Friday, April 29, 2011

Home Again

The calendar may not say it, but summer arrived at Gunflint Lodge today. The horses arrived! Mandy and Izzy were there to put halters on and get them into the pasture. Right now they are all munching on hay, rolling in the dirt, and drinking water. On Monday the staff will be going out for rides to reacquaint the horses with the trails. We only have two new horses so they all pretty much know where they are going.

Bruce and I had a great trip down to the Florida Keys. As always we stayed with our friends Ron and Pat Malina. They have a beautiful porch that overlooks the open water. We ate every meal out there in 85 degree temperatures with a gentle breeze.

Well, there were several meals that we ate in restaurants. We have two favorite restaurants that we always visit when in Key West. One is the Raw Bar at Land’s End. I dream about Oysters Rockefeller and Conch Fritters. Bruce lives for Conch Chowder. Figuring out what comes next is always a problem. Our other must stop is El Siboney, a Cuban restaurant in a residential area. You have to know it is there to find it. Bruce always starts out with a big bowl of their homemade soup – every kind is good. I like the roast pork and he likes the fried pork cubes. Both come with warm buttered Cuban bread, yellow rice, black beans and plantains. Even without the soup it is more than either of us can eat.

Once we get past these restaurants, then it is time to try some new ones. As usual there were plenty of good ones around. The best one, however, was in the Malina household. The day we arrived Pat greeted us with steamed and chilled Key West Pink shrimp and stone crabs. Another night we ate Pat’s Key Lime Pie. I refuse to order this in a restaurant because no one makes it as well as Pat does.

Several nights we relaxed playing canasta. It is always the men against the women. Both sides managed to hold their own. Bruce and I also learned bowling via the Wii. Every day we were out walking around. We did a little shopping, or rather looking, at some of the Key West stores. For looking you can’t beat Fast Buck Freddy’s. If I had a house to decorate in the Keys (and unlimited funds), I could buy out that store.

Of course, all good things must end and we are now home. Business is looking good. More staff are arriving. Spring projects are getting done. The snow is basically gone. The ice on Gunflint Lake is pretty black this afternoon. The new dock is now floating in the water. We can’t get it back into the summer home bay yet but there is a boat and motor sitting on the shore ready to go in the moment we can.

I looked at my garden today. Hopefully tomorrow I will get started cleaning that up. I could see a few tiny strawberry leaves poking out. Then there is the rhubarb to get going. Beds have to be cleaned for basil and parsley. Chives will also be coming out soon. My iris need a tablespoon of bone marrow on them. The grass also needs fertilizer. The flower beds need to be weeded.

All of a sudden it is an endless list. I am ready to start tackling everything.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Keys Vacation

I keep thinking that we are finished with winter but these past couple days have made me wonder. Yesterday (Saturday) it snowed off and on for most of the day. We got about 4 inches of a wet heavy snow. The temperatures hovered right around freezing and the ground is warm. As a result we never got much accumulation. Wind, however, blew snow all over. Today seems to be trying to clear or, at least, lighten up. Right now at 3:00 p.m. the sun is coming out. The new snow did bring us one interesting phone call. Someone was looking to do a little more snowmobiling now that there was fresh snow. All our trails are finished for the season. The base on them has been gone for a long time. This time of year reminds me of Bruce’s mother, Justine. She would be writing a column for the newspaper and have nothing to write. We would get a phone call with this voice saying, “Got anything for the fish wrapper?” Usually Mom would end up writing stories about nature which is, of course, all around us. So, with not much to tell you I am going to stop. Bruce and I are off to the Florida Keys for 10 days. The 85 degree weather there sounds wonderful. I’m off to pack!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Mud and Cleaning Season

I think we are officially in mud season. Water from melting snow is streaming down my driveway and anyplace else that leads to the lake. Usually the roads dry up in a couple of days. Under the snow we have yet to get mud but that is next. The paths in my garden quickly become soggy messes for a couple of days. Meanwhile the spring projects are coming along. The floors in the lodge now have two coats of varnish. A third coat will be added today in the high traffic areas. Then it is a matter of letting everything dry and cure. I understand that by Tuesday, it will be time to move furniture back in. Remember that pile of furniture in the conference center? Chris Prasil, normally a server, is washing it all down. Much of this was washed before our weddings but we still have to go over it all. Cleaning is going on just as steadily in all the cabins. Again this is our one time to really tear into all the nooks and crannies. The housekeepers will be busy from now through May with these projects. We can’t forget the kitchen in spring cleaning. The other day Adam and Hudson were cleaning the hoods and ovens. Today Jacob has the grill torn apart. Meanwhile John is washing every bowl, shelf, silverware, pot and pan in the entire place. Right now it all looks a mess but things will start to take shape soon. Some of you may have noticed that the lynx on the beam in the lodge had a torn foot. Kaci got out her needle and thread and fixed the problem. Along the way she gave him a good cleaning. We won’t talk about how much dust was in his hide. The new dock is almost done. Each day I hear, only one more day. It is hard to believe how much is going into it but Jason is a perfectionist. For example, we have over 100 pounds of nails. The dock looks huge sitting on the ice. The touchiest time will be when it is floating but there is still a large mass of ice on the lake. We need to get the dock back in a bay before it is swept into the moving ice flow. Keep your fingers crossed. Dave goes to Duluth tomorrow to pick up new motors. By the time he gets the old ones loaded here for trade-ins and the new ones loaded in Duluth, he will be sick of motors. Of course, there are people to help with the loading in each spot. Once the ice is gone, the dock staff will be busy breaking in the motors by running them some. Spring projects will continue for a bit yet. There is, however, one project that has been reduced to a minimum. Years ago the lodge and every single cabin had water drained in the fall and put back during the spring. Usually it took several days in the spring. One year someone other than Bruce drained. The next spring it took over two weeks to get water running in all the cabins. Bruce had some special words for that spring. All in all, it is a project he does not miss.