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Friday, May 27, 2016

Where In The World Have We Been? Cascade Bluff, Not So Much

Well, hi there, all you gorgeous people out there in the wide world! Welcome back to Kathy and Val's New World at Cascade Bluff. In case you hadn't noticed, it is now 2016, May is almost over, and I haven't been blogging much at all. Where in the world have we been? Lots of places, not all that much at our favorite spot in the universe, our speck of heaven at Cascade Bluff. But that is about to change. We are back, and we hope to be back often! As they say, vote early and often... good advice, maybe, in this presidential election year... or maybe not? 

Anyway, there are several long stories about why we've not been at the Bluff much, stories about family and work and crises and all sorts of boring stuff like that. 'Nuf said. Let's skip over those details and get to the juicy stuff that most of you like - the pictures!! 

Here is our last visit to The Bluff in early and again in mid-May. While the rest of MN and the country was experiencing spring in full blast, Cook County way up north was having a more sedate and stately stroll into spring. We don't mind cool weather, even in May, as long as we have some wood on hand for the little Aspen stove, which we did. Chilly days of around 40 F and even chillier nights... but our place is so well insulated that we were very comfortable, just from the heat of our tiny wood stove stoked up for a few hours in late afternoon. Toasty the rest of the evening... a Hudson blanket helped overnight, of course... 
When you arrive at Cascade Bluff for an overnight stay, no matter how short or long, there are a few immediate and urgent tasks. This is the first and perhaps THE most important one - get the cold press Toddy loaded and steeping for the morning's delicious java! 
Next most important task is for Rosie to re-orient herself and assert her dominance as The Queen Cat of the Universe. Here she is watching over her realm... 
Next, a survey of what's growing out in the rock bed... some pasque flowers... 
Lots of wild violets, volunteers! 
The perennial garden needed some "dead-heading"...

... now that looks lots better... Itty bitty baby Black-Eyed Susans! 

We were happy to see that all of our white pines managed to survive the winter... 
Here's a healthy looking one... Not so sure about some of our other trees, those will have to wait for later in the spring.

Every year we see lots of spring beauty, these tiny marvels that are almost always the very first wildflowers to appear. 

Aren't they lovely? 
Not much else growing yet ... when we return over Memorial Day weekend, we hope to find lots of green and flowers! 

This winter of 2015-2016 was remarkable for a few very wet, very heavy snowfalls at the beginning of December. Those snowfalls wreaked havoc on the brush and small trees, bending everything over or breaking lots of branches. Translation - lots and lots of brush needed to be cleared from our paths. 
Here's what the trail to the labyrinth looked like before we got out the clippers and brush cutter... more or less impassable, except on your hands and knees. We're not fond of crawling on our 60 year old hands and knees! 
So we went to work... 
...fortunately the labyrinth "herself" was pretty clear of fallen branches and no big trees came down... 
We always worry a bit about Big Mama Birch... this lovely Elder is a Yellow Birch that is possibly 100 years old... isn't she magnificent? And she survived another year of wet snow! 
This trail was really a mess and needed the brushcutter... 
... we've got some big ol' piles to deal with - next trip will be all about chipping! 
We made the circuit of all of our great trails, including the "ridge trail" with this view of Cascade River as it heads toward our property line... 


The ridge gets lots of snow and lots of wind, and this birch didn't survive... Val got to work with our new battery-powered chainsaw! A "solar chainsaw," who knew? 


Some of our more mundane spring chores include getting the outhouse in shape... we do have indoor plumbing, but the outhouse is a sweetie and we want to be ready for anything... 
The view from the "chair" inside... 
How many outhouses do you know that have a window with a view of Lake Superior?? 

It's a new year and we need a new Farmer's Almanac in our outhouse! 
Of course, Rosie had to go on her perimeter check of the property...
She has paused and is ready to pounce in front of the big woodshed... Her tail was switching back and forth like crazy... 
Can you see what she was so interested in, up there perched on the top of the wood? When there's wood, there are squirrels in the wood pile... 
We thought about firing up the wood-fired hot tub, but alas...



... that's a block of ice for about the bottom 3 feet. Oh well, maybe Memorial Day! 
Yep, there was still a bit of lingering snow... 
Our new Swedish rotating drum composter, on the other hand, worked great and actually produced some compost already. Really remarkable, I think, for so early in the year. The big black non-rotating compost container took about 3 years to produce the black stuff, so I'm convinced this thing works! 

Speaking of compost makes me think of the garden... but not much is happening yet...


Hoping to see actual asparagus in the AsparagHus this year! 
Now lest you worry that it was all work and no play up at the Bluff, fear not... Walter showed us how relaxing is done, orange tabby style... 


... and Walt and Magpie found some time to snuggle... 

I managed to grab some rays out on the deck... 

... and we had snacks in the sunshine... with whiskey... 
And Dr. Jameson was our most honored guest! No doubt he'll be making other visits to the Bluff... stay tuned, more to come as spring unfolds and we return to Cook County and Cascade Bluff very soon! 

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