Friday, July 19, 2013

Rain! Rain!

Wednesday, the Gunflint Trail had their annual canoe races at Gunflint Lodge. In spite of the fact that the weather was chancy and there was a downpour in the early afternoon, the turnout was very good. The wind calmed down. There were a very few sprinkles of rain during the evening. Over $12,000.00 was deposited in the account of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. Not too bad for a one night event. Of course, the only thing that made it possible was the hundreds of hours of work put in by friends and neighbors up and down the Trail.

Everyone knows that we need a strong, well equipped fire department and ambulance. The guys and gals who run the department put in many hours of training and answering calls. The rest of us do our share by seeing to it that there is enough money to get the training and equipment. So Wednesday night was another successful night of doing a small part to fund this operation.

It was a good thing that the races were Wednesday and not Thursday. Yesterday was one of the rainiest days we have had in years. One of the neighbors on Loon Lake recorded 4” of rain. Throughout the day a series of squalls kept rolling in to drench us for a period of time. Then things would settle down until the next squall came in. Everything was accompanied by thunder and lightening. In fact, I was able to lie in my bed for the early part of the night and just listen to the thunder come in. Some of the lightening strikes seemed really close but by morning there was no evidence of them.

The biggest evidence of the rain is my garden. Everything is suddenly huge. That includes the weeds. After I am finished writing, it is time to get out and weed. The ground is still wet so weeds come out very easily. Of course, the dirt also adheres to my clothing very easily. I will be a mess by the time the job is done. But then, who said that weeding is ever done?

All this rain has been great for the berries. I understand that blueberries are starting to ripen in the sunny areas. Raspberries can’t be far behind. It is a good thing. My grandchildren are anxious to get jam. Three-year old Mae even called this winter. Her very small voice wanted to know when we picked raspberries. She will sit on the ground and eat the berries right off the bush. Bruce and I have our work cut out for us to keep the family in jam. After all why would you want to buy jam in a store when your grandparents can make it for you?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Canoe Races

Berry season is here. Right in our driveway is a good little patch of wild strawberries. Bruce is a great picker of berries. Our strawberries are so small (no bigger than the tip of your little finger) that he tries to pick one whipped margarine cup (about 1 cup) each time he goes out. It takes 5-6 cups for one batch of wild strawberry jam. All the picking is done on hands and knees. Because we have had regular doses of rain this summer, the berries are really good. Even so it is a lot of work to get enough for a batch of jam. Those who get gifts of this jam are definitely on the A list.

Just looking out at the dock area will tell you that school is out. Every day we see more kids in the small kayaks. For their first experience the dock boys put PFD’s (life jackets) on everyone. Then the kids are helped into one of the kayaks. A few short instructions are given. You don’t need too much. Unlike adults, kids will keep trying different strokes until they make it work. Once they learn to go forward, it is like releasing them to the world. They can go everywhere! I never tire of watching them on the water just as they never tire of being on the water.

One of our summer favorites is eating on the patio overlooking the lake. There is something about eating beside the water. It doesn’t make any difference which meal it is. Guests just love to sit outside. Sometimes they just want to sit. Hold the food! Hold the drinks! Just leave me alone to soak in the fresh air. By sunset the bugs have also discovered how nice the patio is but we are past the worst of the bug season this year. Now it is just absorbing the outside before winter comes again.

This coming Wednesday is the night for the annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races. For over 25 years neighbors have been getting together to raise money to support the local volunteer fire department. The first sign is canoe races is when volunteers start selling raffle tickets at Trail Center. These will be sold until the raffles actually start. There will be 300-400 people at Gunflint Lodge to participate in everything starting at 4:30. One of the neighbors gets out his accordion to liven up things. Two huge raffles give out general gifts and then a Winonah canoe is the grand prize for one raffle. There is a silent auction. Various canoe races for all ages run through the night. Local women sell sloppy Joes, calico beans, hot dogs, homemade cookies and treats for all. My favorite is the minnow races. Each child is given a minnow to “race” down lanes made by PVC pipe. Of course, every child wins these races.

So if you are in the area on July 17th, stop in for a night of fun. It is like a giant neighborhood picnic.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July! It is a beautiful day on the Gunflint. There is not a cloud in the sky. While the temperature is high, a cool breeze makes it a perfect day. Life at the lodge will be very busy today. Last night we were filled to the brim with diners. With nice weather, the patio becomes a third dining room. I expect that the same thing will happen tonight.

The wildflowers are out in all the beauty along the Trail. Along a drive, there are lupine, hawkweed and daisies. Most along the roads have been brought in and are not native to the area. Even so they add lots of color. Further into the woods are the twin flowers, iris, bunchberries and many more. These are all native to this area. We are also starting to see the wild strawberries ripen. Soon it will be time for jam. It is a truly wonderful time to just look out on the Trail.

One of our guests had an unusual experience yesterday. The two adult brothers went out kayaking on Gunflint. Back in the summer home bay they spotted a loon gliding along. The loon came up close to one of their kayaks. This brother said to the other, “I can almost pet the loon.” He reached out his hand to pet the loon. The animal gently took each of the human fingers in his beak. Then the loon just sat there while the man pet its head and back. Finally the loon glided off into the weeds. Neither Bruce nor I have ever heard of such an occurrence.

The canopy tour is very busy. Today and tomorrow we are full with about 45 riders each day. Everyone seems to be enjoying it. Lee says that he is also very busy on his new canopy tour (Kerfoot Canopy Tour) down near Belle Plain and Henderson outside of the Twin Cities. He is a little bigger than we are with ten zips and the longest is over 1200 feet.

My garden is producing broccoli for the dining room. Three times I have harvested enough for dinner. Of course, Bruce and I have yet to eat any of it. By the time we sit down to eat, it is usually just a salad or sandwich. One would think that we would lose weight but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I think it is too many cookies while at the lodge.

As I look out over the lake, there are kids everywhere. It is not just the human variety. Our mallards are hatching too. Everyday there seems to be a new flock of little ones. Besides the corn, they like to hang around the dock because the eagles are not comfortable swooping in to pick off another young duckling. All the kids splashing and the dock with hiding places makes this a very scary place for the eagles. I wonder if the eagles actually feel “scared.” I think that is just a human emotion assigned to eagles with no idea if they have emotions like we do. There is a name for that but I can remember.

At any rate, have a great day. I’ll be watching my fireworks on PBS at the National Mall tonight.