Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring is in the air

It truly feels like spring today! The thermometer on the south side of the house (sun) reads 55 and the one on the north side (shade) reads 50. Most of the snow has already melted off the roof but now it is softening up in the driveway. I am beginning to get a touch of spring fever. The front door is opened some to try to get a little of that stuffy air out of the house. The one to the screened in porch is also open. Even with an air handler, you just need some fresh air in the house at this time of year. Besides I can hear the birds singing with the doors open. Don’t get the idea that the snow is really going. At my house there are still snow banks taller than I am. The Tucker Lake road is covered with snow. There may be a few spots that are bare gravel but not much. If you meet another car on our road, one of you will have to back up. It is going to take a lot of melting before we have a two-lane road again. While we are ready for spring, the weather man says that Monday night is going to dump a bunch of snow on us. It will probably be as much snow as had melted the last couple of days. I think I will cry if that happens. The deer are getting very nervous lately. Sheryl opened the lodge about 6:30 this morning. She looked out the front windows and there were several deer curled up sleeping on the patio. It is the safest place they can think of to stay away from the wolves. I can’t say that I blame them. While all our thoughts are on spring and summer, my thoughts are partly on the fall. In November we are going on a safari in Africa again. This time we have added nine days on the end in Paris. As soon as we decided, I ordered my Paris guide books and a good city map. They make great reading at the end of a long day at the lodge. My sister and brother-in-law recently spent a long time in Paris. She is giving me information about which area of the city to stay in. It will give Bruce some clues about the different places to look. Judy has also been complaining because the croissants are not as good as they used to be. Well, yesterday in the Wall Street Journal there was an article about the best places to get old fashioned (read exceptional) croissants in Paris. I clipped that article out and put it in the Paris folder. Just an update on the changing colors of the goldfinches. A few, very few, seem to be changing into bright yellow right at the top of where their wings attached to the body. This is a very scientific study that I am doing so stay tuned in for breaking news in future blogs.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring is Here -- Almost

The picture is of Bruce enjoying one of our first days of spring.  That was Friday when we got 6-8 inches of new snow.  Lee and Eva were coming with the kids and he had to plow so they could get into the driveway.  Then today we got real spring temperatures.  It was 20 below this morning.  The snowbanks which were beginning to shrink are now well above my head again.  With these temperatures obviously there will be no melting today.

I have to admit that it is glorious outside.  Our ski trails are in perfect condition and the snowmobile trails should also be great.  Neighbor Fred tells me that we have received about 100-110 inches of snow the winter.  Bruce says that our snow will outlast our skiing customers.  Lee says that they have lots of bare ground in the Twin Cities.

The fishing was wonderful this weekend.  We had a group of men in Cabin #27 who really struck gold with Lake Trout.  They limited out and still threw back about 20 fish.  They were fishing right in front of the lodge within easy walking distance.  It is a great way to end of season.

Bruce and I spent most of last week in the Twin Cities with April from the front desk.  It was our regular spring buying trip for the gift shops.  We spent two days just looking and two days buying.  Bruce gets really frustrated buying at these shows.  The reps bring in temporary people who can’t work the computers and don’t know the product lines.  In spite of all, a few new things are going on the shelves that will tempt you all (we hope).

Our biggest spring project – new staff housing – is moving along very well.  All the sheetrock and interior painting is finished.  The ceramic tile is going into the kitchens and bathrooms.  The exterior siding is going on.  Cabinets and closets will be next on the list.  There will be 16 rooms that can accommodate about 35 people.  It is scary to think how big our staff has gotten.  When Bruce and I were first married there were about a dozen people living on the entire lake during the winter.

I have been watching the birds at my feeders.  In particular the American Goldfinches are turning color.  During the winter their bodies are a plain beige color.  During the summer their bodies are bright yellow.  So far I have noticed that the yellow color starts to come in at their heads a progress down the body.  Now I have to watch to see how the color change continues.

Summer reservations are coming in steadily.  As always, the bigger cabins for families are filling in first.  Up at the outfitters we are getting more groups wanting to go out into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  In fact that sounds really good to me right now but I don’t think it is going to happen.

Friday, March 07, 2014

I'm Back

The last six weeks have not been good for writing a blog.  We spent two weeks visiting grandchildren.  Lee and Eva with Mae and Grant went down to Orlando with us.  While Bruce and Lee attended a conference, Eva and I took the kids to Disney World.  The guys even got to spend a little time there with us. It was wonderful! Then we came home and drove down to Missouri for Zach's birthday.  Zach is really a great young man.  The only problem is that he is now undeniably 4 inches taller than I am. 

We were back at Gunflint by the 14th.  I tried for a blog but my computer didn't connect.  Just as I was getting ready to move over to Bruce's computer, his had some electrical issue.  At any rate, now things are back working.  At least Bruce's computer is working.  Mine still has issues.

The month of February was a combination of cold, cold temperatures and lots of snow when it warmed up.  Many of the snow banks around the lodge are high above my head.  The lake water levels are going to be very high this spring as things melt.

One of the most interesting things to watch this past month has been the interaction between the wolves and deer.  That is a polite way of saying that the wolves have been eating very well.  We have had several kills that were right at the lodge.  Sheryl came in one morning to see wolves feeding on a freshly killed deer right on the patio.  One night at 7:00 p.m. the wolves took another deer in front of Cabin #8.  The guests in Cabin #5 got up to use the bathroom around 1:00 a.m. and looked outside.  The deer carcass had been dragged onto the ice and there were seven wolves feeding and playing.

Perhaps the most surprising encounter occur during our last storm.  The snow was really coming down and you could only see a little ways onto the lake.  Several deer were on the patio where a guest was feeding them.  They were all concentrating on the guest.  Unbeknownst to anyone a wolf came up and hid just over the lip of the patio.  When the guest came in, the wolf jumped into the midst of the deer.  It was a case of too many animals to pick from.  Finally he took after a deer running to the east.  At the same time a couple guests were walking to the lodge from that direction.  They spooked the wolf and he took off across the lake with no dinner.

Construction on the new staff housing is coming along very well.  All the sheetrock and insulation are in place.  Windows started to go in yesterday.  Interior painting will be finished next week.  A sample room is going to be set up next week to make sure that all the cabinets and furniture fit in correctly.

Work is also in the planning stages for some remodeling on Cabins #18 and #19.  New cabinets, fireplaces and ceramic tile will be going in them this spring.  There is always something to spruce up.

I am started to get excited about my garden.  We are still eight weeks before anything can go in the ground.  Looking out the house windows, you can't even see where the beds are.  It just makes me feel good to think about planting stuff.

Summer reservations are coming in very well for both the lodge and the outfitters.  Bruce has a lot of packages (as usual) to pick from.  If nothing seems to fit you, just talk with him.  Bruce will make up something special just for you.

As I have been writing this it has started to snow.  Who knows how much we will be getting.  Bruce will bring the plow over and I will have my shovel to clean up the edges.