By Jeery Davis
DRUMMOND — Four decades ago I began going north every autumn to hunt ruffed grouse and enjoy what autumns have to offer.
Many dogs, relatives, friends and seasons later cycles continue. No, not the cycle of the bird that brings us here, but the cycle of one end overlapping with a beginning. Sometimes a cycle is a son becoming a hunter and a father putting away his shotgun. This year was a dog cycle.
Tim, my older son from Mount Horeb, lost one of his golden retrievers to a major illness this summer.
Like Chester and Kyla before, Maddy’s ashes were placed under a special red maple, one that seems to know that at least some hunters come north as early as mid-September, well before almost any autumn colors have arrived. But this tree is one of the first, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, to turn red. Regardless of when hunters come with shotguns, dogs and high hopes of hunting successes, it seems this tree has some red leaves to show off to those visitors.
This tree has become known to us, then, as The Red Maple of Forest Road 231.
This Oct. 6 was that special day. A few red leaves still swayed in the breeze; most had fallen. Some fell as Tim stepped up a steep bank with a can painted on all sides with paw prints. Inside the can a felt bag held a plastic bag of ashes.
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