Thursday, May 22, 2014

More Stories From The Past

Here are just a couple announcements I have been asked to make.  On June 7th at 10:00 a.m. there will be a gathering of friends to remember Dennis Todd at the Conference Center at Gunflint Lodge.  There will be a video shown of his life.  Coffee and cookies will be served.

Then on June 14th there will be an informal memorial service in for Eleanor (Mat) Matsis at the Conference Center at Gunflint Lodge.  It will be at 2:00 p.m.  Coffee and cookies will be served.

As of the 19th, the ice was officially off Gunflint Lake.  It took a bit to leave but it is nice to have open water.  Remember I told you that we had ice on the 18th up to the big point just east of the Lodge.  No one could get through it.  Then that night, it all went.  When the time is right the ice can go in an instant.

We have had some really nice rain this week.  With a couple of days of sunshine, I expect that the leaves will start to appear.  It is when we get what I call a green haze over the trees and it only lasts a couple of days.  Then we get the lime green leaves which darken into the deep green leaves of summer.  It is fun to watch.

Even though summer is here, you might enjoy an excerpt from Grandma Spunner’s diary.  It is from December 12, 1932.  Grandma writes “Justine and Gowan attempted to go for the mail at Shultzes and had a terrible time – ran out of gas both ways and had to walk and did not get home until 2:30 a.m.  Dad and I sat up for them.  About zero to 14 below at night.”

A couple days later Grandma writes some more about Justine’s experiences getting to town and back.  On December 14th , “Justine went to town after supplies – very cold.  She drove down in 3 hrs. and staid all night with Jene”  Then on the 15th we hear “Very Cold.  30 below and drifting some.  Justine drove home from town alone with supplies.  Shoveled for 5 hours down around the Pines.  Everyone on line calling up about her and Mr. Gapen sent men to hunt her.”  Eventually she made it home.  It makes our trips to town look pretty easy.

The other night my bird feeder attracted quite a bunch of birds around dinner time.  They included blue jays, purple finches, gold finches, Baltimore orioles, red-breasted grosbecks, gray jays, chickadees, nuthatches, hummingbirds and various gray and brown birds.  The thing that really got my attention was how colorful it was around the feeders.  With the birds zooming in and out, there were constant bits of color all over.  It was wonderful.

It is time for grandchildren to graduate.  Bruce and I are off to California to see Brian’s son Sam get his high school diploma.  Then next weekend Shawn’s daughter Emma graduates from high school.  It is hard to believe how quickly they grow up.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Just A Nice Week at Gunflint

Today’s picture is another one of Sheryl’s.  She sent it to me for identification.  Of course, I didn’t know what it was.  Bruce and I worked with our Roger Tory Peterson book and found out it was a Yellow Headed Blackbird.  What made it difficult is that the picture shows a real yellow head but the description talks about it being a yellow-orange.  Also the white markings are matched in the picture.

Had our first hummingbird in today.  Bruce says it was a male but can’t tell me why.  At any rate it is nice to see it back.

Jon Schei has been doing really well fishing on Gunflint and Seagull.  Even with the ice not completely out he has managed to get trout, walleyes, and northern in the last few days.  The biggest northern was 43 ½ inches long and the trout ran up to 8 lb.  We got one fillet from the trout and could not eat it all for dinner the other night.

The west end of Gunflint is clear of ice but not the east end.  We were out today exploring.  When you get down to the east end of Gunflint there are broken pieces of ice floating everywhere.  It is amazing how noisy they are as they bang and grind against each other.  All we need is a northwest wind.

Our morning adventure was called exploring.  Before we left it was called fishing.  We each found the bottom numerous times and I lost a spinner but there will be no fresh fish for dinner in the Kerfoot house tonight.  It was wonderful just to be on the lake after a long winter.  When we have open water, it is hard to imagine what an iced over lake is like.  When we have ice, it is equally hard to imagine what open water is like.

The new staff housing is finally ready to be occupied.  Everyone on the staff helped in the end but Sheryl is the one who kept us moving along.  It has been a long pull but these 16 rooms were badly needed.  One of the first buildings we can get rid of now is the OD (Outfitters Dorm).  Bruce thinks it is over 50 years old so we really have gotten our money out of it.  Bonnie already has plans for the space it sits on.  She is going to turn it into a place to wash canoes after trips.  We always do this but it was at one end of the building and always in the way.

Bruce and I are getting into gardening.  He has cleaned up the raspberries and strawberries.  We started some plants in the house.  Today the green beans and zucchini went into the garden.  The tomatoes are not quite ready.  Yesterday the seed potatoes were buried.  I worked on the flowers by the front of the house.  My day lilies and peonys are coming up nicely.  Bruce protected them all winter with a mound of snow.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day At Gunflint

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.  We are having a pretty good day at Gunflint.  Sheryl sent me this picture of sunrise on Gunflint Lake.  As you can see, we still have ice.  My hope is that the ice will be gone by the 15th.  A huge wind storm would help that happen.  A northwest wind would push the ice down the lake and out.  One more sign of spring is that the ice is gone on Lonely Lake.  On Tucker Lake we just need a little wind for the ice to be gone.  Pretty soon you will see me out there blowing.

The new staff building is almost finished.  Monday and Tuesday should be the last days for the plumbers, electricians and carpenters.  The carpet is down.  Now it is time to hang the curtains, clean the dust out, fill the kitchens and put in furniture.  Sheryl is going through the building today making her list of what we still need to buy.  Generally it is a bunch of small stuff that mounts up – clips to hang shower curtains, hangers, odds and ends of small kitchen stuff.  Someone will have a busy time in Duluth to pick up all this stuf.

If is clears up this afternoon, I hope to get into my garden again.  Each day I haul some dirt for the beds where things are packed down.  The first day I moved 8 wheel barrel loads.  Yesterday it was only five when I tipped the fifth one over and had a few choice words to say.  Then I spent time weeding the incoming plants.  Today I hope to get the strawberries organized.  There are also the day lilies in front that need a little weeding.  My three rhubarb plants are coming up quickly.  I also need to clean out the grasses that are growing in the chives.  That is a mess every year.

The birds are still eating us out of house and home.  Most of the juncos have moved on north.  The flocks of them have degenerated into a bird here and there.  The goldfinches have completely changed color for all practical purposes.  They provide a beautiful splash of color in the pine trees.  Yesterday I filled my hummingbird feeders and put them out.  I know it is a little early but we will see what happens.  We have been seeing a steady number of partridge on the side road.  Bruce wants to keep them healthy until hunting this fall.

I am still working a transcribing Grandma Spunner’s diary.  She must have been out of town for a couple of weeks and Grandpa Spunner took over the writing.  I could see the difference in handwriting immediately.  His was much easier to read.  The tone was also different between the two of them.  Grandma always talked about how beautiful the weather or the day was.  Grandpa would just comment on the awful weather.  Of course, as we all know, there is not much that is pretty about snow in April.  I must be about half way through the diary.  We will see what happens.


Sunday, May 04, 2014

May Has Jumped Out on Us

We’re in a waiting mode.  Waiting for the ice to go out.  Waiting for the snow to stop.  Waiting for the fishing season to open.

The ice out seems to be the easiest.  After a revision, my date is now May 15th.  Last Thursday, May 1st, Bruce and I went to Duluth.  Both coming and going we agreed that the water on the North Brule River was flowing freely.  This is crucial to predicting when the ice will go out.

Years ago we had a mailman named Don Brazell.  He started out running a bus route from Duluth to the resorts on the Gunflint Trail.  It was during the days of gas rationing for World War II.  Then Don moved into being our mailman.  He was a very observant person who kept track of everything and even wrote it down.  After several years Don noticed that one week after the North Brule ran freely, the ice on the small lakes when out.  And one week later the ice on the large lakes went out.  For those of us living here, Don’s predictions have generally proved true.  We will see in a couple of weeks.

Summer staff is starting to come in.  It is a good thing.  Spring projects have piled up almost as fast as the staff arrives.  I am in my usual fix of trying to remember everyone’s name.  Thank goodness for name tags.

Wednesday the grain arrived for the horses.  Then Thursday the horses arrived.  Today a load of hay arrived.  Mandy is starting to take the horses out on the trails.  They are not very happy because of the snow all over.  Nonetheless, we are back in the stable business.

The deer are basically gone for the summer.  Now all the corn will be used to feed ducks.  We have a few ducks but they are not very happy.  What looks like open water is just standing water on top of the ice.  You can almost see the shock on their faces when they come in for a landing.

The snow is off almost all of the dirt roads.  In its place we have pot holes, mud and overflowing water.  We got a new car this winter but I haven’t even tried to keep it washed.  One trip up the Tucker Lake Road and it is covered with dirt.  I would like to drive a bit in the rain as that will clean off some of the mess.

I have a table set up in front of our south-facing living room window.  Bruce and I are trying to get a jump on the growing season.  We planted tomatoes, green beans and zucchini.  So far the green beans are really doing well.  The other two have not appeared yet.  Of course, weeds have come up all over.  I have been weeding to keep everything clean.  We will see how it all goes.

Our wooden pathway to the lake is almost clear.  Maybe tomorrow I will walk down to see how the ice on Tucker Lake is doing.