Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We Are Green

The Gunflint Trail is turning into a deep green. Two weeks ago we were a dusty brown. The difference, of course, has been rain. Starting last Wednesday we have gotten inches worth of rain. All the lakes have come up. The swamps have filled up. The trees that were hurt by early springs and then frost have been budding out.

The rain has helped the berries to blossom out. After a bit more rain the next couple of days, they are ready for sunshine. We have enough water to combine with sunny days and give us a bumper crop of berries. It all sounds pretty tasty to me.

Fishing has been really good. Lake trout remained in shallow waters with the cooler temperatures. One of the neighbors was fishing off his dock and just kept reeling in the trout and throwing them back. All were in the four to five pound range.

Jon Schei was fishing on Saganaga with a party of six people (two boats) the other day. The party did not want lake trout. Instead John led them to a mess of walleye and bass. That night the kitchen was busy cooking all their fish up. Even with six people, they couldn’t finish up the fish.

Work on the zip line is going very well. The tower by Lonely Lake just needs the roof put on. I believe that today or tomorrow, the builders will start on the next platforms. One of them will have a spiral staircase to gain a little elevation. The guys are also starting to lay out the steel cables that guests will ride on.

In addition to using the main tower for the zip line, this tower will offer a wonderful elevated spot to watch the animal activity on the Lonely Lake. Between birds and beavers in the summer and deer in the winter, who knows what will be seen. Maybe a wolf or lynx will venture onto the ice in the winter. And there is always the possibility of moose coming in for a drink in the summer.

Ronnie Smith and her crew are quickly planting flowers all over the place. The main load of flowers arrived last Thursday. Once the flowers get in, we just have to give them a couple weeks to get over transplant shock and then they will burst into color. The contrast from the whites of winter to the many colors of summer flowers is always amazing. Both are beautiful but also very different from each other.

Mandy is busy with the horses. One of the guests reminded me that Mandy is also our unofficial vet. This guest has a dog covered with red spots on her belly. Mandy had the book to explain the spots (black fly bites) and give the correct medication to use. Everyone on the staff has some special skills that we use from time to time.

The new swing set for young guests is almost up. We bought a kit and not all the parts were in it. So Jason has to call the company for the missing parts. Meanwhile the swings are working just fine. They are located between the lake and the wood-fired oven. It is a nice place for parents to relax on the patio while the kids play on the swings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another May

On Monday the construction for the canopy/zip tour started. We are all getting excited about it. One of the purchases made for the tour is pictured here. We needed two 6 passenger ATV’s to take people up to the start. Here is one of them. I was the first person to get certified to drive. So, I may be your chauffeur to the beginning of the tour.

I watched the arborist climb the big white pine in the back yard. Ever tree we use will be checked by him to make sure that it is sound. Just watching him climb up that tree with a rope was amazing. He has a sonar thing (I am really into technical terms) to make sure that the tree is sound without putting even one hole in it. Last I heard, all the trees we had picked were fine.

The back parking lot is now a construction zone for a couple of weeks. Steps and platforms are being built. Rolls of metal cable are sitting on pallets. Anchors are stacked. Beyond the pole building, Jordy Kirk is building the administration and equipment storage area. Things seem to be popping up all over.

We have just finished painting the outfitters new canoer cabins. Electrical fixtures go in this week. Picnic tables are ready to be placed around. Next week the shrubs, trees, and flowers arrive. The whole area had been transformed.

Bruce and I took a little time off on Saturday to fish a bit. I didn’t even get out fishing once last summer. Of course, no one on the staff (except Don) expected us to come in with anything. Within a mile of the lodge and an hour of when we left, Bruce had caught 2 four-pound lake trout. I was the official netter. Then we dragged some bait around for a bit longer with no luck. It didn’t make any difference. We had a dinner and then some. Don got a fillet for having faith in us. The second fish went in the freezer.

My garden is starting to come alive. I just counted and there are about 50 spears of asparagus popping up. The chives are overwhelming and will be appearing in the dining room all summer. Rhubarb is just about ready to pick for lodge desserts. Leaves are coming out on the raspberry bushes. They are a little slow since Bruce dug out all the grass around them. There will still be plenty for jam.

Next week the lodge flowers will arrive. Among them are broccoli, basil, parsley and tomatoes for my garden. The beds are ready for them and I can’t wait to get at it. Within a couple of weeks, these items will also appear in the dining room.

One of my neighbors has a wonderful greenhouse and often she shares her extra produce. So I now have 3 bell pepper plants and 4 tomato plants in huge pots outside. One of the tomato plants is almost four feet tall. Sue also gave me some fresh basil leaves. We had spaghetti with fresh pesto that night for dinner. Life is good!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Spring Flowers

We have been getting some rain for several days. I can see on the main dock cribbing that the water now covers another log up. Bob Baker at Gunflint Pines keeps official track of the lake levels on Gunflint. As of several days ago, he says the water has come up 19 inches since the ice went out. That is good news. Our days are getting longer. One of my joys comes in the early morning before getting out of bed. As you may know, we bury our buildings up to the window level to provide good insulation. The same is true in our bedroom. I can look at all the animals running past the window from my bed. This morning is was a rabbit. A couple nights ago a mama bear and two cubs went by. Once or twice I have seen wolves. There are always squirrels and chipmunks. Deer come by all winter. There is something nice about watching them from your bed. The Gunflint Green Up people went up to Chik-Wauk to work this year. They cleaned up trails and planted about 3400 trees. The trees were spruce, white pine and red pine. They all look so little that it is hard to believe these seedlings will ever grow up. One of the most surprising things about our Saturday planting was to see just how many are growing up. Ever group saw trees that were 2-3 feet tall. My personal inspiration is the tall red pine by Chik-Wauk’s mail box. I know that it was planted by Ralph and Bea Griffis. The tree has got to be 25-30 feet tall. All it takes is a little time. Watching trees grow takes patience. Out my office window I am watching the iris grow. Every fall and spring they get a tablespoon of bone meal. The iris plants at Chik-Wauk were thinned last fall and I got what was taken out. Into the ground they went immediately. This spring I counted and there were 40 iris coming up. If they all bloom, I will try to remember to get a picture. My favorite iris bed is where Bruce goes minnow trapping. At the perfect time in June it is just filled with blooming iris plants. The first time I saw it, Bruce asked if I wanted to cut some to bring home. I just couldn’t do it because they looked so perfect in their natural setting. Speaking of flowers, Bruce saw lots and lots of blooming blueberry bushes while out on the green up. He is already tasting them. Just hope that we don’t get a late frost. Grandson Grant (age 4) called last night. They were having some blueberry jam for dinner. He wanted to make sure that I was going out to pick blueberries and make jam for them. I guess my work is cut out for me.