Saturday, August 22, 2009

All Alone in a Furious Storm... help!

It wasn't quite dark. Just dark enough to create long, long shadows that danced a crazy jig across the road because the wind was BLOWING hard. No one else on this narrow two-lane road, my knuckles are white on the steering wheel. Here comes the rain... in sheets. I'm going through the heavily treed area now where the branches meet over the road in angry waving blows. Was that a scream? Man, my imagination is working overtime. The road is very wet, it's getting darker, I'm slowing down. Maybe that's not a good idea.

Dark. Very dark. Still raining torrents. Hard to see the road. The headlights are making strange images, or maybe they're just in my head. Is that my heart I hear beating? Got to remember to breathe. Ah, that's better. Now relax the shoulders. Oops, better pay attention to the road.

Gosh I hope I recognize the driveway. No street lights on this back country road. Ever so often, a glitter of light comes from a house way off in the distance as I pass by. That's a good sign. Getting into the area of lake houses at Little Girl's Point right on Lake Superior.

Yes, there it is, the Seagull Point sign. I pull into the narrow driveway, and run towards the cottage with my key at the ready. Luc, my long-haired Chihuahua is shaking at my feet. We're getting soaked, but I do manage to open the front door and burst into the dark house. On with the lights. Seems warmer already. Amazing how that works. Turning on the heat. What no heat? Just great. The temperature is dropping and it is cold. Oh no, all the lights go out. Calling the owner, now. He tells me the pilot light always blows out during a storm. Nice of him to tell me now. Also I'm told that the power will probably be out for days and that his handyman wont come out until tomorrow afternoon to relight the pilot light. Hey, but he does offer his cabin next door that has a wood burning stove.

After telling me details of how to get in, I gather my overnight things and head out with my little long-haired Chihuahua, Luc, who does not like this one bit. I've got my Gortex jacket hood tied tight, boots on. Luc has his raincoat on, too. Out in the dark again, with only a flashlight lighting about two feet in front of us. Luc is terrified but follows closely. The windbursts throw the rain around us. Luc is jumping in 180 degree turns. Finally we slosh our way over to the cabin next door. 

Yes, I found candles, matches and paper. In no time, the fire is roaring and Luc and I are drying out. Went upstairs to get a pillow and blanket for I'm certainly bunking on the couch in front of the fire tonight. Will morning ever come? Huddling with Luc under the covers... Please sleep, come quickly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Running with the Deer

A few years ago on my way to Gogebic Airport in Ironwood, Michigan, under a bright sunshiny day, a cloudless blue sky and the grass waving waist high in nearby fields, I saw a doe with triplets peaking up over the grass. "Do you suppose that doe had all three fawns?" I asked, "Maybe she adopted an orphan?" With a quick smile and a knowledgeable nod, my forester friend told me, "I've seen triplets before, but it is rare." I'm sure that not everyone gets as much pleasure as I do seeing these three little ones in the most perfect setting, but for me, it is always lucky to see deer.

My cottage at Little Girl's Point is about a 20 minute drive to Ironwood, Michigan, the nearest town. Usually I would come home after dark. Everyone warned me to watch out for deer. It seems that deer hit cars on a regular basis in the UP (upper peninsula).

My car's speed drops from fifty-five miles an hour during the daytime hours when deer doze, to thirty-five mph from twilight on. I did see a lot of deer and felt fortunate when these majestic creatures would look at me from the side of the road, then flap their huge white tail and bound away.

One night on Lake Road, I had slowed down to twenty-five mph to make a sharp turn when a large doe jumped from nowhere right by the driver's side of the car. I didn't know whether to stop or hit the gas, so the car sort of did a little dance of indecision while to my surprise, the doe ran right alongside the car. It was magic looking eye to eye with her as we ran together down the road for what seemed like a very long time.

Since then, I've been told that fox and bear will also run beside a car. My, oh my!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lake Superior in the Fall

Lake Superior is calling me. I can feel the nip in the air. Fall is coming soon. I've got to go back. The leaves start their neon color parade soon. They are so bright in the sunshine then flutter with shadows of blinkling lights under the canopy of hardwood trees. The hue is so intense, it actually hurts your eyes with flaming reds, oranges, green halfway to yellow. You won't believe it, but look closely at the photo on the right. I actually found trees with leaves turning pink!

It's a magic time for me. The smell of leaves falling down to the moist dirt below, turning into dank mulch. My eyes seem to see the forest, a wildflower, more sharply, more clearly. Ears on alert as a hawk shrieks overhead, or a twig that breaks under my feet. The touch of a loved one's hand in yours, a finger running along your check that follows down to a sweet kiss on soft lips.

There's a cottage at Little Girl's Point where I usually stay. A tiny white cottage that sits in a stand of trees with a panorama view of the Lake - Madeline Island to the west and the Porcupine Mountains to the east. Every morning as soon as it's light, I race to the big picture window in the kitchen to see what the Lake is up to. Some times, it is a shinny mirror broken only by a few whistling swans making their "V" ripple in the water. Other times, the wind whips up waves reminiscent of my California beach days. Every now and then I see off in the distance iron ore ships going toward Duluth, a fishing boat or two. I'm so homesick.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Something's Cooking in Georgetown

It's getting closer. Everyone's coming. There's a song in the air. Beer Garden with brats. People dancing. Full skirts swirling. History everywhere. Food's sizzling. You've got to be here!

The Dutch oven has a history all its own. The early Colonist wouldn't be without one. It was on swinging on the outside of covered wagons going West. On those long cattle drives, every chuck wagon had one or two tucked away. Today, campers know just how great food tastes when cooked outdoors - in their Dutch oven.

On Saturday, September 19, Historic Georgetown Inc., is hosting their first Dutch Oven Cook-off celebrating 150 years of Mining History in Clear Creek County. The contestants will offer a Miner's Stew, Bread, and/or Dessert cooked on-site to the celebrity judges. Tastings can be bought by bystanders, too.

The Dutch oven cooking starts at 9 am. Live entertainment happens all day long. From dulcimer and country singers, square dancing and storytelling, old fire company hose carts and mining exhibits, to the exiting Awards Ceremony at 4 pm, Georgetown, Colorado is the place to be.

A short 30 minutes from Denver or Summit County, take I-70 to exit # 228 and come on downtown.

We're getting ready for you. Come join us for a great end of summer celebration.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yippie Ti Yi... A Shepherder's Wagon

My mind wanders back to a summer at Duck Lake, Colorado, near the top of Guanella Pass. The owner of Alpendorf Alpine cabins shows me her European style cabins and her honest-to-goodness wooden sheepherders wagon that she's restored and uses for her guests. Here at 11,000 or so feet, one can spend a romantic night and dream of days gone by.
In nearby Geneva Park, our government still issues permits to use the public land for cattle and sheep grazing. Today, Sheepherders can be found working in Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, California, Utah, Nevada and Colorado.
In the 1800s, the sheepherders were mostly boys from our South. Later, the Basques came over from Spain to tend the sheep. Today, Peruvians have taken over the job. They hire on for three years, sending every penny to their families back home. The sheep graze by the hundreds, sometimes by the thousands, watched by the sheepherder and their dogs. The early sheepherder’s wagon, its water barrel latched tight on the outside, pulled by a horse, had an oh so interesting interior. Equipped with a wood-burning stove for both cooking and warmth on those cold mountain nights; built-in cupboards, a fold down table, a kerosene lantern, and a wonderful bed tucked in the back made this small space comfy cozy. Think of it as the first ancient RV model.
The Alpendorf's wagon is just too wonderful. Perched between fragrant spruce and pine and swift running creek, you overlook the lake. So quiet, except for the winds murmuring soft songs. I want to stay.
I’m thinking back in time and how lonely the sheepherder's life would be. All alone in those high mountain valleys, surrounded by snow covered peaks. It's just you, hundreds of sheep, a dog or two and a close-up view of our amazing nature. Tons of white clouds racing against a deep blue sky, tiny wildflowers everywhere you look. At night, a million stars surround the different phases of the moon. And the quiet… except for a couple of bleats from the sheep now and then and the munching of a horse grazing nearby.
Was it here on a mountain top that one shepherd concocted the Shephard’s pie in the light of a beautiful golden pink sunset? He would use lamb, surely, not beef. Yes, he would have onions, canned vegetables and potatoes. Or … could it be that this dish was named after a man whose surname was Shepherd … from New York City?
But that's another story.