Saturday, April 30, 2011

Now That's More Like It.

Yesterday was a day worth waiting for.

The pussy willows were liking that sun as much as I was...I think they might be a little behind this year.

I was reading about the way lake ice melts. Apparently, when the snow melts from the surface, the ice acts like the glass in a greenhouse, encouraging the sun to warm the water, and melt the ice from below. Who knew? When the depth of the ice is a foot or less, the ice is transformed into crystal "candles" that conduct light even better, which also makes the ice look black. After that, the ice doesn't stand a chance. When a wind comes up, we hear the friendly tinkling sound of many candles breaking apart. Shelby and I were talking about it the other day...and she said "Isn't it cool, that the ice evolved to go out like that." Then she immediately corrected her DOES seem like an evolution-type thing, but....why would ice evolve to disappear right on time? For the survival of the planet? For the survival of the outfitters? At any rate, it's disappearing by the hour. It must have rained last night, because it is full of puddles right now, and much blacker than yesterday

Some people will recognize the wine water of the Cross River. It's not pollution--it's tannic acid, from the nutrients in the water. Not sure why some lakes are so clear and blue, and others are tea-colored, but it doesn't affect the quality of the water. Just talking about it makes me want to take in small water bottles to our familiar lakes and do a blind taste test. I know some lakes have water worth camping early for----and others are not quite as sweet, but I wonder if we could actually identify the specific lakes by the taste of the water? The sun yesterday made for a sparkling water sight, that's for sure.

I can't help taking photos from the overlook on the Centennial Trail. Denali and I make it a destination on busier days. We think of it as our plot. Our little retreat to a lonely place. It's familiar and oh-so-peaceful.

This boulder fell next to the road this spring. Andy called the Highway Department to report it, not a problem for us, but I'm sure it might be a problem for the plow. Andy told his friend Gary not to worry, no hurry, we moved it to the side. Just a little road humor for Gary when he inside excavation joke....we're lucky that it decided to fall where it did.

It always tugs at my heart to see a baby tucked up under the protection of its mother--no matter what the species.
Welcome spring!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


We're feeling proud here at Tuscarora this week.
Daniel will travel down to Minneapolis to present a History Day Project at the State Competition on Sunday. He and his friend Alex progressed from the Regional Competition last month (with the video at the bottom of the page, and with the help of some community members). Hooray for Daniel and Alex!

Shelby was inducted into the National Honor Society on Monday night. Hooray for the 10th graders!

Andy and I have almost made it to spring, with a score of 193 according to the DNR "winter severity index".

Apparently, index points are calculated by location. We receive a point for every day the temperature is below zero and another point for each day where the snow depth exceeds 15 inches. Sam Cook reports the numbers in the Duluth News Tribune:

The highest reading, 193, was at Poplar Lake along the Gunflint Trail. That was the only station that fell into the "severe winter" category, although Snowbank Lake near Ely was close at 177. Here are some other final readings: Grand Rapids, 98; International Falls, 150; Isabella, 159; Eveleth, 150; Cloquet, 112; Brimson, 149; Tower, 164.

Here's how the DNR classifies winters based on the WSI:

Mild winter -- WSI less than 100

Average winter -- WSI of 120

Moderate winter -- WSI 121-140

Moderately severe winter -- WSI 141-180

Severe winter -- WSI more than 180

So, technically, we won state up here!! Andy was still smiling this morning as he brushed off the car, with his score of 193. Hooray for the severe winter survivors!

(side note: the ice on Tuscarora Lake is still scheduled to go out on May 10th, at 4pm, when the wind picks up on that sunny afternoon)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Snowy Weekend

I have found that, ignoring the forecast, refusing to talk about the possibility of snow, is not a deterrent. It still came this weekend. More than I would even consider.

Sunday was Daniel's birthday. All those sickening cliches about babies growing up? I really try to stay away from them, but they are so very true.
I actually celebrated his birthday privately in my own head, on Saturday. Andy was at the Midwest Mountaineering Expo, and Shelby was in town. Daniel and I were both home in a snowstorm with really bad colds. For dinner, we shuffled around and cooked soup and grilled cheese, I laid on the couch, he sprawled on the chair and explained to me why Davy Jones had snakes and barnacles instead of a beard, and I watched Pirates of the Caribbean. Honestly, I hate that movie and all of its sequels. I am mildly entertained by Jack Sparrow, but mostly, I just wanted to hang out with Daniel the teenager. He thanked me profusely for managing the dishes so he could sleep, and before he dragged himself to his own bed, he folded back the covers of mine, and left my glasses neatly on top of my book on my pillow. He didn't even know it, but it was a little gift/gesture that reminded me how glad I was that he was born 14 years ago.

On Sunday, the people came! We played a little broomball in the snow.

We celebrated 3 April birthdays.

We dyed the Easter Eggs, in the fancy Pysanki form,

and we also danced. You too, can do the Double Dream Hands! It's awesome!

What I can tell you for sure?
Daniel will grow older, the snow and ice will melt under this intense sun. It's all good.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And The Rains Came

Yesterday felt balmy; 40 something degrees, humid, smelled like spring, smelled like water. Shelby had been hankering for a thunderstorm. Just as they started their run, she got her wish.

The woods are very beautiful in their barren ugliness...and I'm eager to let the winter season go. The rains stir up spring deep down in the roots---I can just feel it.

Here's one of the happy little green up pines planted during one of the last couple of Gunflint Green Up Wing Dings; you are invited to come join us to plant a few thousand more in May. Believe me, it's really fun.

The Cross Bay landing is open for paddling. Looks like we can at least get to the portage if we want to. One of these days..

I believe the soggy little jack pines are happy to shed the snow so quickly this week.

Earl Falls is mostly camouflaged in the summer--but when there is this much water, if you're listening, you can always hear it. Even over the sound of the thunderstorm.

We're so completely surrounded by water around here--and I'm glad to see it starting to move again. Actually, it's an honor to witness the transformation. Right on schedule.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Changing Conditions

Last week, Denali and I would take the spark out onto the ice

until we got to the middle where it was smooth, and the conditions were perfect for skating.

Then on Saturday, it got warmer and snowed just a tad. Ice skating season was over,

but Shelby could just fly around the lake on her skis.

Last night, the conditions were perfect for a snowstorm, and we got several inches of snow. It was not a perfect drive into town for tennis practice,

but conditions started melting it immediately, was a perfectly lovely ride back up the Gunflint Trail.

Last year
on this date., conditions were perfect for........paddling..............sigh.