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Thursday, February 28, 2013


Thursday,  8:00 AM.  25 degrees F, wind NW, calm with moderate gusts.  It is an overcast, gray morning with a few errant snow flakes floating around.  The wind has a distinct bite to it.  I am making few predictions as my weather center gave up along with my computer.  I've taken care of the later but not yet the former.
   The trip to Wausau for the forester's meeting was uneventful except for some nasty weather yesterday morning (while Bayfield, hundreds of miles north, had beautiful weather).  The meeting was worthwhile, with lots of discussion of emerald ash borer and gypsy moth epidemic control and other tree problems.  I did some strategizing concerning a Forest Service grant which has an impending deadline which I will try to meet before we leave on vacation next week, but more of that another day.
   The tree photo is of a monstrous old black willow (Salix nigra) in the woods on 9th st., between Old Military Road and Manypenny Ave. There are others in the woods which are just as picturesque.  Bayfield's ravine conservancy areas have many of these trees,  planted to hold the soil after the disastrous flood of 1942.  Willows like this one are a maintenance problem because they are weak wooded, but they are undeniably beautiful, have more lives than a cat, and serve a useful purpose when properly located.
   A thought for the day: gun registration is the first step towards gun confiscation and ultimately dictatorship.
Salix nigra

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  24 degrees F up here on the bluff, 15 degrees downtown at lake level. Wind W, dead calm.  The sky is completely clear except for a vast cloud of silver fog over the Islands.  It should be a fine day to travel to Wausau for the first meeting of the year of the urban foresters of northwestern Wisconsin, which is a working group of municipal foresters and others responsible for city trees.
   Blog Buddy Doug Petersen requested that I post some "Currier and Ives" photos of Bayfield.  These may or may not suffice, but are all I could do for now.  They were taken yesterday afternoon on a sparkling winter day that began with fantastic frost scenes on downtown trees when the lake fog froze.
   Our Tree Board now has a page on the City of Bayfield web site.  Click on it and see what we are doing with urban forestry in our smallest of Wisconsin cities.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Monday, 8:15 AM. 20 degrees F, wind W, calm.  The sky is overcast but looks like it will clear, the sun beginning to shine through the haze.  Snow has melted and re-frozen on the roads so it is difficult to decide whether to wear Yak Traks and wear them out or not wear them and chance falling.
   Yesterday afternoon was beautiful and we saw some wildlife for a change; a big turkey gobbler on Hyw. J just outside of town (no chance for a photo before he flew off into the woods) and a big bald eagle sitting high in a tree on the corner of 9th St. and Washington Ave.
   The country roads are snow covered, the one shown is Lohman Road off of Hwy. K.  The Ice Road
is open but I'm not driving to the Island on it; it is "Travel At Your Own Risk."

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Sunday, 9:30AM.  33 degrees F, wind W, calm.  The sky is partly cloudy but looks as though it will clear and the sun just peeped through.  Madeline Island has been enveloped in a huge white cloud but is now faintly visible.  Snow covers everything, including Jane and Sherman's house just down the hill, which like the Island, has almost disappeared from view. It is trite to say that Bayfield looks like a Currier and Ives print, but it really does.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Saturday, 9:00  AM.  27 degrees  F, wind W, calm. There is a gentle snow falling, again!
We  have gotten at least a foot of snow in the last twenty-four hours and it looks like more is in the works. I hardly know where to put it anymore,  but it is beautiful.  I think we have a normal or better snow accumulation this year, after a couple of light snow winters.  Should bring the lake level up.
   I somehow lost access to my blog account.  At first I thought someone shut me down but upon further consideration realized I am far to insignificant a commentator to attract much attention, so I finally figured out that I had really messed up my account and password.  So I'm back!
    But in the meantime I bought a new computer, a Macbook Pro, and it will take me a while to get
used to it, so will close for now, but there is considerable news to report, and photos will be back.
   I do have very sad local news, however.  The big lake claimed two more victims this week, two Madeline Island residents who left Bayfield at 9:30 PM Wednesday and never reached home.  They were reported missing on Thursday morning and a search revealed their snowmobile partially submerged off the south shore of the Island, in the treacherous South Channel, where Bayfield resident Jim Hudson died two weeks ago.  One man was found dead on the ice, and divers had to search the frigid water beneath the ice to find the other.  Again, it was a senseless tragedy as they should have stayed on the ice road, which is well marked with Chrsitmas trees.  Perhaps they got lost in the fog, or perhaps they took a joyride, it will never be known, for dead men tell no tales.

                                              JOAN, BUDDY AND LOTS OF SNOW

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Sunday.  8:00 AM.  Happy Birthday Joan!  You look fabulous!  0 degrees F up the bluff, colder lower down at lake level.  Wind WSW, calm.  The sky is clear except for a few gossamer clouds.  The barometer is steady at 30.16 in. and the humidity is 84%.  It is a sparkling, quiet morning except for two small woodpeckers tapping out messages in Morse code to one another up the hill, and a raven quothing something to somebody deeper in the woods.
    Last night was frigid, mostly clear and star-studded, with a waxing half moon. Orion was visible in the southern sky, the Big Dipper obscured by clouds in the north. 
    We went to the Legendary Waters Casino at Red Cliff yesterday evening for Joan’s birthday dinner.  The food was excellent, especially the prime rib.  The buffet dinner was $15 each.  A drink for each of us brought the bill to $40 and a 10% Senior Discount reduced it to $36.  With tip the final bill was $41, a very good deal indeed.  The experience still has a few rough edges (no soup spoons or steak knives, paper napkins instead of cloth) but on the whole pleasant enough, and all the food was good and all you can eat.  We will go back, that’s for sure.
    Last night was the annual Book Across The Bay, a six mile hike across the ice from Ashland to Washburn. It is a benefit for local libraries. Ten years ago I thought about doing it but didn’t.  Now I don’t even think about doing it, but hundreds of people make the trek every year. The trail across the snow covered ice is candle-lit and it is by all accounts a great experience, and would have been spectacular last night.
There was a real tragedy several years ago, however, when a Northland College student was killed by a hit-and-run teenage driver while walking back to Ashland on the ice. It was a senseless accident that ended one young life and probably ruined another, but that’s the way life goes, here as well as anywhere else.
This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us be glad, and rejoice in it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Saturday,  8:45 AM.  5 degrees F, wind WSW, light.  The barometer remains steady at 30.25 in., and the humidity is up, at 85%.  It has begun to snow in earnest to add to the dusting already on the driveway. 
    The sun was but a cold yellow blob this morning as it tried to generate enough heat to assume its responsibilities to the earth.  It eventually rose above the omnipresent clouds of the eastern horizon where it did its daily duty for a short while but has now evidently given up and retreated from the scene.  It is a very changeable and unpredictable day.
    Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel has also failed in his first attempt to be appointed Secretary of Defense.
    Democrats are complaining that the 58-40 vote in the senate, two votes short of the 60 needed to stop debate and allow a vote, was unprecedented as the first time in history that a filibuster has been used to block a Secretary of Defense nominee.
    It is also the first time in history that the nominally Republican Hagel has been the nominee, a fact which pretty well explains the vote.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Monday, 8:15 AM.  26 degrees F, wind W to NW, moderate with stronger gusts.  the barometer is still down, at 29.52 In.  The humidity is 93% The sky is completely overcast and there is considerable haze and snow in the atmosphere over the channel.  It is snowing lightly.
    The storm began about 4:00 PM yesterday.  I shoveled several inches then,  about four later in the evening.  We got another two or three early this morning, for a total so far of about eight or nine inches of rather wet snow.  The end of the driveway was plowed in heavily enough this morning that I had to use the Canadian snow pusher to clear it.
    The birds were at the feeders in the morning's  early light, including a female cardinal that looked a bit confused.  While I was clearing the driveway neighbor Gordy, who is in the boat business, shouted from across the street that he was thinking about cruising the Virgin Islands. 
    The pine trees are laden with wet snow, their long, horizontal branches bending low under the burden.  The Jack pine on the south side of the house, a favorite tree of mine, has the top branches broken, the stump of a large upright limb is shattered, white and sharp, like a fractured thigh bone.  It will take some judicious pruning to restore it to some degree of health and natural beauty. 
    One sees in storms such as this why conifers such as spruce and fir that are native to high elevations and far northern latitudes have developed a pyramidal or spire-like shape; they shed the snow more efficiently and are less prone to such damage.  Evolutionary adaptation is starkly evident this morning. 


Friday, 9:00 AM.  15 degrees up here on the bluff, colder downtown.  Wind W, moderate with stronger gusts. The barometer has risen to 30.25 and the humidity has dropped to 73%.
    The sun has struggled upward through the clouds on the eastern horizon and now shines, silver, through them.  The channel reflects the silver sun and is imprinted with the shadows of the clouds.  Pendant icicles shine silver along the edges of the roof. There is a nip in the air but also the promise of a decent day.  In any case, it is the day that we have got.
    The media commentators were still pontificating last night on the supposedly career ending effects of  Senator Rubio’s  shaky Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address.  Chris Mathews was over-the-top derogatory and demeaning.  I can only hope they will pay the price via a backlash by more reasonable viewers. 
    I do not blame Senator Rubio for his obviously faulty performance; I blame the Republican Party hacks who set him up, I hope not on purpose.  This is the second time this has been done, a repeat of Louisiana Governor Jindal’s weak performance four years ago (without the errant drink of water) 
    For God’s sake, don’t put an inexperienced speaker, or any speaker, naked in front of a TV camera with no podium to put restless hands on, with no audience to reflect encouragement, and without the necessary glass of water within reach and hidden.  And if one is unfamiliar with TV prompters it would be better to use notes like any ordinary speaker.
    Something this important has to be done well or not at all, and if the young lions aren’t ready for the task it should be given to someone more reliable and polished, even if not as preeminent.  I am beginning to think Gov.Jindal’s comment last week was correct: the Republican party has to stop being stupid. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Wednesday, 8:45 AM.  20 degrees F, wind W, calm to light with occasional gusts.  the barometer is trending down at 29.71 in., the humidity is 87%.  The early morning sky was mottled, both clear and clouds, and it has continued to clear.  The sun will warm things up and it will be a nice winter day. The Bayfield roads are slick with frozen slush, and I put on my Yak Tracks to walk.
    It was a pretty easy trip yesterday, only one stretch of icy road with one car in the ditch along I 39 mid-state.  Wisconsin is bisected by US 51 to the north which becomes I 39 from mid-state south to the Illinois line, and the long highway was like a black ribbon laid on a white table cloth.  The state is all snow now, forests, fields and towns incased in winter’s icy grip.
    I did learn a modern day driving lesson yesterday; the tire monitors in each wheel work.  When a tire icon lights up on the dash identifying a low tire, check it out.  I did, and a twenty minute stop at a tire store in Westfield saved us a nasty emergency on the lonely road at night.  The tendency to ignore the warning or look at the tire and assume the sensor is faulty is analogous to thinking there is something wrong with your compass when out in the woods.  Pay attention, or pay a price.
    Which brings me to the last two hours of our trip, as we listened to the almost endless, Castro-like fulminations of President Obama.  We were at once fascinated and bored, as we have heard this sonorous, nonsensical spiel way too often. It was akin to being so enthralled with a truly awful “B” movie that one watches it over and over, fascinated.
A few of the details of his tirade always change, but the basics never do;  more spending, bigger government, more rules and regulations, blame Bush, blame the Republicans, blame America and its people.  He prattled on and on about government investment (taxing and spending),  cooperation (my way or the highway), social justice (give everyone everything I think they need, and it won’t cost anything), ignoring unemployment (the ghettos are  tinder ready to burn as he plays with matches), ignoring foreign policy entirely (except to brag of ending wars, but not winning them). And of course gun control, while increasingly nervous Americans have purchased 64 million guns since he took office and started his campaign against the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
We got home just in time to watch a sincere but obviously shaky response by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.  Joan and I looked at each other and said, “way to young and inexperienced, even in four more years.” 
We need a real general or a damn good governor, and there seem to be few of the former and none of the latter strong enough to both win and govern.  It looks like we have to hunker down in survival mode until the long winter is over.


Thursday, Valentines Day.  9:00 AM.  28 degrees F, wind W, light with stronger gusts. The barometer is steady at 29.81 in., and the humidity is 80%.  It was a dark, dark dawn.  The day has lightened somewhat but there is still a high overcast.  A few fluffy snow flakes are falling, and  it is an undecided day.  The warmer it gets the slicker the roads and walkways become, and it will take a real warm spell to melt the ice on roads and roofs.
    If you wonder why college tuition and health insurance premiums are both going up exponentially, consider this:  Elective sex change operations have become a student right under the health insurance plan at Brown University. 
    So, be careful sending your son to Brown, as he may come home at spring break as your daughter. Wearing a skirt instead of pants.  With a purse instead of pockets. As Pauline instead of Paul.  I would surmise there is not as great a chance of your daughter becoming your son, as it is far more difficult to add an organ than to subtract one.  But I wouldn’t count on it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Tuesday, 17 degrees F, wind SW, light with stronger gusts. The sky has been alternately completely overcast and then clearing since dawn, and the outcome of the struggle remains in doubt.  The barometer has risen slightly to 30.01 in. but the humidity is still 87%.  There is a bitter tinge to the air and a few snow flakes are falling.  The last snow was quite wet and the roads are now snow packed and icy.
    The countryside is indeed beautiful but it all is beginning to be too much of a good thing.  We have a trip to make today to Westfield, in the south central part of the state and it will be interesting to see what things looks like there in what is now mid-winter.
    The Pope has resigned.  Long live the Pope.  It is a wise and virtuous person who can admit to the inability to continue to do a difficult and demanding job.  One might hope that attitude would spread to Washington, DC, but I am afraid it is a place where few saints reside. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


Saturday, 9:00 AM.  17 degrees F, wind light, variable.  The barometer is trending down at 30.18 in.  The humidity is 85%.  It was another stealth sunrise, apparent only as a gradual increase in daylight, the sun itself still not visible behind the overcast.
    We seem to be in a pattern of murky mornings which morph into clear, blue sky days. The gray quiet of the morning is broken only by the whine of the big red wind sled taking off for Madeline Island.
    I admit to being something of a conspiracy theorist.  I even have  friends who at times calls me that, with some seriousness. 
For instance, I am certain there is a conspiracy by unknown dark forces to make it difficult for me to hear things, as someone or something must be surreptitiously turning down the volume on my TV and telephone.
Then there is the conspiracy that has caused car seat belts to be made shorter and shorter over the years, making it increasingly difficult for me to buckle up. And the truly maddening conspiracy that makes  my pants belt a notch shorter after Christmas.
And why does the price of gasoline go up between the time I see the price at the station and I can go around the block to fill up the truck?
I could go on, but I think you can see that I am no stranger to conspiracies.  Even so, there is news I have just come upon that strains even my capacity to theorize (it is not breaking news, so  you may have heard it before I did)… the Department of Homeland Security has recently purchased two billion rounds of ammunition.  That’s billion, with a B.  That is enough ammunition to shoot every single American six times (and remember, the DHS operates within the U.S., and we have an Army, Navy and Air Force with their own ammunition to carry on wars beyond our borders).  And half those bullets are hollow point bullets, outlawed in warfare between nations.  Unless the DHS cops are absolutely terrible shots, two billion bullets could kill every human being in the Western Hemisphere. Two billion bullets weigh more than three navy destroyers, and would fill 1,800 semi-trailers.  This figure does not include the half a million (give or take a few thousand) bullets purchased by the Social Security Administration. 
Even my fertile imagination can’t come up with a remotely sane theory as to why the Social Security Administration needs bullets, or guns to shoot them from.  Unless they need a Plan B for when the Social Security Trust Fund begins to run out in a few years.
I have been theorizing furiously as to the need for this much deadly force within our own borders. Particularly when the federal government is so concerned about gun violence that it is trying desperately to confiscate the weapons of  law abiding citizens and, yes, limit their access to legal ammunition. 
Now, as to my theory concerning the purchase of two billion bullets by the Department of Homeland Security: I know it sounds absolutely crazy;  I don’t want to say it, and you don’t want to hear it.  But the only theory I can come up with that fits the facts is that the federal government fears, and is preparing for, an armed rebellion by the American people.  And I will be one of the first to hobble to the barricades, where I will wave my cane in defiance at the Washington whippersnappers.
Anyway, that’s my theory…what’s yours? 

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Sunday, 9:00 AM.  25 degrees F, wind direction variable and unsettled, moderate with occasional strong gusts.  The barometer has fallen to 29.80 in., and the humidity has risen to 89%.  The morning is chill and damp, with a touch of bitterness in the wind. 
    It is overcast again, with a film  of fog over Madeline Island. We haven’t had any melting to speak of so there is plenty of snow cover, and the massive old black willows in the woods on Ninth Street must bear a foot and more of snow on their sprawling limbs.
    It is eerily quiet, with no sound of the wind sled on the ice or traffic on the roads. There is an air of silent anticipation, as we await a predicted major storm.  There is little bird activity and few signs of life, animal or human.  Everything is hunkered down, waiting.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Friday, 8:45 AM.  17 degrees F, wind W, light with occasional gusts.  A few snowflakes are falling on top of the couple of inches that fell last night.  It has been a dark, murky morning thus far but just now a large patch of blue sky has opened overhead, with clouds moving from northeast to southwest. The humidity is 83%.
     The barometer has risen to 30.43 in., so we will hopefully have a sunny day.  That would be welcome, since I was grousing to myself earlier about our world looking like a black and white photograph; white, white snow, white birch trees, stark black trunks and branches of oaks and maples and great, black-green globs of pines. Hopefully we will get a sunny day or two before the big snowstorm that is predicted for Sunday. 
    One benefit of all the snow is that it is excellent insulation, piled around the house and upon the roof.  The house easily stays warm, and a fire in the fireplace in the evening makes us cheerfully cozy.  But a sunny day would be nice.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Thursday, 8;00 AM.  24 degrees F, wind NNE, calm at present up here on the bluff.  The barometer is steady at 30.20 in. and the humidity is 82%.  The sky is completely overcast and cloudy, and it is another dark, quiet morning.
    We got quite a bit of snow late yesterday afternoon and last night, a total of perhaps four or five inches of light, fluffy stuff. I had an easy task shoveling this morning, since Coast Guard neighbor Sam blew the worst of it out of the driveway at supper time last night.
    I hear that legislation has been introduced in Congress to establish a position of National Nurse.  I guess it isn’t fair to have a Surgeon General without a corresponding helpmate position.  One can’t say these days that there should be corresponding female and  male positions, since we have had at least one woman Surgeon General. 
    Anyway, rather than get into that fight, I would like to propose another, I think more important new position, and one that might more appropriately be filled by a woman than a man, although I won’t press that gender issue either, as I suppose it could just as well be filled by a qualified and very nurturing male individual. 
    The position I propose is that of National Nanny, which is what the Obama Nanny State desperately needs.  Some wise and caring person to advise us mostly clueless Americans on how to take advantage of all the new cradle–to-grave social programs that are now available to us, like Obamacare,  Obamaphones, food stamps, subsidized housing and heating and subsidized almost everything else.  And oh, yes, how to negotiate not only the mind numbing maze of Obamacare but also thousands of other new regulations on everything from breathing to eating to…well, you get the point.
    A National Nanny would be particularly helpful in explaining to a Second Grade boy why he was “dispended” for tossing an imaginary hand grenade at an imaginary enemy while uttering the forbidden sound “Phsss…!”Or to explain to children in Vermont that they can’t point their fingers at each other in play. Or explaining to a five year old little girl why she was arrested for imitating the sexually suggestive behavior she routinely sees on TV. 
The National Nanny will also be able to explain, a few years in the future, why many of today’s overly regimented and ridiculously suppressed children have turned into anarchists and sociopaths who hate all authority and do not know right from wrong.
    Yes, I sincerely believe we need a National Nanny, and it should be a cabinet position.  Perhaps even  the Nanny State President’s Chief of Staff, keeping all the overly imaginative children in the White House in line. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Wednesday, 9:00 AM.  9 degrees F, wind WSW, calm with occasional gusts.  The barometer has risen to 30.18 and the humidity is 84%.
    It is a cold and quiet morning, the sky overcast and leaden except for a splash of orange in the southeast, where the sun seems late in rising.  The white pines have lost their mantles of clinging snow and stand alone, giant dark masses in the pervasive whiteness.  But the branches of  roadside willows are beginning to brighten, gay yellow and orange harbingers of a still very distant spring.
Remember high school days, and the Senior Class Play?  Remember The Mikado? Remember the Lord High Executioner?  He sang a little song entitled, “I Have a Little List,” which he sung with devilish, threatening gusto.  The “little list” was a kill list of his enemies.  He sang “And none of them will be missed, none of them will be missed” as he pranced wickedly about the stage.
    We all believe that the Constitution and our legal system cannot give autocrats, present or future, the right to a take the lives of American citizens without due proceess, but President Obama evidently has that right even now, according to Erik Holder, his Attorney General.  Of course it is only the right to kill us outside the borders of the United states, all very antiseptically with drones, and only if we are deemed terrorists (by whom or how is decidedly unclear).    Now few of us have much sympathy for the terrorists that have been killed so far, citizens or not.  However, we evidently now have in actuality a Lord High Executioner, and one who at one point or another has accepted the title with appropriate relish.
    Now consider this; there are those among us, including many in Congress, who want to establish a federal list of gun owners, an interactive list that, given the power of government computers,  could easily add any personal information to that list, such as political party, opinions expressed in various media, education records, travel plans and so on. 
    We already have, unless the present legal assumption is declared unconstitutional, a Lord High Executioner.  Will we also allow him to have a Little List?  The president and his coterie seem anxious to be endowed with both.  Perhaps President Obama and Erik Holder will never go dancing about the stage singing of their intentions, and the United States will never become a perversion of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera.
But I for one do not wish to give this president and attorney general nor any that follow them the opportunity to turn what may seem to be remote and comedic into a real and modern tragedy, an American Mikado.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  14 degrees F, wind W, calm with occasional light gusts.  The barometer is trending down at 29.69 in., and the humidity is up, at 90%.  It is snowing gently, and there is about 4” of fluffy new snow on the ground, enough for the city plow to plug up the end of the driveway.
    We are again socked in with fog.  So much for my theory of no open water out there.  When I first opened the door ago an hour ago I could hear the unmistakable roar of the morning wind sled. Joan and I both have dentist appointments in Ashland this morning so we have to leave shortly.
    The Air Force One pilot evidently overshot the Chicago runway Sunday and landed in Minneapolis, a little northwest of the Windy City.  Chicago is where the president should have given his gun violence speech.  Minneapolis (and its sister city St. Paul) is a  model big city that has decreased its gun violence by forty percent, without much if any help from the federal government.  Chicago had 800 murders last year and is heading for the same figure or greater in the new year.  Chicago is wracked by drug gang violence and political corruption,  and has the worst school system in the country.  Chicago’s mayor is President Obama’s former chief of staff and is his political soul mate.  Chicago and Illinois have among the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, and Illinois is the only state without a concealed carry law.  Chicago is President Obama’s home town.  Chicago desperately needs help as it slowly sinks into criminal chaos.
    So it would have been fitting, if not actually helpful, for President Obama to have landed in Chicago with his basically meaningless and self-serving speech.  Got to get that big jet into the landing pattern a little sooner next time.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Monday, 8:30 AM.  2 degrees F, up from –3 earlier.  Wind W, light.  The barometer is steady at 30.10 in. and the humidity is 82%.  The sun rose through lengthy layers of soft gray clouds with pink linings,  which have morphed into big cottony puff balls as the sky has cleared.  There was no fog or haze on the channel or beyond Madeline Island, an indication that there is now little or no open water.
    The birds have emptied the feeders again this morning, further evidence of the cold weather.  They are busy pecking at scattered seeds on the deck and they will have to be satisfied with that until I get around to filling the feeders.
    We stopped by  yesterday to pay our respects to Jimmy Hudson. We did not stay for the service since the pavilion was jammed with family and friends and we did not wish to take up much needed space.  I always think the community is sparsely populated until something like this occurs that draws folks from all around the neighboring towns, the countryside and the reservations (Jim’s heritage was Ojibwe). Tables were loaded with food and deserts but again, we are only acquaintances and did not want to deny those from further away a seat at a table.  Most of the attendees were  young people, many with children, and all the friends and relatives present were an obvious support for Hannah, Jim’s young widow. Jim’s dog was wandering through the crowd. There was much sadness for a young life so tragically lost, yet there was obviously great joy in the life that was led.  As the Indians say, “Jim has walked on.”
    After we left the Pavilion we stopped across the street at The Pier restaurant and had a nice lunch, then took a ride out in the snow shrouded countryside.  On Little Sand Bay Road we spotted a huge bald eagle, resplendent in its adult plumage and sitting on a tree branch above the road.  I stopped, rolled down the window and talked to him a bit but he just stared at me blankly with his fierce raptor eyes. He left his perch when I clapped my hands, first swooping heavily  towards the truck  and then soaring effortlessly away above the treetops with two or three flaps of his mighty wings. 
It was a fitting salute to Jim and all who live their lives in communion with nature and its creatures.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


 Sunday, 9:00 AM.  7 degrees F,  Wind W, moderate. The sky is overcast and hazy but beginning to clear.  The barometer is pretty steady at 30.01 and the humidity is down, at 71%.
    The sun is but a glimmer of silver struggling through a ghostly haze this morning, its weak rays reflecting icily from wind swept spots in the snow covered channel. The trail of the last ferry to break through the thickening ice still cuts across the frozen waste between Bayfield and LaPointe, a dark, straight scar that will take a while to heal.
    The ferries have stopped running and I have not yet seen a wind sled. This is the time when folks will be tempted to cross the ice road, now marked with Christmas trees but still unsafe.  Snowmobiles and 4-wheelers will be running the road, but it won’t be long before some adventurous guy will try his luck in a pickup truck, warning signs be damned.
    We spent some time watching the dog sled races out on Star Route yesterday.  It was pretty cold and we mostly stayed in the truck, where we had a close-up view of the racers crossing Star Route and heading down Butternut Road and into the forest trails.  The first teams were pretty well spread apart so we didn’t witness any pile-ups or tangles, better for the participants perhaps but less fun for the spectators.  One can’t help but be amused at sixteen sled dogs all in a tangle, I guess. The races finish this morning but we have seen our fill for this year.
    There is a memorial service at the Pavilion this afternoon for Jim Hudson, who died out on the lake a week ago when he went through the ice between Madeline and Long Island with his snowmobile.  From my own life experiences I know that grief is often tinged with anger in tragedies such as this.  Anger at life, anger at carelessness, anger at youth itself, that thinks it is invincible and will never die.  The young and adventurous often gamble with fate. .and sometimes lose.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Saturday, 8:00 AM.  0 degrees F, wind W, calm.  The barometer stands at 30.21 in., the humidity is 81%.  It is a fruit cocktail dawn, an orange sun rising in a peach sky in the east, the rest blue and cloudless.  The ferry will probably quit running today, to be replaced by the wind sleds until the ice road is safe, which will be a while.
    This is dog sled race weekend, and conditions should be ideal, with plenty of snow, a fast track and ideal temperatures for the dogs.  We will go out to watch for a while later on Star Route and Butternut Road, about ten miles west of town.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Friday, 8:45 AM.  –12 degrees F, wind WSW, calm at present.  The barometr has risen to 30.30 in. and the humidity fallen to 73%.  A brave and determined sun rose valiantly into the frigid morning, dissipating any remaining fog and haze.  It is a bright, cheerful  day, cold and beautiful.  I put Lucky’s old coat on Buddy this morning and he ran about, mostly on three legs, but determined to sniff out the secret hidden in every  track in the fresh white snow.
    Yesterday I received in the mail a clipping from, it appears, a St. Paul newspaper, (the paper name and date were missing) entitled “Single parents: An antiabortion legacy.” Handwritten notations by the person who sent the article to me included her accounts of working in a St. Paul hospital before Roe v Wade and seeing the havoc wrought on women by self-induced abortions, and concluded with, “We don’t need to return to such a status for women.”  The writer did not sign her name and there was no return address on the envelope.  I would have, of course, welcomed a comment right on my blog.
    As regards the article itself, it was, I thought despite the title, an apologia for the concept of abortion as a legitimate means of stabilizing the family and limiting the number of unwanted children in society. It was written by Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, who are co-authors of “Red Families v. Blue Families and Family Classes,” soon to be published by the Oxford University Press.  If you are interested in their point of view please check out the article and the book.
    I (as well as Joan) grew up in the days before Roe v Wade and there were in our middle to lower-middle class lives abortions as well as children born out of wedlock and girls going away to have a child and giving it up for adoption.  In our own home town there was even a case of murder involving an unwanted pregnancy and a teenage love triangle. 
Abortion is a complicated issue and deserves to be treated as such.  It is also tragic, and takes the life of an unborn human being to satisfy the wants and needs of people who are in almost all cases adults older than the age of reason and should have a concept of right and wrong, as well as some common sense. 
People often act as though they are completely clueless as to what causes pregnancy.  With all the explicit sex education in the public schools today (to say nothing of free condoms) I can’t accept ignorance of the facts of life as an excuse for pregnancy and a consequent abortion. And I can assure anyone who is not familiar with teenagers that, then as well as now,  they are keenly interested in the subject and really don’t need additional excuses and titillating instructions.  What they need to be taught is that life is a serious matter, and that the actions people take in life have consequences.
As far as my own opinion is concerned, it is simply that abortion takes a human life, and at this point in history that life can be taken without any legal recourse what- so-ever.  Abortion is the root cause of many human demographic problems, such as suppressed economic growth and the need for immigration in advanced economies, and where abortions terminate mostly female babies, such as is the case in China and India, it results in an unnatural imbalance between males and females in the adult population. It amazes me that women who are adamant about the unrestricted right of women to have an abortion don’t seem to realize that worldwide, abortion kills mostly females.   
Lastly, abortion is a stupid and mostly unnecessary method of birth control, which I do not  believe the federal government should be involved in, or that I should have to pay for. 
I’ll leave the morality of it all up to you.