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Summer 2011

SIMPLY NORTH

Live. Play. Enjoy.

Deb Ciminski describes

the

perfect

hobby gardening ...

ALSO IS THIS ISSUE: ★ Learn

how to make a kite

★ Recipes

for a ‘Raspberry Rickey’ and ‘Auntie Bunny’s Blueberry Pie’

★ Hot

summer reads

Throw a Minnesota

LUAU: All you need is fresh fish to fry and citronella tiki torches to keep the bugs away


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Live. Play. Enjoy.

July ★ August ★ September 2011

2 Flippin’ And Sippin’ Food, drink and recipes

4 Eye On The Sky Lunar tables and constellations

5 Around The Campfire Stories, treats, traditions and legends

8 Cabin Couture From shacky to chic!

14 Simple Solutions

8 14 16 20

Tried and tested tips and tricks

16 Pets And Pastures From horses and hogs to dogs

18 Off The Beaten Path What’s going on in the woods?

20 Shack Doctor Simple solutions, fix-ups and how-to’s

24 Without A Paddle Things for everyone to do

26 The Frozen Gardener Seeds, weeds and growing needs

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Flippin’ and Sippin’

Auntie Bunny's blueberry pie — all that awaits the pie is the whipped topping. This no-bake delicacy will help keep the kitchen cool.

Sweet

Treats

Warm summer nights call for cooling refreshments, light meals and seasonal desserts 2

Warm summer nights call for cooling refreshments, light meals and seasonal desserts. Try a “Raspberry Rickey” — mixed with red raspberry-infused vodka, or not — to quench most thirsts on a balmy summer evening. Raspberry Rickey Yields: 4 cups • 1 1/3 cup(s) red raspberries • 3 tablespoon(s) sugar • 1/2 cup(s) lime juice • 2 cup(s) (and up to 1 addition cup, per recipe) sparkling mineral water • 1 cup(s) red raspberry vodka, optional Directions 1. Make raspberry syrup: Place raspberries in a medium-sized bowl. Add the sugar and lime juice and mash with the back of a wooden spoon. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove seeds and set aside. 2. Make the drink: Fill 4 large glasses with ice


SIMPLY NORTH

Flippin’ and Sippin’

and pour 1/4 cup of syrup in each glass. Add 3/4 cup sparkling water to each glass and stir to combine. If using vodka, add 1/4 cup (or less to taste) to each glass, stir to combine, and top with 1/2 cup of sparkling water. Garnish glasses with fresh raspberries and lime wedges, if desired.

Nutritional Information (per serving) Calories — 64.6 Total Fat — .3g Cholesterol — 0 Sodium — .4mg Total Carbohydrate — 16.9g Dietary Fiber — 1.8g Protein — .5g

Auntie Bunny’s blueberry pie 2 cups blueberries 1/2 cup sugar 1 heaping T. corn starch Bring to a boil and cook until thick. Remove from heat, add 2 more cups of fresh blueberries. Cool and put in baked 9 inch pie shell. Let set then cover with cool whip and serve.

More about blueberries Who doesn’t like blueberries? Whether they’re in a pie, fruit smoothie or eaten straight from the bush, blueberries have been a healthy treat for northern Minnesota residents for hundreds of years and they continue to delight most people. When to look: Mid to late July is the height of the blueberry season. Where to look: Exposed rocks and jack pine trees. Look on the east or southeast side of the rock hill. Blueberries like some sunlight, but do not grow particularly big in direct sunlight. Some of the best berry patches have a swamp nearby. What to bring: Pails, bug spray, sun tan lotion, a hat. What to do after they’re picked: Sort out the good and bad. Handful by handful pick out leaves, sticks, stems, and bad berries. Place berries in a freezer bag and place in the freezer. Washing them prior to freezing will cause them to stick together in a clump. If necessary, wash after they have thawed. Why they’re good for you: Blueberries contain a powerful cholesterol- and fat-fighting compound, USDA researchers report. They’re touted as antioxidant-rich fruits that protect against the ravages of aging, heart disease, and cancer.

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SIMPLY NORTH

Eye On The Sky

The moon

all its phases

&

I

t’s dark out. You hear the frogs and toads singing and smell the pine and spruce nearby. Look up and consider the universe. August, September and October offer opportunities. Look to the late August sky to see the largest planet, Jupiter. It will be the brightest star in the sky during this time and will remain so for the night. In the September sky, the autumnal equinox occurs on Sept. 22 each year, signaling the start of fall. In the northwest night sky, the visible constellations include Bootes, Sagitta, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Corona Borealis, Hercules, Cepheus and Cygnus are also visible in the northwest as well as portions of Aquila, Serpens Cauda, Ophiuchus and Lacerta. To the northeast the visible constellations include Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Perseus, Pisces, Triangulum, Pegasus and Ursa Minor, and portions of Aquarius and Ursa Major. In October, the celestial sky changes as the Earth rotates on its axis. Many of September’s constellations remain visible, but in different positions and angles. Delphinus, Equuleus, Lyra and Vul are visible, while Bootes and Ursa Major are lower in the night sky and beginning to move from view in the northwest. In the northeast sky, Auriga, Camelopardalis, Lynx and Taurus become fully visible along with Triangulum and Aries.

Moon Phases August First Quarter — Aug. 6 Full Moon – Aug. 13, Full Sturgeon Moon — The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon. Last Quarter — Aug. 21 New Moon — Aug. 29

4

September First Quarter — Sept. 4 Full Moon — Sept. 12, Full Corn Moon — This full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon. Last Quarter — Sept. 20 New Moon — Sept. 27

October First Quarter — Oct. 4 Full Moon — Oct. 12, Full Harvest Moon — This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice, the chief Indian staples, are now ready for gathering. Last Quarter — Oct. 20 New Moon — Oct. 26


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Evenings in the summer can be made more enjoyable with a campfire to take the chill off Follow these simple steps to create the perfect campfire: • Select a site at least 10 feet away from tents, trees, roots and other flammable items. • Gather firewood and kindling using only fallen branches. • Build a small, loose pile of kindling, making sure to allow space for air to feed the fire. Include paper scraps, dry plant matter and other small, flammable items. • Construct a pyramid of dry twigs and small sticks around and above the kindling pile. • Light the kindling with a match. • Add increasingly larger sticks and then logs as the fire grows in strength, always leaving enough space between them for the fire to breathe.

Around The Campfire

Campfire with roasted popcorn ...

perfect Top off an evening with a big batch of buttery, salty popcorn roasted over an open fire All you need is a little oil and something to contain the popping corn kernels. Any pot with a handle and a lid will do. If you are popping corn over a campfire, then you probably want something with a longer handle than a regular pot. Or use an 18-by-18-inch piece of heavy-duty tin foil, 1 teaspoon of popcorn and 1 teaspoon of oil. Create a pouch of foil and pour the popcorn in before placing it over a campfire.

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Around The Campfire

stories Ghost

From American Folklore website, comes an offering of spooky and funny campfire stories

Amber A Texas Ghost Story Excerpted from Spooky Texas retold by S.E. Schlosser Oh, you hear the stories about how dangerous Ouija boards are, but hey — it’s just a game. Mary waited until midnight to begin our little game, and the four of us — Sarah, Jessie, me, and, Mary, started by asking all kinds of silly questions. It was a strange-looking board, covered with letters and symbols. There was a plastic pointer that was supposed to move across the board at the behest of the spirits. The instructions called it a planchette. Around 1:30 in the morning, the planchette suddenly froze in Mary’s hand. It wouldn’t move, no matter how much we pushed and pulled. Mary turned her frightened blue eyes toward me. “I’m not doing it,” she said, lifting her hands. I grabbed the planchette myself and tried to push it around, but it was fixed to the board. Suddenly, a kind of electric shock buzzed through my fingers. I gasped and tried to pull my fingers from the planchette, but they were stuck. Mary and Jessie both tried to pull my fingers away, nothing helped. The other girls stared with wide, round eyes, as the planchette came alive under my fingers — which were still fixed to its surface — and began to move. “Help.” The words spelled out under my hand. “Help me. Help me.” The planchette kept moving back and forth

6

between the h – e – l – p continuously, until Sarah cried out: “Who are you?” “Amber.” The board spelled. “My name is Amber. I am eight years old.” “What’s wrong?” Mary asked. Her face was so white all the freckles stood out like darkened age spots. “Water. Danger. Help. Scared.” The words spelled out as fast as my hand could move. “Call 9-1-1,” Mary cried suddenly. “Quick. Amber is in danger.” By this time, Sarah was gasping into the phone. Then she hung up the phone. “They wouldn’t listen to me,” she told us, almost in tears. At that instant, my hand was suddenly free from the planchette. “She’s gone,” I gasped, “See if you can contact her again,” Mary said urgently. “We need to know if she’s okay!” I picked up the plastic planchette again. “Amber, are you there?” I asked softly, afraid of what might happen. After a long pause, it moved slowly across the board and spelled out the words: “Too late.” And after another long pause. “Water. Flood. Drowned. Mobile. Alabama.” The planchette stopped. I knew that Amber was gone. None of us got much sleep that night. In the morning, we rushed through breakfast and then looked up the Alabama news on the Internet. None of us were surprised to read that there had

been flash floods the night before. I read the names of those who had died in the flood. One of the victims was an eight-year-old girl named Amber.

Babe the Blue Ox Minnesota Tall Tales retold by S. E. Schlosser Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before. Paul Bunyan went out walking in the woods one day during that Winter of the Blue Snow. He was knee-deep in blue snow when he heard a funny sound between a bleat and a snort. Looking down, he saw a teeny-tiny baby blue ox jest a hopping about in the snow and snorting with rage on account of he was too short to see over the drifts. Paul Bunyan laughed when he saw the spunky little critter and took the little blue mite home with him. He warmed the little ox up by the fire and the little fellow fluffed up and dried out, but he remained as blue as the snow that had stained him in the first place. So Paul named him Babe the Blue Ox. Well, any creature raised in Paul Bunyan's camp tended to grow to massive proportions, and Babe was no exception. Folks that stared at him for five minutes could see him growing right before their


SIMPLY NORTH

Around The Campfire

eyes. He grew so big that 42 axe handles plus a plug of tobacco could fit between his eyes and it took a murder of crows a whole day to fly from one horn to the other. The laundryman used his horns to hang up all the camp laundry, which would dry lickety-split because of all the wind blowing around at that height. Whenever he got an itch, Babe the Blue Ox had to find a cliff to rub against, 'cause whenever he tried to rub against a tree it fell over and begged for mercy. To whet his appetite, Babe would chew up thirty bales of hay, wire and all. It took six men with picaroons to get all the wire out of Babe's teeth after his morning snack. Right after that he'd eat a ton of grain for lunch and then come pestering around the cook - Sourdough Sam - begging for another snack. Babe the Blue Ox was a great help around Paul Bunyan's logging camp. He could pull anything that had two ends, so Paul often used him to straighten out the pesky, twisted logging roads. By the time Babe had pulled the twists and kinks out of all the roads leading to the lumber camp, there was twenty miles of extra road left flopping about with nowhere to go. So Paul rolled them up and used them to lay a new road into new timberland. Paul also used Babe the Blue Ox to pull the heavy tank wagon which was used to coat the newlystraightened lumber roads with ice in the winter, until one day the tank sprang a leak that trickled south and became the Mississippi River. After that, Babe stuck to hauling logs. Only he hated working in the summertime, so Paul had to paint the logging roads white after the spring thaw so that Babe would keep working through the summer. One summer, as Babe the Blue Ox was hauling a load of logs down the white-washed road and dreaming of the days when the winter would feel cold again and the logs would slide easier on the "ice", he glanced over the top of the mountain and caught a glimpse of a pretty yeller calf grazing in a field. Well, he twisted out of his harness lickety-split and stepped over the mountain to introduce himself. It was love at first sight, and Paul had to abandon his load and buy Bessie the Yeller Cow from the farmer before Babe would do any more hauling. Bessie the Yeller Cow grew to the massive, yet dainty proportions that were suitable for the mate of Babe the Blue Ox. She had long yellow eyelashes that tickled the lumberjacks standing on the other end of camp each time she blinked. She produced all the dairy products for the lumber camp. Each day, Sourdough Sam made enough butter from her cream to grease the giant pancake griddle and sometimes there was enough left over to butter the toast! The only bone of contention between Bessie and Babe was the weather. Babe loved the ice and snow and Bessie loved warm summer days. One winter, Bessie grew so thin and pale that Paul Bunyan asked his clerk Johnny Inkslinger to make her a pair of green goggles so she would think it was summer. After that, Bessie grew happy and fat again, and produced so much butter that Paul Bunyan used the leftovers to grease the whitewashed lumber roads in summer. With the roads so slick all year round, hauling logs became much easier for Babe the Blue Ox, and so Babe eventually came to like summer almost as much as Bessie.

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Cabin Couture

A northwoods y t r a p deck

Throw a Minnesota luau: All you need is fish and plenty of citronella tiki torches to keep the bugs away Select a theme Living in the northwoods brings an opportunity for a unique theme. Instead of throwing a Hawaiian luau, throw a Minnesota luau. Ditch the flower leis for cattail leis. Tiki torches will still work, but fill them with citronella oil to keep pesky mosquitoes away. Hawaiian button up shirts can be replaced with your favorite resort shirt or a fishing vest.

Keep it clean Hosing off the deck may seem like a nobrainer, but keeping grass clippings, dirt and other mess away from areas where people will eat is a must for any outdoor event. Keep trash cans handy during the party. In case of wind, keep a few washed rocks or 8

thematic paperweights handy to keep napkins, tablecloths, and lightweight items from blowing away.

Create a menu Nothing says a Minnesota deck party like a traditional fish fry. Fish can be purchased in bulk from area distributors or, with enough advance warning, guests can BYOF (bring your own fish.) To really tap into tradition, a number of local residents say a fish fry isn’t authentic without bacon and onion sandwiches to kick off the meal. As the story goes, bacon and onion sandwiches are served at fish fries to create grease to cook the fish in or if anglers didn’t catch any fish, at least they had a sandwich to eat.

Decorate Creating a comfortable atmosphere for guests adds to any party, especially those outdoors. Throw a decorative cushion or pillow on plastic chairs to add color and comfort. Candles set the mood for an evening party — and help keep the bugs away. Add bark and local plants and flowers to simple vases as centerpieces.

Activities Set up a volleyball net, horseshoe pit or croquet in the yard to keep guests entertained. Providing entertainment for all ages (including kids activities for family parties) will keep the party going and everyone happy. Music to fit the theme of the party will liven the mood.


SIMPLY NORTH

Hot reads

Simply North staff share some of their favorite page turners fit for reading dockside or curled up on a rainy day “Vegas Moon,” by American crime fiction author John Locke is escapism at its finest. This book is part of the Donovan Creed series. In this edition, Donovan Creed signs on as bodyguard to the most famous gambler in Las Vegas history, Jim “Lucky” Peters. Lucky, worth millions, has hit a losing streak and must raise a lot of cash in a short period of time from some of the world’s creepiest people. It doesn’t take long for Creed to learn that the person who holds the key to his survival is none other than Lucky’s hot wife, Gwen, who has secrets of her own. Another fun escape is any book in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Plum is a bounty hunter with an attitude who lives in Jersey. An entry in Wikipedia describes her as a spunky combination of Nancy Drew and Dirty Harry. She is described by her creator as “incredibly average and yet heroic if necessary.” Each book in the series is connected to a num-

ber, including “One for the Money,” “Two for the Dough,” “Three to Get Deadly,” “Four to Score,” “High Five,” etc. So far, the final book in the series is “Smokin' Seventeen.” With reoccurring characters, you really get to know the people that Plum chases, loves, hates is afraid of and considers family. A cute, feel-good summer read is “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. “Heaven Is for Real” is the story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. For those who can’t get enough of the latest season of the HBO television series “True Blood,” vampire-romance fans will want to check out the

Extras

E-readers An e-reader is a portable electronic device that is designed for reading books in a digital format. The main advantages of e-book readers are better readability of their screens especially in bright sunlight and long battery life. This is achieved by using electronic paper technology to display content to readers. Nearly any book can be downloaded on the fly, especially those with 3G technology which don’t even require hooking up to a computer — or even wireless Internet access — to connect. This makes this technology perfect for catching up on reading at the cabin on a rainy day or keeping kids busy in the car on road trips. And packing an e-reader is a lot lighter than carrying a stack of books.

latest in the Sookie Stackhouse series, “Dead Reckoning.” The 11th in the series continues the tale of the Bon Temps, La., as she navigates life with vampires and other supernatural beings. “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield begins when the narrator starts to track down an ancient Peruvian manuscript containing nine “insights.” He encounters resistance from authorities, who believe the document will undermine traditional values.

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Feature

The perfect

hobby gardening By EMILY GEDDE

10


D

SIMPLY NORTH

Feature

eb Ciminski doesn’t travel far for vacation. In fact, she doesn’t leave her house. To find her self in a relaxing vacation-like mood, she slides open her patio door and steps into her backyard. Ciminski’s backyard isn’t a typical backyard with trees and a tire swing — it is full of flowers, fountains, and benches. The local art teacher cultivates 17 — yes, 17 — flower and vegetable gardens throughout her two-acre property . “It gives me a sense of accomplishment,” she said of her gardens. “Gardening is restful for the brain.” Ciminski says watching plants grow throughout the season is her favorite part of the hobby. “It (gardening) puts me in connection to the earth,” she said.

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A young gardener Growing up, Ciminski’s Ninth Avenue home was full of what her father, Fred “Fritz” Glava, was known for — vegetable gardens. “He loved his gardens,” Ciminski remembers of her dad. “He grew almost everything he ate.” As Glava grew older, he realized his vegetable gardens were too much for his aging hands to take care of. Unsure of what to do with the yard that had been full of vegetation and soil for so long, he turned to his family for suggestions. “I told him he should try landscaping,” Ciminski said with a laugh. Ciminski explained her immediate chuckle was because her dad was a gardener who planted everything in rows. So, when he planted trees, he planted them in double rows. After Glava left his home for a senior apartment, Ciminski and her husband Randy moved in. Ciminski not only raised three daughters — Liz, Annie and Erika — in the home she grew up in, she raised gardens as well.

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Developing a style Although she inherited her father’s green thumb, only a small fraction of Ciminski’s gardens grow vegetables. The rest is blooming with color and variety. Glava died in 1993 and Ciminski says, “People always tell me my dad would just love my gardens, but I know he wouldn’t.”

Continued on page 12 11


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Feature

“It feels like Christmas when the snow goes away. I just walk around and peek and snoop.”

Ciminski hopes her gardens, which will be at their peak from mid-July to early August, will thrive until September.

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She continued that one of Glava’s common phrases was, “I see no sense in watering something you can’t eat.” Despite her father’s motto, Ciminski’s August water bill has been known to exceed $200. Still, the horticulturist loves her flowers and loves waiting for their arrival every year. “Spring is the funnest. I love spring.” She claims that she has more fun finding out what perennials made it through the winter than she does watching buds turn into flowers. “It feels like Christmas when the snow goes away. I just walk around and peek and snoop.” From year to year, Ciminski forgets what she has planted and what her flowers look like, especially her hostas (lily-like plants).

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Feature

Ciminski enjoys finding out what perennials made it through the winter. Above, is one of her gardens full of different hostas, which are a lily-like plant.

“It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Gardening is restful for the brain. It (gardening) puts me in connection to the earth.” “They’re a really neat, beautiful plant. I have several varieties.” The gardener’s mind is always changing on what to plant and where. She groups some colors together — one garden has pink, purple and blue flowers, another has bright, vibrant colors, and one has muted yellows. “I’ve got nasturtiums stuck everywhere,” she said. “I love nasturtiums.” She added, “I plant stuff I like looking at. I always tell kids at school to create something they like looking at, not something that’ll match their couch.”

Gardening with some kinks Frustrations come along with any enjoyable hobby, and Ciminski has encountered her fair share. One archenemy of gardening is frost — especially in northern Minnesota. This year, frost made appearances as late as June. “I probably inherited a quarter acre of sheets from my dad. But, I still had to do CPR on some of the plants.”

Even though she lives in town, deer are a common nuisance to Ciminski’s pride and joys. A number of remedies have been attempted to keep the four-legged pests out, including: human hair, nylons, pie tins, and soap bars. Each failed and just created what Ciminski describes as a hillbilly lifestyle. “It looked like the Clampetts lived here,” she joked. “It (the yard) looked just terrible. I told Randy, ‘We can’t live like this.’”

A blooming future Ciminski sees herself gardening for a long time, yet next year, she says she will be downsizing her gardens — by one. “I just need one less,” she sighed. However, she attempted to remove a garden last year, but somehow it grew back. “I dug that dang thing up, but it came back.” She enjoys that her daughter, Liz, who now owns her own home, has gotten into gardening and frequently calls her mom for advice. “I’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of it is

self-taught. After a while, you just know more.” She hopes her gardens, which will be at their peak from mid-July to early August, will thrive until school starts up again in September. To sum up the pastime that has been a part of her life for so long, she said, “Gardening is the perfect hobby.” 13


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E

Simple Solutions

ver since Benjamin Franklin’s 1752 famous kite experiment, children and adults alike have been fascinated with the wind-driven flyers. And while plenty of store-bought alternatives exist, making a homemade kite increases the fun, especially for kids. So on a rainy summer day, stay inside with this craft that will extend the fun once the sun comes out. This project is fun for kids of all ages, and can be made at little to no expense with common items that can be found around many homes or cabins.

a te ki

y l f o G Simple diamond kite What you need: ★ Paper or light-weight plastic, about 3feet wide square (consider items such as trash bags, disposable tablecloths) ★ Two wooden dowels or straight sticks; one 36 inches, another 28 inches ★ String or fishing line, about 100 feet in length ★ Heavy-duty tape ★ Scissors ★ Marker ★ Long ruler To construct:

★ Measure to the center of the shorter stick. Place that center point of the shorter stick (positioned horizontally) about two-thirds up the longer stick (positioned vertically) to make the shape of a cross. Bind together with string, making an “X” shape with the string around all four corners to secure. ★ Place sticks on top of back of sheet. Mark four corners. Using straight edge, connect dots around edges of kite. Leaving 1/2-inch margin, cut around edges to make diamond shape. ★ At this point, an optional step is to decorate the kite using permanent markers, stickers and other crafting supplies. The sky is the limit when it comes to personalizing a kite. ★ Fold extra margin edges over. Secure to ends of crossed sticks using tape. ★ Cut piece of string about 42 inches. This piece is called the bridle. Attach it to both ends of the vertical stick using tape or reinforce taped ends and make a hole to tie through. ★ Attach rest of string to center of bridle piece. ★ Create tail for kite using leftover scraps and tie to bottom of kite. ★ Find a clear day with steady winds and hold on tight as the kite soars up high!

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Try natural remedies for allergies The summer months can bring on a plethora of allergy symptoms for many people. These folks can be identified by the watery, red eyes and clutched tissues. Many people choose to suffer with their symptoms rather than submit to the many side effects over-the-counter allergy medicines can bring. Try these natural remedies for seasonal allergies: ★ Start with a non-allergenic diet. Allergens are external, but its the body’s response to them that causes the allergic reactions or symptoms. If a body is loaded with food allergy triggers, the immune system is already compromised and will react to external allergens. Try eliminating wheat, dairy and excess

sugar — the most common allergens. ★ Just a spoonful of honey... Consuming local honey produced by bees that live in your area can serve as an immunotherapy in the same way a doctor may introduce tiny doses of an allergen to reduce sensitivity. As bees collect nectar, they also pick up pollen grains, which gets into the honey creating a homoeopathic immunotherapy. Try a daily dose. ★ Try vitamin C and quercetin. Histamine is released in the body when mast cells, tiny cells in the mucous membranes, are exposed to an allergen. Vitamin C is a mast cell stabilizer and makes these cells less reactive to allergens, reducing the symptoms such as eye irritation, sneezing and a runny nose. Quercetin is a flavonoid that enhances the

Simple Solutions

effects of vitamin C. Try 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C with 500 mgs of quercetin at the first signs of allergies and repeat every four to six hours as needed. ★ Drink stinging nettle leaf tea. Coming into contact with this perennial can give you a sting, but drinking it is safe. Steep tea for 10 to 15 minutes to obtain the full benefits of the leaf’s oils. ★ Give a neti-pot a try. Pollen can become stuck in the nasal passages triggering the inflammatory process that are the symptoms of allergies. Neti-pots wash the allergens out of the nasal passages with salt water. With a little practice, most allergy sufferers can get relief and often make use of a neti-pot part of their daily hygiene routine. ★ Inhale essential oil infused steam. Essential oils in a steam format can soothe and open nasal passages. Bring water to a boil, turn off heat, add four drops eucalyptus oil, one or two drops tea tree oil, and three drops rosemary oil. Drape a towel over your head and inhale. ★ Acupuncture could be the key. Acupuncture can help reduce nasal and sinus inflammation that is the cause of much of the discomfort of allergies. Find a professional and give it a try.

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Pets and Pasture

Dog days of summer can bring danger to the dog W hen the summer sun shines and temperatures climb, many people and their pets spend time in or near the water. And while most of the time a refreshing drink from the cool waters of a northern Minnesota lake or river pose no problem for a pet, in some cases they may unknowingly lap up a parasite or dangerous algae.

Blue-green algae During warm temperatures, conditions are ripe for Minnesota lakes to produce harmful algal blooms. 16

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reminds people that some types of algae can harm pets and even people. Algae are microscopic aquatic plants and are a natural part of any aquatic ecosystem. Under the right conditions, some forms of algae, particularly a type called “blue-green algae,” can pose harmful health risks. People or animals may become sick if exposed to these blooms. In extreme cases, dogs and other animals have died after exposure to lake water containing toxic blue-green algae. “High rainfall results in nutrient-rich runoff, which enters lakes and fuels algae growth. As sunlight increases and tempera-

tures warm, we can anticipate blooms of blue-green algae on many lakes,” said MPCA lakes expert Steve Heiskary. Heiskary is a member of an interagency work group that is spreading the word that blue-green algae should be avoided. Most algae are harmless. However bluegreen algae, when sunlight and warmth cause them to “bloom” in dense populations, can produce toxins and other chemicals. There are many types of blue-green algae. They are found throughout Minnesota, but thrive particularly in warm, shallow, nutrient-rich lakes. Often blown toward downwind shorelines, it is in these blooms that humans and animals most


SIMPLY NORTH often come in contact with blue-green algae, and where the risk of algal toxins is greatest. Complicating matters is that not all bluegreen algae are toxic. There is no visual way to predict if a blue-green algal bloom contains toxins and is harmful to humans or animals. And distinguishing blue-green algae from other types may be difficult for non-experts. But harmful blooms are sometimes said to look like pea soup, green paint, or floating mats of scum. They often are smelly as well. “When in doubt, best keep out,” advises a poster.

Pet symptoms An animal that has ingested toxins from an algae bloom can show a variety of symptoms: ★ Skin irritation ★ Vomiting ★ Severe disorders involving the circulatory, nervous and digestive systems ★ Severe skin lesions In worst cases, the animal may suffer convulsions and die.

Human symptoms Humans are not affected very often, probably because the unpleasant appearance and odors of a blue-green algal bloom tend to keep people out of the water. But human health effects can include: ★ Irritation of skin, eyes and nasal passages ★ Nausea and vomiting. Extreme cases can produce paralysis and respiratory failure. There are currently no short-term solutions to correct a blue-green algal bloom. Once a bloom occurs, the only option is to wait for weather changes, such as significant rainfall, a wind shift or cooler temperatures, to disrupt the algae’s growth. According to Heiskary, the key to solving algae problems long-term is to improve water quality by decreasing the amount of nutrients that runoff carries into lakes.

Giardia Giardia and cryptosporidia are transmitted to pets that drink from waters infected by animal feces. Many northern Minnesota lakes are safe, but more stagnant waters, including ponds, swamps and bays where

Pets and Pasture

beaver have created dams, could be trouble. Giardia is also referred to as beaver fever, because beaver and muskrat have been known to pass the parasite into the water they inhabit. A dog becomes infected by eating the cyst form of the parasite. In the small intestine, the cyst opens and releases an active form called a trophozoite. These have flagella, hair-like structures that whip back and forth allowing them to move around. They attach to the intestinal wall and reproduce by dividing in two. After an unknown number of divisions, at some stage, in an unknown location, this form develops a wall around itself (encysts) and is passed in the feces. A major symptom of giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis is diarrhea. A veterinarian can perform a stool test to verify the presence of the parasites and the illnesses are easily treated with one or more rounds of medication. While these intestinal illnesses are not often life threatening, they can cause severe illness if a dog already has a compromised immune system. If in doubt of the presence of the parasites, it’s best to curb your pet’s appetite for water from the places at risk.

Summer safety tips for your pet By ROBIN RAMQUIST, Borderland Humane Society

W e all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger. No matter what the weather, the best way to ensure the comfort and safety of your pet is to keep it where you are comfortable and safe in your house. Your pet should have easy access to your house during weather extremes: the hot, humid days of summer or the icy, cold days of winter. Summer heat puts extra stress on your pet friends. Because of this, it is best to keep them inside where shade, water and cool air (either from air conditioning or open windows) can comfort them. If your pet is outside all day, make sure he/she has a shady, grassy area (pavement tends to heat up in warm weather). Check at different times of the day to make sure the area is constantly shaded. You may need to provide extra water in summer. Try larger water containers, or special devices that attach to an easy-to-reach faucet for unlimited access Most veterinarians don’t recommend shaving dogs or cats, since the hair helps them insulate against heat. Heavy-coated breeds of dogs and cats are especially prone to heat illness, especially in hot, humid climates. Many heavy-coated dogs appreciate a wading pool to loll in on extra-hot

days. Other animals with an increased risk of overheating include senior pets, puppies and kittens, working pets and flat-faced breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, pekes, and Persians. If your dog or cat is used to running errands with you in your car, leave it at home during hot summer days. Even with the windows cracked, your car can reach 130 degrees inside in less than 30 minutes. Don’t risk giving your pet heat stroke! Jogging or biking with your dog can be dangerous in hot weather. Just as your body temperature rises during exercise, so does your pets. But unlike you, dogs and cats don’t sweat. They must pant to rid their bodies of excess heat; an ineffective means of cooling off in the air outside is as warm or warmer than inside the body. Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat. Take these simple precautions, provided by the ASPCA experts to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately. Visit the vet for a spring or early summer checkup is a must. Made in the shade, your pets dehydrate quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pet have a shady

place to get out of the sun, be careful to not overexercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot. ★ Know the warning signs: symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. ★ Make a safe splash: do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from its fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that can cause stomach upset. ★ No parking: remember a parked car can become a furnace in no time – even with the windows open. Leaving pets in cars is illegal in many states. ★ Street smarts: when the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your dog’ body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

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Off The Beaten Path

Migration starts in August July Mornings are quieter as bird song decreases after mid-July. Mating season is over and the young are out of the nest. No need to sing — neither to attract a mate nor to defend territory. Little brown bats forage after dark for mosquitoes and insects. They often repeat a specific flight pattern over and over — scoop insects up in the tail membrane and transfer to the mouth in a split second in midair. Fire in nature is not a bad thing. Fireweed, large-leaved aster, fringed bindweed and spreading dogbane thrive in the nutrient-enriched soil of a two-month-old burn. Wildlife is attacked and eventually aspens or pines will grow. Thimble-like and red, fruits of Thimbleberry are starting to ripen. Red squirrels are dropping spruce cones at a rate of one every second and a half, and will cache for winter use. The squirrels are able to smell the buried cones under a foot of snow! Why do bald-faced hornets capture mosquitoes and flies? They bring them back to their hive, chew them up and feed them to the developing larvae. In return, the hornets eat the sugary “honeydew” regurgitated by the larva. Ox-eye daisy, brown-eyed Susan and goldenrod flower heads should be checked for ambushing

goldenrod crab spiders. They are able to change from yellow-to-white or white-to-yellow to match which flower they are hunting on. Second-summer black bears are now on their own. Two to three eight-ounce young are born in the winter to a snoozing mom. Chipmunk-sized cubs crawl to a teet, begin suckling, and will put on six pounds before emerging in the spring.

August Migration is now beginning — sad, but true. Flocks of shorebirds and common grackles are moving south. Local sewage ponds may be the best

place to see migrating sandpipers, plovers, yellowlegs and dowitchers. Though strawberries are done, about everything else is ripe. Thimbleberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, skunk currants, pin cherries and juneberries are all available for the picking. Grouse seek out bunchberries, as do some humans — all bunched up, round, ripe and red. Each has a rather large stone in the center, but can be a refreshing treat while on the trail. Golden yellow chanterelles push up through pine needle duff. The edible mushroom can be found under pines during early to mid-August, especially after wet spells. In Europe, the much-utilized fungus is dried and sold in camping stores. Small family groups of cdar waxwings give highpitched, soft, trills as they are in search of berries. Some birds may still be sitting on eggs. Easter phoebes and American robins commonly have a second brood late in the summer. American goldfinches delay nesting until thistles have gone to seed. “Wild canaries” gather down and place as a lining in their nests. Bracken ferns begin yellowing — a sign of fall already? The entire plant turns brown with the first hard frosts. As the saying goes, “Summer is over when fireweed blooms to the top.” From the bottom up,

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Off The Beaten Path

purple buds open into flowers, reaching the top of the flower spike in late summer. Mistakenly referred to as “wolf spiders,” the longlegged, huge spiders found on cabin walls, docks and outbuildings are actually dark fishing spiders. Females may have as much as a four-inch legspan. The spiders are found near lakeshores where they will dive for minnows. Large clusters of insects called wooly alder aphids appear as fuzzy white growths on speckled alder. The “wool” is a mass of waxy filaments extruded through pores on their back. Aphids feed on alder sap and in turn may be preyed on by carnivorous caterpillars of Harvester butterflies. Warblers begin moving south as most are now in drab fall plumage, thus complicating identification. Blue jays are excellent mimics and white-lined Sphinx Moths do a good impression of a hummingbird as they hover near garden flowers at dusk. Fly amanita mushrooms are up and it is wise to consider this forest beauty a deadly poison. It it said that raiding Vikings got a burst of superhuman strength from eating the European version of the fungus. Unfortunately, death was a common side effect. Minnesota monarchs begin their 2,000-mile migration to the mountains of central Mexico. August was made for grasshoppers and they seem to be everywhere. Minnesota has more than 100 species of grasshoppers, katydids and crickets. Common nighthawks stream south on certain sunny warm evenings an hour or two before sunset. Wild rice is ripe in the marshy bays of shallow lakes.

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September Large blue and green dragonflies called darners are common during early September. Any day we could experience the first killing frost of fall. Velvet is being shed from the antlers of buck white-tailed deer. A bush or small sapling is thrashed repeatedly over several hours to remove the skin. Warblers, sparrows and thrushes all migrate at night using the stars as their compass. Tiger beetles are ferocious insect predators. Pick a warm mid-September day and carefully scan any sandy lakeshore or dune for movement. Franklin’s ground squirrels are fattening up for their long sleep. Eastern bluebirds are flocking up but lingering and are feeding on late-season insects before they head south to the southern states and Mexico. Black bears must put on a 100-pound layer of fat before denning up for the winter. It is believed bears will travel up to 100 miles to find an especially productive stand of oaks. High pressure with northwest winds and blue skies equals massive movement of broad-winged hawks. Blue jays wing their way south. Some from Canada may stop in northern Minnesota while others end up in Texas. Fireweed often colonizes newly burned, bombed or bulldozed landscapes. The wood frog will soon hunker down beneath leaf litter for the winter. As they slowly freeze solid, their heart will stop. Come spring they thaw out, the heart pumps and off they jump.

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Shack Doctor

Plugging in to solar power By KATIE KOLT HALL

Ray family will generate more electricity for ‘the grid’ than they use 20

I n an effort to promote education — and reduce their energy consumption — Don and Wendy Graves are harnessing the power of the sun. Don said they believe they are the first to be “on the grid” with Northstar Electric Coop and return energy to the system through 10 solar panels installed on the roof of the pole barn at their Ray home. “Electricity is one of those silent, deadly things,” said Wendy Graves, who they both admit was the instigator of the project. “It all seems so clean when we plug something in the home.” She said they are worried about their level of carbon emissions and pollution, which are created in coal-generated elec-

tricity. “We’re very sensitive to that and want to make sure we are not contributing,” she said. Don teaches biology at Hibbing Community College, where he became acquainted with Jesse Dahl, instructor in the school’s photovoltaic (PV, converting solar energy into electricity) program. The Graves decided to have the class use their home as a project site where HCC students got field experience doing what Don called a large-scale install. The 10-panel system, including supports and the necessary conversion technology to bring the energy into the Northstar Electric system, was installed at the Graves house in late June by Dahl and three of his HCC stu-


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Shack Doctor

“We’re doing this to show that solar can work in northern Minnesota.” dents who were looking for real-world experience on an install. Wendy, a math instructor at Lake Superior College, agreed that the benefits of having the system were important — as was the learning experience for the students involved in the three-day install process. “There is no substitution for the real thing,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of good experience here.” There is a practice facility at HCC, Dahl said, but noted that the students had to do more problem solving and discovery at the home to which the teachers and students were unaccustomed. They received general information in the classroom, but had to stretch their knowledge to fit the particulars of the Graves’ south-facing roof and building. With successful completion of the PV program, students can become certified in the entry level of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, the “gold standard” for PV and solar thermal installation certification.

Above, Hibbing Community College colleagues install a solar panel that was hoisted onto the roof of the pole barn. Left, an inverter box installed inside the building will control the conversion of solar energy created on the panels into AC energy which goes “into the grid”with Northstar Electric Coop.

Solar makes sense Dahl said solar technology is actually positively affected by the winter’s cold in northern Minnesota. Cold helps increase the voltage that is created by the solar panel system. He said that northern Minnesota annually sees the same peak sun hours as the Florida panhandle and northern California. “Cold is good,” Don said, in relation to the electric output produced by the system. “Solar is very doable in northern Minnesota.” Wendy said the average Minnesota Power customer uses about 850 kilowatt hours per month, while they use only about 120 kilowatt hours per month. The Graves recommend others looking at solar as an alternative to using traditional energy also reduce their overall electricity usage. Their solar installation should generate about twice as much energy as they use each month. They will be able to sell the superfluous energy back to the coop to help reduce their overall bill. And while they said they will likely never see a check for their power production, the Graves said it will take them several years to

recover the costs of the system based on the reduction in their electricity bills. The cost of solar has gone down significantly in the last five years, Dahl said, but still comes with a price tag many families, especially those with high usage, wouldn’t find finan-

cially beneficial. One of the reasons the Graves will produce more than they use is that their consumption is so low. They said adding solar to a home that is not energy efficient will do little to offset costs. They have made several adjustments around the home to be more energy efficient, including using compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs. These use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, the Graves said. The solar panels should be good for more than 25 years and require little to no maintenance, except the potential for snow removal in the winter. They said they hope to be a model for other members in the community to see how solar energy can work, even in the Icebox of the Nation. They invite those who are interested to contact them to view the project. “We’re doing this to show that solar can work in northern Minnesota,” Don said. 21


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Extras

Make your next vacation

historical By AMY HOLZWARTH, Path of the Voyageur

A s summer approaches, everyone is looking for that little getaway from everyday life. There are many things to consider when going on vacation. Where to go? What is there to do that’s within our budget? Why not explore the various historical and cultural opportunities for any age group in our own backdoor? Why not follow the Path of the Voyageur? The Path of the Voyageur is a broad theme to inter-connect tourism and cultural experiences across Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesota. The

regions paddling heritage on the Namakan River and Rainy River is the main linkage between countries. The region is well endowed with cultural and recreational attractions that link with the lakes and with the Voyageur theme. Historic parks, museums, designated waterways, events and attractions are scattered across the region and voyageur era themes are used in many local promotions. The collaboration between European and First Nation cultures that are rooted in the voyageur era are equally important in this region today.

This summer spend time retracing steps of the voyageur. Who knew that our city would have such a rich history of paddling, fur trading and aboriginal heritage dating back to the 1600’s. We are surrounded by beautiful rivers, lakes and trees. Many of our surrounding waterways were once used by voyageurs and First Nations to trade furs for goods. The voyageurs came from Fort William and Grand Portage and paddled all the way down the Namakan River and up by Kettle Falls. They then went all the way across Rainy Lake and on up to Fort Garry in Manitoba. We share common history with our international border communities and with this linkage we have the Path of the Voyageur. Wouldn’t it be grand to relive the life of the voyageurs? Now you are thinking about how you plan on retracing the voyageurs. Here are some excursions you can do by yourself, with friends or family, right in your own City. ★ How would you like to paddle back in history? You can do this on the ‘North Canoe Voyage’ on Kabetogama Lake. This is a free program for ages 5 and up, running June 14-Aug. 23 on Tuesdays. Be sure to reserve your spot as they fill

We want your favorite memory Tell & send us your favorite cabin, shack, and water stories and/or photos of any season.

Email your story and/or photos to: laurel@ifallsjournal.com 22


SIMPLY NORTH up quickly. You will learn how to paddle a 26-foot North Canoe, learn the voyageur paddle salute and learn the way of the voyageur life. For more information on this exciting adventure call 1-877-444-6777. ★ You can also bring your own canoe to any of the entry points and paddle on Rainy Lake at your leisure. You will be able to explore, relax and have fun at your own pace. Retracing the voyageurs is also a great learning experience for your children. You can check out (by leaving your driver’s license at any visitor center) one of the seven discovery packs Voyageurs National Park has to offer for your children to learn and explore the park. ★ If you like to keep your feet on dry land, but still want to experience the wonderful wilderness the voyageurs did, head on out to Voyageurs National Park. There are numerous species of wildlife you can see such as otters, deer, eagles, loons and occasionally a moose or black bear. If you are a bird watcher or photographer, in the seasons of spring and autumn you can witness over 300 species of migrating birds in the area. ★ Be sure to stop by the Koochiching County Historical Museum. Learn about your county’s history and become privy to over 6,000 square feet of exhibits. Come in and learn about the voyageurs and their history. As you can see, there are many historical and cultural activities that can be done in and around International Falls. Make sure this is one of your stops on your next vacation. Or if you live in International Falls make it your ‘staycation.’

Extras

From left, Jax Sullivan, Dominick Juen, Greysen Sullivan, Ellie Wendt and Aiden Juen stopped for a photo on the steps of the historic Kettle Falls Hotel.

★ For a relaxing time, go on the Kettle Falls Cruise which takes you on a spectacular voyage on Rainy Lake and on to the historic Kettle Falls Hotel. You are able to spend two hours on the land to enjoy the breathtaking scenery as well as explore the hotel. The Kettle Falls area was one of the routes the voyageurs took en route to Fort Garry. For a more luxurious vacation, come aboard one of the many houseboats on Rainy Lake. Northernaire Houseboats, Voyagaire Houseboats and Rainy Lake Houseboats are awaiting your arrival for your next Rainy Lake voyage. You can also enjoy a vacation on another historic water route, Namakan River, with Ebel’s Voyageur Houseboats. With many different houseboat packages to choose from, please call ahead and make reservations to guarantee an unforgettable vacation on one of the historic voyageur routes.

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Without A Paddle

Kab-Ash-Hiking and Ski Trail System

★ Ash River Campground From Orr take U.S. 53 north 26 miles to Ash River Road, known as St. Louis County Road 126. Turn right, or east, and go 10 miles. Contact — Phone: 218-365-7229; managed by Bear Head Lake State Park Individual site $12; Approved firewood vendors available. The 8 campsites, with one considered handicap accessible, are considered “primitive,” designed to furnish only the basic needs of the camper. The campsites consist of a cleared area, fire ring, and table. Vault toilets, garbage cans, and drinking water are available. All sites are on a first-come, first-served basis. Ash River Campground is adjacent to the public landing. Activities at the campground include hiking, swimming, water access including boat ramp, 24

whitewater paddling on the Ash River, and access to Voyageurs National Park.

Voyageurs National Park ★ Kab-Ash Hiking and Ski Trail Difficulty: Strenuous Hiking Distance: 27.9 mile system Hiking Time: Days Note that pets are not permitted on VNP hiking trails. The trail is about 25 miles long and runs from the Ash River resort area east to the Lake Kabetogama resort area. There are 4 access points with car-parking areas. Terrain is varied with some lowland, marshy area giving way to midland forests and high, rocky ledges with panoramic overlooks. No pets, camping fires, firearms, fireworks or motor vehicles allowed on the trail.

This trail connects the Kabetogama and Ash River communities. Travel through backcountry forests and wetlands on this extensive system of interconnected trails. Four trailheads make it possible to hike sections of this trail or the whole trail for an in depth view of the park.

★ Echo Bay Trail Hiking Distance: 2.5 mile loop Hiking Time (round trip): 2 hours This park trail is located three miles from the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center off County Road 122. A wide path takes you from aspens to pines as you pass through lowlands and rocky outcrops. Birding is great there with a great blue heron rookery and sightings from warblers to woodpeckers. Sections of this trail are groomed for skiing in the winter months.


SIMPLY NORTH

Without A Paddle

Got a day off? Why not take a day trip to one of the area’s attractions

All levels of hiking, picnicking, and camping are available in the Ash River and Lake Kabetogama area ★ Blind Ash Bay Trail Difficulty: Moderate Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles loop Hiking Time (round trip): 2.5 hours Park at the Kabetogama Lake Overlook near the Ash River Visitor Center to access the trailhead. Travel a narrow, winding, rocky trail to experience the wonders of the boreal forest and to view spectacular scenery.

★ Beaver Pond Overlook Difficulty: Moderate Hiking Distance: 0.2 mile, one way Hiking Time: 30 minutes

This is the second trailhead on your left as you are driving to the Ash River Visitor Center. A short uphill hike leads to a rocky terrace high above a beaver pond. Although beavers are no longer active at this pond, this trail provides great birding opportunities, and the possibility of spotting large wildlife.

★ Voyageurs Forest Overlook Difficulty: Easy Hiking Distance: 0.5 mile loop Hiking Time: 30 minutes The entrance to this short trail is the first pullout on your right as you are driving to the Ash River

Visitor Center, just after turning off County Road 129. A picnic table and restroom are located at the trailhead, making this a good spot to get out of your car and stretch your legs.

★ Kabetogama Lake Overlook Difficulty: Easy Hiking Distance: 0.2 mile one way Hiking Time: 20 minutes This is the third pullout on your left as you are driving to the Ash River Visitor Center. This short walk is handicap accessible and will take you to a wayside that looks west towards Kabetogama Lake.

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The Frozen Gardener

Summer visitors Whether it’s ants and frogs or friends and family, the garden is a great place to gather

Resting on a cup plant leaf, this frog was the talk of the yard.

S ummer brings with it a number of visitors, some more welcome than others. The new crop of mosquitoes is always a dreaded sight and it seems the wild parsnip has called in reinforcements this season to take over every inch that isn’t mowed. Other pests are welcome, in small numbers that is. Ants are welcome while they pollinate the apple tree or massage open the peony blooms, but exploring your kitchen counter is worthy of an eviction notice. This year however, we were visited by a new unwanted guest. The new cherry tree planted this spring took to its new home well. Its neighbor, the rose bush, had a much harder move. The rose leaves quickly turned yellow and it looked very unhappy. Now I have never really had great luck with roses in the past, but just couldn’t pass up this one at the nursery. My father had a wonderful rose garden while I was growing up and while I 26

stood there looking at my yellowing rose bush I remembered him telling me that roses do not like being planted too deep. In fact, they prefer resting on top of a small mound. After replanting, I am happy to report the rose bush has recovered and is producing new flowers. As often happens though when one issue is resolved another one rears its head. The ants that had been working so hard preparing our cherry crop were now harvesting a crop of their own. Small, but growing, colonies of aphids began appearing on the new growth. Just like dairy cows, only much smaller, the aphids create a sweet liquid that the ants eat. While I appreciate that the ants are trying to eat local and farm without chemicals, I would much rather they did it on a different tree. So the search for a remedy has begun. Blasts of water and a soaking with soap have proved ineffective. I have only one more option before I will have to either let the aphids win or resort to

chemical warfare. I had thought by now my heroes in shiny armor would have shown up. Every morning as I leave I check the branches for the black and red uniform of the mighty, aphid eating ladybug, but have yet to see one. Luckily ladybugs can be ordered and released to devour the aphids and protect the cherries. The size of my cherry pie depends heavily on the success of this battle, so I am highly motivated. Not all visitors are so small. Shortly after splitting and transplanting our cup plant, we found a small frog resting on a leaf. I’m not sure if he was just resting or was feeding on the bugs that visit the small pools created in the leaves of the plant. Whatever the reason, he stayed there all day and moved on that night. The kids were very disappointed the next morning when their new friend was gone. One visitor has become very bold and has even gained the attention of our dog. We have come to expect that a certain amount


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SIMPLY NORTH of the bird seed we put out will be eaten or at least hoarded away by chipmunks. But, one chipmunk has taken his search for food one step too far. We discovered his thieving ways only after eating a watermelon. It was one hot summer day and we were devouring pieces of watermelon, spitting seeds and tossing the rinds in the compost pile. When taking the second round of rinds to the compost heap we discovered the first batch had disappeared. The dog was the one to discover the chipmunk running away with his watermelon bounty. Now, I have seen chipmunks and squirrels dig up bulbs for dinner but I never had seen one stealing right from the compost heap. At least he is getting a balanced diet. The funny thing is if he would keep his mouth shut our blind dog would have a much harder time tracking him down and he would most certainly get away with even more food. Of all the visitors summer brings, the best has to be the friends and family who stop by and visit during the nice weather. The sun brings out the walking shoes, bicycles and roller blades to carry our neighbors over for a hotdog and cold drink or at least a friendly wave hello. These are the visitors that we cherish the most.

The Frozen Gardener

The dog was the one to discover the chipmunk running away with his watermelon bounty. Now, I have seen chipmunks and squirrels dig up bulbs for dinner but I never had seen one stealing right from the compost heap. At least he is getting a balanced diet.

A chipmunk stealing watermelon rinds caught the eye of the family dog. The blind dog chased away the compost thief.

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Til Fall

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Who knew?

ooking out at the lake on one of our many gray windy days a few weeks ago I noticed an eagle sitting on the rocks out in front of the house. I am not always a big fan of eagles, I don’t like to see them swooping down and grabbing baby ducks and other small creatures. I know, it’s nature but I still don’t like to see it. I also feel a little intimidated by them sitting up at the top of the tree while I am mowing the yard, I know they aren’t interested in me but they still make me uncomfortable. Anyway, as I was looking at the eagle sitting out on the rock in the lake I noticed that some seagulls were bothering him. They were really aggressive, diving at the eagle and of course squawking in that loud seagull chatter. The eagle was ducking to avoid them and seemed a little annoyed by all the aggressive behavior. I find it interesting that seagulls are so aggressive to eagles; I for one would be a little more respectful of such a big bird. I don’t know what that eagle had done,

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by Dana Hartje

maybe he had a baby seagull for lunch or stole a fish from one of them, but they were not going to let him sit peacefully. When the eagle had finally had enough of the swooping and screaming he took off. As he flew away they kept chasing him. Next thing you know the eagle is in the lake, yes, the seagulls knocked him into the lake. Well now I am concerned, I could see the eagle about 300 feet out from the rock he took off from bobbing around in the waves. I grabbed the binoculars to get a closer look, not knowing what his fate would be I put the binoculars down and tried not to look again. A few minutes later I picked up the binoculars again and as I watched the bird in the lake I noticed that the seagulls were again assaulting him. They were relentless, the eagle was trying to get away from them, the seagulls were coming so close that the eagle would have to move his head or lower it into the water to avoid the attack. The big bird was using his giant wings to “swim” back to the rock. Eagles can swim, who knew? His feathers looked like long hanging fingers when he would lift his wing to make another swipe at the water. He was getting closer to the rock but it was a slow battle. As he was out there fighting the waves another eagle flew in and landed on the rock, the seagulls never bothered the new eagle. Was he watching the other eagle, who knows, he was probably just happy to be able to sit on the rock without the seagull assault. Now, I know I said I am not a huge fan of the eagle, but as I watched the big bird flounder in the lake I started to wonder what one should do if they see an eagle floating in the lake. I know, I should take a picture, not sure how that helps the bird but it at least will make my story believable. So I went and got my camera from the car, knowing that my little camera would probably not take a great picture, but I had to try. So as I round the corner of the house to take the picture, there he is sitting back on the rock, soaking wet, looking anything but regal. Those pesky seagulls were still bothering him and he looked just plain annoyed. He tried to take off a few times and each time the gulls would force him back to the rock. Finally the seagulls noticed me and apparently thought I may have something for them and headed my way. The big wet bird took off and headed for the safety of the trees and the seagulls never went after him. Yeah, a happy ending. So after seeing this unfold I just had to relay my story, who would believe an eagle could swim. Well apparently a lot of people would believe it as they told me they had witnessed the same kind of thing while fishing. Oh sure, they are just saying that, stealing my thunder. Still, sure I witnessed something rarely seen, I needed to confirm it by searching “can eagles swim” on the Internet. Yep, right there on many a video you can see an eagle swim. My eagle had to swim under much more difficult conditions, rough water and a seagull assault, but I guess he is not the first one to pull off this feat. So I learned a couple things that day, seagulls are either brave or stupid and eagles can swim, who knew?


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Simply North Summer 2011