Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Spring Ritual: Logs

For many years we have had a logging truck load of firewood delivered at the end of February. We try to time it before the county puts the spring load restrictions on the roads (generally in early March), but after our tax return has arrived. It has become something of a ritual, which (without looking at the dictionary) I would define as an act that is invested with meaning that becomes something of a touchstone in your life over the years.

A logging truck holds 11 cords of wood. A cord is a pile of wood 4'x4'x8'. Wood delivered in the winter is generally cleaner - it carries less sand and mud that will quickly dullen a chainsaw.

It's a pleasure to watch Lindsey operate the grapple arm smoothly and efficiently. I asked him if he played with Tonka toys as a kid, and of course the answer was yes. Machines like this bring out the kid in all of us - I enjoyed just watching it.

A pile of logs has come to symbolize many things to me. First off, it signals the beginning of spring and many evenings of pleasant (up to a point anyway) work with a chainsaw in the lengthening daylight of March and April. It also gives you a visual sense of security - a full pile is two winter's worth of heat. You don't have to wonder about the price of fuel oil, or whether or not your furnace will break down. There is of course much work - sawing, splitting and piling. Some of our sons' earliest memories are of carrying wood from the pile and throwing it into the basement. Still, there is something innately satisfying about working with firewood - you always can see the results of your work and you know that it provides one of your most elemental needs - warmth.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February Sunshine

A frosty morning after a clear night and a skyfull of stars

The branches of the trees are covered with frost

Grandpa fired up his sauna stove by eight o'clock
A blue jay about to fly down to feed at the pups' bowl of dogfood. Our bluejays are well provided for.
It was just too nice a day to stay at work. I bailed out at noon and we went skiing to Swedetown.

And look who we ran into on the trail, Mr. Yoko himself, Gary N. It's always fun to meet Gary on the trails because he is always good for a few memorable quotes. A Copper Country original.
30 degrees, but the kick was good and the glide excellent.

A Valentine's Day boquette, made by David and Deanna

David downloaded some arial photos of Normandy where grandpa cleared minefields and helped build airstrips right at the the invasion in 1944. Grandpa remembered it all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Pups

Savu and Heini, male and female Siberian Husky pups. Their bloodlines are about half "Seppala Siberian" from the famous musher Leonard Seppala, who originally imported huskies from Siberia to Alaska. Nowadays pureblood Siberians have been largely displaced in dogsled racing by the leaner and faster"Alaskan husky", which has been developed for a single purpose - racing in the modern world. The Siberian, on the other hand, was bred by "primitive people" to work and thrive in some of the most challenging conditions on earth.

Savu's left eye is half brown, which gives him a cross-eyed and somewhat befuddled appearance. Heini, on the other hand, always seems to be on top of things. There may be some truth to these first impressions. Heini, at least, seems to dominate her slightly larger brother at the food bowl. He is heavier, but she is quicker. Also, the natural inhibition of male dogs to attack females likely plays a role.

Siberians have a luxuriously soft and thick winter coat, compact bodies, and insatiable curiosity.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Ski to Rockhouse Point

The shore ice extends about a hundred yards out, but then open water.

The skiing was excellent. On past trips we often had to deal with more ice, wind driven sand, etc.

The ice banks had very little snow on them so climbing them was a bit tricky.

Nothing so beautiful as wet Lake Superior stones, even in winter.

This tree isn't going to last many more years.

The beauty of small details...

The sun tried to pierce the snow fog...

Consider for a moment that you are standing here. Suppose you foolishly stepped to the very top of this ice ridge, the tipping point, to get a better picture. Suppose at that moment your foot slipped. The water is ten feet below, and the ice cliff is undercut. Or suppose the place you are standing is more severely undercut and ready break off and topple into that dark, frigid water. These were some of the thoughts that passed through my mind as I stood here, on the shore side of the tipping point.

This counts for a sunny day in the Copper Country in the winter.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 6, 2010

Skiing at Swedetown. Twenty degrees, sunny, good kick, excellent glide - it really doesn't get any better than this.

Did I mention it was sunny?

Marja, still fresh after 50k.

Later in the afternoon, a friend brought his two children over for a snowshoe hike....

..... but of course kids like to take a few detours. Here's Nora coming out of a backward somersault off the high platform. Shhh...don't tell her mother.

Savu joined the fun.
Jake starting his helicopter somersault. But we won't tell his mother.

Did I mention it was sunny?