Sunday, October 28, 2007

Betsy and Saganaga

According to the Cook County Star, Betsy Jane Powell of Saganaga Lake died on October 21st 2007.
I didn't know Betsy personally, only from hearing the stories, then reading her book. We portaged into her abandoned Saganaga Lake resort this September---she operated Green Forest Lodge, a resort on the Canadian side of Sag from 1937 until 2004 when she fell and hurt herself while blueberry picking.
I think I really liked her. Noah told us of avoiding her little bay in his towboat in 2003---he claimed that she sat on the dock with a shotgun to scare off intruders. Not sure if it was true, but it is fitting for my image of a strong eccentric woman growing old in the north woods.
I like to imagine what it was like to survive life in the true wilderness in the 30's and 40's---when she lived off the grid, without Internet access, or highway to Duluth. (Sure, we live at the end of the road, but Bill the UPS man visits us nearly every day.) I like to think of her unconventional get-her-done nature with little regard for society's rules. I like it that she was self reliant and capable, even into old age. She was tough. I think I miss her.

( I understand that I may be romanticizing the same woman who may have turned us back at the portage we took last September---had we dared to brave the shotgun blasts. Still.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Last Three Goodbyes

We said goodbye to Noah, Jake, and Anna (they called themselves the A team) the last of our summer staff members. It was a unique honor to eat, live, and work with these young people in this transition time of their lives.
This fall Noah and Jake coached both of our kids in soccer; Anna (covert star athlete) was Shelby’s unofficial cross country running coach during her long Saturday runs. On Saturday evenings we had make-your-own-pizza night---and I thought more than once of our little extended family—how lucky we were to be able to hang with them and hear their perspectives as they figured out what directions their lives were going to take next. I felt a little nostalgic on behalf of their mothers---someday my children will also be at this stage in their lives apart from me— all part of the growing up equation.
Jake became the expert raspberry pie baker this fall---using up his summer surplus. They brought a 6am breakfast farewell pie before the school bus came. Jake tells Daniel that a great part of being an adult is that you can eat pie for breakfast if you want---or you can order it first at a restaurant to make sure that you have room for it. As we button up and shut down the outfitting building, Andy sees ghosts of clients and staff members around every corner. It’s peaceful as we approach our quieter season, but we definitely miss the people that filled our summer and fall.