Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Last night I had a dream about my favorite childhood place—the home where my grandpa (Pop) lived on Genesee Lake in Wisconsin. My mom and her sisters’ childhood home was near the Owens farm in Dousman where Pop spent the bulk of his farming career.
Playing in the lake with my cousins was the best part, but it was also fun to accompany Pop to the farm—to learn about cultivation, germination, soil irrigation systems…. Occasionally we visited neighboring farms. I can remember running the cornfield rows of the Pabst farms with my cousins. The last time I visited the area in 2006, The Pabst Farms was a development—complete with suburban neighborhoods, a business center, a YMCA. What a funny foreign weirdness that gave me.
I don’t blame the Pabst family for selling, or the development company either really. I just miss the ways that Pop used those fields to explain cross pollination. He was a guy that I didn’t think I could live without. I also will have to live without the Pabst Farms--- no chance for that land to return to the fields that I remember.
Fast forward 30 years to where my kids play. I’m counting on the BWCA playground to be preserved for their children. I’m grateful for the places that the government protects in that way. My mind wanders to stewardship of the land—especially how it works around here.
During last years’ first annual Gunflint Green Up we were grateful for the people that came to replant donated pines and give the forest recovery a jump start in the places where the Ham Lake fire nicked us. Although many trees were planted on private land here and up the trail, we couldn’t plant any trees on US Forest Service property. We didn’t even bother to ask; we knew better than to attempt something like that on the fly. It can be annoying really, the official procedure it takes to do anything on USFS property, even though I’m pretty sure that we care about it as much as any of the other US citizens that share ownership with us.
I’m realizing more and more how touchy this local vs. federal ownership issue has historically been around here. As irritating as it can be, it seems to me that the ongoing conversation between all the stakeholders has the most potential to be an effective way to tend the land . It is possible that it takes a bureaucracy to bring the broad and narrow angles together. You can bet that I wouldn’t have initiated any prescribed burns on the properties near us---but I was mighty thankful in 2006 that somebody did.
My angle last spring didn’t actually take into account that the USFS must ensure that we aren’t planting white pines from seed sources in places like South Carolina---which technically makes them non-native species. This year, the pines are coming from tree farm seedlings planted in abandoned mine pits in central Minnesota. Citizens and business owners on the Gunflint Trail have been working closely with the USFS to raise funds and bring volunteers to plant 75000 trees on May 3rd—to fill in the patches left by the Ham Lake fire. Apparently, this time the right people are coming together to make the system click. .
As we sit at the dinner table and discuss government and politics with the kids, there are plenty of times that it is tough to justify the systems that we are part of. This is one time where we can feel proud of those systems. And that is a good thing.
http://www.gunflintgreenup.com/ Please consider joining us!


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mush for a Cure

Yesterday was a beautiful day on the Gunflint Trail---where organizers, volunteers, and mushers raised over 10,000 to benefit the National Breast Cancer foundation---participating in the Mush for a Cure fun run.
Some participants (Mark Black) were quite serious about competing for the "most outrageous pink costume" prize.

21 mushers began in a sour-dough start---from sleeping bags. After the gun, they had to pull on their boots, harness their teams, and head out onto Gunflint Lake.

Our favorite musher was Cook County 6th grader Jessica--she had a great run.

The dog teams are bred to pull---and it's such a pleasure to witness how gleeful the dogs are about it----it's what they live for---the way Denali lives to chase the ball.
Bob Baker held his own on the hills.
Organizers Mary Black and Sue Prom, along with many volunteers and mushers pulled off a grand event.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Middle School Exploratory Day

Cook County Middleschoolers get to choose an activity to explore each season---about 25 of them made their way to Tuscarora yesterday to celebrate Exploratory Day here---skiing, broomballing, snowshoeing, enjoying the sun and the woods.

7th grade girls rock! Tyler wins the prize for the most grateful and enthusiastic ...these are great kids!
Today it was so warm and sunny on the deck that this squirrel was purring at the feeder. If I could, I would have been purring too.

Monday, March 10, 2008

March---winter or spring???

It’s a great time of the winter---we still have plenty of snow, something about the angle of the sun and the length of the days make for perfect cheerful outside activities. But to be honest, we are more than ready for spring. Even though the days always warm up to near 20, we’ve been having some snappy nights. On the way to the bus stop on Friday the car thermometer read -29 degrees. Enough already! Daniel took the camera out looking for evidence of spring.

Andy looks forward to the first weekend in March because some corporate buddies come. Mike, Mark, and Trent are into repeating their Tuscarora traditions. First they work, this year cutting and burning a WHOLE LOT of brush. We all play broomball, where they spend a fair amount of time flat on their backs. Then to Trail Center, listening to Small Change, the local WTIP Friday night quiz show radio entertainment here (they even have a favorite team from Moose Loop ). They muse over the local flavors---Moose Drool beer, the consistency of their favorite waitress, Amanda. On Saturday—they all trek into Tuscarora to catch lake trout for Saturday night dinner in the back house….returning to the city and their families on Sunday. They're very charming guys---and it's sort of fun to see our world through their eyes---the Lake Wobegon-ness of our daily lives.