Mountain Hikes and Wood Fires

Another week has gone by at the camps and with it we have seen some wonderful things, beautiful sunrises, idyllic evenings spent watching a pink hued pond, loons, bear, and moose. Listening to the chorus of peepers as the sun set across the North Woods ; we even heard the faint ping of a saw-whet owl as he went hunting through the woods. This week my grandparents were able to come visit for the first time in many years, along with long time guest and adopted family member Chris Palestrant. With the return of my cousin Joe (who has grown into a tremendously handsome young man, for those guests that may remember him as a gangly adolescent) the previous weekend to the camps for the first time since 1997, I truly felt that the circle was complete. Gramp went around and surveyed the cabins and Gram stayed in the cabin watching the hummingbirds flit to the feeders and entertaining one of our young visitors with ghost stories of Mose. She also divulged a few “secret” springs and trout hot spots which I was quick to find out some I already knew and others were new. Our young guest was duly smitten with Gram and kept asking questions about her all week “did she really cut the driveway?” “Is she the one that dug the cellar?” I found I patiently replied yes to the multitude of questions that came tumbling out all week long. I even caught this young guest who has struggled with school deeply enraptured and reading Gram’s book “Bully my Third Child” with an avid interest and keen sense of forthcoming adventure. It was wonderful to have them at the camp, and it just felt right having them here. They could see the progress we were making and gave their seal of approval, which means more to me than any other award or honor I have ever achieved. We were also able to glean the pearls of wisdom they drop so effortlessly in the most casual of conversations. Gram is a powerhouse of knowledge on the area. She is very humble in her knowledge but I know that I need to sit back and listen because what she knows it will take me years to learn, and there are few, in any others that know from a historical, biological, or geological perspective the information she has stored in her mind. Another bonus to their visit were the nine brand new quilts that came, including several new brightly cut children’s quilts that will delight our young visitors. I was both overwhelmed and amazed at what she has seemingly so effortlessly put together. She is making all the new quilts with a “Green” batting that I have found made out of recycled soda bottles, this is not only environmentally friendly but should serve a dual purpose and neither mice nor bugs like to chew plastic. I have been busy repainting some of the signs that seem to have disappeared over the course of the winter. Freshly painted signs for Tom Young and Little Spencer as well as the Archie’s point trail have been hung. I have begun the discourse with Gram on resurrecting route 66 and it may just be this task that I set our group of boy scouts upon, of course with my tutelage under compass. I also have discovered new things like where Gram knew the Calypso Orchids were and that there were a few trails that were unmarked that I never knew existed. This has awakened in my a desire to create my own trail, perhaps finding some deer path or old game trail as the foundation that winds through the trillium and seeks out low growing flowers such as partridge flower and twinflower, and maybe takes you past a checkerberry or two. My trail would be a simple trail, one that forces you to walk slowly and look at the delicate woods around you. The borealis trail I envision it being called. Now the rub is finding the time to do it. Dana has already found a special place he wants to show guests, and I am excited to see it to, not too far from the camps he has found a bluff ledge with quite an overlook and it is an impressive view. How he discovered it so quickly I do not know, but I suspect Mose was guiding him. The camp yard seems to improve with each day, but still we see hundreds of projects that do not allow us to rest until well past dark each evening. Tonight Dana began repainting the windmill, which then made me realize the lettering needed to be redone. He is convinced I should just paint it. I am convinced I either need stencils or a decal. We also have not yet erected the flag pole, but hopefully that will be complete by the close of Memorial Day. We are anxiously awaiting our seeds and next week the planting of the camp garden will commence. I am anxious to do window boxes and sow seeds, but know too well the perils of a full moon, especially in the North Woods where she is not as forgiving as on the coast. We have had several meals of asparagus already and the parsley is in full bloom along with some of the other herbs like chives and peppermint. The wild strawberry blossoms have peppered the lawn and I am torn…do I mow or not mow. Can’t stand the sight of an unkempt lawn, yet still can’t bear to mow the berry blossoms down…I managed to cut some of the fringes, maybe if I just do a few at a time I can get through that task. Seeing those blossoms made my mouth water in anticipation for wild raspberries, I plan to spend DAYS gathering raspberries and making jam, they are my favorite wild berry. I do also wonder in this northern clime if I might stumble upon some cloud berry, or baked apple berry as my grandmother Ashe used to call it. It seems as though there would be a bog around here that would be the right location, if only I knew the perfect time. Anyone that has such information is certainly welcome and I would plead with you to share it with me. A berry, berries, berries, sometimes I think I should have been a bear, I like berries so much. This time of year is a wonder in the north woods if you have time to slow down and let it all soak in, from the newly arriving songbirds each day, to the unfurling of the green canopy in the forest the air is alive with the pungent smell of spring. On our way to pick up the mail today we were rewarded with a woodchuck, Bald Eagle, and a sprightly young fox. All the animals are shaking off their winter coats and enjoying the long sunshine filled days and cool nights. We have our first guests this weekend that climbed the mountain. I am not sure the mountain journal still exists at the top since apparently it had been living in the Bemsis for the past few seasons, and now has disappeared, but once I make a break free to ascend the mountain I will replace it and allow more visitors to record their achievement at the summit. The guests today did indeed report back that the trail was beautiful and they are very respectful of the difficulty of the climb. They have fallen in love with the place and we have made more new friends which is always a delight. I am half envious and probably more excited than them to hear and live vicariously through the recounting of the journey. They now have waterfall fever and on their way back home plan to hike into several of the local waterfalls in the region. Dana has been busy staining today along with the continued task of stacking the wood, we have almost all but 3 or 4 cords left to stack, we have filled all the empty sheds with wood that will keep the heat and burn slower than the softwood that seems to have been in the remnants of the wood piles this spring. The wood furnace tonight is keeping our cabin toasty and the smoke pierces the fresh air & reminds one of the glowing warmth that waits inside.


3 responses to “Mountain Hikes and Wood Fires

  1. Thank you for the wonderful posts to the SPC blog. Your musings and observations are whetting my appetite for our next visit in August!

    When we visited the spectacular Province of Newfoundland a few years ago, it seemed that the cloudberries or bake-apple berries were being harvested in late July or very early in August; we were told that the window to pick is a very tight one.

    Kind regards

  2. Thank you for sharing. Have you thought of taking all of your posts and creating a compilation to be published in the future. You have a unique insight into your surroundings and have the gift of penning your thoughts comfortably and with emotion. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with your guests and family.

    • i enjoy sharing my thoughts and all we see and experience for those guests and others that truly love Spencer. Someday maybe I will write a book, but I need a good editor first and many more adventures along the way…the journey has just begun as they say….