Good morning all:

Weekly Wisdom from deep in the Northwoods

“It seems the Lex Cooper property has been sold to someone from Sault Ste. Marie. This could be another rumour like the Roy Ayres place, which was reported sold every time a strange car passed, eh?”— our Northwoods everyman we’ll call Claire discussing small town events

I do believe that we’ve been away from the big city for too long, I seems that the goings on of small town life have become topics of fascination. In any case, I’ve made it a habit to enjoy my morning coffee in front of the kitchen window so that I can see what’s going on and not miss anything.

Quiet week – I just know it’s been a quiet week when the morning song of “Phoebe”, our resident Eastern Phoebe flycatcher who’s nesting above in the rafters above our kitchen door, has become a point of interest. This morning I was up just before dawn and she’d already begun; fee-be, fee-be followed by a few sharp, chip, chip, chips.

Until earlier this week she’d hightail away anytime we came or went via the kitchen. Now, if we greet her quietly and don’t move too fast she’ll stay put. Even when she leaves the nest and flies off it is only to a nearby piece of decorative driftwood in the garden; from there she’s got a decent vantage point.

First of the chores – Since it was one of those weeks it also became time to do some chores—stuff that was kept waiting since we were having too much fun. Another reason was the fact that we had some hefty rains and several days of strong wind, all precluding the aforementioned ‘fun’ activities.

My beginning item on the list was to level the cabin after the winter frost heave. Three of the front piers required adjustment. I knew this because, within a week’s time, the front door would not close. Now it closes. It would be so much easier if the whole cabin could be placed on a waist-high workbench and all that crawling underneath with my little hydraulic jack done from the comfort of a little stool.

Meanwhile Marcia, who has fallen madly in love with the power grinder tool, took it upon herself to tackle the rust spots on our Dolly car trailer. Before leaving home I had stopped by the Habitat for Humanity “re-store” and picked up a few cans of Rustoleum paint—happily in just the right colors. That little trailer looks brand new. It almost makes me want to stop actually driving the “Duck”, but just load it on the trailer and drive around.

There was much more in the “chore” department, but I won’t bore you any further. Other than the time mid-week when Marcia came back from visiting the freezer in the Bunkie and asked if there was a reason why one of the window panes would just pop out and slide down the side of the machine to the floor. Whoops, that was not on the list.

Attack of the mosquitoes – part deux – Last week I detailed our losing battle with our Canadian mosquito ‘friends’. With the wet spring I have spent a few evenings with pen and paper and crunched some numbers. Here are the results; for each drop of rain fallen, the opposite, but equal, reaction is the birth of a single mosquito. Couple that with the extreme size of these beasties and it’s a serious problem. You might still say; “but, Dirk, they still look puny to me.” What you do not realize that I am talking size in insect terms. In human terms each and every mosquito buzzing our ears in the Northwoods would be wearing a size eighteen shoes—think of a Shaquille O’Neal with little buzzing wings!

Luckily Paul has a fogger which is designed to deal with mosquitos’ en-masse. Donn brought it over and round one (of four recommended rounds) commenced. The next evening it was my turn, now a solo operation. One and a half boxes of matches and a full hour of wasted time later I chalked up as a “crash and burn” operation. Mosquitoes 1 – Dirk 0.

How many people do you know having not only one, but two foggers? Paul is such an individual (and the only one I know having two). What we did not know that one of the contraptions was busted. The second one became a “one-match to light” operation. Every evening near nine the winds would die, the lake water would turn smooth as glass, and I’d bring out my new and working ultimate weapon of mass destruction—three evenings in a row. Mosquitoes 0 – Dirk 3.

Animal Planet – This week we discovered that while one side our property is lined with raspberry bushes (the same ones that brought a bear to our camp last year); on the two other sides we have a solid border of wild Bunchberry plants. These are apparently the only herb members of the Dogwood family. Question, since these are listed as ‘herbs’, does anyone know whether or not they’re edible? Pieter, I know that they’re not in the Pine Nut family, but if I were you, I still wouldn’t test your luck—no nearby hospital in these parts.

Three new bird sightings this week; Marcia saw an Eastern Towhee perch on some wood in our fire pit. On one of my walks I spotted a tiny American Redstart lying in the shoulder of the road, apparently the victim of some car or truck. With little visible damage, it was amazing how glossy black and bright orange it was. These little things are not seen often and therefore I stopped and looked a while—it probably appeared as if I stood there holding some sort of a service.

On the way home on this same walk I passed a marshy overflow area of our lake. There, from out of the treeline strolled a large deer. The big doe, looked up and then proceeded to walk into the water, swam a large circle, popped out of the water, and calmly went back into the trees. Question, what do deer do in the forest? Why, take a bath of course.

It was not all chores this week and we did have some fun. One sunny day Donn, Marlene, Marcia and I took the ATVs around the lake on the old logging road. On a stretch I spotted a very bright red bird flying in front of us. The sun, bright on its back, really did justice to its nickname, “flame of spring” – it was a Scarlet Tanager. Beyond doubt, these are the flame of spring. Stunning!

In celebration of the Scarlet Tanager discovery Donn and Marlene offered to host us for a celebratory Happy Hour—and were they ever ready! Thanks guys.

Two guys fishing at the back end of the cove early in the evening last Thursday and near one of the several beaver nests. They reportedly spotted a ‘large’ adult bear circling another of the beaver nests. They also heard warning calls from waterfowl; possibly the bear was looking to raid a nest for eggs. This would mean that the first bear within 300-yards of our cabin has now been seen.

Closing – Next Saturday the Ramblings will come from the ‘Nati. While we’re busy traveling and organizing ourselves back in town, you make it a good week.

Oh no, I just got buzzed by a mosquito right here at the kitchen table—indoors!


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