Just Got In The Door

Just got in the door – spent the day north in my home country – the Saw-Tooth Range. It’s sad when you don’t feel at home when you are home.

I went with a friend from church, Darryl. I brought an extra Duluth Pack for him. I’ve known Darryl for some years and he enjoys the outdoors, and practises great wisdom, but he is from the prairie so often asks questions about things I take for granted. Once, while standing in a cluster of hazel-brush – he began asking me about harvesting hazel nuts and what the hazel nut bushes … Read more…


Night Watch

For many years I worked night shift as a peace officer in a rural jurisdiction. Sometimes it was scary and exciting. Much more often, it was quiet and boring.

Your mind wanders and you think deep and varied thoughts.  I often wondered what I was doing out there – while most other people were home sleeping. I began to envision myself, like my medieval counterparts, as “the watchman on the wall.”

I mentioned this, at one point, to my children. One of them said it was like the game of thrones. I had no idea what he was talking about, … Read more…


Favorite Places

Scarp+Lake

Far up in the woods, far away from here,
there is a trail, that wasn’t always there.
Grandfather would bring us, long long ago,
walking the trail, that wasn’t then there.
“Enter one way,” he said, “And leave by another -
and leave no trail to tred.”

Bright trout lived there, we’d catch a creel full
and bake them in the white ash of the fire,
long long ago

Seven lakes like seven jewels,
strung either side of a ridge;
a ridge filled with white cedars
and bronze colored cliffs.

A wonderous magic place
known only to a few
Enter … Read more…


Grandma Artichone’s Got a Gun

Ojibwe Snowshoes

OR, “WHY CITIZENS OUGHT TO BE ARMED”

I didn’t know Grandma Artichone. She died before I was born. But I heard many stories about her, as I was growing up – usually around a campfire. I’m not sure how many of the stories were true, but I do suppose there was some truth to them. That she lived, I have no doubt. I had photos of her, before our flood two years ago. She was a tiny thing. I’ve seen her old cap-lock shotgun, one of my great aunts had her maple syruping kettle and I’ve got a pair of … Read more…


Irish Food

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I’m not Irish. Well, maybe just a bit, but you’d need a microscope to find that bit.

Last year Sara, our daughter, spent a semester studying in Ireland. First thing you know, JoAnne has it in her head we need to go see her in Ireland. I was fairly dubious. I’ve never been out of the states before, except fishing and paddling in Canada, and a day-trip over the Mexican border to Tijuana when I was 13. Besides which, seems like every time I’ve had any dealings with an Irishman, he was drunk and trying to hit me in the … Read more…


Cooking Over An Open Fire

Steak & Veg

Venison may be an acquired taste. Some people don’t care too much for it. Often, this is because it is not properly butchered. When butchering venison, it is necessary to remove all tallow and membrane possible. This is less necessary in farm country, where the deer often feed on corn. It is extremely necessary in our forest lands where the deer are eating anything they can find, including spruce and pine boughs. Leave in the tallow – and you’ll likely get a pretty good idea of what turpentine tastes like.

Cooking over an open fire: For roasts, I like venison … Read more…


Making Maple Syrup

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Went to the sugar-bush with taps, bit-brace, and half my buckets. Nights are freezing. Day-time is in the 40s. Time to tap maples.
I’ve been tapping maples on the same 80 for years – belongs to a friend. Maybe I should have kept in closer touch. Upon arrival I met the new owner – who informed me my friend had sold the land and moved to Nebraska!?!

I guess there will be no maple syrup this year. I’ll mostly miss the time in the woods. I’m the only one in the family who likes the stuff anyway. Everyone else says … Read more…


Harvesting Wild Rice

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Near the homestead there are many rice lakes and rivers. Wild rice is not really rice at all, but is actually a water grass. The Ojibwe call it menomin, the early French explorers called it folle avoine, or wild oats.

My favorite ricing lake is one my ancestors named Rabbit Lake. It has a different name on today’s maps. The reason I like it so well – it has a hard bottom and is easily poled.

To harvest wild rice you need a canoe, a pole, two people and a set of sticks, known as “knockers,” or “knocking sticks,” about … Read more…