Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Northwoods Wikipedia

Shelby and I snowshoed, the trail behind the canoe yard--- up toward the spruce bog. We discovered all these these beautifully little feathery snowstructures-new to us. After dinner (with former staff Noah and Anna), we developed our own little wikipedia thesaurus for the formations. One of the definitions is correct, one partially correct, the rest are fiction.

Featherification: The residue of the ice particles within snowflakes creating a pattern also found in feathers. Cause of featherification is currently unknown.

Fleecite: Formations formed when the ice melts and the cold air comes descends from above forcing water droplets up and they freeze immediately

Flarcicle: Phenomenon occuring in the cold water in shallow areas of the lake where certain fish like to swarm, the crystallization forms from fish flatulence.

Hoarfrost formations: When the humidity is high, the morning cool weather causes the moisture to stick to everything and form ice crystals when it is damp out.

Advection frost refers to tiny ice spikes forming when there is a very cold wind blowing over surfaces. It looks like rimming the edge of flowers and leaves and usually it forms against the direction of the wind. It can occur at any hour of day and night.

Crystalized Feathercicles: The temperature of the water and the temperature of the air are in inverse relationship to each other, and on sunny winter days they reach the moisture in the air forms a conductor and freezes at the freezing point defined by that relationship. Open water is most common to the formation of crystal feathers.

Frostfeathers: The reverse process of honeycombed ice in which the water freezes slowly in hexoganal patterns. Happens when the air above is exactly the same temperature as the water below

Frice (Frosty ice): Heating and cooling of frost that covers the snow on top of ice. Creates a feather like crystal that “grows” when the sun is out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Tragedy

Tonight we grieved for Steve Posniak, the only human casualty of the Ham Lake Fire

Man accused of starting BWCA fire has killed himself

Associated Press
Last update: December 16, 2008 - 10:16 PM
An attorney for a Washington, D.C., man accused of starting a wildfire that charred 118 square miles in Minnesota and Canada last year said Tuesday that his client had committed suicide.
Mark Larsen said Tuesday that a relative of Stephen Posniak's told him Posniak, 64, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Posniak was charged with allowing his campfire to burn out of control in May 2007. The fire spread in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest in Minnesota and into Ontario, destroying nearly 150 buildings worth more than $10 million.
Larsen says they felt Posniak, who pleaded not guilty last month, was overcharged in the case. The Minneapolis attorney said that he spoke to Posniak on Monday and that he was "acute in his thinking and quite pleasant over the phone."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow on snow on snow

Daniel and Denali can't get has been snowing all day, still going strong. I don't know how much---12 inches...and more. Maybe Andy loves it too....I'll have to ask him if he ever comes out of the plow truck.

School has already been cancelled for tomorrow.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Commuting on the Gunflint Trail

When families come to visit us, it must be their natural instinct to imagine themselves in our lives. The first question often is "Do your kids take the bus ALL THE WAY to Grand Marais for school?
I also have to admit, it was the first thing I worried about when we moved here---still I worry sometimes. The kids have taken their commute in stride---it's their normal. They ease on the bus, turn flashlights on their books (this time of year), enjoy their friends, watch the sun come up, observe the wildlife....
It took me longer to take it in stride, but when I'm alone, it's where I get my most thinking done. My car goes on autopilot. ( I've actually been making an effort to get off autopilot; my current truck really WANTS to go too fast, and once when I was chatting with a friend this fall on a a straight away, my speed inched up to 63 and I got a ticket. Ouch, there went Andy's Christmas present...)
This fall, Daniel has pulled our family into the hockey circus, every couple of weeks it is my turn to carpool the boys to Silver Bay (another 50 miles from Grand Marais ). We do have a place to crash in town those nights, but this new commute has given me an entirely new perspective of the Trail. Once to Grand Marais--I'm already almost home--just one long long driveway yet to go.
I have a lot of memories of the Gunflint Trail--as a family tourist kid, later a seasonal employee. My friend Katey drove me up after college. It made me sick to drive further and further away from home, to a place where I knew nobody. Why, I wondered, did I keep throwing myself into new situations with strangers? That time it felt like she was driving me into a huge sucking wilderness hole, and if I had been braver and less conscientious, I would have had Katey turn the car around and skip out on my summer job commitment.
It turned out I that met several life-long friends that summer, hugely disproportionate to the 3 months I spent here. And the Gunflint Trail began to feel like a 2nd home--I certainly could imagine living here.
Probably also because I met Andy that summer---and our first dates were dominated by driving the Gunflint Trail in his junky old Honda. It was easier to spill my guts driving down the road in the dark. Ironically, driving down the Gunflint Trail in the dark is also where my kids are most likely to confide in me.
It can be a tricky road. One of my friends fell asleep driving the Trail and woke up in the hospital. We were heartbroken when another friend was tragically killed on her bike. My brother and sister-in-law took a moose through their windshield on their honeymoon here.
On slippery dark winter nights we proceed cautiously especially when we see the fresh tracks-moose activty evidence on the sides of the road. Often we sneak up on the moose on the curvy slippery parts, where the salt attracts them to lick the road--sometimes on their knees.
I recall my previous Minneapolis commute-6 years ago --from the western metro,east on 394 to the University of MN. I usually couldn't use the carpool lane, so the congestion started at Ridgedale....seemed to bottleneck at Hwy 100....the trick was getting in the 94 only lane, not too early, not too late...over the 35W bridge that hadn't collapsed yet. It was a little stressful only because I always always seemed to be a late, but I didn't mind it terribly. I figure, either you get used to it, or you live a crabby commuting life. That makes for too many cranky hours.
But this drive---it was so breathtakingly beautiful yesterday when I took these photos. I'm not only used to it, I almost always enjoy it. Especially when I get to the Cross River....




I'm looking out at the frozen sunshine over Round Lake. I'm so happy to have the afternoon and my hot chocolate mug, and the sappy continuous light rock Christmas songs. Who ever would listen to Dan Fogelberg any other time of the year?
We visited Chicago for Thanksgiving, to connect with Andy's folks and sister’s family. We took the kids downtown on Saturday, marveled at the skyline and the convenience of the streets, the hot dog stands, balmy weather, museums, no snow. We had a great time, and sure appreciate the appeal of a big city. So much that Andy and I looked at each other and said---"Why again did we move up to the tundra?"

Since we've been back, I can't seem to stop smiling. There is no place like home...I was thinking as I drove the Gunflint Trail this morning. How come the view of the Cross River still takes my breath away when I'm running our road? We really are held in the spell of this setting, even during the coldest darkest season. I like a lot of places that I've visited, but have found no place yet on earth that I like quite this much. Lucky us that we get to live here.