thumbnail Written by Jon Wiersum

Crisp Fall morning. It’s fun to be the first one up. Of course, that means it’s my job to make the coffee. Nothing wrong with that. I like making coffee in camp. Fill the pot with water sourced from an artesian well just up the road. Place it on the burner first to move things along. Tuck the filter into the basket, pour in the coffee, fold the flaps over, drop the basket into the pot.

I step out from beneath the tarp to observe a morning just waking up. One of last night’s barred owls is still about. While the water warms, I coax some of last night’s coals into a small fire for its companionship. We build our fires using the log cabin method.

I hear the first pop as percolation begins. “We’ve got perkage,” Tom would say if he were up. I turn the stove down a notch to prevent boil-over.

Coffee Percolator on Campfire

I’m in Northern Wisconsin with my two brothers and a friend. A week-long Fall tradition. We’re set up in a small clearing beneath towering red pines and balsams on a point of land that extends into a marshy lake.

While the coffee percolates I walk to the water’s edge. The sun has not yet risen above the trees on the eastern shore, but the woods opposite blaze in vibrant Fall colors. Steam rises in sheets from the still water.  Whistling wings alert me to a small flock of ducks flying over. One “oo-eek” reveals they are wood ducks as they disappear in the mist.

Coffee’s probably ready so I head back to camp. “Morning boys!” Mike and Brad have emerged from the tent. “We’ve got coffee.” I line up three steel mugs and pour even allotments. Steam billows in the crisp morning air, the smell of fresh coffee filling our site.

Mike’s got bacon going in the skillet. Another fine smell. The combination has Tom rousing from his roost.

With coffee and our breakfasts, sunlight angling into our clearing, we arrange our camp chairs around our little fire and discuss plans for the day. We compliment Mike on his breakfast, I get a bit of praise for the coffee.

One of our many traditions is Cameron’s Woods & Water coffee. Is it the name? Maybe. But it has the perfect balance of bright and crisp, big and complex flavors. Flavors that blend smoothly, and perfectly complement the crisp morning air and the smells of falling leaves, wood smoke, pancakes and bacon.

Today is a day for walking the adjacent grouse trails, affording a more relaxing morning as we let the sun warm the trails and get some birds moving. We brew a second pot. We discuss the familiar trails we love, some new ones we’d like to try. It’s fun to walk the trails we know like old friends, as well as to discover new ones.

A new tradition has crept into our repertoire: Cameron’s Hunter’s Blend. Again, the name might have something to do with it. The larger 32-oz. package is also perfect for a week in camp. And while Woods & Water is a light roast, Hunter’s blend is a medium roast of a different blend of coffees, and it delivers a robust, rich and creamy flavor. It seems to fit the colder mornings to come. We’ll save it for the first frosty morning or maybe for the duck blind!

Today is a day of bright promise! Walk some trails. Maybe a second breakfast after the morning’s toils! Then cast some spoons in the pool adjacent to camp. Later today we may build a blind on the point farther up the lake in advance of a predicted change in the weather.

Tomorrow will be a different kind of day. We may be huddling around our steel mugs beneath the tarp in advance of an early push to our blind to see what the winds and rain bring us. And what can be better than sitting in a blind, a thermos by your side and a warm cup of rich Hunter’s Blend coffee in your hand as you scan the horizon and solve the world’s problems with your companions? Sun or rain, and sometimes even snow, we take what nature gives us each day we are here. And are thankful for it. As long as we have our Cameron’s Woods & Water or Hunter’s Blend coffee! How can you not be glad as another day reveals itself with the promise of familiar traditions and new adventures?