It’s Friday afternoon in a typical Wisconsin workplace, and you and your co-workers are discussing weekend plans. Someone says they’re going “up north,” and immediately, everyone has a general sense of what that means. It doesn’t matter specifically which town or lake or region of our beautiful state they’re going to, because Wisconsinites know going “up north” is less about the geography and more about what you do once you arrive. It’s understood that “going up north” includes days spent on one of our beautiful lakes, camping in the woods, fishing on a river, and simply taking in all of the natural beauty Wisconsin has to offer.
As a lifelong Milwaukee resident, I am accustomed to the sights, sounds and lack of nature that comes with living in a big city. And while I love being a true Milwaukeean, I’ve always made a point to break away from my busy hometown and escape to my grandparents’ cottage in central Wisconsin every summer. That little house on the lake is the perfect retreat from the hectic pace of the city. The water is clear, the air is fresh and you can actually see millions of stars—not just the biggest and brightest ones. The days are filled with boating, skiing, fishing and other lake activities, while nighttime brings campfires, crickets and the dead silence of the woods.
This is what “up north” means to me. It’s a place to go to relax and forget the pressures of everyday life. It’s where you go to breathe in that crisp country air with a hint of pine, hear the eerie call of a loon at dusk and watch a sunset that is so breathtakingly beautiful it doesn’t seem real. Being up north helps me appreciate what nature created.
Everyone’s “up north” experience is different. For some, it’s purely about the beauty of the natural landscape. Others focus more on the activities that come with lakes, rivers, and miles of open land. No matter what parts you value most, “going up north” is a part of the Wisconsin way of life. It’s so engrained in who we are, that many take it for granted. Sometimes it takes moving away or meeting someone who didn’t grow up with these experiences to make us realize just how special “up north” is to Wisconsin.
What does “up north” mean to you? Comment your thoughts below.
Jennifer Ingish is a producer at Discover Mediaworks. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Jennifer is a proud UW-Madison graduate and an avid Wisconsin sports fan (Go Pack Go!). When she’s not at her family’s cottage in Wautoma, you can find her kayaking on one of Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes or trying out a new restaurant!