As promised…here is part 2 to Nora’s entry…It wasn’t long before the rest arrived and we ventured inside the sauna building. We all jumped in the sauna where it was pretty cozy. Being a person who is not a fan of small spaces I sat quietly wondering just how long we would be in this space. It wasn’t long and everyone was seated in the sauna and the door closed. Making things very dark. It was here that we were played a recording of various sounds….. As I closed my eyes I had a clear picture of what was happening…or at least what I thought was happening. Someone walking down a path, to chop down a tree to use to build a fire, to be used in a sauna stove, while running from swarms of bugs…only to jump in freezing cold Lake Superior before heading into the thick air of a sauna. I was reminded again what we notice when we are listening….really listening to what is going on around us.
Before heading out we stop in the front room of the sauna building where we were able to see who had come before us, what they had eaten and where they had hoped to venture off to.
It was right around this time that us girls had wished we could go to Hansen and Jig’s cabin. We were uncertain if it would happen. As luck would have it Jack volunteered to take us. Man we were pumped!! So up went the pant legs, off came the shoes and before we knew it we were back on the lake headed towards to tip of the island. The seas were rough and we took on alot of water. Noone cared and we laughed like school girls with each splash of Gitchee Gummee that hit our faces…and our arms… and our legs…soaked… we were totally soaked once on shore. Jack tied up the boat and we spread out to search for the cabin. Our directions were to go in at the clump of birch trees. So we walked into the woods, each about 10 feet or so from the other. We walked and we walked. Nothing. After about 45 minutes of hiking and going through some pretty thick brush, I had almost given up. At one point I came out of the woods and walked further down the beach. Heading into the woods again it wasn’t long until I reached the other shore off the Island. I wish I had the camera to show the other side of the Lake but decided against it knowing our trip would be wet. It was then that I had really thought this wasn’t’ going to happen. That was ok. Disappointing but ok. After heading back down to where the dinghy was I found Jack. I verbalized to him that I didn’t want to give up but… Jack stopped me and said, “I’m not giving up!”. Alright! That was exactly what I wanted to hear!
Neither Jack nor myself had seen the others for sometime now. I was pretty sure they were together so I thought they would be safe. Jack and I split up again after the walk back down the shoreline. Wouldn’t you know we found another “clump” of birch trees. It wasn’t long and I heard a faint bird whistle. Jack had found it! I hollered out to the girls but with no answer. I wasn’t sure what to expect really. I knew that a few years ago there were 2 walls left of the cabin and something about a bed. As I approached the structure I just couldn’t believe my eyes. In less than 8 weeks I went from not even knowing about Hansine and Jig to actually stepping in their cabin. I think the only thing that came out of my mouth was “wow…wow”….There was a few courses of one wall left, their stove, some cans and pots and pans and their bed frame. This beautiful, ornate, iron shaped heart. After looking around for awhile I knew we needed to walk back down the beach and find the others. It wasn’t long and there we were….cousins…together in what was left of our grandparents log cabin. Before leaving we decided to jump in gramma and grampa’s bed. We didn’t stay long as we knew we had to catch the boat back to Rabbit Bay. But, it was long enough to be etched in my heart and mind forever.
Once we arrived back to camp we were welcomed by the others who were waiting to hear about our adventure. We learned some information about our family that we had never heard before. One of the fun facts was how Jig and Hansine got their belongings to the Island in the winter. Apparently, they moved their belongings in the winter months by horse and sleigh. The horses were trained and once they heard the whistle they would head back to the barn which was in Rabbit Bay. Maybe a tale stretched some over time? I’m not sure but it’s fun to think about.
Since my trip to the Island I’ve spent some time researching my family. I found out that this woman’s name is Martha Andersen. She’s Hansine’s mother and my great, great, great grandmother. I hear she was married to a Captain Andersen who was once the Mayor of the town where my family immigrated from in Norway. I know Anderson is a common name…it’s actually my maiden name. But, I do wonder could it be more than a coincidence that the home that the Grant Township letterhead was found, is owned by an Anderson? That might be my winter investigation to see if there is a connection.
Two weekends ago my brother Jeff and Joel and nephew Jaron came up for a visit and to do some bird hunting. For those of you who have been following the journal over the years you know we enjoy fishing and hunting together. I’ll be totally honest and say on a good day I can out fish them…ha! Not true but I usually do catch the first fish was does earn some bragging rights. I actually have never shot a bird, deer etc. I don’t know that I could. I’m in no way against hunting but I do wonder if the opportunity were right in front of me, could I pull the trigger? I’m so lucky to have brothers that have had the patience to teach me how to fish and hunt. I’ve definitely learned from the best!
Friday night we decided to go out to Jacobsville. It’s a special place for us kids and we go often. Especially, when they come to town. We decided to do some fishing. As I was gathering up my fishing tackle and rod, Gracie decided that she was going to fish too. So we packed up and were off to Jake. We opted on the old boat ramp. While waiting for the guys to arrive, in true Gracie fashion she made her own fun with a stick. I love that she loves to be outside and explore the world around her. The guys arrived and I was uncertain about what kind of lure to use. Joel doesn’t hesitate and “hooks” me up with something “great”. As he practically runs me over to be the first one to get his line wet! Cast after cast nothing. It then dawned on me that he totally screwed me over and had probably set me up with something that wasn’t the best. I decided on my own lure and it wasn’t long until I almost had a fish. I know you can’t “almost” catch a fish. Either you do or you don’t. I wish we wouldn’t have been talking so much and was paying more attention to my fishing. I reeled up my line and just as my lure was almost above the water I look down and there is a good size pike, mouth opened, about ready to hit my lure. I would have put my lure back in, but Joel had seized the opportunity and was in my spot, trying to catch MY fish. We all had a good laugh and a great time. Gracie did what she calls “wait” fishing…You know when you need to wait for the fish to hit your bobber. She lasted the entire time and didn’t feel the need to reel up every 5 minutes which was a bonus. One of the things we were remembering was how our Grandpa Bergh would wash his SAAB at the boat launch and one of the boys forgot to put the brake on and the car ended up in the drink. Fun times and memories!
The following day we had planned to go out to the family property in Jacobsville. The day was humid, cloudy and the leaves were still on the trees. So not the best hunting weather but we were just happy to be in the woods together. It’s quite the hike to get to the property but once there it’s worth it. Joel and Jaron saw some birds but most were way up ahead and on the ground. Once we arrived at the spot where we needed to hike perpendicular to the water it got pretty swampy and pretty hairy trying to balance on slimmy stumps. It was about that time the bugs started to come out some too. While trudging through the swamp land we saw some pretty apparent signs that a bear had been around….by the looks of this tree, not that long ago and he appeared to be good size. I was feeling somewhat uneasy but then was reminded I did have a gun if needed. We got to the property and stopped for a little break. We were able to get in some target shooting before the rain started. The boys had hunted the property a couple years ago so the decision was made to head to that same area. It was so interesting to see how much of the land changes. From heavily wooded to sandy moss to swamp. We didn’t see any birds on this part of the land but we did find moose tracks and some scat. And what appears to be a lightening strike and a small fire. After a few hours of hiking ( we clocked in about 8 miles that day through the bush) we were all getting a little hungry. The guys had packed some hot dogs, buns, ketchup the whole nine yards. I was impressed! Food cooked over a fire tastes so good!! I couldn’t help but think we were making memories. Some really great memories. Many generations of Bergh’s have had dreams for this land. I hope this is just the beginning of Grandpa Russ’ dream coming true. A place to gather, sit a spell and just to be still.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my writings. Maybe this has made you think about your own family. Where did you come from? Who is your tribe? Most of us know a little about our immediate family and blood line. My sweet Gracie does not. I sometimes forget that she’s adopted. I’ll never forget her birth mothers sacrifice but she’s so much “ours” that I forget our blood doesn’t run through her veins. Of course that doesn’t matter to any of us, but I suspect the day will come when she will wonder and want answers. Answers that she may never find. My hope is that through knowing so much about her family that she’ll have some peace. Maybe it will fill a void. Maybe not. But, for now I know one 7 year old who thinks it’s super cool that her great great aunt was the Sheriff of Keweenaw county! She’s also the same girl who made this announcement on the first day of school. Here’s a little sampling of her latest art work. Maybe a future Rabbit Island artist?
Again many thanks to Andrew and Rob from Rabbit Island! Looks like they’ve extended the date to apply for the 2017 residency program on the Island. Check it out at www.rabbitisland.org
God natt fra Keevenaw…