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Up North

Reflections, Moments & Memories

By Joe Brandmeier
Published: April 28, 2011
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“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photo by JOE BRANDMEIER
I believe, no matter where you are, everyone has an "Up North." It’s that magical direction (whatever it may be) that can instantly shed stress and bring a calming peace to your soul.

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PASSION –The author's passion for Up North began at a very young age at his grandfather's Wisconsin cabin.
Photo by JOE BRANDMEIER
Up North to me is a state of mind, an escape from reality. It’s a place loaded with memories, tradition, solitude, romance, laughter and craziness.
   
I remember seeing my Grandpa’s cabin for the first time when I was a kid. I was a little afraid, because it was in the middle of nowhere, tucked away in the Nicolet National Forest of Wisconsin.
   
To a kid, that cabin was creepy. It was built in the early 1900s with logs from the forest. It had gas-powered everything, an outhouse (that you prayed you’d never have to use at night), bears, a mile-long driveway – and it was so very, very dark at night you literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face! You could even hear the occasional mouse walk across the logs at night while you tried to sleep.
   
Today, that cabin hasn’t changed much, but my passion for Up North has. As I grew older, I realized more and more how important those moments and memories Up North really were, and still are. The laughter with close friends and family, the crazy “guys’ weekends,” the romance and the freedom it brought to my life and soul. Sometimes, it’s all I think about.
   
I began to really notice the everyday miracles of nature when I started taking pictures. I would shoot a few frames, and when I'd got home and looked at them, I’d think, “Wow, was I just there?”
   
I would take “photography trips” with just my camera and hang out in the woods, and just be still and be present – in that moment. I might see a deer, or bear or a great sunset, or I'd even spend some time staring at a small bug on a flower – whatever it was, I started to see the beauty I never noticed or appreciated before.
    
The father of our National Parks, John Muir, said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I truly believe that – that we’re all connected in some way.
   
So wherever your Up North is – I hope it’s a place where you find connection and peace, a place where your soul is truly free.
   
The pictures I’ve taken over the years are what keep me Up North, even when I’m not there. Perhaps they'll bring back a special moment or memory for you.

Joe Brandmeier is passionate about his family and the northwoods. He shares those loves in his new book.

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READER RESOURCE:
Joe Brandmeier’s photo-rich book, UP NORTH – Reflections, Moments & Memories, will be published in June 2011 by TRISTAN Publishing, $19.95, hardcover, 80 pages, www.tristanpublishing.
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