Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We are just finishing the January cold spell. Usually when we have the full moon and clear still skies, January temperatures drop well below zero. So we had three mornings where it was 20 below zero and one morning where it was 13 below. This morning it’s at zero. During the day we have warmed up to right around zero. Because the wind has not blown much, guests have still been outside skiing and dog sledding. The cold nights have also helped the ice grow on the lake.

During the good old days we could get a cold spell where the temperature warmed up to 20 below during the day. Gunflint Lake has seen 40 below many times. Those are the days when you just want to stay inside and keep the fireplace going.

Now that the ice is safe, the dog teams have been going out on the lake down to Bridal Falls. Once they start using the lake, we freeze in some hitching posts just past the dock. Usually just plain posts are used but they get hard to see as the ice and snow builds up during the winter. As the picture shows, Jason got a little more creative this year.

He found some young trees, cut a hole in the ice, and froze the trees in. It looks like we have a new forest growing. They will be really easy for the mushers to see.

Cold weather has also brought the deer in closer to my house. Here is a morning picture of deer feeding right outside my kitchen window.

They have learned to clean out all the sunflower seeds from the bird feeders by sucking them. Another thing that the deer like to eat is grapefruit rinds. I am being serious! Bruce and I each eat half a grapefruit for breakfast. I just cut each rind into 4 pieces and throw it out. The first deer in will finish them off in no time. Just for kicks we cut up a tangerine and threw it out. They liked it even better than the grapefruit. So none of our deer will be getting scurvy this winter.

A group of neighbors were over for dinner recently. We are all gray hairs and have a potluck at each home during the winter and summer. After dinner we play dominoes for 11 people. It is like nothing you have ever seen before. I wouldn’t say we cheat, but there is a lot of table talk.

At any rate we got to talking about seeing the wolves on the lake. Bob Baker has the best view of the lake from his home above Gunflint Pines. He sees deer out on the lake regularly. The other day we even had a wolf that was curled up about 200 feet in front of the lodge. The wolf was in a tight enough ball that you could hardly be sure it was a wolf but there was nothing else for it to be. I was just about to go home and get my camera when the wolf got up and wandered off. We figure that he was just looking around in case there were any deer to be had.

During March we often see wolves on the lake. They like to nap in the warm sun during the afternoon. Actually with the wolves traveling on the lake, we see more of them in the winter than in the summer. Bruce, however, has come across them in the summer when he is minnow trapping at some back lake. Once he came across a pack of four or five and was glad that he was inside the truck rather than walking. They tend to give one an eerie feeling.

For those you who might remember the fox couple from last winter – they are back. Gimpy and his wife have taken up residence underneath the north wing of Justine’s house. Here is a picture of the small hole in the rock foundation that they go in and out at.

There is a beaten down snow path right through the hole. The fox have become quite used to having people around. One evening I was driving to the lodge from my house. It looked like a guest was walking her dog only it was the female fox walking about 10-15 feet in front of the guest alongside the road.

Bruce and I are off to Cody, Wyoming, today. As many of you know we run a little side business that brings foreign students into the United States for four months of work during their school breaks. This year we will bring in 500 students. They work all over in country from resorts to moving van companies to landscape companies to dude ranches. So we will be attending the Dude Ranchers’ Association meeting for several days. It will be just like the small conventions of canoe outfitters that we have gone to for years. One of the highlights of the trip is a chance to see a different part of the country.

I will tell you about our adventures out west next week

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