Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lizard Lake Fire

We’ve had a couple of hot windy days. Days where the mornings start out windy and warm, and then it picks up and gets hotter during the day. I recognize them. They’re fire days.

Our friend Chel came out of the woods the other day, and said she loves the energy the wind brings. I say good for her. For me it’s slightly unsettling . It howls and makes me look at the trees and wonder which ones are going to fall. I worry about paddlers and towboats, and……….it's fire weather.

Many happy guests blow in with a tail wind. Memories are being made. We swim every day. I’m currently on my deck because it’s such a beautiful night, such a gorgeous time of year. A gentle wind but even this late it still blows.... When we send people out with permits, we say there are no current fire restrictions imposed by the Forest Service. There aren’t. But then I add……on the hot windy afternoons, about 3pm…….feel free to impose your own fire restrictions on yourself. Can’t you feel it? Some people call them the dog days of summer, but I know....they're fire days..

Last night I was driving the kids home…on the Gunflint Trail by Loon Lake, there was a strong smell of smoke, and my eyes started watering and Shelby said……….ooo, strong déjà vu!

We could see the smoke from a little fire south of the trail, the Lizard Lake Fire. It originated from a lightening strike, has been smoldering for 10 days or so, and finally started to feed on the wind. By some reports it's 15 acres, by other reports it is now 45.

The USFS fire policy , as I understand it, is to let small natural fires like this one burn out. After all, this boreal forest needs fire to regenerate itself. Ideally, it’ll happen one little Lizard Lake fire at a time. And, just because this one happens to be close enough to smell on my trip to town doesn't make it more threatening......... theoretically.

These last two afternoons, while carefully monitoring the progress of the fire, the wind direction, the weather reports-- the Forest Service has had some huge orange water tanker airplanes….dropping water on the north border of the fire, as it creeps along, to keep it from the Gunflint Trail. These are such enormous planes, for a minute it seems like they’re in control.. But I know better, ...... when a fire wants to burn in this wind, it burns where ever it wants. This one has swamp all around it, and it's apparently a weak little Lizard, because it isn't going very far.

This afternoon as the kids and I drove by, we couldn’t see much smoke. We could smell it, but our eyes didn’t sting. We’re due for some rain soon. The weather report says that we'll return to cool mornings in the near future . The Lizard Lake Fire probably won't even make much of a name for itself …a light to moderate fire…creating a seedbed for pines….exactly how it is supposed to be.

The wind is dying down now, the energy is subsiding, calming. I’m confident the Lizard has gone to sleep for the night and so will I……….

Note: it's Monday morning now.... we've had some rain....that poor little Lizard just took a hit.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nashville's Jerry Vandiver performs at Tuscarora

Last week before he headed out into the BWCAW, Jerry Vandiver gave a concert here at Tuscarora. Maybe you haven't heard of Jerry? Neither had I. I just knew he was a friend of Old Scout...and I figured he was a friendly bunkhouse guest with a guitar, and isn't that nice that he's going to play for us and for the guests and the staff? There are so many things to attend to---that I didn't really pay attention until I went in to hear him sing.

Wow! He was fabulous! Very entertaining, talented, engaging. Great songs--I even recognized some of them---it was just a fun evening. Jerry's songs have been recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys ,Tim McGraw, Lonestar....... he was a great musician, a like-able guy, and I feel like we have a new friend. Yesterday some of our guests came out of the woods and said "some guy from Nashville portaged our canoe---he said to say 'hello."

If you're in Grand Marais on Saturday Evening (Aug 21) at 7pm at the Art Colony, I highly recommend Jerry's concert. He's fabulous.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Staff Notes

My plan was to introduce our summer staff early in the summer. Wouldn’t that have been smart? Now,’s the middle of August, and they’re starting to leave. It's really hard to see them go. And instead of introducing them to you, I find myself wanting to list the reasons that they are wonderful. You would be grateful too---if you could see the things that I see—when they don’t think that I’m looking. The quiet little touches are what get me. The way the anchor ropes are coiled, or the sheets are folded, the way they save a plate of food when Andy's working late, or invite Daniel to go on a fishing trip. These are just the kind of people who are great examples, in their character and uniqueness, to help usher our children into adulthood

Kate went to Italy early this month. We miss her attention to details...she is aware whether she's organizing the store,or passing the cream cheese before I can even ask. Kate always has a plan in place--and next, I believe she'll be planning sustainable cities.

Weren't we lucky that Jen came back this year? Sadly, one poor deer wasn't so fortunate. Jen is the queen of blueberry picking, and she was especially adept during a little power-line crises in May when she helped moved all of the cars (stick shifts included) to safer ground. I sure do like her attitude.

I've worked all year to get Paul to say you guys instead of y'all. I like to think he's half Louisianan, half Minnesotan---but....I think he doesn't realize that yet. It's OK, because I'm persistent. White t-shirt, quick dry pants, and coffee. These were the elements of Paul's Tuscarora uniform.

Whew! Maggie Mae definitely gets it all done. And she is also a Gunflint Trail people magnet, sometimes we even sell extra glow-in-the-dark Nalgenes, just on the chance that Maggie will be the one selling. Which can be good for sales when you think about it.

Cassandra Garbarino, potter, coffee shop manager, Tuscarora crew cook extraordinaire, and overall part of our family, with wise, young adult insight into emerging teenagers. She's been here 6 years, that's half of Daniel's age. We don't actually need a nanny position anymore, but we'll always need Cass.

Zach....Z....Daniel summed him up---"I really like Zach, he's so...................himself...., and completely cool with that". Zach is staying into the fall this year. He's skilled at steadily scrubbing while pointing out the quirky humorous details of situations.

Mike made a yurt this year. It's swanky! I like to think of it as Mikes Mancave. Someday he may even sell Tombstone Pizza's from it. He's as resourceful as Sam Gribley. Mike has been a summer resident of the Gunflint Trail for many years---, this year we're lucky to have him here.

Lindsay can cook. She is the master of gourmet camping food, which is why she's been the master food-packer for 3 years now. She actually has a BWCA reputation---li'l cow-doc. She packs everything with such care, she has even called on her day off because she woke up in the night worried about somebody's filet knife. For the crew she grills pizza dough, and makes jam. She's really something

Kelley's roller-derby nickname is --Poison Berry Pie, and you can believe it because she makes really good pies, and I think she is TOUGH in that sport. Around here she's a quiet presence, working in the background gently checking on me, happy to drive the kids to town, cook, whatever we need. Kelley's dad worked for Tuscarora 30 some years ago, so we new she'd be a good one--and we were right!

Dave reads the big huge non-fiction books. Honestly, it's very impressive. He's a cheerful and conscientious worker, who notices the little stuff, and then takes care of it. Did I mention that he's always pretty cheerful about all that? Always.

Abbie just got here about an hour ago, so I have no photo yet. However, she has exactly her mother's voice. Although she came here to pitch in for the fall season and hang with her good friend Zach, it's just a coincidence that her mother was the presiding minister and our wedding. I think that's a good omen, don't you?

They come, they share their entire lives with us for awhile. They’re over-qualified, smart, generous, and they work really hard --they are Tuscarora. We love them for all that.