For many years Bruce’s mother, Justine, wrote a column for the Cook County News Herald. It started in the 50’s as a way to keep seasonal residents informed about what was going on along the Trail. She would let them know that the snow load was getting pretty heavy and they better have someone check their cabins to see if they needed shoveling. Or she would comment that the ice is off a particular lake.
One of Mother’s more interesting challenges was getting her weekly column to the newspaper office. During the winter months of November through April, mail was only delivered three days a week. Even when we got daily delivery, it seemed she was always looking for a way to get the column to town. For fourteen years the most reliable way was to send it with Robert or Lee on the school bus. By the time they were out of school fax machines were in use and the problem was solved.
By April, Mom was always running out of things to talk about. There was not a lot of activity on the Trail. I can hear her voice on the phone asking, “Have you got anything for the fish wrapper?” Today I feel in much the same position. The most exciting thing I can think about is when Bruce and I burned the brush pile on Saturday night. It’s that quiet around here.
Actually it was fun. In a city you don’t get to burn leaves and brush any more. I can remember doing it as a child in the Chicago suburb I grew up in. Well, Bruce and I have a spot in the west yard where we pile up stuff all year. Every spring we give it a good burn. By now the pile is ten feet tall and bone dry.
Saturday was kind of a rainy, misty day. I went over to Gunflint Pines to get a burning permit. Then I called the sheriff’s dispatcher to inform them that we were going to burn. The only hours you can burn are between six at night and eight in the morning. After dinner Bruce went out to start the pile. He uses an “old Indian fire starting technique” to start the pile – gasoline.
By the time I loaded the dishwasher and got out, the entire thing was blazing. You couldn’t get within 15 feet of it because of the heat. By now it was gently raining and still the fire burned on. I know our neighbors, Bob and Sharon Baker, could see it all from their house on top of the hill. We watched the fire burn for about an hour until the ground was wet all around from the steady rain. Once a fire starts to die down a bit, then you have to start poking at it with a hoe or a rake to get all the little bits going.
Sunday morning the fire was out. It had rained lightly all night. The big logs were burned to nothing. Bruce will get the bobcat to re-arrange the ground. In a couple of weeks we will start another pile. The intermittent rain on Sunday and even today assured us that the fire was dead out.
So that was a thrilling activity for the weekend. We have also had a few animal visitors. On Saturday we had two pileated woodpeckers right next to the house. Yesterday the lame fox was begging. He/she has a right front paw that is shorter than the other three. I found some old freezer burned meat (I am sure you have nothing like that in your freezer) and put it out.
Next time I will try to find something more exciting to write about -- I hope.