Monday, February 20, 2012

Stefan is married!

Staffer Stefan and his partner Kayla had a small, simple, beautiful wedding in St. Paul on Sunday.  This life sacrament is sentimental for me anyway, and watching their ceremony......I started to reminisce.  We certainly do love this honorable young man.
In 2005 I met him at Papa Charlies for an interview while Sheby had ski practice.  He was overqualified: they all are.  He was so fun to talk to--I found myself, driving away, hoping that he would chose us.
Andy has always been a little more practical about these decisions.  He asked if I thought he would be a good worker.  I said, he went to St. Olaf.  He asked if Stefan might be able to drive the tow boat.  I said, he sang in the Ole Choir.  THE St. Olaf Choir.  Unless you've been there, you might not  know what that means.    He asked if I thought he was responsible.  I said he was a physics major.  Andy was getting a little exasperated.  (we later agreed, that we should have a uniform set of questions, but at the time--well, I was just winging it).  Would he like it in the woods?  Well, he's been working on an organic farm.   Finally he asked WHAT did we talk about in the interview???  And I think mostly whether Calculus was invented or discovered.
How does one interview somebody who is going to join the family?  How would I  know, meeting Stefan for the first time, that he's going to have such an impact on our family, teach the kids piano and guitar?  Provide memories of lying on the dock in the starry dark while he tells stories of the constellations?  That he would be so committed, drive boats through storms, pack food into the middle of the night for us.  How could I know that we were going to fall in love with him like he's our own kid?  Well, that's how it worked.  And this is why I felt a wash of nostalgia as we witnessed him taking his vows with Kayla.
 I sent wishes for every sort of blessing  toward them, and this life they're beginning.  And I thought--well, they certainly found compatibility as Kayla spoke fluent German during the toasts.  We've met her a few times, she seems very kind.  There were lots of little kids at the event, and she was really good to them.  It's enough of an interview for me: I'd hire her.

After the ceremony we stood with Shelby and Dan by the fancy cheese table--if you know Stefan, you know that the food and the organic soda and unique beer would be very deliberately chosen---and apparently Kayla feels that way too, because the free range organic turkey was locally raised.  Local? We were 5 minutes from downtown St. Paul.   Still---those caterers were very sincere and sustainable, so I believe them.

As we stood on the outskirts of the reception Shelby said "I don't know ONE person here, can we go?"  And I said--Oh, no.  This is what weddings are like, most people don't know most people.  But somehow, when you're all connected to the bride or groom, eventually you find people that have connections.  So don't worry about it, first we just have fun with us.   And actually, we did.  And then we met really cool people, young families, and it made me feel nostalgic all over again.  First time parents with their babies.  Many of them went to St. Olaf too, it seemed like everybody knew Shelby and Daniel's running coach, April.   And during the dinner, I got to walk a sleepy 4 month old while his parents quickly ate.  I put my cheek on his perfectly round head and remembered the smell of my own little boy's clean baby hair. And for a minute,  when my own little boy held him, I checked the space around my heart and felt all warm and toasty with gratitude.  For the cycle of life, for good kids, for good friends---for the opportunities we have to know solid people.

We sincerely wish them the best of life together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Winter Camping With Bill Scherk and MN Bound

Camping with Andy and the boys--

If you have a few minutes to check the link, I think the show speaks for itself.

Bill about the woods....gotta love him (and I have to shake my head at him, at the same time).
He's one of the good guys.

Too Tired To Start A Fire

Our friend Jerry Vandiver wrote a little Valentines ditty and dedicated it to the Boundary Waters Sweethearts. Not sure if this is how it works for you--out in the woods....

But we sure get a kick out of Jerry, his songs, his sparkle.

I recognize plenty of Boundary Waters mavens in the photos from the slideshow--people from the club. If you haven't discovered them, they're part of  a fun little community that connects with each other about all things Boundary Waters.

Check out Jerry's new paddling CD too---you can bet we'll have them at the Tuscarora Trading Post this summer!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Wolves

This time of night, Denali likes to snuggle on the green couch as close as she can get, with her nose touching my chin, if possible.   Who can resist this?   We are her pack, and she just wants to go where we go.  Outside is best for exploring and throwing the ball, inside is best for napping.  She sends the universal black lab message: might as well enjoy the moment, live a simple life.

I look at her and I think of that looooong thread that ties her to the wolves.  It's a stretch, but still a canine connection.

photo:  courtesy of Sheryl and Bonnie-location-- I'll NEVER tell.
Always I've loved the wolves, even when I didn't know any of them.  They are fast and beautiful and sneaky, and they can collaborate and catch deer.  Can you imagine?  Without a doubt they're the smartest animals in the woods.   Which is also why they make the hair on my neck prickle; I know they might be able to kill me. Dr. Mech reports 19 million visitor days in the Superior National Forest with not one aggressive wolf encounter.  Denali and I have encountered them several times, and not been threatened.  It's almost as if they could take us, and they are wiser than that.  They just don't attack people.

Yet, they're predators, and people search for the outliers, the horror stories.  My ears perked up to this this runner story last month in Alaska.  I heard on the radio that The Gray is the hottest movie out right now.  It's because those wolves are big and baaaaad.  

Apparently the wolves in MN are prolific enough to be taken off the endangered species list.   The DNR reports that hunting/trapping might begin as early as next fall.  I listened to guru Dr. Dave Mech's ideas about managing the wolf population.  I've been reading his books since I was 15:  I'll defer to him.  He knows wolves, and seems to have a balanced approach when considering all the  stakeholders..  I won't picket the DNR,  but I don't have to like the idea.  I'm not sure, it just seems like---they're our allies.  Partners in the hunt, not the hunted.

Our galloping girl broke a tooth a while ago, and she was drooling drooling drooling all over, so we  paid the vet to pull it out.   The vet said we'd better quit giving her the soup bones to chew on, her teeth have to last quite a few more years.  So we can keep feeding her and housing her, and throwing the ball.  She's ensured her survival in the craftiest of ways.  She wins the evolutionary battle, doesn't she?

Photo courtesy of Sheryl and Bonnie  Location:  BIG SECRET.
Check out the wolf in this photo.   If he breaks a tooth, I'll bet he doesn't even FEEL it, he's so tough and cool.

  What kind of crazy world do we live in where our goofy dog trumps this wolf in survival tools?