Sunday, July 24, 2011

July Rolls Along

It is hard to believe how hot and humid it was around here last Sunday and Wednesday. The hostess station at the lodge (where I was) left us all soaking wet with perspiration. Mandy had to cancel afternoon horseback rides. She also rigged up a sprinkler system to give the horses some relief. On Wednesday even being outside gave little relief. In the early morning hours we had several inches of rain. By afternoon the sun was out and the rain was steaming away.

Yesterday a cold front came in. I walked down to the lodge zipped up in a sweatshirt that felt wonderful. Today it is still cool. After early last week we are all thrilled with the cool weather. Even if the guests would rather have hot weather, we love the cooler temperatures.

Wednesday the canoe races were held here. I don’t know how many hundred people attended but it was BUSY. Everything went well. A few flashes of lightening to the north forced the cancellation of the last races. The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department received a nice check for $14,500. The success was due to the leadership of Tom Schank and Melissa Anderson along with their army of 110 volunteers.

I am in my usual mid-summer mess. Talking with guests in the lodge and dining room, I slowly learn to recognize their faces. Names and cabin numbers are beyond me. No sooner do I get that far than everyone checks out and I have to start all over. So today 14 cabins checked out and then fill up again. The worst of it is that I am continually explaining what I did to my wrist. Repeating that sad story is enough to humble anyone.

Guides Jon Schei and Adam Treeful had a wonderful day on the water yesterday. Adam and his guests caught over 40 walleyes. Jon was right behind him with 30 walleyes but Jon’s were bigger. This morning when their guests checked out, one party was going to have to stop in Grand Marais to buy a larger cooler. What a nice problem to have!

Now for the weekly garden report: broccoli, basil, chives and parsley are producing more than the kitchen can use. Green beans are covered with flowers. Carrot greens are tall but it is too early to harvest them. The tomatoes are starting to turn red. In fact I can almost taste them. My late lettuce is about ready for salads. Regarding the berries: strawberries are finished, blueberries are good enough to be picked and there are a few red raspberries on the bushes.

Tuesday we go to Duluth and I get to see my surgeon. Hopefully I will get a small cast that comes below my elbow. If it is changed, my plan is to ask someone to take some warm soapy water and wash the arm first. Meanwhile I have become able to do many more (but not all) things with one hand. Bruce and our staff are really coddling me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Joys of Summer

The summer heat has finally hit us. We had 92 degrees in the shade at our house yesterday afternoon. Our solution is to close the doors and windows during the day with all the ceiling fans on. At night we open all the windows to bring in the cool air. All the insulation that keeps the house warm in the winter also keeps the heat out in the summer. For the few really hot days we get, this works almost as well as A/C.

One result of this hot weather is that everyone is down at the beach and in the water. The kayaks and canoes are busy all day. After work all the staff jumps into the lake.

As you can see from the above picture, we have had a couple of births at Chik-Wauk. As soon as the ice was out this spring, Kath Lande and a crew put out an artificial loon nest. It was clearly visible from the lodge but not from the shore. Pretty soon a pair of loons took up residence. Eggs were laid and they started sitting. Then disaster struck! The neighborhood eagle was able to swoop down and steal the eggs.

More branches that stick up into the air were added. They make it difficult for eagles to swoop in. We all held our breath but the loons came back and laid two more eggs. Late last week one of the eggs hatched. The chick was named Peat. Two days later Repeat was born. Once again we will all hold our breaths hoping the eagle does not get them.

You know that we all love our guests dearly but sometimes you wonder where their minds are. So we had a couple come into the museum raving about the beautiful drive they had had from Duluth along the “river” (Lake Superior). We also had someone ask “How long does it take a deer to grow into a moose?”

We have been feasting on the broccoli coming out of the garden. Each week we can get enough for one dinner in Justine’s plus some for us. It is so much tastier than anything we get from the grocery store that even Bruce enjoys it. With a little luck it will continue to feed us through August. Basil has also done particularly well this summer. It goes down to the lodge for pesto. Carrots and green beans are filling out. The tomatoes plants have a few tomatoes that seem to be approaching turning red. My mouth is watering.

I just got word that the blueberries on the Magnetic Rock Trail are starting to ripen. Friends walked the trail with their grandchildren. There were enough berries for snacking along the way. There is no word on red raspberries yet but they will be along.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

leaf season

Our life at gunflint often seems to be divided into two seasons. Right now we are in the middle of leaf season. It starts around the middle of may. One day we will have soft, gentle rain. Suddenly the trees will be covered with a green haze as young leaves peak out.

Next comes the period of lime green leaves. They are new and almost look fragile but the strong winds of a storm cannot shake them loose. The flowers are developing right along with the leaves. Soon these colorful flowers draw our attention away from the leaves.

Right now all our leaves have attained their robust mid-summer color. The forest is filled with these deep green leaves. They shade our homes and shelter the birds. It seems like they will always be with us.

But September is coming. After Labor Day the green is starting to fade on many leaves. By the middle of the month yellow is everywhere. That strong bond between leaf and branch is gone. The slightest whiff of wind will send them spiraling to the ground. It is time for bare branches again.

This is the time of year when we all fall in love with the patio. It was lee and Eva’s idea to replace a series of wood porches with a wide open patio overlooking the lake. Long summer days make it a perfect relaxing and dining spot. Parents can sit sipping something cool while kids can splash in the lake. Sunday barbeques seem to taste better while sitting on the patio. The only problem is that Bruce and I seem to work during meals. It is not often we get to enjoy sitting.

For those of you visiting the area, I want to remind you that the Chik-Wauk museum and nature center is open and waiting to welcome you. It tells the story of the people of the gunflint trail through pictures, displays and videos. On Sundays and Thursdays from now until late august there are guided hikes into the trail system around the museum. An indoor scavenger hunt is available for children. Picnic tables are great place for your pack lunch. In a short time the blueberries will be ripe and ready for picking. Plan to make this a stop on your way up the gunflint trail.

Speaking of ripe berries, now is the time to be out gathering wild strawberries. They are just tiny but bursting with favor. Raspberries and blueberries will be quickly available. I can already hear my children asking for their winter jam supply.

My finger is tired so that is all you get today.

Monday, July 04, 2011

a bump in the road

In case you are wondering like the poet e e cummings, I have decided to forego using capital letters. My reasoning is very practical. Two weeks ago I fell asleep driving to town and put my car in the ditch. The car is a mess but only my left wrist is broken and it will heal. Also my ego is badly bruised. As I look back on this, the computer is smarter than I am. It is automatically adding capital letters. There will still be plenty of mistakes that I can make hunting and pecking on the keyboard.

We have just finished one of our busiest junes ever. Luckily we have also been blessed with one of the best staffs ever. There is extra staff at the outfitters because advance reservations were strong. Bonnie and sheryl are keeping them all running. In their spare time the gals are keeping beds changed and cabins cleaned. Down at the lodge food is flying out the kitchen as guests are flying in the front door. It is all very exciting and fun.

Meanwhile guests are having fun exploring the northwoods. I talked with a couple from Indiana the other night in the dining room. They took their 2 year old daughter and 8 year old son on a canoe trip. The four of them and their dog fit nicely into our new 24 foot canoe. The only one who didn’t enjoy the woods was the dog. He was part lab and part coon dog with his nose coming from the coon genes. The dog just wanted to hide in the tent. We figured that all these strange smells (bear?) were just overwhelming the young dog. The little girl loved exploring the campsite and the boy told me all about the fish he caught. I am sure that this only the first of many family canoe trips.

Yesterday I walked down to the lodge as I am becoming more mobile. It is amazing how the wildflowers have burst out – lupines, hawkweed, buttercups, just everything. My favorite at this time of year are the daisys. Their clean lines of white and yellow look so refreshing.

Wild strawberries are ripening right now. Bruce has hit some of his favorite honey spots. He goes and picks a one cup margarine container each time. It goes into the freezer. When he gets 5, I make jam. He says that raspberries and blueberries look good too.

I understand that the cool, rainy weather we had last week was great for fishing. The guides and their guests had great days on the water. It all sounds like heaven from in front of my computer.