Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh What A Beautiful Morning!

Today was the perfect day for a morning walk. I was the only one of our four going so I had the entire walk to myself. The walk is along our side road for one mile and then back. Walking along the road lets you see and hear things that a car just buzzes by.

The first thing is to smell the fresh air. With no wind at all today and a nice dew on the ground, everything smelled fresh and clean. The dew keeps the road damp so even an occasional car doesn’t throw dust into the air. I saw five vehicles on my walk this morning.

The noise is the next thing to be noticed. No need for an iPod when you can hear the birds singing everywhere. In the background is the almost constant call of the chickadee. That is the only call I know because the chickadee just says its name over and over again. Sometimes it adds an extra dee or two. Who knows what other birds are talking to me but each one has a distinctive song that comes out as clear as a bell. Sometimes are bird will fly overhead and I can hear the swoosh from its wings. There was one boat that went down the lake and its motor added a little mechanical sound for a few minutes.

Finally we are down to what can be seen on a walk. Most of the trees have leafed out. Strawberries are blooming in the road ditches. Several trees are getting ready to flower. The pin cherry trees should be blooming next week. The lupines are coming up in the ditches. In about 3-4 weeks there will be lupine blossoms all along the road. You will need to see a picture of them. If it is rainy, there are hundreds of earthworms on the road. I wonder how they can live in the packed down surface of a dirt road. We have renamed a section of the road “Rabbit Corner.” That’s where we have seen the rabbit this spring.

Later I walked down by Cabin #26 and looked at the lake. Here is a picture of what I saw. Too bad I don’t have time to just sit on the swing and watch the day unfold. Instead I am in my office writing to you.

Bruce was busy yesterday working on some masonry projects for the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. One project is to put in some slate as an entry way just inside the front door. If any of you have walked around our property, you will have noticed piles of rocks in many places. These are rocks that Bruce has collected during our many building projects. He has mentally cataloged all of them.

So when he was thinking about the slate entry way, Bruce remembered a large slate rock in one of his piles by the outfitters. If he could just split that, it would be big enough to make a one piece entry rock. Yesterday was the splitting day. He had to lift the rock with the bobcat. With his masonry hammer and some pegs he was able divide the rock into three sheets. Here he is moving one of the sheets. If you visit the museum after it opens next year, be sure to notice the rock when you walk in.

One of our neighbors has a baby squirrel. They think that its mother was accidentally live trapped and moved to a different location. This 3-4 inch squirrel is hungry! He chases all the birds off the feeder when he wants to eat. Of course, he is not quite as good a climber as an adult would be so it is a project to get up the feeder. The other day my neighbor was in her garden when the baby squirrel came running up. She stood up and he ran right up her leg almost to her knee before realizing the mistake. Already this squirrel has visibly grown since they first saw him.

Summer is here now so it is time for some of you to be visiting us. We look forward to seeing you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day is Here

This has been an unusually windy spring or so it seems to me. Yesterday the wind was howling outside and there were white caps on the lake. In spite of all, the fish are biting well. The walleyes are starting to leave the spawning beds but are still scattered on the lake. As the water warms up, they will form into schools, which makes life easier for the fishermen.

All our trees are bursting into leaf. We have a green fuzz from the new leaves that you can see as you look across the lake. Of more importance to me, I can lie in my bed and look at the leaves on the poplar trees outside my window. For those of you who live south of me, that may not mean much. But when you only have leaves for five months of the year, it’s nice to see them come.

Summer birds have also been appearing almost on a daily basis. There was a pair of trumpeter swans on the lake. Meanwhile Sheryl has a great little movie of the first hummingbird to appear
at the outfitters’ feeder.We always look forward to the return of the hummingbirds. Bruce and John Silliman saw a Baltimore Oriole at our feeders this week. That is really an unusual sighting.

This year for the first time we are getting overnight hikers stopping at the canoer cabins at the outfitters. So far we have had seven people in three different parties. It isn’t a lot but I can’t remember when we have had any hikers come through. They are hiking the KeKeKabic Trail from here to Ely which is about 42 miles. They are also connecting to the Border Route Trail which goes to McFarland Lake east of us. One party even had a small dog along. The dog had his back pack to carry his food.

Wednesday was one of my favorite days of the year. Our spring order of flowers arrived. Between what we use at the lodge and what our neighbors get we had about 300 flats and baskets. In addition there were 10 36” white pines and 10 clumps of 8’ birch trees. Ronnie and Rick are hard at work getting the ground prepared. With an early Memorial Day, we don’t really want to plant too much until closer to June 1st. Here is a picture of one of the neighbor’s flower order.

Memorial Day weekend is already here. It looks like a good one. People are making the reservations much closer to their arrival date which makes us nervous. They are, however, calling in steadily for summer reservations. We are pretty close to full for the holiday weekend. In these tough economic times we appreciate every reservation.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It is a cold a miserable day today. The temperature is about 34 degrees and we have a strong northwest wind. Even in front of my house, we have good sized white caps. The east end of the lake must be just rolling. Snow flurries are coming down too.

Meanwhile Bruce and I got home from our morning walk about 8:15. We have been walking with our neighbors, Bob and Sharon Baker. Both couples are going with two other couples to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some hiking just before Labor Day. So, we are trying to get into a little better shape. Here are Bruce, Bob and Sharon ready to go this morning. Luckily I get to be the photographer.

Now don’t get the wrong idea. We really are not walking together. Bob was in the National Guard for many years. He sets a pace of four miles to the hour. Sharon and I most definitely don’t walk that fast. We do about two miles in 50 minutes. Bob and Bruce go over three miles in that same time.

Except for today, it has been quite nice and I think we are all doing better. It is fun to see the game as walking down the road. For several days there was a snowshoe rabbit about ¼ miles down the road. Every part about him had turned brown except for his feet. They were still white. We have also heard calling loons. Today we even heard a loon above the wind and waves.

My garden has been trying to claim some of my attention. Yesterday I finally made it out. We got some small white pine seedlings this year. For years we have planted but never been really successful. A friend whose parents had owned a tree farm suggested a new method of planting to me. I went up into the garden and cleaned out a space we were not using. It was just a mess with grasses growing all over. After crawling around weeding on my hands and knees, I was a mess too. But I planted 33 trees about 8 inches apart. Here is what they look like.

My friend Terry tells me to let them grow for two years. At the end of that time each one will have a nice root ball instead of those thread roots you usually plant. So, I planted and watered yesterday. Keep your fingers crossed.

Fishing has been fairly good. The walleyes are still spawning. The Cross River and Little Gunflint have lots and lots of females filled with spawn. In a few days the males will come in to fertilize them. Most people catching the big females have released them so they can spawn. In a few years we will catch their children.

Lake trout (any kind of trout) fishing has been good. Today as we walked there were hundreds of worms on the road from last night’s rain. Bruce says that these earthworms are good for catching trout. No matter how good they might be for bait, I’m not going out on the lake today. It just looks nasty.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fishing Opener

Gunflint Green Up last weekend was a rousing success. About 325 people planted 25,000 trees. That’s just over 75 trees per person. In our rocky soil, planting trees is a project. Add to that the fact that burned trees, fallen trees, soot and loose rocks are all over. I went out for a few minutes to meet some of the planters. Many of them were like Mary Indritz and her daughter Paige, shown in this picture.

They live in Roseville, Minnesota, and have a cabin on Poplar Lake. Son Jack was also planting with them. The Gunflint community has really come together to help give our forest as helping hand.

This weekend brings the Minnesota fishing opener. Gunflint Lake is totally clear of ice as is Magnetic. Although I haven’t been down there, North Lake and Little Gunflint should also be open. Loon Lake went out yesterday. Saganaga and Seagull should be open. The lakes in the mid-trail vary but if you started blowing from the proper direction, they would go out. It should be a great opening weekend.

We are getting ready to jump into the season. Jason is bringing over the first dock as I write this. I can see him coming across the lake. It is a perfectly calm day which is what we need to get the docks in place. In fact here is a picture of the dock coming in to be attached to the main cribbing.

Friday night people will start checking into the lodge for fishing. Bonnie says that our first outfitting groups will be going out next week. I don’t know how another winter passed so quickly.

We went out to dinner with friends last night. Some of you may remember our neighbor on Tucker Lake who burned part of his favorite hat last winter while burning a brush fire. A spark landed on his hat and eventually started burning hat and head. A couple days ago, Tom received a package with this letter in it:

Dear Mr. Schank
We understand you had a head fire causing some discomfort to your melon. We are enclosing a special fire hat to prevent any more fires of the same nature.
These are special hats for use on small fires only, if your needs are larger save the aluminum pan from Thanksgiving and punch a center hole in it.
Replacement pans can be purchased at your local grocery store.
Thanking you
Mr. Bill Spark
G.M. Fire Dep
Here is a picture of Tom modeling his new hat.

Tuesday Bruce and I went out to put in minnow traps. He carried the traps and I walked along. This is Bruce looking at a trap he has just placed on a hidden pond about ½ mile in.

He was worried about getting enough minnows because the water in the ponds was quite low. Yesterday he checked the three traps for minnows. I couldn’t go but Bruce said he couldn’t even carry out all the minnows. These native dace minnows that he traps are the best ones of fishing in our area.

Some blogs I really struggle to get pictures for. Then there are others like this one that just seem to overflow with pictures.