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Sunday, February 26, 2017

A COOL WAY TO TRAVEL

HUDSON RIVER ICE BOAT, 19TH CENTURY
CHECKING THE ICE BOAT OUT

Sunday, 9:00 AM.  25 degrees F at the ferry dock, 22 on the ba porch.  Wind S, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The humidity is 87% after several inches of snow fell last night.  The barometer is rising, now at 20.72".  The next ten days is predicted to be more of the same; temperatures in the twenties, mostly overcast and cloudy, with snow and snowflurries.
   The ice of the big lake is usually a rough affair, full of ridges, bumps and cracks and probably much too rough for most ice boats to sail over, but the recent melting and refreezing has left it much smoother than normal.  So, out will come the ice boats on the lower Bay at Ashland, the one pictured being the first I have seen this winter.
   When we lived in New York big ice boats were often seen on the broad Hudson River, where they could go full speed, and with room to maneuver, even tack into the wind. Ice Boats have been around on the Hudson since 1790.   In the days before railroads ice boats carried passengers and freight on the frozen river.  They can travel at breakneck speed in a good wind.
   Talk about a cool way to travel!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

BAYFIELD'S GHOSTLY WIND SYMPHONY

THE GHOSTLY ORCHESTRA...BAYFIELD'S SAILING FLEET

THE INSTRUMENTS...THE MASTS AND RIGGING
 Saturday, 9:00 AM.  16 degrees F at the ferry dock, 14 up here on the bluff.  Wind variable with light gusts, sky overcast and it is snowing, the humidity 80%.  The barometer is steady, at 29.96" of mercury.  The forecast calls for temperatures in the twenties, and a wintry mix of skies and weather for the next ten days.
   Yesterday morning I was awakened while it was still dark by an ethereal, moaning, dirge-like  sound, rather like a ghostly orchestra tuning up.  I had heard that sound before, but it took a sleepy moment to remember what it was.
   Which was, of course,  Bayfield's own wind symphony, the sailboats at the marina, playing the music created by the wind rushing through their masts and rigging. 
   They were indeed tuning up for a bravuro musical performance that would last all that windy day, and perhaps today as well, as we we are the recipients of the northern edge of the massive storm now slamming most of the Plains States and the Midwest.
   Who might the composer of the symphony be?   Perhaps Njord, the old Norse wind god; and the conductor? Likely some ancient mariner, lost in a long ago Lake Superior Nor'easter.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

OUR BAYFIELDHOME IS FOR SALE: 2

LIBRARY AND FOYER

GREAT ROOM


LIVING AREA

MASTER BATH/JETTED TUB

BEDROOM

MASTER BEDROOM/SITTING ROOM

MASTER BEDROOM

2ND BATHROOM/LAUNDRY AREA

GREAT ROOM

KITCHEN AREA
APARTMENT

APARTMENT FULL BATH

APARTMENT KITCHEN
Thursday, 9:00 AM.  32 degrees F at the ferry dock, the same on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the sky overcast but clearing, humidity 77%.  The barometer is rising, now at 29.96".  The prediction is for much colder temperatures with highs in the twenties, and a wintry mix of skies and weather, including more snow.  It snowed and sleeted a bit last night and the roads have a lot of black ice, almost impossible to walk on.
   Joan and I retired to Bayfield in May of 2000.  It has been a fine time, that we have enjoyed immensely.  Bayfield is a very special place, that I often refer to as a "civilized wilderness," with all the amenities of a small community, but on the shores of the planet's largest freshwater lake and surrounded by streams and forests filled with wildlife.  It is an idyllic place for the sportsman, fisherman, sailor, photographer and gardener (zone 4b) .  At one point or another we have done all of that.
   Now, however, it is time for us to move closer to children and grandchildren, and our home, built in 1999, is for sale, and we are posting it on the Almanac in case any readers are interested in owning a Bayfield residence, either full time or vacation home.
   Today's post features photos of the inside, following yesterday's post of the outside, and Friday's will feature the gardens and views.  Our residence at 236 South Tenth St. is 2000+ sq.' The lot is 80'x120', large enough for gardens and outdoor activities but small enough to be easy to maintain.  It has an attached two car garage, and a large covered porch and a side deck, and a front deck off a sitting room attached to the master bedroom.  The main living area is open in concept, combining kitchen, dining and living room, with wood burning fireplace.  It has a separate library with gas fireplace, antique mantel and built-in book shelves; a foyer, three bedrooms and master bath with jetted tub, and a three-quarter bath (shower) with washer and drier and wash sink all on the main level.
   A completely separate efficiency apartment, with full bath and kitchen, electric fireplace and washer and drier area occupy  the lower level.  It has a separate entrance and patio with lake and garden views and two legal parking spaces. it is currently rented by an elderly tenant who would like to stay, but it would also make an excellent mother-in-law or guest apartment, or marvelous rec room.
   All floors, upstairs and down, are either tile or wood laminate.
  The house has city water and sewer, natural gas heat, cable TV and internet,  whole house fan, and ceiling fans in every room.
   Almanac readers who are interested may contact us for more information at aode@charter.net, and will be opted out of the realtor's contract at purchase, which renders a 6% discount.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

OUR BAYFIELD HOME IS FOR SALE:1

 FRONT (west)

FRONT DECK

SOUTH

EAST (apartment lower level)

NORTH DECK



LIBRARY

COVERED PORCH (two patio doors)

Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  36 degrees F at the ferry dock, 34 on the back porch.  Wind variable, with very light gusts.  Sky mostly cloudy, humidity 93%.  The barometer is mostly steady, now at 29.93".  There is a chance of rain today, then becoming much colder for the week ahead, with a wintry mix of skies and weather.
   Joan and I retired to Bayfield in May of 2000.  It has been a fine time, that we have enjoyed immensely.  Bayfield is a very special place, that I often refer to as a "civilized wilderness," with all the amenities of a small community, but on the shores of the planet's largest freshwater lake and surrounded by streams and forests filled with wildlife.  It is an idyllic place for the sportsman, fisherman, sailor, photographer and gardener (zone 4b) .  At one point or another we have done all of that.
   Now, however, it is time for us to move closer to children and grandchildren, and our home, built in 1999, is for sale, and we are posting it on the Almanac in case any readers are interested in owning a Bayfield residence, full time or vacation.
   Today's post features photos of the outside of the house, tomorrow's the inside, and Friday's the gardens and views.  Our residence at 236 South Tenth St. is 2000+ sq.' The lot is 80'x120', large enough for gardens and outdoor activities but small enough to be easy to maintain.  It has an attached two car garage, and a large covered porch and a side deck, and a front deck off a sitting room attached to the master bedroom.  The main living area is open in concept, combining kitchen, dining and living room, with wood burning fireplace.  It has a separate library with gas fireplace, antique mantel and built-in book shelves; a foyer, three bedrooms and master bath with jetted tub, and a three-quarter bath (shower) with washer and drier and wash sink.
   A completely separate efficiency apartment, with full bath and kitchen, electric fireplace and washer and drier occupy the lower level.  It has a separate entrance and patio with lake and garden views and two parking spaces. it is currently rented by an elderly tenant who would like to stay, but it would also make an excellent mother-in-law or guest apartment, or marvelous rec room.
   All floors, upstairs and down, are either tile or wood laminate.
  The house has city water and sewer, natural gas heat, cable TV and internet,  whole house fan, and ceiling fans in every room.
   Almanac readers who are interested may contact us for more information at aode@charter.net, and will be opted out of the realtor's contract at purchase.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

RED OZIER DOGWOOD




RED OZIER, OR RED TWIG, DOGWOOD...
...CORNUS  STOLONIFERA, ALONG STAR ROUTE

Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  38 degrees F at the ferry dock, 35 on the back porch.  Wind SW, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is mostly cloudy but clearing after .1" of rain last evening, the humidity 86%.  The barometer has begun to fall, now at 29.95".  The forecast continues to predict much colder weather, with mixed skies and 3"-5" of snow on Friday.  Yuck!
   While in Ashland yesterday we saw a pickup truck and two fishermen out on the ice several hundred feet from shore.  It was raining and the ice was covered with water and slush.  I was aghast at them being out on the ice in the rain after more than a week of warm weather. I had to drive around the block to get back to take a photo, which I thought would be valuable for their obituaries or at least a story on the disappearance of the truck, but then I discovered I had left the camera battery in its charger at home.  I would have labelled the photo "Dumb and Dumber," but ended up being the dumb one myself.
   The red twig, or red osier, dogwood shrub, Cornus stolonifera, in the Dogwood Family (Cornaceae) is particularly beautiful and useful in the native landscape.  It usually occupies wet areas but will grow in drier conditions as well.  The species name, stolonifera, refers to its growth habit of spreading by stolons, or underground stems.  This characteristic makes it very valuable for stabilizing stream banks and wet hillsides, but also renders it pretty invasive in the smaller landscape.  
Fortunately there is a horticultural selection of the plant, Cornus 'Baleyi' that does not spread and can be used to good advantage in the home landscape.  The red osier also flowers and fruits very nicely, and thus offers year-round visual interest.  There is also a yellow-twig dogwood of European origin, Cornus alba,  which is a nice contrast to the red in the winter landscape..
   The Dogwood Family has a great number of important horticultural and economic species, including the beautiful flowering dogwood of eastern and southern North America, and even another European species, Cornus mas,  that bears large,  large edible berries.  The Japanese dogwood tree, Cornus kousa, has large, attractive flowers, somewhat similar to our native flowering dogwood.
   There is even an attractive, flowering and fruiting ground cover dogwood,  the native bunchberry, Cornus canadensis.  All dogwood species produce berries that are valuable as wildlife food, but most are far too bitter for human consumption.

Monday, February 20, 2017

MAPLE SAP IS FLOWING!


SAP COLLECTION BAGS AT THE BAYFIELD OLD COURTHOUSE

TRADITIONAL SPILE AND BUCKET SAP COLLECTION


ANDY LARSEN AND HIS SUGAR SHACK, CIRCA 2009

ART AND OLD DOG LUCKY...OH, TO BE 70 YEARS OLD AGAIN!
Monday, 8:15 AM.  42 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch, a relatively rare occurrence. Wind variable and calm, skies cloudy and humidity 79%  The barometer has begun to fall, now at 29.95".  The much predicted rain has not arrived and may not, from the looks of things.  The forecast calls for warm temperatures into the low 50's through Tuesday, then dropping back into the twenties, with a wintry mix of weather.  Old man winter is stubborn, but each mild day is one day less of him.
  The sap is flowing in the sugar maples, and it is time for "maple sugarin'" once again. This is an early sap flow, but upcoming cold weather will probably shut it off again.  Flow can start and stop anytime, according to weather conditions, from mid February through mid April.  Sap flow typically stops completely when trees bud out.
   I have enjoyed helping friends Andy and Judy Larsen with sugaring for a number of years, on their property out on Hwy. K, but they no longer can do the work. My maple sugaring days are pretty much over as well, as old friends pass away or are no longer able to participate, and as I have issues of my own that preclude tromping through heavy snow or mud, and carrying buckets of sap.  As they say, "Life happens." But, to bring Almanac readers up to date:
   Sap flows upwards from the roots of maple trees (sap is collected mainly from sugar maples, Acer sacharum, but also flows similarly in red maples, Acer rubrum, and some other maple species) much earlier than other tree species, and is uncharacteristically sweet.  Sap also flows early in birch trees, Betula species, which are also sometimes tapped for their sap (Scandinavians make a beer from birch sap). For a very understandable explanation of the technicalities of sugar maple and similar sap flow, see The Botanist In The Kitchen post of March 16, 2013.  Search this blog for further information and photos as well.
   There are a number of theories concerning maple sap flow, but the process is complicated and none of the theories seem to be foolproof.  In any case, sap flows best when warm, sunny days follow cold nights.  Warm nights usually stop the flow of sap.  Some seasons are much better than others, and maple sugaring is often a hit-or-miss proposition.  Some seasons are very productive of sap, and others are hardly worth the trouble.
   The trees are tapped and a spile, a spigot that the sap flows from, and the bucket or bag is hung from, is inserted into the tree.  Nowadays the holes for the spiles are often drilled with a cordless drill, but an old fashioned, hand-turned carpenters brace and bit works about as well.  The drilled hole is shallow, just deep enough to hold the spile in place, since the sap flows in the xylem conductive tissues just under the inner bark of the tree.  The shallow wound heals easily during the growing season and does no harm to the tree, nor does the collection of sap itself.
   The sugars in maple sap are very dilute, and it takes about forty gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup, or ten gallons to make a quart.  Traditionally, sap is boiled down over a wood fire, or on a wood stove, and it takes a lot of split and seasoned hardwood to make syrup.  The whole process is very labor intensive and laborious, although commercial operations have devised a lot of labor saving devices, and sap can be boiled over any heat source. Some big commercial operations collect flowing sap from trees directly to the boiling pot with tubing and suction pump, and tap hundreds of trees.
   American Indians collected sap and boiled it down to sugar long before the arrival of Europeans in North America, collecting sap by cutting a "v" in the tree bark and using birch bark buckets.  It was an important part of their lifestyle and diet and remains so in our Ojibway region, although they now use modern tools and methods.
   On balance, maple sugaring is an activity best thought of as something one does to productively pass the time from late winter until spring finally arrives.  But the product, maple syrup, is the very best and uniquely flavored condiment for pancakes, ice cream and other treats.  And the sugar shack, where the syrup is made, is traditionally a fun place to be with friends and relatives, where jokes are abundant and laughter and  good will abounds.
  The plastic sap collection bags pictured above are beginning to take the place of the metal or plastic buckets often used.  All things considered, the bags are easier to handle, do not collect insects, are not as likely to spill during the collection process, and are a lot easier to store during the off season.
   The above photo of collection bags were taken yesterday at Bayfield's Old Courthouse (now Park Service headquarters), which has a lot of good sized maple trees. The sap collection is part of a Bayfield school project.
   For some late winter fun, find a sugarbush to volunteer to work at, or tap a few sugar maple trees yourself; it's a great way to connect with people and with nature.
    It's maple sugarin' time again!