Good morning all:

Weekly wisdom from deep within the north woods:

“When telling his wife that he’s heading out of the house a man always has two reasons: a good reason and the real reason.”—from our north woods everyman we’ll call Claire

This week the shed was opened wide and the stack of large empty bins were pulled out. Cleaned, they are now sitting in the cabin slowly gaining articles here and there as we enter our season’s final week at Northern Comfort. All selected items will be stored or end up making the trip home.

Rest assured, our coffee stash will be one of the final ‘bits’ to be loaded. With that, I can hear the little coffee maker sputter away announcing this morning’s brew to be ready.

It’s another spectacular morning, one of many this week. After some seriously cold and stormy weather last weekend it’s been sunny and high 70s. So, last weekend I was ready to shut the door and head out. This week I am not so sure. By the way, the shown photo of a blood-red sunrise was taken a week or two ago – all in the interest of accuracy.

Pro-jects – In reality Marcia and I are still climbing the learning curve and are very much newbies in learning to manage, with a degree of independence, cabin life in an environment where even picking up a new drill-bit becomes a several hour event. We both love duct tape!

Last year the main efforts were focused on leveling the main cabin by moving to a floating pier system.

This year we were reminded how much just frost heaving takes place, especially since we get serious snow run-off from the winter snows that then goes directly by and under the cabin. Hence, this was the year of the drain system. The idea being to both divert and prevent water from going underneath the cabin: dry ground, no heave. Now we’ll see the impact of this work next spring.

To gain a degree of accuracy Paul came over with his transept and we placed a small nail on each corner of the cabin and a nearby tree as markers. Next year we should have accuracy measuring any building movement to better than a 1/16th of an inch.

Saying we are ‘newbies’ doesn’t mean we aren’t learning. Last evening, after dinner, it took just 55 minutes to pull and park our 20’ pontoon boat. This included retrieving the trailer, backing it down the nearby boat ramp, walking back to the cabin and driving the boat to the ramp and on the trailer, securing it, backing up (under Marcia’s expert hand signaling method) several hundred feet down a narrow shrub-lined lane with a couple of turns and backing it into place next to a tree at a distance of about 6”. Yup, we’re learning.

Today, I’ll be assembling the “snow-tent” to cover the pontoon. Tomorrow will be the time to pull the dock sections on to shore to prevent winter ice damage—it’s all part of the ‘circle-of-life’ in the North Country.

On a whole different “pro-ject” note is what Marcia just finished knitting. It’s a complete sweater, beret, and scarf ensemble and it is stunning. She has the event to debut it all picked out.

The “yes we do fun stuff” department – In reality, the ‘fun stuff’ should include sitting for 15 minutes after dusk and only listening to our lake’s Loons chorusing, calling each other with their tremelos, wails, hoots, and yodelings. And listening to their answering calls, and the returning echoes from the far side of the cove. Then, the pleasure of seeing a Great Blue Heron go gliding by on its way to its evening hide-away.

But, probably “fun stuff” makes one thing physical activity. OK, so this week I started up with a walking regimen by walking to nearby Axe Lake and back—in preparation for my regular winter walks. One day, as the ad says “when the time is right,” it became the perfect time to take the Kayak out for a 5-mile lake paddle. The wind was light enough to enjoy, but strong enough to require a little focus on what you were doing. If you’ve never been out in a canoe or a Kayak make plans to climb into one; it’s an item to add to your bucket list.

Eight of us went on a light all terrain ride exploring the remnants of what’s left from a ‘village’ housing the work gangs that built two nearby dams over half a century ago. The remains are now only some pads where building had been. However, it is a sight to behold as the area is a grove of Birch trees—the light playing off the white trunks and the light green leaves is amazing.

Tuesday Marlene, Donn, Marcia, and I will take a two-hour jaunt to Elliot Lake. Elliot Lake is a town of about 12,000 (a good size for this region). Its historical significance is that North America’s first Uranium mine is located in the area. This mine supplied the Uranium used to develop Atomic energy research in the laboratory and later it was used for the first Atomic bombs.

Animal Planet – It’s a proud moment announcing that I successfully identified a wild mushroom growing in the grass by our cabin, a Chanterelle (cantharellus cibarius) as an edible specimen. A test Chanterelle was picked, pan fried it in some butter, and eaten; quite delicious I might add. Next season, who knows, it these might become the item of choice at one of our meals. On the other hand, Marcia shook her head vigorously “no” when I swung the idea by her. Also, when she awoke before I did the morning after I ate the thing, Marcia checked my pulse.

A few days ago we were given several fish and Marcia proceeded cleaning them. For those ignorant of this process, the ‘cleaning’ part means that an array of body parts remain after the ‘cleaning’ is complete. Since we really do not want certain animal life around our camp I took a bucket of these remains and drove the ATV to and across the highway and to a little flat spot where I dumped them. About three hours later there was absolutely NO sign that there had been anything there, no heads, no tails, no guts, nada, nothing. Mother Nature is amazing when it comes to her cleaning services. As the old texts say; for everything there is a purpose.

The hummingbirds have disappeared from our yard. Yesterday we heard a flock of Canadian Geese fly over. These are the first sign that fall is approaching and the mass migrations have begun.

Next Friday we’ll be traveling right along, heading south.

Closing – Happy birthday this week to Vince (aside from being a son-in-law, he’s also our family’s only triathlete).

Take a few moments tomorrow morning as you remember the tenth anniversary of the horrific events in New Your City, Washington DC, and a simple field in Pennsylvania where so many thousands of lives were lost and so many families were torn apart.

Make it a great – but reflective – week everyone.

Cheers,
Dirk

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