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Sunday, December 26, 2010


Sunday, 8:45 AM.  22 degrees, wind NW, calm. The sky is overrcast and the barometer predicts partly cloudy skies. It looks like our region will escape the storms going much to the south.
   We are traveling for the next week to ten days so this will be the last post for a while.  We hope there will be some interesting things to report and discuss. Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


12/25/10: Christmas morning.  8:00AM.  23 degrees, wind NW, light. There are a few flakes floating down and there is another 2” of new snow.  It is overcast and a bit foggy, and the barometer is down.
The Nativity scene is under a big concolor fir tree on 8th and Manypenny, courtesy of Mike and Sharon Bonney.
“And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” St. Luke,2,7.
Merry Christmas from Art and Joan Ode.

Friday, December 24, 2010




 Friday, 9:00 AM.  24 degrees, wind W, calm.  The sky is mostly overcast, and the barometer predicts snow.
Christmas was always a happy time in my childhood,  presents usually being clothes and books (I was a bookworm) and an occasional toy.  Most Christmases are but only a vague memory, blurred by time.  But one remains vivid.  I was just twelve, and already much involved in making my own spending money by pedaling papers and doing odd jobs.  I had a hand-me-down bike, which was good enough for doing my paper route and getting me around the neighborhood, but my greatest desire was for a new Schwinn bicycle.  I even  had the colors picked out; maroon with cream striping, and a “belly tank” beneath the straddle bar holding a battery operated horn.  Of course I would “customize” it with handle grip streamers, and a speedometer (how fast could I make it go down the bridge over the railroad tracks on 92nd street?). A new Schwinn cost a lot of money, which it would take me a long time save up, so I dropped many a hint to Mom and Dad.  They did not seem enthusiastic about the idea of buying such an expensive Christmas gift, but there was something in their attitude that gave me hope, and my dreams of road warrior glory amongst my  envious buddies, and showing off for the pretty new girl in Sunday School intensified.  Intensified to the point of certainty. I wanted it. I deserved it. Surely I would get it.  And in the last days before Christmas my curiosity about where it might be hidden, if indeed it did exist at all, became unbearable.  I looked in the garage. I looked in the neighbor’s garage.  I looked in the basement. No Schwinn.  By the day before Christmas my certainty had turned to serious doubt as I redoubled my sleuthing efforts.
    One place I had not looked was the attic, whose narrow, cold, winding stairs, in winter usually bedecked with pots and jars of food  unable to be fit into our small refrigerator, seemed impossible to negotiate with a full sized bicycle.  Then it suddenly occurred to me: there were two of them, Dad and Mom, and mother was as strong as most men.  Neither were home.  I opened the attic door, and braving the rush of frigid air, negotiated the culinary booby traps and the narrow, twisting steps at the top.  The attic was dim, but over there, in the far corner, was... I took a deep breath and stepped forward in awe; a handsome new Schwinn, maroon with cream trim, chrome wheels, whitewall tires and a belly tank.  Just then I heard the car in the driveway. Mom and Dad were home.  I flew down the stairs, and hurriedly ensconced myself in my usual chair and opened a book.  In they came; had they seen the attic light on?  Would they know I had snooped?  By all appearances they suspected nothing. 
    Christmas Eve came and went.  After lessons and carols at church we always visited my aunt, uncle and cousins down on Milwaukee’s South Side.  I went to bed late, feeling guilty about my snooping, but elated with the thought of a new set of wheels.  Christmas morning we opened our respective gifts, among which was a new sweater for myself. I tried to retain my composure as I fidgeted and glanced furtively across the room.  Finally my Dad looked at me and said, “Son, I need some help with something,” at which point I bolted for the attic door and was halfway up the hazardous stairs when I heard my mother call after me with a chuckle, “You’ve been snooping!”

Thursday, December 23, 2010



Thursday, 9:00 AM.  22 degrees, wind WNW, calm.  The sky is overcast but the barometer predicts sunshine. Pack ice is beginning to form in the channel.
    Fish shanties have sprung up on lower Chequamegon Bay at Ashland. Each has an attendant snowmobile or ATV. I would think it a bit early to be on the ice, although much of it has been nominally frozen for some time.  Actually, much of the Bay there is pretty shallow, except for the shipping lanes, which is one reason it freezes early.  I would point out, however, that even a tall person will drown just as thoroughly in ten feet of water as in one hundred. Most every year at least one person goes through the ice and drowns somewhere on Chequamegon Bay.
    I see an environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, is set to sue the Obama administration to force it to restore wolves in all the lower 48 states.  People in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware may be in for a surprise while waiting for the commuter train if the suit is successful.  How about wolves in Washington, DC;  they could snarl nose to nose with the politicians over the pork that is so abundant there. Please, can’t we have some sanity in this country? 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010




Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  Wind W, calm with occasional puffs that send heaps of snow cascading off heavily laden conifers.  The sky is overcast, the barometer is up and it has stopped snowing.  We got another 4” last night, for a total of around 14”. We will now probably have clear, cold weather, as that is the normal cycle. 
    Although somewhat inconvenient, Northland storms are invariably events filled with great beauty. City roads become iconic winter scenes; country lanes become places of mysterious solitude, and the front yard a mini-wilderness.  Pauses in winter’s work, leaning on the snow shovel, become moments of inspirational, sometimes even prayerful, reverie. And then the spell is broken by the scraping, guttural sound of the big snowplow as it rounds the corner, filling again the end of the just-cleared driveway. Back to work!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010









  Tuesday, 8:45 AM.  28 degrees, wind WSW, calm.  It is snowing, and I just shoveled 6” of the white stuff from driveway, walks and decks. The barometer is down, predicting more snow. If I become disgusted with the task, I stop a minute and consider how incredibly fortunate I am to be able to do it.
    It seemed appropriate that we should confront the longest night of the year with lights, as did our ancient forebears; so without more comment we offer the Holiday Lights of Bayfield, Wisconsin’s smallest city, (pop. 611). May they brighten your Christmas season!

Monday, December 20, 2010




 Monday, 8:30 AM.  7.5 degrees, up three degrees in the last half hour.  Wind WSW, calm.  A reluctant sun is struggling to rise through the lake smoke.  The rest of the sky  is mostly clear, and the barometer is predicting partly  cloudy skies.
    Yesterday afternoon we decided to go out to dinner in Cornucopia, taking our time to get there just before dark.  First we checked out the Sioux River above Big Rock to see if it was frozen over, and it was not.  This section of the river, upstream from the bridge on Big Rock Road, is usually very photogenic, and it did not disappoint.  I resolved then and there to do some serious trout fishing early next spring.  The last time I photographed this part of the river some idiot(s) had erected a whole phalanx of stone monuments (stone fishermen, witches cairns?) in the water.  Thankfully they are gone now, either toppled by rushing storm runoff or by some good Samaritan with a better sense of outdoor aesthetics .  From there we drove west on Star Route, which was snow covered and slippery but otherwise uneventful; however, the sky turned a spectacular blue, pink and mauve with the light of the setting sun reflecting off the massive cloud formation of an oncoming front.  In order to get a decent photo I turned south on Mountain road, and I just managed to catch the last of the colors as they faded right before my eyes. We ended up eating at Fish Lips Tavern in Corny where we had a good down-home meal and a warming drink.
    I have mentioned before that one of my simple joys is finding a book in my library that I have not read, and I recently found a little paperback that I purchased almost half a century ago, and have probably packed and unpacked a half-dozen times without ever opening the cover.  It is “Notes from Little Lakes,” by the late Milwaukee Journal outdoor writer Mel Ellis.  Published in 1963 by the Journal, it is a compilation of very short articles he wrote for the Sunday edition over a period of years.  I had at one time probably read them all individually along with Ellis’ other outdoor stories.  I followed his hunting and dog tales avidly in those younger years, as I was then very much into bird hunting and bird dogs.  I imagine the book is now long out of print and difficult to find, but it is filled with “notes” on wildlife, conservation, and training and living with dogs, horses, all kinds of animals, and of course his wife and children, as the “notes” are mostly about family life on his exurban homestead, “Little Lakes.” There is a lot of wisdom in this simple book, but it is often rather somber, as it recounts tragedies, small and large, along with the joys of life.  It is a good, philosophical read for a long winter's night if you can find it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010




Sunday. 9:00 AM.  17 degrees, wind WSW, calm.  The sky is overcast and there is lake smoke out over the Apostles, but the barometer predicts sunny skies.
    Lucky and I had not been to the beach since well before deer season, so we went for an early morning walk.  The beach sand is not frozen in most places (not wet enough) and with only an inch or two of snow on top it felt like walking on summer sand. In the beach grass the snow has accumulated to 12 or 18 inches. The ice is beginning to form long peninsulas which reach out into the water, but  there is so much wave and current action here that it will be weeks or more until there is much ice.  The Sioux River is pretty much frozen but the mouth is not.  With only a couple of days remaining before the winter solstice the  cold-looking sun is almost at its furthest point south, and it is rather disconcerting to see it seeming to rise over Ashland, when at the summer solstice it seems to rise over Basswood Island.  Lucky  appreciated wearing his new coat this morning, and ran around like a pup, his spaniel ears flapping as though ready for takeoff.
    I’ve been having a tough time building a fire in the fireplace of late, the last load of firewood being wet at least, and probably somewhat green as well.  I have resorted to splitting the wood into stove size sticks, and with that we had a nice fire last night.  My usual wood source has rather let me down.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Saturday, 9:00 AM.  16 degrees, wind WSW, calm.  The sky is overcast and the barometer predicts more snow.  It has snowed lightly most of yesterday and last night, and we have four inches of new snow, weightless fluff, like goose down.  It was actually fun to shovel.
    While in the Ace Hardware Store in town yesterday I found out what happened to the buck that I waited so patiently for on the opening day of dear season, and also why I neither saw nor heard any coyotes, or saw any tracks where other years there had been all sorts of coyote sign.  The new owner of the large tract of land to the north of my stand came in and as we exchanged pleasantries he told me this story: his friends who hunted his land shot two bucks on opening day (I heard the shots, one earlier and one just at the end of the day).  One was probably the buck that created the rub I had been watching. And, when dragging out the last deer shot, in the dark, the hunter was stalked by two wolves.  First one wolf would move in close, and when the flashlight was shined in its eyes it would back off, but then the other would move in.  This game of hunters and the hunted continued until the deer was dragged to the truck.  I had thought perhaps there were no coyotes in the area because wolves had driven them out, and this tale confirms my suspicions.  I guess it would be prudent to reload after shooting a deer; I had never thought about that, as it has been pointed out by the DNR over and over, there are few verified instances of wolf attacks on humans in North America.    Anyway, the wolves didn't get his deer.  I don't know what I would have done.

Friday, December 17, 2010






Friday, 8:30 AM.  17 degrees, wind W, light with moderate gusts.  The sky is completely overcast, the barometer predicts snow and a few flakes are falling.
    Last night’s Chamber of Commerce Community After Hours shopping, raffle and party was pretty successful.  Most shops were open, they were quite busy and there seemed to be a lot of people from out of town on the streets.  The street decorations are nice again this  year and the weather cooperated, as it was a comparatively warm evening, without a snowstorm.
    Raffle tickets, along with holiday goodies, were free at each shop, and at 7:00 PM a party and raffle drawing was hosted by Maggies restaurant, which was filled to overflowing with folks in a party mood.  Joan and I got there early enough to have a hamburger and a beer before the drawing.
    We were rather disappointed to find that we had missed the annual Forever Ed’s Lutefisk Dinner, held at Maggies every year.  It is a free community dinner but you have to read the notice on the restaurant bulletin board or hear of the date by word of mouth.  It is always a great time, but in all honesty I can probably only do lutefisk (lye-soaked, reconstituted cod) and aqavit (Norwegian fire water) once every couple of years anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

7:15 AM: DAWN

7:45 AM: SUN'S UP

Thursday, 8:30 AM.  19 degrees, up from 14 an hour ago. Wind WNW, calm at ground level but the clouds are moving pretty fast, the few that there are.  The sky is mostly a clear, azure blue.  The barometer is down and predicts snow but it doesn’t look like it, which will be good for tonight’s community shopping night out. Lucky didn't need his coat this morning on our nice, long walk.
    The ice pack is beginning to crowd into the channel between Bayfield and LaPointe on the Island but nothing of much consequence.  When it gets thick enough the ferry has to plow through it I will beg a ride and take some photos.
Today ‘s agenda is to get all the Christmas stuff in the mail.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12/15/10 SMOKE


Wednesday, 9:00 AM.  7 degrees, and much warmer in the sun and up from 2 degrees earlier.  The sky is crystal clear except for lake smoke over the channel, great gray clouds of steam crowned with an apricot glow, which are rising a thousand feet into the air.  The wind is WNW, calm.  The barometer is down, announcing an approaching low and possible storm.
    The frozen, snowy roads squeaked audibly under foot.  The air was crisp and clean.  The lake smoke will continue to rise each morning until the water begins to freeze.  Of course if conditions are right the lake smoke will blow over land and precipitate as lake effect snow.  If winds remain calm we may get ice forming near shore and around Madeline Island.  We are normally warmer than inland, and Hayward, an hour southwest, probably was well below zero last night.  Winter has arrived early and with a vengeance, but it is palatable if one but appreciates its frigid beauty.  The birds haven’t left the warmth of the conifer boughs as yet this morning. All creatures want to stay in bed when it is cold.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


                                                    LUCKY, THE STYLISH DOG
Tuesday, 8:45 AM.  5 degrees, up from 0 earlier.  Wind WNW, calm.  The sky is partly cloudy but clearing from the west.  The barometer predicts clear skies.
    Lucky’s dogie overcoat arrived yesterday and he is wearing it this morning.  It is supposed to b e a Christmas present but the calendar doesn’t mean much to him and it is cold and he might as well use it.  It is red with gray lining and collar, and reflective white edging.  All he needs is a pipe and silk scarf and he will be ready for the silver screen.  His style puts the old man to shame.
    Made in Bangladesh, the seamstresses must wonder at the utility of an item like this, and probably think it is children’s apparel.  At least it wasn’t made in China.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Art's Bayfield Almanac: 12/13/10 BUYING AMERICAN

Art's Bayfield Almanac: 12/13/10 BUYING AMERICAN


                                                          AFTER THE BLIZZARD
                                                                REALLY HATE IT!
 Monday, 8:30 AM.  4.5 degrees, wind W, very light.  A few snow flakes are falling, the sky is overcast and the barometer predicts snow, which we only got about six inches or so of from the last storm. There is heavy fog over the channel.  It was cold enough to numb my fingers while shoveling and walking this morning.
    I know I am not the first to make this or a similar proposal, but I make it again because we really ought to do it.  Have a national “Buy American” day, maybe once each month, so everyone fully realizes how little is actually “Made in America” these days, and the extent of our collective buying power.  Once we, manufacturers, retailers and yes, politicians are fully aware of the economic clout of the American consumer, we could say “Buy American” and mean it.
    I am sick of buying things that don’t work, don’t fit, are shoddy and have to be replaced long before their time.  Like the toaster ovens that I replace every year because they work for a month and for the next eleven months I have to turn the bread over so it is toasted on both sides, all the while worrying that it will burn the house down if I turn my back and reluctant to admit I have been cheated once again.  I finally get sick of the process and throw each out in turn and buy another foreign made piece of junk because toaster ovens are not made here anymore.   I am tired of stove burners that burn out (My mother’s electric stove worked flawlessly for thirty plus years) sick of light bulbs that last two months, of clothes that don’t fit, of boots that don’t last the winter, of pet food laced with PCBs and children’s toys infused with lead.  I am tired of American workers competing with slave labor and military conscripts. 
    We are never going to solve the unemployment problem in this country if there are no jobs for average people to be employed at, and we may look at ten percent or greater unemployment forever if we don’t start manufacturing everyday items here again. Crazy old Ross Perot was right about the giant sucking sound of jobs leaving America, they just didn’t stop in Mexico. There are millions of people…young people without basic work skills, retirees who need a second income, and many, many people who will never have the capacity to do high tech or theoretical work…but can perform basic manufacturing tasks, and who will be on the public dole forever if we don’t provide them with employment opportunities. 
    I for one would gladly pledge to pay more for better products “Made In America.”  That said, I do not believe that foreign labor, no mater how cheap, can actually make up for the economic and environmental cost of shipping raw materials halfway around the world only to have the finished products shipped halfway around the world back again.  There is no way those numbers can actually add up if truthful accounting is practiced.  We have been sold a dishonest bill of goods and we have to admit that we are suckers.  The politicians have sold us out, corporate America has sold us out, the educational system has sold us out, and the unions have sold us out with their outrageous wage demands and destructive work rules.  But, even the present game will soon be over, because people that don’t have jobs can’t buy things, no matter how cheap.
    The world’s largest economy will fail if we continue to be brain dead consumers.  Let’s demonstrate our power, and one day a month buy American, or let it stay on the shelf! Then maybe honest entrepreneurs will start making things here again that we can buy with confidence. I really hate that toaster oven.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


                                                            SANTA ON THE FERRY
                                         WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?
                                        I KNOW WHO'S BEEN NAUGHTY AND NICE!
                                                SANTA ARRIVES WITH A "THUMP"
                                      A ROUGH TRIP FOR SANTA AND MRS. CLAUS
                                          STILL ROUGH OUT THERE THIS MORNING
Sunday, 9:30 AM.  11 degrees, up from 8 degrees earlier. Wind NE, strong at times.  The sky is partly overcast and trying to clear, the channel is roiled by white caps, but the barometer is up and it is no longer snowing.  Joan and I went out to dinner last night to the Steak Pit in Washburn because nearer restaurants were closed, and it was a to rough trip in the Nor’easter, but  I have to say that the Chevy truck with automatic four wheel drive and ABS is a wonderful winter vehicle.
    After our trip to the recycle center yesterday morning in the blizzard, Joan, Lucky and I went to the Pavilion (Lucky stayed in the truck) to watch Santa arrive on the ferry.  He was scheduled to arrive at 11:30  but the boat had a rough passage across the channel and was considerably late. His reindeer unfortunately got seasick. It the meantime we all, kids and parents and grandparents, had cookies, snacks, hot chocolate and hot cider in the pavilion.  Eventually the ferry made it through the breakwater and docked with a thump right outside, and everyone bundled up to greet him and Mrs. Santa (actually Mr. And Mrs. Robert Hanson of the Winfield Inn).  They are former show people, and put on a great act, with Santa singing and dancing in the pavilion before taking kids on his knee to find out what they wanted for Christmas. His rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” made every child decide to be nice rather than naughty. It was a great experience, and probably one of the few times and places Santa Claus comes to town by water.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


                                                 WITH THE WIND AT OUR BACKS
Saturday, 9:00 AM.  22 degrees, wind NE, right off the lake, moderate with stronger gusts.  It is snowing fairly heavily, fine, icy pellets.  The barometer is up so we may not get a full-fledged blizzard, but right now it looks pretty likely.
    Lucky and I took our usual walk this morning, into the teeth of the blizzard the first half, with the storm at our backs on the return.  It felt good, as we were on the verge of becoming hothouse plants.  The yak tracks were a plus.
    Joan watches the bird feeders more than I do, and she says there were hundreds of birds, all the usual suspects, stoking up the last two days.
    We have several weeks of recyclables and bagged garbage to take to the recycle center this morning, and we want be on hand to welcome Santa to town at the Pavilion at 11:30.  He and Mrs. Santa will arrive on the ferry.

Friday, December 10, 2010

12/10/10 DOGS IN CHINA


Friday, 8:30 AM.  19 degrees, wind WNW, light but picking up.  The sky is overcast and there are a few snowflakes falling.  We got 4"-5” of snow in the last 24 hours, and it looks like a storm is developing on the NW horizon.
    Be careful how well you treat your dog, they cannot be trusted to keep it in perspective! Now that Lucky is pretty well back to normal, I am trying to get him to eat his usual diet of dog food and select table leftovers, but he indicates he would really prefer yogurt well fortified with boiled hamburger.  And, he would also really like it to be fed to him one spoonful at a time, accompanied by coaxing praises.    I have explained to him that there are dogs in China who not only don’t get dinner, they are dinner, but that seems to go right over his head.  Maybe he will have to go a little bit hungry for a while until he realizes his days of special treatment are over.
    Joan has sent for a dogie overcoat for him for Christmas, so he will keep warm on our walks.  I am not at all sure that was a good idea.

Thursday, December 9, 2010



Thursday, 8:30 AM. 18 degrees, wind SSW, strong, and very blustery at times. The sky is overcast and it is snowing fairly hard; fine, icy pellets. The barometer predicts stormy weather, and it looks like we might get a blizzard. Lucky and I walked most of our usual route this morning, so we are both on the mend.
The news is that the power plant in Ashland (Excel Energy, AKA Northern States Power) has reconsidered going completely to biomass after re-running the numbers. Several of its power boilers have been run by wood sawdust and other waste for over thirty years, but they were going to shut down coal use entirely in the near future and convert completely to biomass. Evidently the marketplace for biomass has become too expensive to do that. I am not disappointed, as some expectations for forest biomass saw every stick of wood being fed into the energy system, either directly as fuel or for conversion to ethanol. That is very problematic from an ecological standpoint unless very tightly controlled, and our society has a penchant for wild swings of environmental and economic theory and practice, often with very dubious results. As my grandmother used to say, “You’re better off with a devil you know than a devil you don’t know,” probably relating to my grandfather, but certainly applicable to many situations. Anyway, I lean towards coal and oil as the lesser of most energy devils, and certainly more economic and practical than most of the others out there. A plus in the power plant’s continued use of coal is that we will still see the occasional big lake boat plying the channel, and the magnificent Ashland harbor will have to be kept dredged and up to date, ready for the distant day when the lake traffic returns.