Sunday, July 08, 2007

Summer Odds and Ends

The Fourth of July has come and gone. Suddenly summer is upon us. I don’t know where they came from but the Trail seems loaded with people. Every time I see the naturalists out, they have a large group of people following them. Guides are booked every day. The horseback riding is so busy that each horse has two scheduled days off each week.

Bruce has been out picking wild strawberries. So far I have made 8 jars of wild strawberry jam, 8 jars of domestic/strawberry jam and 8 jars of peach jam. No, we don’t grow peaches up here but Sam’s Club had some really nice ones. Bruce tells me he has to pick 2 more cups of wild strawberries for another batch. That doesn’t seem like much when I write it, but these little things are tiny and picked on hands and knees.

We are into the grandchildren’s visiting cycle. Tanner, at sixteen, works the dock fulltime for Uncle Lee. He and his friend, Keean, both live in a dorm at the lodge. It is their first stab at independence. They have a car but it is kept at our house and only used with permission. They are experimenting with cooking their own meals with Aunt Eva and Grandma as backup. I think it is a great summer for them and a real growing period.

Last week we picked up Emma and a friend in Duluth. They are with us for one week. Two 11-year-old girls certainly change the routine in a house. We have lots more giggles. The TV is on more than usually. Each day has time at the lodge dock just to see who is around. Yesterday the three of us went horseback riding. The night before we played dominoes. They are both fun girls to have around and the week is going quickly.

On the 16th Zach comes for a week. He wanted to be here during canoe races. One of the things he does is to run a lemonade stand to collect his share of money for the Volunteer Fire Department. A cute little 7-year old makes a lot more on lemonade than his grandmother would make.

It is time for another commercial about the canoe races. For almost 30 years these races have benefited the first Gunflint Trail Rescue Squad(ambulance) and then the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department (fire and ambulance). The members of these groups have put in lots of time to learn firefighting, to become EMT's and to teach the community about Firewise safety around their homes.

With the Ham Lake Fire this spring, we all saw the results of years of planning and training. Not every building was saved but lots were as these men and women dropped everything in their lives to work on this fire. Such intensive work means that equipment suffered and needs repairs and replacement. The canoe races offer a chance for the community to say “Thanks” by making sure there is enough money to have the best equipment.

The races will be held at Gunflint Lodge on July 18th. You can participate in several ways. One way is to buy raffle tickets for the general raffle of over 100 gifts. The odds are lots better than the Lottery. Another way is to buy raffle tickets for the Winonah canoe raffle. Once again the odds are really good. You can also come for the night to visit with friends from up and down the Trail. Volunteers will be serving food and beverages. The money from the food sales also goes to the Fire Department. If you can’t do anything else, send a check to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department, % Dave Clutter, 60 Voyageurs Point, Grand Marais, MN 55604.

The raspberry crop is starting to look really good. I have been checking at some favorite spots and it won’t be long now. I have my sugar, jars, and Surjell on hand but, most of all, I just want to sit down to eat a bowl of raspberries. You have already heard my story about eating raspberries. All year long I look at those ½ pints boxes (1 cup) of raspberries selling for $3-4 in the grocery store. When Bruce and I eat that first large bowl of homegrown, that is when I know how rich my life is.

The weather has been beautiful, hot, and sunny – true summer weather. We open all our windows at night and close them in the morning. It keeps the house about 10 degrees cooler than outside. One of the reasons for this is because the cold winters demand that our homes be especially well insulated. With a little air management, this helps us keep cool in the summer.

My garden is really starting to produce. Each day I have been able to take a large bag of lettuce down to the lodge for salads. Basil, fennel, chives, parsley and rhubarb also make their way down to the lodge. Bruce, Eva, Lee and I have been enjoying a few things that I don’t grow enough of for the lodge – broccoli, asparagus, strawberries and green peppers.

Well, I have to go out to weed this wonderful garden. That is a never-ending job.

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