April has finally arrived exhibiting all the signs of spring. The ice went out on March 28, the first robins have been spotted and the songs of spring peepers and loons fill the night air. As our community and others benefit from the promising weather and successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout, increasing opportunities to get out and about abound.
The Executive Board of the Chetek Historical Society decided to reopen the Chetek Museum starting with the first Thursday in June. The museum will hold its Treasures and Plants fundraiser on Friday and Saturday, June 4–5, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. From there on, the museum will be open Thursdays through Saturdays in June, July and August from noon to 4 p.m. On the Fourth of July, sno-cones will be sold at the museum before and during the Liberty Fest parade.
The Chetek Museum, in recognition of National Poetry month, wants to call attention to local author Mert Cowley, the “Jack Pine Poet.” Using historic texts and photos along with his original prose and poetry, Cowley documents the early lumbering and hunting history of the region. The Chetek Museum has “There’s Daylight in the Swamps” available for perusal in its Lumber Industry/Early Farming collection. In addition, the museum’s recently acquired volumes of Cowley’s “In Camps of Orange: Poetic tales of deer hunting from the Pearly Swamp Camp” and “A Hundred Hunts Ago” contain examples of his poetry.
A few lines from “The Jeans” provides a peek into Cowley’s subject matter, style and sense of humor: “When from the hunt Jim did return/There was a lesson soon to learn … Jim in haste, as many might/ Had hung his pants on furnace pipe/ With shells in pockets of his jeans/The pants were blown to smithereens.” Cowley’s poems relate stories of hunting mishaps and frustrations with bows, winches and canoes as well as hunters’ unusual inventions and strange encounters with other animals. The narrative poems often prove instructive, warning hunters to remain aware of their surroundings, how to safely stay warm and use the proper equipment.
Cowley taught math, science and archeology to students attending Chetek Middle School. He has earned mention in Indiana University Press’s 2007 “The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia.” Visit the Chetek Museum to learn more.