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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Summer Events and Visitors ... And a Few Who Came to Stay For Good

Greetings from the trailing edge of summer up on Cascade Bluff. It has been beautiful but brief, full of rain and visitors. Alas, as you will see by the end of this post, fall already started showing her colors by the end of August... so before we are forced to report on that other inevitable season, let's celebrate with some color and fun! 

First, a nice colorful bouquet from in front of one of our favorite local restaurants, The Angry Trout... their flower boxes are always brilliant...

One of our first summer visitors was eager for some adventure, and though we didn't agree to subject ourselves to her first choice (something about a slide on your butt down a mountain at the same speed as an Olympic bobsled...) we did find a pleasant summer diversion... 
Here are the three of us - me, Val and Mary - just before our "sail" on the Hjordis, the local classic schooner that sails every evening from the Grand Marais Harbor...
... the lighthouse from "out to sea"...
.... full sails ahead...
...out of the harbor heading northeast...
The weather was glorious... a little TOO glorious, for as you see, the wind was absolutely calm as was the lake. So instead of a big adventure, we had a very nice, very lovely motorboat cruise with hardly a ripple, followed by dinner in town.

We put our friend Mary to work almost immediately, with her enthusiastic approval. Here she is instructing Val in how to use jumper cables... yes, we own two red trucks... new one on the left. Dimples (the '98 Ford with a tiny bit of hail damage and a dead battery) on the right is for sale... make an offer! 
It's impossible to capture on film the extent to which Mary actually worked during her visit (ahem... again, just to be sure you understand, she wanted to work! Really!....)  so here is one photo of the "end of the trail" that she helped us finish and clear for two long sweaty tiring days. Formerly known as The East Boundary Trail, behold the end point of Glinda's Gulch and Getaway! FYI, those who help out with trail work up here on Cascade Bluff can claim the honor of having a trail named after them, and Glinda the Good Witch is Mary's alter ego... watch for the trail sign coming soon (yes, it will have glitter and a splash of pink...) 

Speaking of trails, Val and I have been quite busy during this fleeting summer season getting our trails in the best shape ever. The next few shots are of us clearing a fallen tree snagged at the top. We were not dumb enough to stand right next to it and try to cut it down (you never know where these snagged trees are going to land) so we used our long tow strap to pull it down from a safe distance...



"Pull," you say? You ladies are pulling down trees now? Well, yes, we are. With the help of our little friend, the "come-along"... 



...and voila! "Timber!" Then the chain saw came out, once Madame Dead Spruce was safely on the ground.

Some trails require chain saws, some "come-alongs", some a brush cutter, some simply muscle, hand saws and loppers. I've even recently cleared brush from a steep and rocky area with the old fashioned sling blade. But here is the ultimate rough country machine, The Swisher...

Think of a weed whip on steroids... and on wheels... 
... and here is a shot of the result when we use The Swisher on a nice and level and fairly smooth part of one of our trails! Does pretty well on hills too... alas, clippers, chain saws and grunt work are still required. And walking on the trails every day, too, of course... most important part! 

One of our next visitors did extra double duty, so she got an extra beverage... Our friend and fabulous massage therapist, Jean, relaxing on our deck after a very long day's work... 

Val worked very hard that day too... and so did I, by the way... 
Jean is posing near the end of her "named trail" section, which we are calling Jean's Junction... she helped us schlepp out a ginormous amount of beautiful maple from a large downed tree up a steep slope! Wow, we were all sweating buckets... and then she gave us massages! Thanks a million, Jean, you are terrific! 
Our friend Brian came by for a short visit and here is posing at the entrance to his section of trail, Neil Lane! Brian sweated through helping us clear this trail a while back, and now we all get to enjoy it... Thanks, dear friend, so glad you are still our friend after all these years and after being forced into service with clippers and saws! 

Not everyone who arrives at Cascade Bluff is immediately pressed into hard labor. Here are some friends who just came by for wonderful conversation and a visit... new friend Teresa and our neighbor Marcia...

It was great to meet a kindred spirit, Paula, who brought music and gave us some ideas about how to put all those rose hips to use this winter! 

Ann and Mark, stopping by for great fun, games and laughter while on a cross country road trip all the way from the Puget Sound... 

Rachelle came for a visit and fabulously engaging conversation... and before she left, she brought out her magic wand (made of birch) and absorbed some "birch energy" from two of the most magnificent looking birch on our property... 
I can feel that energy moving, Rachelle! 
Friends and colleagues Kristal and Sam stopped by for lunch, catching up and some sunshine at our overlook... 


Parker and Sharon came by for what has now been nearly an annual visit to our remote spot while they are enjoying a month on the Gunflint trail.... Alas, no sunshine, but Parker always manages to have just the right story to tell...something about a fisherman and a Harvard prof... The fisherman gets the last word, and it ain't Latin... 
Sharon and Parker's visit overlapped with the beginning of Alex's stay... 
...and to complete the circle, we certainly put Alex to work! 
Here's our young friend splitting wood... and wearing ear protection... 
...ooops, watch your hand, Alex! 
...and one last little fellow who hopped by one evening... 
...I didn't catch his name, something like "hermit"...

Of course several delightful friends came for visits and I failed to get their photos... In honor of my dear friend Amy, a bit of the Irish growing near one of our paths... Thanks for coming for a wonderful stay, Amy and Alice! 
And Sue ... great to see you as always dear friend, and come back soon... howdy Bob, so glad to "host" you... and Marcy, Rick, Gayle and Janet, no, I haven't forgotten about your momentous, adventurous visit in the "spring" but that will have to be on a post all its own, who cares about chronology? 

As those who've followed this blog know well, I can't post without a report on what's happening in the natural world up here... so here goes with the botany report! 

Found a thriving specimen (though small) of Canada Yew, a fairly unusual native shrub... I can tell you are all overwhelmed with excitement about this, but really, it is kind of cool... 
This year's extra moisture has made for a bumper crop of wildly colorful mushrooms... 

... and the berries were over the top... raspberries galore, the "season" lasted weeks, and even I finally got sick of raspberries! 
... and for those with a taste for something a little more tart, we had a huge number of thimbleberries too..
We haven't found any wild blueberries on our land (yet) but the blueberry bushes we planted over the last two years are beginning to work out nicely! 
Speaking of things we planted, here's one of the 25 white pines, surviving and looking pretty sharp for a 3 year old tree grown from a bare root seedling... 
And then, the flowers... Strawberry Seduction Yarrow... 
Black eyed Susans... 
A new one for me, called Anthemist, or Dwarf Golden Marguerite... hope it does well... 
Out milkweed came back and boy did we attract monarchs this year! 
Our butterfly weed bloomed nicely this year at last... 

And some pretty coral bells are doing really well too... 

Finally, here are two visitors who came to stay... meet Walter and Magpie, our newest household members! They are now about five months old, litter mates and are a total hoot. 
It didn't take them long at all to discover Rosie's Teacup! 

But Rosie still rules... and she still gets to go for her walks, all by herself! (Can you imagine walking three cats???) 

Last few shots... this one looking out from the deck, late August... and yes, those are indeed touches of fall color out there... yikes! 

....but all in all it has been a really wonderful summer... and one of the highlights has been inviting a very important visitor back into our lives... music. Val and I have been amateur musicians for a very long time, and this summer we are finally playing and singing together again... which is really a beautiful dream come true! Here's my gorgeous, wonderful spouse, former camp counsellor and folk song maven... what was that song you just played, Val... Puff, The Magic Dragon? 
Maybe next time I'll let her take a pic of me playing the family fiddle! But for now, enjoy the summer while it lasts and come up and join us for a song by the campfire sometime soon! 

1 comment:

  1. I like that "come along" you used to pull down that hung tree. Wonder if it works on people who refuse to support the group consensus! ;-)

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