Judith Piper of Superior was rummaging through some of her dad’s things in an old chest recently. She came across something that her dad, James Selleck, had written many years ago, perhaps in the 1930s or 1940s. He was born in 1909 and lived until 1993.
Selleck, who also lived in Superior, wasn’t a writer. He had an eighth-grade education. He worked on the railroad, and he had also been a carpenter and a boilermaker foreman. He didn’t own a car until he was 48, his granddaughter said. He loved the outdoors. He fished for largemouth bass and northern pike. He hunted deer. He trapped mink and muskrats.
When Selleck’s granddaughter, Cara Curry of Finland, read the essay her grandfather had written, she thought it might be worth sharing.
“I personally thought it was just lovely and beautiful,” Curry said. “It just rang so true to take nature in for its simple beauty, to take it in with your senses… to see and enjoy all of nature as beautiful and limitless, yet realize it’s oh, so fleeting and fragile.”
With the new year unfolding before us, we give you James Selleck’s thoughts from decades ago. The News Tribune edited the piece lightly.
“As Wild Life Awoke Beside Me” by James Selleck
A dawn on a lake. Trees, birds, the call of a loon, the sight of a drinking doe and her fawn. A slight breeze, and the day seemed to break with a bang as all of a sudden there was the hum of insects, the songs of various birds.
The doe and her fawn scampered back into the timber. The fog seemed to be blowing away from the water surface. The thrill of being alive amongst all these world-loving creatures and beauty had taken such a great hold upon me that I had almost forgotten those largemouth black bass and those big northern pike. They also were wide awake and feeding from the surface of the lake.
I began to also awaken to the fact that I meant to cast a few fish hooks on that little clear pond lying in front of me.
But I resolved to never miss the chance of watching old Mother Nature awaken the things that were placed here for people to really enjoy. Of course, I know that a lot of people do not appreciate this part of life. There was a day when most people did, but today with a change of life I, like most of the others, had seen where I almost forgot to appreciate these things.
Fellow sportsmen and all the rest of you, when you arrive on your pick of lakes next season, promise me this. If it is too hard to do, forget about it and let someone else get all the enjoyment. If it is not pouring down rain, you will stop for at least 10 minutes at the break of dawn and pay attention to everything about you including the scenery and awakening of life, pick out the songs, the voice, the wind, the sound of waves. Now, you can get the thrill and learn to love these things better if you are alone at this hour. Keep your thoughts on these things, not yourself or someone else. If this is made a practice, at the end of your summer you could and would tell me it was your most enjoyed summer.
I could write about myself and my experiences, but I want to put this fact over for your good and enjoyment. I spent a good deal of the past 16 years in the woods, and I was never tired of seeing a dawn come and enjoying its coming. Please believe me that when I recently had to change my life to do something different in work, the city nearly drowned my realization of what life should really be all about.
See here, and enjoy those camping trips — fishing, hunting and hikes will more than pay you. As I said, I had forestalled my fishing those bass or northern pike. I may have passed up a nice fish or two, but counting what I saw and heard, altogether it was a nice catch I made that day and got replayed many times.