Wednesday, April 30, 2008


What is it about Spring? It can't just be the sun??? Great morning!! She found a partner!

You can tell even Denali feels like that Bubbly song.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Maybe we're living in Narnia under the rule of the White Witch. We're in the never ending winter. The lake turned from black to white (snow) again.......rats! The moose pond is water for the afternoon busstop, and ice again in the morning.
Yet the ice keeps melting, some days slower than others. The businesses along the trail have been reporting in---as of Sunday/Monday:
Cross Bay River-open water
Gunflint Lake-16-22 inches
East Bearskin lake: hopefully it won't be long!
Poplar Lake: Still frozen
Hungry Jack Lake: Something less than 16 inches
Sawbill Lake: 14.5 inches
Clearwater: Still Frozen
Round Lake: The skating rink was wide open last week---and now it is frozen again. With snow on it...sigh....
I've been watching closely for only four years, not enough time to develop reliable ice-out knowledge. So, I've been informally surveying other peoples' wisdom. Maybe I'm learning more about the people than the ice...?
Hungry Jack Dave was measuring the ice/slush during the warm sunny days of last week, he figured the ice was melting 3 inches a day. At that rate, it should disappear in less than a week. But we've had cold nights this week than last week---so far. Some say it has more to do with the amount of direct sun that the lakes get than anything else. It's cloudy today.
I have one friend who is sure that all she has to do is think positively about it, and it will be gone by May 10th. Without a doubt!
Some of the less optimistic ones say that the big lakes won't be out by fishing opener. Many say that it is so very rare to have ice on fishing opener---of course the ice will melt.
John Hughes says that usually the South Brule River is the indicator---3 weeks after the South Brule is out, the rest of the lakes are ice free. I forgot to ask him exactly what day the South Brule went out, but he doesn't think this will be an indicator this year anyway
The ice almost everywhere has pulled away from the shore. I understand floating ice has the melt advantage. All I can tell for sure is that the Cross Bay River is open--so let the paddling and portaging (at least one portage) begin!!!!

This mallard is hanging around the open spot on Round Lake. It is warm in the sun, she's definitely been avoiding swimming.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


50+ degrees, sunny, and melting fast...water is running everywhere!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stuck Trucks and Pregnant Pine Martens

We really could use the spring sun today to shine a bright side for us. We’ve been blizzarded again!
Innitially, this was another grand adventure. Andy wasn’t home. Daniel and I were great and powerful snow movers. The green truck threatened to get stuck and slid in the mud beneath the heavy snow, but I was the master.
Eventually I grew a little overconfident, planning to just clean up a spot I hadn’t been before, and I hung up the plow unit on a pile of crusted snow right outside the outfitting door. So I shoveled, blew and chiseled snow, I piled sand under the tires. I rocked it, but mostly I spun until I buried the tires in the soft mud.

Finally as Denali and I sat down to study the thing, I began to imagine climate change in reverse. What if we already had our little taste of spring? What if we just jumped right back into November? Don’t misunderstand me---I love winter. Yet this thought made my heart sink. I know it isn’t true, but November is starting to feel just over the horizon… I am so very ready to rake and shlep the Kevlar canoes back to their spots, and wash windows until very late in the day. I was planning for the spring season and somebody shook the snow globe up on me again!
I remember when my kids were really little and we learned to gentle transitions by warning them well ahead of time what was coming. If I thought it would do any good, I might have thrown a tantrum right on the spot. The dog witnessed all the cursing I had within me, until I finally had to scold myself—ENOUGH ALREADY. And left the plow until morning—when Andy could join me to chip out the wheels from the (now frozen) mud---really the biggest bonus of being an outfitter is that there is always another truck to hook up and pop out the stuck vehicles.

I’m waching Casper the pine martin at the bird feeder. I’m no expert on these things, but it might be time to change her name to Casperilla. She definitely looks thicker in the middle, and maybe she is pregnant. Maybe this is why she comes knocking
---trying to push in every door, popping all the garbage can lids when the feeder runs empty. This may be the proof of spring that I need to go tackle the day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spring Snow? Oh happy day.

Tally, Denali's powder puff cousin, doesn't CARE if it is April!!!! Snow is snow.

Monday, April 7, 2008


April 6th Task #1, The trusty big blue truck helps me to pull Annette the schoolbus driver out of the road onto the Gunflint Trail….she just needed a little extra tug. Task #2: Denali and I returned home at a good clip because the truck was bottoming out in the snow. The plow hasn't come through again yet. We've had somewhere between 1 and 2 feet in the last 36 hours...and it is still snowing.

Andy is returning from the Mpls sports show today---yesterday Denali and I practiced the tricky business of plowing over the spring muddiness without getting stuck. And I had a chance to spend some quality time shoveling with Gary the county plow driver---the mud in the turnaround by the Trading Post tried to swallow his monster wheels.

The truth is---as the kids first eagerly helped me blow snow and then played in it, I couldn't help feeling a bit of that same November excitement --the world is covered in that clean white blanket. Is that instinct? This snow is the last thing I wanted to deal with, but it certainly is lovely. It is an honor to see the world from my kids' perspective---a place to play--a place that always has a game hidden somewhere in it, if you look hard enough.

Last week we spent a couple of days in central Minnesota making maple syrup. As we drove on a rural road toward my folks’ cabin, I noticed many junky yards that spring was revealing. When we approached my folks' cabin, I was going to say that even the woods are rather ugly before green up….then Daniel remarked about the blue bulging bags hanging from the maple trees---the sap was running!!! This is all he noticed. Every season has its own magic, if you can see it from the right angle.

This last week I had a parenting experience, really a big slap on the forehead reminder. A huge job for us is to constantly share our positive perspective of our kids, with our kids. As adults, we realize that we are all full of dichotomies --- the potential to be lazy/motivated, to be confident/ insecure, honest/ dishonest. Our kids are in the process of building their image of who they really are. It could be our most important challenge to remind them (and us!) of the best possible versions of themselves. With that vision in mind, maybe they will tend toward the choices that reflect that image. Or so we can hope! And sigh, and try again.
We live in a particularly resilient community. I’m learning that is also a matter of perspective. As the people around me continue to face adversity, they do it from the angle of problem solvers, as survivors, rather than as victims. It seems that there are a few sinking moments of hardship---then they dig in, brush their hands on their pants, and get 'er done. We certainly are fortunate for the contagious nature of this point of view.

This week, as we slide back into mud season, I’m going to remember what Daniel said one day on the way home from the bus. "Mom, I can’t wait to get home and dig the trenches to get the water to flow right into the culverts. This is the BEST time of the year!!!"

It really is a matter of perspective. It makes ALL the difference.