Glory

I realize that many who read this are snow lovers and likely have the opinion that the woods up here look most beautiful with 4 feet of snow dumped on them. I will agree that sight is magnificent. However, I do believe it takes a close second place to the autumn color show at full peak. Perhaps it is because the color show is so brief compared to the winter wonderland. Or perhaps it is because the color show here is second to none. What ever the reason, I cannot help but smile every time I gaze into the woods at this time of the year.

Even better than gazing into the woods is to step into them. This past Tuesday that is what Grace, Huck and I did. Nora and Bleau were at the school and the sled dogs cannot be let off their leashes and thus create a difficult situation when in the woods. Where we initially walked was not too full of autumn color. We were walking through a section of our land that is filled with different conifers. While it may seem a rather dull type of woodland, if one slows down and looks in all directions, including up and down, there is usually something striking to see. In the cool and wet months, that typically means fungi. When coming across the occasional birch in this environment, it pays to look up and catch the color show there

As mentioned in a pasty entry, the look out of the house windows down here in Jake is quite a bit different than it was when we lived outside of Mohawk. I really do not think it is fair to give one a higher ranking than the other, but they both do have their strong points. At the previous house, it was the closeness of the woods and the fact that we were surrounded by them in all 360 degrees. Down here it is the amount of green grass that we see before the woods. It was amazing that the grass was green all summer and never dried out during a 3 week period with little rainfall. I do not think we will be putting an ice rink back there this season. It was a ton of work and Grace will be getting plenty of ice time at the rinks. The only thing that could change that plan is if organized skating is called off due to the virus. 

I made my usual couple of trips to town this week and the drive from Lake Linden south never gets old. For one, the views are very pretty. The first part has the Torch Lake off to my right and a mix of homes, woods and fields to my left. Then beyond the Dreamland, it is mostly just woods. This past week provided some magnificent views as I drove down Jacobsville Road. The road was flanked by the reds, oranges and yellows of the color show and in spots, if you looked into the woods, you would see the leaves illuminated by sunlight and they seemed to glow.

It’s sad that in a week or so, the woods will be bare of the colorful leaves. Especially with the weather we look to have coming this week. Tomorrow looks like a pretty solid rain with some fairly strong winds. Some more rains off and on the middle of the week and then a chance for some rain and wet snow by the end of the week. The fragile connection the leaves have to the trees don’t stand much of a chance against that. 

We did enjoy a pretty beautiful week of weather up here this past week, including a 76 degree high on Friday! That is a pretty big gift for us this time of the year. As mentioned, not too many gifts in the week ahead, but that is October in the Keweenaw. Summer one week and winter the next! Speaking of winter. I will be releasing my winter outlook this Thursday the 15th. Probably by around 9 am eastern. I have not tipped my hand yet and do not plan to before the official release Thursday. So be sure to check in!

I really do not have much else to say, so I guess I will sign off for this one. Have a great week everyone and…

Good Night from the Keweenaw..
JD

The Time for Change.

Greetings and happy October everyone! This month is a month of pretty big changes. Not only to the colors of the leaves change, but then the come down and the woods go from fully filled with life to looking like all is dead in just a matter of a week or so. For me, it is those weeks between the color show and the snows piling up that are some of the slowest to past. I think that is why in many years, I am so busy with projects at that time of the year. It helps to pass the time!

This year, I have plenty to keep my busy, but thankfully all but a few of the projects are not “have-to”, but rather “want-to”. Even the have-to’s are not that big a deal. Things like mounting the blower to the tractor, put up the snow sticks to let me know where the edge of the driveway is and make a little firewood. All of the rest of my projects are indoors.

The past weeks weather was more like late October than late September. Lots of lake effect precipitation, mostly rain, but there was some snow that fell Thursday night and Friday morning. Most areas only saw some wet flakes, although there was some minor accumulation in the Toivola and Donken areas. I had to travel to Wausau Thursday and that is the exact spot the rains changed to very wet snowflakes. It then changed back to rain as I got to Painesdale. All we got here in Jacobsville was some sleet, even today a bit of sleet fell.

So the first winter weather of the season has happened in the Keweenaw and as mentioned it has been a while since we saw blue skies and/or the sun. Because of the cloudy skies, I did not take too many pictures. I was planning on a nice long tour of the Keweenaw to get some color shots, but they are just so muted with the overcast skies. There are some areas that are past peak, others that are at peak and others that will be at peak. The immediate Houghton/Hancock area, as well as down by us will be at peak in a few days. South of Houghton, they are past peak and areas like Calumet, Mohawk and many areas of the Keweenaw away from the lake are at or just a bit past peak. 

We have had a few peaks of sun this afternoon, so Nora and I did take a quick little ride to enjoy the colors and take a few shots for you all. We really are so luck to live in such a beautiful spot of the country. For the most part, I think everyone in our family does not take if for granted, but there are moments when life is crazy busy where I think we might not fully appreciate how lucky we are. The drive home is always appreciated by all of us though. It’s hard not to feel blessed traveling down the Jacobsville Road at any time of the year, but especially during the color show or during a nice snowfall. 

When we lived at the old place just outside of Mohawk, we could just look out the windows to see the color show in full fashion. We do have some colors to look at out our windows here, but there are just not as many trees immediately around the house and about half are conifers. However, we do have some trade off’s. We are a short walk to several beaches on the big lake and from sights like this

Not much else going on up this way. I suppose there are some snowbirds packing up and getting ready to head south for the cold season. This weekend was probably the final big weekend for visitors to the area for the color show and next weekend will probably be the final week. Then things get pretty quiet up here until opening day for firearm deer season. After December 1st, the snowmobilers will be showing up, assuming we have enough snow. It’s been a very busy summer for the businesses that cater to visitors up here, so I am sure that they will be enjoying the breather.

The weather looks to warm up and dry out for the the next week or so. After this week, that will be welcomed my me and probably a lot of others up here. It was not like we got a lot of rain from the amount status, but for the number of minutes with rain in them it was a lot. I will be releasing my seasonal outlook on October 15th. No early hints though!

Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD

Hanging on to Summer

Well, if you are planning a trip to the Keweenaw to check out the colors, you better come quick! Interestingly though, some parts are full on color shows and others are still pretty green and some trees are both at the same time! The trees along our route to and from town, are starting to come along. I suspect another week or so in spots before they are in their glory. 

The weather has been quite summer like the past few days, with highs in the low 70’s. It made for a nice afternoon at a local park in Calumet for Grace and I. We had some down time between two of Grace’s after school activities, so we grabbed a bite to eat and hung out at the park. After the meal, Grace found a nice comfortable rock and took to doing what she loves most. This week is suppose to be much cooler the weather guy says. Might be time to dig out the warmer coats, just in case he is right!

The big news around here is all Houghton county schools are moving to virtual for a two week period. We knew it was a possibility and we figured it would happen. I think the majority thought we’d be in school a bit longer before it happened though. It was a bit sad to see all the long faces on Thursday when the announcement was made. Usually, if an announcement for a snow day or school cancellation is made, one can hear cheering and hollering coming from the halls. On Thursday you could hear a pin drop. My experience is the kids just really want to be in school with their friends, enjoying a bit of something that seems “normal”. I knew Gracie would take it hard, and she was holding back tears as she came into my office on Thursday. We were holding on that some other extra activities like skating would still be a “go”, but we received the news yesterday that today would be the last day of skating for a few weeks as well. Totally understand, but it’s such a bummer. Gracie picked up summer skating this year and it really was what kept her spirits up. 

It’s funny, because our winters are really busy. Between skating a few afternoons/evenings a week, piano, church etc. we really don’t have much time to do a lot of extra things. At times, especially come February when the rink is freezing, and it’s dark at 5 pm, we (meaning the old folks around the Dee house) just long to be home, cozied around the fire. I realized this morning that all those things are what keep us going during the winter. We really do LOVE the snow, but it’s a pretty extended season around here. I sure hope we don’t need to see what a winter would be like without all the fun things to keep us busy! I’m sure we can find plenty of things to do like skiing, snowshoeing etc. but I do believe keeping busy get us through the long months of winter.

My garden status is…..that’s a wrap folks! Well, actually I do have some beets to pull and a friend/neighbor was kind enough to lend me a row for some carrots. I plan to get those in the next few days. Other than that all that’s left is to pull it up. I planted 3 sunflowers this year….It took forever for this guy to bloom, but it was worth the wait. The flower is so heavy the stem can barely hold it up. Oh and the raspberries! The golden raspberries are ripe and man are they delish! The only problem is Kashi has been watching me and now helps herself. I enjoyed sharing my garden with all the four legged Dee members this year, mainly because I felt sorry for them, eating the same thing day and out. But, next year will be a different story. I’ve found the perfect fence and a fun project for the hubby for next year. 

Friday night we had a pretty good storm roll through. Everyone was tucked in for the night and I was doing a little browsing through the internet and saw a friend from Houghton had posted “holy wind”. I knew we had some rain coming, but I was pretty surprised to see the radar all lit up. It looked like the first round might stay north of us, so I put the phone away and went back to my book. Within 10 minutes it started to thunder and the wind picked up in a pretty intense way. Gracie and I sat and watched the storm for awhile, hoping we wouldn’t lose power or worse yet, have a tree come down on the house. The good news = the house is still standing. The bad news is we did lose power around 9:30 pm. John and I were both up off and on throughout the night, mainly because no power means John can’t use his c-pap machine. So around 3 am he went over to the shop where the big generator is, and was able to get a few hours of sleep. We went about our day and by the time we left for town around 3 pm, still no power. The closest big tree down to our house fell on the front lawn of the community center. Some boys that have a family camp down here were kind enough to cut it up and get the road fully passable again.

On the way to town we saw two sections of line that had downed trees on them. The crew was out working on them so we knew it wouldn’t be too long. I rec’d a text from a girlfriend around 6 pm saying we were back up and running. The storm hit the L’anse/Baraga area much worse than us, so I suspect the crews were busy handling things there. We’ve learned that when you choose to live at “the end of the line” so to speak, you end up waiting a bit for things like power when it’s out. Thankfully, we do have the generator so we weren’t suffering that’s for sure. 

I hope you all have a great week….stay well!

Good day from Jake!

 

A Welcomed Change

For about as long as I can remember, this time of the year has typically been a pretty busy time for me. In some years, downright frantic. With the warm days limited and the closing in of winter, the race to get all chores done outside has been a vigorous one. This year is different. I still have tome things to do, but nothing that actually HAS to be done before winter.

There is some wood that needs to be cut, but we are not heating with wood, so it is more for the ambience of the fire, not the heat. Plus, I am talking about a face cord, not 18 full cords! For those that do not know, a face cord is about 1/3rd that of a full cord. So the wood needed to be cut is 1/54th of what I used to have to cut when we were heating with wood.

I also want to install some outdoor electrical outlets and a spot light on the shop, but could live without them for the winter. I did get the electrical wires between the generator and transfer switch put in the conduit and would like to put a shelter over the generator, but again could live without it. A shelter over the back door of the house would also be nice, but is not critical.

So, what am I doing with all this lack of jobs that HAVE to be done? Well, at a comfortable pace, I am chipping away at those that I would like to. I have spent some time helping my neighbor with some jobs he has and this past Thursday I took a quick trip to Green Bay to pick something up. On that trip, I got to get a glimpse of how the colors are coming along in other areas of the UP. The most color I saw was in the Covington Jct. area. There the colors were probably 65-75% along and were magnificent. I was a bit pressed for time, so I did not stop to take any pictures and did not take any while driving. I did stop a little further south, almost at Crystal Falls and snapped this shot. The colors there were not as much along. 

The colors up here in the Keweenaw are mixed. There are areas that the color is much like those in that last shot. Here is a shot taken between the Airport and Calumet, just off of Hwy 41. Yet, just down the road a bit, the colors in Houghton/Hancock have hardly changed at all. You can keep tabs of them by going to the NCN and clicking on the cam for Houghton and Hancock. Here is a snapshot I just took from that page.

So it would be safe to say that if one were to want to come up here to see the colors, next weekend would be the peak weekend for areas in the higher terrain, but away from the lakes influence, like Covington Jct., Michigamme, perhaps even areas like Rockland and Mass City, but I cannot confirm those last two. In about 10-14 days, the colors in the higher terrain from Twin Lakes to Delaware will be at or near their peak and in about 14-18 days, the lower terrain of the Keweenaw will be at peak.

We did have our first hard frost and light freeze Friday morning. Those that covered their gardens were able to save them and those that did not are likely seeing mixed results. The plants that are not very hardy are likely gone, but most other should be OK. That is what happened to Nora’s garden. The pups got wind of the pending frost, so got busy harvesting and eating as many of the vegetables as they could Thursday afternoon. Here is Huck getting ready to chomp into a cucumber

Nora’s giant sunflower plant finally opened its flower. For some reason hers took longer to flower than some others around here. We also have some golden raspberries that were planted by the previous owners and some of them are just beginning to ripen. I have discovered that I cannot eat the berries with the small seeds, as it irritates my gut, but I did sample one by just squeezing it between my tongue and roof of my mouth and it was unbelievable. So sweet. Most certainly the best tasting berry I have ever had. 

This morning, Nora and Grace went to our friends that live in the yurt to shuck some beans. Not the green type, but the kind you would put in chili or use in a bean dip. If you have ever wondered if the beans like to be freed from their shell, here is your answer! By the time they had left, they had made pretty good progress on the shucking

That about covers it for the past week. The upcoming week looks fairly uneventful. I am hoping to be able to stay in Jake for most of the week and get my outdoor wish list taken care of as much as possible. It seems like I am still running to Calumet or even Houghton/Hancock way more than I wish I had to. The weather looks to be quite delightful. This past week was nice, but autumn like, with highs mostly in the 50’s and low 60’s. The next few days will have us in the 70’s for highs and then down into the 60’s for the end of the week. We have been rain free for about 10 days and look to remain that way until Wednesday. No signs of snow and that to me is a good thing. The less snow before the firearm deer season opener usually means more when it will stick around and be able to be played in!

Hard to believe next week’s entry will be the last one for September. Even harder to believe that the deer season opener is less than 2 months away! Even though I am currently fine with 60’s and 70’s rather than snow, I am very much looking forward to the snow season. Nothing beats the beauty of the flakes falling to the ground and frosting everything under a thick layer of the white gold!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..
JD

A Lighter Shade of Pale (green)

With school starting, I guess we are officially in a new countdown mode. The count down for first frost, first snowflakes, first accumulation of snow, peak colors, deer season and then the start of snowmobile season! As I have grown longer in the tooth, I have also become a more patient man. I am good with some nice September weather for a few weeks and then true autumn weather can arrive.

For the first time in many years, I do not have a lot of outdoor chores to get done. I need to put the electric wiring from the generator to the transfer switch inside conduit, install a few outdoor power outlets and a motion sensor spot light. I also need to cut a bit of firewood, but the amount I need to make for the season should not take more than an hour or two, with help stacking! Nora showed me a picture of where we were last year at this time, as far as the barndeeminium and it inspired me to look through my camera roll to see what I had. This is the only picture from the 13th of September 2019, but the previous 3 days showed just the slab, then the next day the slab with one wall up, then a little later that day, all the walls up. The 12th showed them setting the trusses.

I would not want to trade places and go back to that date at all! I still have a lot to do on the barndeeminimum and we have some fairly large projects we want to do on the house, but just about all of the house projects will be done by a contractor and the things in the barndeeminimum will just happen one task at a time. I am currently working to finish up the electrical, once done, I can begin to close in the walls, as the plumbing rough in was passed a long time ago. The first walls to get done will be those in the shop. For one, all the lumber for them is on site and also outside, so I do not want to be having to haul it in once the cold and snow hits. Secondly, once the shop walls are done and contractors do the ceiling, then it will be ready for the final push to finish it out and make it 100% ready for use. Right now it stands at about 75% ready.

As mentioned, school started on Tuesday. The schools up here are doing in class teaching, but with masks. They are also offering an on-line program for those parents that do not want to have their children physically go to school. Grace is in the same building as Nora for the next 3 years and so far so good!

Before starting school, Grace took advantage of her last day of summer break by enjoying the beautiful weather we had for Labor Day. Then the next day, before the sun even rose, it was up and Adam and out the door for day number one in 6th grade. Grace loves school, so she does not have much of a problem getting up early to get ready and take the trip to Calumet every morning with Nora. Nora does not mind either. They use the time to and from school to chat and keep the mother-daughter bond strong as ever. 

Wednesday was Gracie’s first cross country meet. It was actually a home meet and they ran out at the cross country ski trails in Sweedtown. It was a little chilly day, but not too bad. Probably perfect for the runners and not too cold for the spectators.  The boys run first and then the girls line up along the starting line and wait for the gun to go off. Grace has always loved running long distance. I can remember back to the time when she was just a few years old and Nora and I would walk with Huck and Millie and our fairly quick pace was the same speed as little Grace’s jog. Our typical walk was around 2 miles and Grace would only stop a few times and much of those stops were done to check something out rather than rest.

Cross country is not really a spectator friendly sport. We do get to watch them take off from the starting line and then they all run out and away from the spectators. They do then return to a finish line in the same area as the starting line, so we get to watch them finish, but for around 20-30 minutes, we are all just standing around! I was pretty surprised by the finish that Calumet had for all the runners. the final 300-400 yards was all uphill and in sand! Talk about punishment! All the runners really had to give an extra push to get up the hill through the sand and all did well. 

Friday evening, Nora got together with two of her girlfriends from down here for a bonfire. No boys and no kids allowed, so they are able to fully relax and enjoy each others company. They also were treated to a magnificent sunset, courtesy of the wildfires out in the western US. Did I ever mention that this is a pretty nice place to live?!

Other than the schools starting this past week, there has not been a lot of things going on up here. This seems to be a time of the year when most of the locals are just concentrating switching gears from summer/relaxed mode to autumn, back to school and back to the busy schedule mode. The color show is slowly progressing. We do not have much color at all here in Jacobsville. A little bit up the road, there is a spot where the trees on the side of the road are further along, but I have been to Calumet as well as down to Houghton/Hancock this week and their colors are still mostly green, although a more faded shade of it. The colors do change earlier in the higher terrain of southern Houghton County. Not way earlier, but on average around 4-7 days before our peak up here in northern Houghton and most of Keweenaw County. I suspect that it should be a pretty good show this year. The trees got plenty of water and also plenty of warm temps, so they should be fairly healthy. Each season is different and like Forrest Gump says, you never know what you’re going to get. I will promise to do my best to capture the color show up here. Perhaps not all areas, but as much as I can. Who know’s, I may even charge up the batteries of Snowflake 1 (the drone) and get some aerial shots/video.  

I guess that wraps it up for this week. Have a great third week of September and be safe everyone!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..
JD