Sunday, November 26, 2017

Let's go for a walk

I am currently living on a ice sheet. Being just the right elevation and distance away from The Big Lake I am in an in-between climate zone. It is a typical autumn day by the lake and a few miles farther inland and higher up there is ski-able snow in some areas. Walking is treacherous at home and I miss walking so as long I have daylight I'll head out to Croftville. It is a road that dips down off of Highway 61 just a few miles out of town and hugs the Lake Superior Shore. The Croftville Road is about a mile and a half long and is a mix of residential and Mom and Pop resort cabins. It is currently a dry and snow and ice free zone.

I parked my vehicle and started out on the blacktop (one of only a handful of paved roads in the county).
I walked past some of the nicer homes.

Some of the cabins.
Some of the yards and features.

There are still a few old sheds or, as the realtors sometimes refer to them, cozy rustic cabins.
It really is a nice place to take a walk, though, with a few nice places to look at the lake and a calm and peaceful place to take a walk, especially this time of year. Daylight is a rare commodity as it is getting light by the time I leave for work and dark when I come home. Weekends and days off are the only chance to really enjoy it, but always at the mercy of the weather. Today was cloudy, but lovely.
Even though the sky was mostly gray the drab colors of late fall didn't look too bad. Of course, Croftville is in its own "banana belt" where the lake moderates the temperature and humidity. It always tends toward cool and damp, but the lake is still warmer than the air and the humidity is offsetting the dryness of the coming winter. I was joking with one of the residents there a week or two ago telling her that I heard it only snows a couple of times per winter there which is a good thing as she drives a Prius with highway tires.

 That is the Coast Guard station in town in the distance.
The surprising thing that I had never noticed before while just taking a leisurely drive down the Croftville Road were these.

The speed limit on this road is only 20mph, but walking gives you a much better chance  to see what you have been missing. I think I'll take advantage of this road on weekends if I have to go to town or maybe after work when the days start getting longer. That may be the end of February, but at least the mosquitoes won't be an issue then and besides, I can walk faster than they can fly.
As always, click the pic to embiggen.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Small Town News

News from our local "fishwrap" comes out weekly so most of the news is at least a few days old, but it is still news to most of us unless you hang out with the morning coffee guys at Buck's Hardware or the Superamerica station. Here is a brief synopsis (is that redundant?) of some stories from the Cook County News Herald.

There is a front page story this week about a meeting at the Hovland (population 272) town hall. The story starts out with, " The inside of a Siberian snowball is warmer than the Hovland town hall was on Thursday, November 9th." The blower on the furnace of the uninsulated structure had to be shut down because the blower was too loud to hear the speakers. It was 8F outside and the building cooled rapidly. The main topic of discussion was to determine what, if anything, should be done to save the crumbling Hovland dock. The dock was a hub of community activity after it was built in 1905. The general consensus was to leave it alone rather than gussy it up as a potential tourist attraction which may in turn become an attractive nuisance.

The Grand Marais Municipal Liquor store was quite profitable in 2016 with total sales of $344.4 million. How could a county of just over 5000 people drink so much? That is over $67,000 for every man, woman, and child that reside here and the average income is less than $37,000 per year. We must have a hell of an influx of summer residents and tourists and all they must do for entertainment is drink!

*Dateline: Later. The 344 million is for the entire state of Minnesota. Out local muni did 2.1 million with a $300 and some thousand profit. No wonder the numbers seemed impossible! That is only $420 for every man, woman, and child. Still, a $420 per year booze allowance for a child is a bad sign.  I stand self-corrected.

The Down Memory Lane column is one of my favorites. Since I remember some of the news from 10 and 20 years ago the more interesting perspectives are from 50 and 90 years ago. From 50 years ago, "A color television disappeared from the lobby at the Lutsen Resort last Friday evening. It was the evening before hunting season and there were a considerable number of people about. A night watchman was also on duty." It is my recollection that color television sets of that era were pretty big and hefty and I'll bet that the municipal liquor store was probably having a good year.

From 90 years ago we have these tidbits. "Helen Hedstrom sprained her thumb in physical education last Tuesday morning." Also, " H.O. Toftey has resigned his position as highway maintenance man at Tofte and is now fishing." Finally, "A man from Creech's camp was examined today before Judge A.V. Johnson as to his sanity and found to be insane." Was it the judge's turn to be examined next?

The leader in Buck's Big Buck contest turned in a deer that weighed 275 pounds dressed. That is a very large dead deer. Typically up here there are as many deer taken with vehicles as there are with guns and bows.

Not much of interest in the "Law Enforcement briefs." Mostly dead deer in the road, cell phone misdials, traffic stop warnings given, and lost hunters.

It looks like Joyne's Ben Franklin is having a 20% off sale for Black Friday. Hopefully, more than last summer's leftover clothing will be on sale.

It is early winter now and the skies have taken on "that look" they get as the days shorten. Click to embiggen.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pottery and Ice

I am back in the potter's studio again this fall. Just got started a couple of weeks ago and while I have 24 hour access to the studio I am unable to get in there more than twice a week for a couple of hours at a time. It is too bad, but that's the way the croissant crumbles. There is a fair amount of activity going on in there as there are several active potters going at it as well as the local food shelf event, Empty Bowls. There were 380 bowls made for that event that are for sale for, I believe, about $10 each. There will be lunch and dinner served (soups, stews, etc.) and bowls for sale tomorrow. All of this happening at one of the local churches. Turnout is expected to be about 450 people which is pretty impressive in a town of 1150 and the additional surrounding area.

Here are some samples of what is laying around the studio now. There are a few pieces of mine in there, but I am hard pressed to pick them out. Most of them are by people with more skill than I have at this time which is fairly awesome. I learn so much from everyone. Just a hint here and there really adds up after a while.

Here are some that are glazed and waiting to be fired.

 Here are some post-firing.
The big lake made for some interesting sculpture a few days ago. The air temperature was well below freezing for a few days, most of the week actually, and thew wind picked up for a while.

If you look closely you may notice some little red things in there. Those are mountain ash berries. Many birds eat those during the winter as they tend to stay on the trees sometimes. Here is a closer shot.
If it should get warm enough for this ice to melt it will be back later for the duration.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

It's Here!

The transition was abrupt. There were still colorful things to see and in a day or two it all changed to monochrome. Last weekend was the first significant snowfall and while it melted along the lakeshore for a few days, the snow has continued a little at a time and accumulated slowly. Once you get a half mile from the lake it doesn't melt.

I left town for a day or two last weekend and waited until later in the morning to leave. I didn't trust the road conditions. Fortunately, the main highway by the lake was only wet and driving wasn't bad although there had already been a couple of storm-related highway fatalities to the south of us.

There is (was) a railroad bridge toward the west end of the county. Over the years several trucks had been just a little too tall to get through it. A couple of months ago it was hit particularly hard. The decision from the Highway Department was to remove the offending section. It hadn't been used for about fifteen years for an actual train, so they shut down the highway for a day or two and with a very long, dirt road detour removed it. It looks different now, like a bridge to nowhere.

I got down to Duluth and while there were still some leaves on some of the trees they were being discouraged by the snow from trying to hold on to autumn.

Two days later I drove back up the shore and found that most of the snow had melted. I could still look up the hill away from the lake to see that there was still snow in the higher elevations. I just had to stop for one quick look at the Split Rock Lighthouse, though.

The snow is supposed to continue today and tomorrow so I guess it is officially winter now. I started wearing my fleece-lined jeans a couple of days ago. Here is what it is like today.

 The good news is that in about seven weeks the days will start getting longer! Woohoo!