Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting Started Into Summer

We are in that time of year where things are very busy and we don’t have a full staff yet. Even Bruce and I have had to pretend to work hard. Tired or not, it feels good to be running at full tilt.

Somehow it has skipped my mind but some of you may be interested in the fishing. I talked with Guide Jon Schei about how the season is going for him. He told me that he and his guests have caught 26 walleyes over 28” long. In addition the lake trout and bass have been really biting.

Several days ago I talked with my neighbor Sharon. She and Hubby Bob went out fishing one day on Gunflint and Little Gunflint. They started out getting lake trout in the main lake. Then they moved into Little Gunflint where they caught smallmouth bass – and not little ones. By then it was getting late in the afternoon so they moved further into Little Gunflint and caught walleye. Sounds like a pretty good day of fishing!

Most of our guests this weekend were here to relax, hike and do a little canoeing. One couple took a canoe trip to different lakes each day they were here. We had a large Asian family of 23. They learned to drive boats and paddle canoes. It was fun to watch them learning. Many of our dog guests took time to go swimming in the lake. Several of the staff jumped in and right out of the lake. Burr! That is not my thing.

We introduced some changes to the Red Paddle Bistro menu. Judging by what has been ordered, the new items are very popular. We also added malts and sundaes which are going to prove very difficult for me. There is nothing I love more than a good milk shake made with real ice cream. I am going to stay out of the kitchen.

Ronnie Smith and her crew are busy planting flowers. Our shipment arrived last Thursday. With a chance of frost, no planting was done until yesterday. It will take them about one week to get everything in the ground. Then we all have to be patient for several weeks as the plants grow and blossom.

Bruce and I have also been working in our vegetable garden. Weeding was the first big project. Then chives and strawberry beds have been cleaned and gotten going. The asparagus bed has yielded one meal. Yesterday I planted 15 flats of basil, parsley and broccoli. The majority of this is used in the lodge. Today Bruce is planting seeds for squash. He also took some time out to fertilize our little patch of grass.

It’s time to make dinner and get down to the lodge for the evening meal.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Glimpse of the Past

Yesterday, last night, and this afternoon we are getting a little rain. Things have been very dry and it is good to see the rains come. These gentle drizzles are all absorbed into the ground and don’t run off. In addition the leaves have positively popped out with the rain. They are all that lovely spring lime green. For me, an extra bonus is that my asparagus is also popping out of the ground.

Yesterday was a garage sale along the length of the Gunflint Trail. I was detailed to be the cashier at ours. Things weren’t too busy but I had a wonderful time. Lots of neighbors whom I hadn’t seen stopped by.

The best part of my day came from a small suitcase. Bruce brought it down from the house. I thought there was a trumpet from one of my boys inside. When we opened it at the conference center, it was filled with old pictures that I had never seen. So, I spent my slow times going through all the pictures. Many of the black-and-white scenes of a lake somewhere were thrown out. But there were many goodies to be found. Just looking at the pictures was wonderful and then I worked on naming people in many of the pictures.

Other items in the suitcase were newspaper articles, Bruce’s 10th grade autobiography, and some writings of Justine’s. Below is one of Justine’s paragraphs. I know it is hers because of the handwriting. I am guessing it was written shortly after the event occurred. Hopefully you will enjoy it.

“Toots came to us on the shoulders of a Forester. It was the winter of 1938 that the snow was almost chest high on the level. The deer had yarded into feeding areas and then literally ate themselves out of house and home. The deep snow hindered movement through the woods. Toots was too weak to stand and had reached a stage of starvation. I suggested that the faun be left with us – after all I had a baby [Bruce] in a bassinette and was thus clearly confined to the house. We spread papers on a portion of the living room floor, as a precautionary measure, and gently laid Toots on them. Deer are fond of many kinds of food. We gathered tender tips of cedar and offered them in supplication, we diluted canned milk with a little water, we offered pancakes with sugar, with butter and just plain, bread soaked in milk, cigarettes (they love tobacco) and plain water. None of these foods interested the deer in the slightest and it looked as if the deer was too emaciated to stage a come back. On some of the birches there are frail clusters of moss like sparsely hanging goatees. As a final gesture we gathered lots of this moss and offered it to the deer. As we held it before its lips, they parted and the moss was slowly taken. We knew then that Toots would recover. Every morning Bill would go out with a large paper sack and pluck these hanging clumps. It took about an hour to fill the sac.”

It is always fun to visit the past. Here is a picture of Mom and Bruce from about that time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A New Season Starts

The walleye opener was quiet. We didn’t have a lot of fishermen but it seems that everyone else was up and into the lodge for meals. Saturday was very windy which made fishing difficult and cold. The wind died down yesterday and there is no wind today. The lake is like glass. The weather station on Seagull Lake tells us that the wind is GUSTING to 2 MPH.

I have some pictures to show you. The first is of the new dock going in. Jason got it in with a minimum of issues. The first time something like this is put together there are always minor adjustments to make. All went well and we now have a great new dock.

Bruce and Don are shown here playing with the wood fired oven. We have some new breads we are trying. As usual, the two of them need to get their heads into the entire process. I just was the photographer and the taster. It seems that those are the two best jobs for this type of event.

Finally, Sheryl sent me a picture of Little Rock Falls taken on May 4th. The water is just boiling over the top of the rocks. It is one of my favorite places but never has the water been flowing this swiftly for me to see. You have to remember that the ice had not gone off Magnetic Lake when this picture was taken. Sheryl and Bonnie had to canoe around the shoreline to get home. At one point they were dragging their canoe with one foot on the ice and one foot in the canoe.

One time the water was going over Little Rock Falls quite strongly when I was there. It must have been in June. At the top of the falls I saw a mother mallard and her brood. Then suddenly she took them right down the falls! In just a minute the babies popped up at the bottom. It was an amazing thing to watch. I was one of those times when you shake your head and say, "Did I really see what I thought I saw?"

New and returning staff members are arriving on a regular basis. Again this morning Bruce is giving his “Welcome to Gunflint” talk for three new people. He likes to give every new employee a talk about what it means to work at Gunflint and what our philosophy of guest services is. Some people listen well and others almost fall asleep. We never have figured out which ones make the best staff.

Then this afternoon Don, Bruce, and I are working on the menu and changes that may be made. It is always a long meeting to come to agreement. Bruce has been visiting some website with 40,000 recipes. So hold on to your hat when you come into the dining room and bistro. Actually we just gradually add or adjust a few items to freshen up the menu. Some items come from us while other suggestions come from the cooks. After an item is agreed on, it must be tested, priced, and added to the menu. Marilyn and I get involved in the describing the item on the menu.

I want to spend a little time in my garden too so it is going to be a busy day. And by the way, what am I fixing for dinner?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

More Signs of Spring

The ice is going out everywhere. Magnetic is now clear and it is clear in front of the lodge. The east end of the lake is still full of ice. Jason and his crew are putting in the smaller dock today. We won’t bring the new, larger dock over until the ice is totally gone from the lake. On a still calm day like today, it is really tempting to put in the new dock. However, the wind could come out of the east and blow all the ice back down our way. It’s better to be patient.

This weekend is the Gunflint Green Up. People gather from all over the plant trees and release trees in the places burned from the Ham Lake Fire of 2007. About the same number of people are here as were last year – 160. Some people have homes in the area while others are just guests. It is a wonderful thing to see everyone taking possession of the forest and helping to improve it. Above is a picture of last night’s dinner in the tent behind our outfitters.

Birds are coming back in great numbers. Every day I see is different kind. Yesterday there were purple finches and chipping sparrows. Today a flock of grackles were outside my window. Every bird is starved and I fill the feeders on a daily basis.

Birds aren’t the only ones back. Bruce had a bear climb into his truck looking for minnow bread to eat. This happened last summer so we assume it is the same bear. One of the guests at the lodge reported seeing a momma bear and two cubs go past her cabin at midnight last night. I hope that they don’t find and food and leave soon. It is such a problem. We don’t want to the harm the bears but we also don’t want them around. Too many guests forget that these are wild animals. I have seen guests letting their children try to feed the bears – bad idea. We will see what happens. Every summer is different.

There are also many more rabbits that usual. One of the neighbors was driving down the side road. Fran counted 13 rabbits in about 1 ½ miles. We must assume that the rabbits are doing what they do best – multiplying. But where are all the fox and our occasional lynx? These rabbits should be tasty lunches for them. I hope that the rabbits don’t get into my garden lettuce.

Partridge are out drumming now. Drumming is the noise that males make when looking for a female to mate with. In the spring you can hear them any time you are outside. I spotted one up at Chik-Wauk on Wednesday. His drumming was so loud that he had to be nearby. He was right on top of a boulder but I didn’t get to see him actually drumming.

With the bedroom window open, I can hear the loons calling every night. It is a wonderful sound.