Sunday, 28 January 2007

Winter Cold

It is a bright, clear day here on Gunflint Lake. The morning temperature was about 15 below zero, and the sun is shining. I'd been hearing reports from people out and about that we were going to get down to thirty below here....but so far that hasn't happened. That's okay if it does, this is northern Minnesota. What's winter without some good cold snaps like this?!

We've been getting some snowfalls to freshen the woods and trails, an inch here and another inch there. Folks have been out skiing on the trails, and the reports are good. We hope to get out there ourselves next week, after Greg's new boots arrive. It has been many years since we all went skiing, mainly because the kids outgrew their equipment so quickly, we coudn't keep up. 'Most everyone's feet have finally stopped growing, so we can invest in footwear and skis that will hang around for a while.
The wolf activity on our end of the lake has not been in abundance like we saw last year. Short of the one wolf we saw right after New Year's, we've mainly just been seeing tracks. Our window is open a crack every night, but we have yet to hear them howl. Maybe we are just sleeping too soundly. Earlier in the month, our friends Malcolm and Cindy had an exciting wolf encounter, and Cindy was kind enough to write it up for me to post here in the blog:

Friday, January 5, 2007

About 10:30 p.m. Malcolm and I took a walk to stretch our legs before retiring for the night. Two nights after the full moon, it gave a fairly strong light through the cloud cover, allowing us to see without flashlights. We rounded the bend in the little road at Diamond Willow and made our way up the small hill, through the dappled shadows, to the lodge.

Malcolm caught the flash of a shadowy something crossing the road, just before the ski trail. The form looked smaller than a deer, larger than a fox, and faster than either of those two. Must be ..... a wolf! Slowly, quietly we crept up to the place where Malcolm thought he saw it dart into the brush beside the ski trail. We peered into the darkness and heard it rustling around as it moved further away from us. It had stopped and waited for someone or something else - probably not us.

We stood in the road, awestruck that we had been so close to a wolf. I looked back down the road toward Diamond Willow, noticing how vivid the shadows appeared on such a cloudy night. Then I saw the second wolf emerge from the woods on the lake side of the road, dart through the open space, and disappear into the safety of the woods on the upper side of the road. It�s shadow was so pronounced that I could see the shagginess of its coat and the bushiness of its tail.

Two wolves roaming the night, possibly sent out by their pack to hunt. For a brief instant we had stood between them, momentarily embedded in the pack.
Thank you, Cindy, for sending that to us---what an awesome moment in the woods!
Later today, we are going to the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery in Grand Marais, to host a Celebration of Life for Peggy Heston. Greg's grandma, Peggy, passed away on Saturday, January 20, at the North Shore Care Center, where she had been living for the last year and a half. While at the Care Center, she often sat in her chair next to the aviary, watching the colorful birds who lived there, too. She would greet the folks who passed through the room, and if you happened to stop in at lunch time, she would offer to share her meal with you, still the gracious hostess that she had been all of her life. Fortunately, we all had some very special moments with her in her last couple of days here on earth, and we will treasure those memories, as we will the memory of her birthday party in December. I am planning to write up some stories about Peggy and post them on our website, on the Planet Heson's page, in the near future. When it is ready, I will post a note here on the blog. In the meantime, if you have a special memory or story of Peg, we would love to hear it. You can send it to us at Peggy was 94 when she died, and we feel blessed to have had her with us for such a long time.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Bideford - New Years Eve

There is nowhere better to be on New Years Eve than Bideford. It often ranks in national newpaper polls as one of the best places in the country to be on New Years Eve. One poll for the Independent rated it as one of the top ten in in the world. Thousands of people flock here from all over the country. And everyone wears fancy dress! The pubs are packed to the rafters, the streets are full and there is such a fantastic atmosphere that even the weather can't dampen it.

People gather on the quay at midnight. The clock at the end of the old bridge chimes in the new year but it is also announced by the DJs on the music stage which blasts out dance tracks all night. Then follows a great fireworks display which lasts about 15 minutes.

We had a bit of rain last night - it managed to fall while we were in the pubs, luckily for us. Then there was a bit at 11.50 as we made our way to the quay. Miraculously it completely stopped by 11.58. Someone up there was smiling on us. Lets hope our luck holds for 2007. Here are a few of the photos I liked the best. Happy New Year everyone!