COME FEAST OR FAMINE; war or peace; snow, rain or sunshine, one thing remains for certain in this north Wisconsin country I call home. The beauty of the country, no matter what people or bad weather try to do it, has and always will be with us.

I spend a good deal of time in the outdoors, whether fishing, hiking, hunting, camping or what have you and it is a rare trip afield when I don’t see or hear something that dazzles the senses.

It might be mama duck leading her brood quietly along a peaceful shoreline or it could be a deer snorting up a storm trying to make of me what it can. It could be something so simple as a perfect balsam Christmas tree standing alone in a clearing or the roar of a waterfall cascading over a rocky riverbed. No matter what it might be, the beauty of this country always reminds me of why I have never left it.

Just in my own little neighborhood I have seen and heard much to make me stop and pause to take in something simple, but elegant that reminds me what a great place this is.

Last weekend, I was treated to a show by mama ruffed grouse, better known to those who know her best as partridge or as Gordon MacQuarrie was wont to call her “pa’teridge.” The one I came upon last weekend had a brood of young ones hidden, though I saw none of them. As I came upon her along a logging road seldom visited by a human during the summer months, she put on quite a show with an injured wing routine so well acted out by others of her breed for as long as there have been mama partridges with chicks and predators looking for an easy meal.

I was walking casually and slowly along said logging road when she startled me with her sudden appearance. It wasn’t the heart-stopping eruption of a brown bomber that hunters know so well, but rather an acting performance worthy of an Oscar. As I passed by where her brood was undoubtedly hidden she suddenly hopped into action or more accurately, flopped.

Hopping along, flopping from side to side while putting on the old “broken wing” show, she determinedly led me farther and farther away from her brood. Finally, about 40 yards down the tote road she decided I was no longer a threat. She stopped there at the edge of the grade and giving me a baleful, hard stare, she let me go peacefully on my way.

On another trip afield a week ago or so, I visited a small lake I hadn’t seen in many years. Despite its nearness to my home, I hadn’t fished it for probably 20 years, thinking it contained nothing but stunted panfish and bass.

Quietly moving along on its dead-calm surface, I hesitated to even take a rod from its holding place on my fishing kayak, not wishing to disturb the peace and quiet of the place. Painted turtles rested on logs partly sunken along the shore. A hen mallard and six ducklings dabbled in the shallows near a bed of reeds.

A white birch leaned precariously over the water, slowly but surely loosing its foothold on a soft bank at water’s edge. A water snake writhed its way across the placid lake surface; not my favorite critter, but a thing of some beauty hidden in it somewhere, I suppose.

Lily pads, many dotted with beautiful white flowers, offered cover for bluegills and largemouth bass some of whom I soon discovered, were not stunted at all. Working a tiny jighead tipped with a wiggly plastic tail, I caught and released at least three dozen bluegills, some in the 9-inch range and maybe six or seven largemouth with the largest at 16 inches being big enough to give me an honest tussle against an ultra-light rod and a reel spooled with 4-pound test line.

The little lake — like many of its kind in north Wisconsin often are — was mine, all mine, for about three hours. There were no behemoths of boats with snarling 200-horse motors on this pond, no squealing riders on inflatable tubes of one sort or another, no stereos blasting; only the trills of robins and other songbirds, the chatter of red squirrels and the faint stirring of a slight breeze wafting through the leaves of a thousand trees. It was my kind of place; my kind of north Wisconsin beauty.

There are those who need people talking and stirring about to keep them comfortable in back country. There are people who need machines to carry them through the woods and near the waters of this north Wisconsin country. I am not one of them.

Hiking abandoned logging traces, some heavily overgrown with brush and young trees, are my favorite pathways. A couple of weeks ago, I hiked along and across one such set of traces and was rewarded with long stretches of forget-me-nots brightening the edges where shade met sunshine.

Curiously enough, as I walked down a gravelly hill still resisting green growth after loggers departed maybe 15 years ago, I found a small painted turtle crawling across the road. There was no swamp nearby, no pond of stagnant water close by. I wondered where it came from and where it was going, even as it probably wondered why I was there, all alone in a place it considered its own.

This was my kind of country, a piece of the woods where, save perhaps for deer season, no other human would be found. An hour of walking up steep hills, through deep swales and along narrow ridges was a tonic that would cure any ailment.

There are many such places in our north Wisconsin country. They are my kind of places. They are places I like to return to time after time, alone with nothing but my thoughts to accompany me. These hills and valleys take me in, welcome me and after a while, usher me back, relaxed, at ease and ready — somewhat reluctantly — to rejoin the world of civilization.