The Winds of Change are Blowing

This is always an exciting time of the year for me. The leaves are down and in most cases, the snowflakes are starting to fly. Our mild autumn continues and we have not had anything but a few flakes fly way back on the 13th of Oct and there are no chances for flakes for another 7 days or so.
Typically, I would be sharpening up my crayons to color in all the pretty colors on the snowfall forecast maps, but with no snow seen to fall this week, I am going to hold off on starting the forecasts.
There is a bigger reason why I am holding off and that is that the website is undergoing a major remodel. It’s been a long time coming and I am really loving how things are turning out. We have the nuts and bolts of the new look all done and just have the filling in of all the data and other info to go. A pretty big job in itself, seeing as how the site has been going on for 18 years and I like to try and have most of its interesting content archived for all to look back on. So that means transferring 1000’s of pictures, dozens of journal entries, historical data, the businesses that support the site through advertising and more.
It was hoped that the remodel would be done by November 1st, but I knew that would be a real feat of accomplishment, seeing as how we did not start things until around 2-3 weeks ago. Plus, as we have been working through the remodel, we have come across ideas that we wanted to implement that were not there when we first started. So I am tickled pick at the progress and can all but guarantee the new look will be rolled out on the 7th of November.
I am not going to spill the beans on what the new look will be like and I also do not want to hype it too much, so as to avoid it not living up to the hype, but I know just about all of you will like the new look better, find navigating it much easier and probably the biggest change is that it will be way more mobile friendly. One of the features to it will be that it will recognize the platform you are viewing it from (computer screen, tablet, smart phone…) and adjust the layout to an optimized view based on that platform. When I first started the site, things like smart phones and tablets were still years away from becoming reality, so the old layout worked, but I realize that the move to smart phones or tablets is a big deal and web content needs to work with those platforms. So I guess the best way to put it is that the shag carpet is out and the newest floor covering will be in. So stay tuned…it should be fun!
With Nora writing her entries, I have a bit of catching up to do. First, the Keweenaw Snowmobile Clubs annual trail work session went very well. We had around 20 workers this year and got
a lot of needed work done. It’s amazing how fast mother nature reclaims her own. Some of the trails we did this season looked like they had not been done in 20 years, but were done just 3 years ago! Anyway, it was “mission accomplished” and a ton of work got done.
As has been the tradition since it started, we had a dinner for all of the workers. I fired up the smoker and smoked around 20 lbs of brisket and another 12 lbs of pulled pork. I think I have finally dialed in the cooking procedure with the new smoker and the food was pretty good. Probably the best proof of that is that we hardly had any left overs! After the dinner and before we all mowed down on Nora’s famous chocolate sheet cake, we stepped outside for
a group photo. This year we were blessed with the help from some of the members of the MI Tech Snowmobile Club, the Sledheads. Their knowledge and youth was greatly appreciated!
So as mentioned, all the leaves are down…well most anyway. We have a big oak right underneath the snow station that still clings onto about half of its leaves, but
the maples and birch are pretty much bare. Which means that the forest floor is carpeted in a new blanket of leaves. Hopefully in not too long that carpet of faded autumn colors will be covered in a blanket of white! Speaking of a blanket of white…its a good thing that it is coming in not too long, as we have almost lost all of the snow left over from last season! Just kidding of course, we usually lose all of that by the 4th of July! That was the scrapings from the ice arena in Calumet! But driving past it does remind me that winter is coming and soon the plow banks will be 20 feet high in that spot.
Not all of the color has gone away. If you take the time and look hard enough, some pleasant surprises can still be found. Like
these leaves on a vine growing on one of the old mining buildings in Calumet.
Even though we have been warmer than average and largely snowless so far this season, it certainly feels like autumn up here. Most of the days have highs topping out in the 40’s, it is the overnight lows that are still remaining quite mild and other than a scattering of some nights when the temp has dropped below freezing, we have remained freeze free. It seems to have some of the insects confused. We are done with all of the biting insects, but the other day we had a hatch of some kind of a very small moth that likes to hang out around the house. On sunny days, the cluster flies go through a hatch as well. Then the cold will hit for a day or two and we will be bug free for a few days.
About as regular as any rite of passage from the warm season to the cold up this way is the transition to hockey season. It is at all levels, right from the kids so young that they can hardly walk yet, all the way up to some seniors with the same problem! This weekend was the first of the two annual home-at-home series between MI Tech and NMU in hockey. It’s pretty cool how they play both series in a home-at-home fashion, rather than one team gets both games at home early in the season and another late. We went to the game at Tech Friday night and it was a good one. I waited too long to get our tickets, so all of the reserved seats had been sold out. There were a few singles left, but I needed 3 together. So I bought general admission and Gracie and I were joined by John Stachler and his son Jakob. Since our seats were general admission, we needed to get there early to get a good spot along the rail and we did. We watched
the two teams do their warm-ups and then settled in for the game. For the kids, the game is sort of a secondary affair, as chasing the Huskies mascot Blizzard is a more enjoyable thing for them to do.
So the end of October does not only mean the roll over to the cold season theme for the website, but it means Halloween is here! Last night the girls and my brother Jim
got busy carving pumpkins and baking the seeds. Nora and Gracie just finished Gracie’s costume for this year and she tried it out. I am not going to spoil that one by any means, you will need to tune in next week.
This time of the year also means cutting or “making” firewood. No special cutting party is planned for this year. If anyone wants to head up and help, you are more than free to, but I think between my brother and I, we should be able to get things done.
A load was dropped off about 2 weeks ago and at first I chipped away at it by myself, making just enough wood to get me through the next few days. My brother and I have had two “sessions” in the past few days and each session has resulted in about a cord of wood being cut. It takes us around 15-20 minutes to get that much done and then the saw is ready for a re-fueling and a reloading of the bar-oil reservoir. We both agree that is the prefect length to go at it and then stop. We do not exhaust ourselves, but are able to put a dent in the pile that needs to be cut. Here is the first stacking that I have been drawing from for the past week or so and here is the second cutting we did yesterday before dinner. If you are wondering why the two piles are segregated, it is because the first load of wood I took was sort of an emergency load to give us something to burn until the main loads arrived. That first load was a mix of birch and some hardwood, mainly maple. The birch burns differently than the hardwoods do, so I like to blend it in with the hardwoods, rather than load the boiler full of birch.
Well, I guess that covers it for this one. A reminder that I will be holding off on the snowfall forecasts for another week. If something changes in the forecast and some meaningful snows are forecasted then I will fire them up and put them into the current site format. Otherwise, look for the snowfall forecasts to start on the 7th!
Good night from the Keweenaw..