My favorite bar is located in the woods, on the shore of a large lake. It's old, built in the 1920s by Polish immigrants, on land they bought from Charles Comiskey, owner of the Chicago White Sox and Comiskey field. It's in a log building well preserved and lovingly maintained with stone fireplaces, wood floors and a shiny wood interior. And a beautiful wooden bar with agreeable bartenders and good food.
There are no road signs, no electric arrows that tell you where it is. I learned of it years ago by word of mouth. I'm not going to tell you its name, but I may take you there when you visit.
Most of the people in the bar are local, or have owned cottages in the area long enough to be considered local. It's not a place to bring a tourist attitude. It is a place where someone my yell when you walk in the door "Hey Al, the more you come here the uglier you look!" Or maybe "I thought were dead. Maybe you are. It's hard to tell. Buy a round so I know for sure." Think Cheers, with musky and deer mounts on the walls and an up-north welcoming camaraderie.
Care for a beer? Me too. The first thing a good bar needs is good cold beer. A couple pints of Guinness, bartender.
Is anyone we know here today? Let's look around.
Yep, a few familiar faces, over there, and some new ones next to us at the bar. Two hours later and the new faces at the bar are now our new friends. And it turns out we have common friends, common interests and can marvel for a moment at how small the world seems.
Lunch was ordered and served. Bison burgers. Organic, grass-fed. No kidding. Deeelicious, with sweet potato fries.
A man walks in with his two young daughters. All are dressed for snowmobiling. The girls are excited; the dad is tiring fast.
The bartender looks at him and the dad says "A cup of coffee for me and a Miller Lite for each of the kids. Maybe they'll sleep for a while." The cup of coffee hits the table and, before the two bottles of Miller Lite the bartender holds can be opened, the mom joins the group. She looks at the bartender and smiles. "Ah, no. Just two root beers, thanks." And she grimaces at the dad for an instant before they both break out in laughter.
I wish for a fleeting moment that my kids were that age again, before slipping back into the comfortable contentment with life as it is on this afternoon in this place.
My favorite bar is a place where I can have a beer or two, a good burger; talk, laugh, and enjoy the company of others, and reflect on the goodness of life.
Where is your favorite bar?