Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year. We received our annual shipment of flowers from Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul. It took five of us an hour to unload everything. Neighbors came from all over to pick up their share of the plants. Now we just have to get everything left into the ground around the cabins. My back hurts just thinking about it.

Pansies brought to mind a story I once read by Deitrich Lange. He and his wife camped on Northe Lake for six weeks in the summer of 1917. They came in by the railroad from Thunder Bay to the North Lake station since there was no road from Grnad Marais. I read his diary of the trip. Deitrich kept meticulous notes because once home he wrote essays for young people about nature.

In a book of his collected essays called "Stories from the Woodland Trail," I read "Violets and Pansies." Here is just one paragraph from that essay. "The largest and most gorgeous pansies I ever saw were not raised by some rich man's gardener, but by an old hermit, who lived in the wilderness north of Lake Superior. On a beach of red shingle and pebbles on Gunflint Lake on the International Boundary, the old man had converted into beds of pansies: Pansies white, and yellow, blue and purple, and very dark pansies smiling and pansies laughing, pansies suggesting all human moods and faces. It was woth a journey of many miles to see the pansies of the Hermit of Gunflint Lake, and the old man enjoyed bringing his finest pansies to the lady in camp."

The man was George Wartner who lived on the northeast shore of Gunflint. His only way to town was to paddle or walk to the North Lake railroad station and go to Thunder Bay. It's hard to believe how isolated he was. George's story must wait for another day but think about him when you see our pansies.

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