tuning into what’s real

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Balance37 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to go to a private island located in Rainy Lake in Canada.  It’s a island owned by our pastor’s family and he invited us and another family to spend a few days there.  I was looking forward to the fellowship, enjoying nature, watching the boys experience something more wild than suburbia, and, maybe most of all, I was looking forward to unplugging.  I didn’t even pack my computer and that may be the first time that’s happened since I started my business, which is a little sad, admittedly.

This island had minimal electricity, though, so a computer was pretty pointless.  I didn’t even know if I’d have cell service, so I thought I might be completely off the grid, but I did end up having decent reception.  Despite that fact, I stayed off my phone and gave my full attention to what was happening right around me.

And it was such a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.

Now, I will confess to being a bit of a wimp when it comes to roughing it.  I can do it if I need to, but I’m not one who embraces ticks, leaches, mosquitos dive-bombing me at night, and having to use an outhouse.  As I packed for the trip and felt some anxiety about those things, I pushed into the commitment to be there and tune into things that are real.

In this day and age, it’s so easy to live life on a screen.  Between my laptop, iPad, phone, and TV, I can have a screen within arm’s reach any moment of the day.  It’s convenient for running a business that’s based online, but it can also be a rabbit hole that siphons my time and attention from things that are more valuable.

And I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and watching my boys come alive in nature.

I even braved going out in a kayak and I loved it!  Jeff and I are considering getting some for our family, since there are lakes and rivers a-plenty in Minnesota!  After seeing how much the boys loved it, we think that would be a fun family activity.

   The water was a bit cold for swimming (well, for those who aren’t native Minnesotans), but the boys spent a lot of time fishing off the dock.  It seemed that anytime one of them wondered what to do next, they would grab a rod and start casting.

We also hiked on the trail around the island, which I enjoyed.

While the boys were playing or out in the boat fishing, I spent a lot of time sitting on the dock, sketching and painting.  There were so many well-suited subjects.

Calvin and our pastor’s wife, who is quite a good artist, joined me in sketching and we enjoyed chatting about perspective and values and other nerdy art things.  Calvin even engaged in looking at the perspective of the boat and trying to capture it on paper.  He’s not consistently interested in art, but I love those moments when he slows down and draws or paints with me.

I will admit that I was happy to be back in the world of flushing toilets, ice on demand, and air conditioning, but the time spent on the island was so valuable.  Since getting home, I have found myself drawn to going outside more and the Minnesota winter has definitely made me more appreciative of growing things, a warm breeze, and the sunshine.

It has all been a good reminder to keep everything in perspective. Life is really lived in the space between the screens and that space needs to be a little bigger.


tuning into what’s real

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37 Comments on “tuning into what’s real”

  1. I love the art work! We once had a pastor who lived in Minnesota for a few years and said that at night you could hear the mosquitos rise up at dusk. Scary! It sounds like you had a wonderful time with you’re family. It’s always nice to unplug for awhile and enjoy God’s creation!

  2. Brenda, I have lived in MN six decades, spent tons of time “up North”, and I have never heard mosquitos do anything! I think he was either pulling your leg, or he lived somewhere very, very quiet. Lord knows there are enough of them, you’d think there would be a low roar 🙂

    Marian, your photos are so good I can smell the air and the water. Great post!

  3. We bought a couple of inflatable kayaks for our family. They are surprisingly sturdy and have the added bonus of a smaller footprint for storage. You might look into it.

  4. Welcome to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota is a beautiful multifaceted place to explore. A visit to Rainy Lake is a treat.

  5. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos. I spent so many summers on the shores of Lake Superior, “Up the lake” as they would say. We did a good bit of camping the Boundary Waters. The photo of the lichen on the rocks made me smile. I remember it so well.
    Your photos are just lovely…thanks again.

  6. Your lake reminds me a lot of Lake Winniepesaukee, NH where I live. There are about 300 islands and many of them are inhabited with everything from cabins to mansions. I know one man who had a tennis court on his island.
    Everyone goes away during the winter as everything is iced in. But then on to winter sports on the lake which
    includes ice fishing and wind surfing on the ice. Me? I stay inside where it is nice and warm. Your paintings and pictures really capture the essence of the edge of civilization.

    1. Mary. I know that lake. My grandmother had a great friend that owned a cottage on a smaller lake but was close to a family that lived on that lake. I went up there several summers with her. One summer we were there and my dad followed me in a Jon boat while I swam across the lake. A milestone for me. I was about 15. Beautiful lake but water took your breathe away. You are so lucky to live on it. Kim. (Marian’s Mom)

      1. Thanks Kim. It gets even better as 37 years ago we bought a marina on the lake and today my
        son runs it. Did you know that On Golden Pond was filmed on Squam Lake and parts of Winniepesaukee.
        The mail boat in the movie came from our village and the Thayer boat is still around in private hands.
        If you want to revist just watch the movie again, as it never gets old for me.

  7. I love hearing from all the Minnesotans as I miss my home of 63 years so much as I transition into every thing new in Colorado. Thank you Marian for the beautiful reminders of the lush greenery and the water~. I love the boat drawing and the rest are such warm reminders also.

    Missing my Minnesota and grateful for a new adventure~

  8. My family owed a cabin on a lake in Oregon, best summers of my life when younger…so happy your family was able to experience time out from technology…

  9. Life on the lake is always a great adventure, an adventure that your boys will never forget. I grew up on a lake in Ct. and when I am bogged down with work my mind seems to wander to my childhood at the lake where the hotdog stand was on alert for all the kids swimming and 10 of us kids using a tractor trailer tube to get to the middle of the lake which had the biggest blueberries I have ever seen . Good clean fun that did not include electronics. Lisa@ Sweet Tea N’ Salty Air

  10. I am an older woman and remember the times we use to roam the country side and walk down railroad tracks, we were good kids and never would have bothered any ones property, and get home two or three hours later. I wish that for children today,but our world is so different. My sons tell the children turn off your phones at the door, so at least we get to visit. So glad you had such a great time with your family, we all need those memories.

  11. We have double kayaks for our family. One parent, one kiddo per kayak. We L.O.V.E. it! I highly recommend it!

  12. I am a Michigander, born and raised. I love the outdoors and your pictures on this post made me smile. We went rustic camping in the Leelanau peninsula last week (that’s the “little finger” part of Michigan’s lower peninsula)–tent, pit toilets, and all. I confess that we scoped out the weather predictions for optimal weather! It was sooo peaceful … spotty cell phone and internet service … waves slapping on the beach at night …. ahhhhhh. Just what my soul needed. I do love showers and flushing toilets but other than that, it was 3 days of bliss. Find some time every year to do this kind of thing, Marian. You won’t regret it.

  13. Your photos are beautiful Marian, and I absolutely love your sketches and painting. I love going off the grid and hiking. It’s wonderful. I’m glad you had a chance to experience this.

  14. You are not only a great quilter but your sketches show you are a great Artist too. It is had to give things up even for a weekend. But it sure does make you appreciate the amazing things we have once home. We were without power for 7 days with Hurricaine Erma. No freezer or fridge, NO a/c in Florida in the Summer. And it seemed all emergency vehicles were still in Houston! We knew it was worse where it hit and ran. Did not know anything about what the islands endured…no TV only a wind up radio for weather. Glad you got to be with your children. I miss that part the most.

  15. How lovely – a well deserved “get-unplugged” get-away with family and friends.


    I LOVE the tree painting. I collect original tree artwork – really really like that one!

  16. You were very close to where I live. My uncle had a cabin on Rainy Lake and we always had a good time there. It is beautiful in northwestern Ontario.

  17. When we went to Maine several years ago and visited some of the lakes there, I loved hearing the loons at night. That’s something you don’t hear in the South.

  18. Spending time in nature—especially in such a wild area—is soothing to the human soul, I think. What a wonderful family trip 🙂

  19. So glad that you, your hubby and your boys were able to enjoy a beautiful spot — in Canada! Hope you can do this again! How nice for you all to just unwind and enjoy the peacefulness of God’s beautiful creation! Blessings!

  20. Thanks for sharing this amazing time away to ENJOY family, God’s beauty, friends, your talents……..and to be without electronics (wellllll almost for you!). Outhouse…….won’t say how old I am but my maternal grandparents didn’t have an indoor bathroom til I was 12 years old!!!!!!! LOVED going to my grandparents in the summer, but one downer was the OUTHOUSE!!!!!!!! More importantly those trips to the OUTHOUSE in the dark (thankful for flashlights) and now that I think about it how my grandparents made those trips during the dead of winter with SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Marian, So glad you were able to take the time not only with your family, but to connect with the energy that only nature provides. There are days when I bring my kayak to work and launch it out into the Contoocook River right behind my shop. It puts everything in perspective! We too, live near many water sources – and my family loves kayaking. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the investment of kayaks for yours.

  22. So happy you and your family had this opportunity. I live full time on an island outside of Seattle and although we have all the modern conveniences, it makes life a bit more real when I drive off the ferry and arrive home. So glad you unplugged.

  23. These photos are lovely and it sounds like the visit was very therapeutic for everyone. Please, I beg of you, wear a life jacket when you are on the water, and have your boys wear them when they are anywhere near the water. Those photos made me so nervous…

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