. Thank you Nancy. It’s too bad we cannot just take a short class (indoors) on “savoring life to it’s fullest one day at a time” and then go do that. I can say I appreciate life 100 times more after crawling out of icy water but that kind of class is not saleable to most of us. As Easter comes around, my ponderings wonder how to appreciate Eternal life after our death, other than knowing this hope. It’s much like spring only times 100.

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      1. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?? “Savoring Life To Its Fullest One Day At A Time For Dummies”. I’m sure it would be a best-seller! Now that I think of it, there’s a book very much like that already available; it’s called The Bible. God Bless 🙏🏼

        Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, You sound like my kids in Bowling Green KY on the cold weather. I’m glad you still like the pictures and insights.
      It’s in the 30’s today after being cold (down to -2) and snowing 8 inches. I think you would enjoy it here. Our outdoor clothing here is two notches better than anything sold in the south.

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  15. A fun coincidence Cindy…It’s a good place to live. Beautiful area. Glad you survived the tornado. Some of our grandkids friends lost parts of their houses. I will have a couple home projects when down there for graduation I guess.

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  16. Your responses to commenters are every bit as insightful as your posts, Gary! I’m so glad you survived the dunking in frigid waters, AND your family members survived the plane crash. I admire your strength of spirit, maintaining strong faith in spite of your daughter’s debilitating condition. And I pray God’s blessings of joy and peace in the midst of the trials you face.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nancy. Responding to Commenters are like being in the foyer after church and getting more personal with individuals. The diverse concerns each one is dealing with on whatever the comfort level seems to be a high interest area for many of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you for sharing this Gary, I really enjoyed it and value the emotions you’ve captured in a few words.

    They word “lament” cake to mind. Ensuring we appropriately grieve or feel sad about things, but know what is, is not what will always be.

    Peace to you my friend. 🙏

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