Paying Heed

Sometimes you have to stop everything and listen to the wisdom of the winds and the wild things and the five-year old’s.

I stood on the top of the kitchen crossbeam, my hands braced on a log rafter, scrubbing the fish-fry grease that had floated, landed, and collected dust for all of last summer’s resort season. The gray water dripped down my wrist and collected in my sweatshirt. With one hand dirty and the other securing my precarious balance, a nose itch or hair in my eye had to be meditated away. “Clean the logs” was my only agenda. With my perch, even thinking wasn’t a wise distraction.

But then my Iris, in her five-year-old exuberance about bird nests and first dandelions and pretty rocks from the gravel road, came running loudly into the cabin. Continue reading “Paying Heed”

“Copy That”

 

Awake in the early morning hours, I relish the silence. The steady tick tock of the kitchen clock and the breathy hum of the refrigerator cycling on and off are my ambient noise. The human world is still and silent here at The Angle. Outside, the wolves prowl sometimes near but mostly far, the skunks raid my winter compost, and the owls hunt. The rare yard light hums and sputters, reflecting wide across the ugly April snow. Frozen and waiting, life feels hushed and reverent.

Until 6AM on the dot, when the Angle school bus roars by each weekday like a blaring alarm from the outside world sent to remind us we’re not truly alone and independent. Continue reading ““Copy That””

Bring Me Your Stories

 

I want to capture the stories that walk on in people’s minds but won’t live forever. The stories of our place here at The Angle. The land and those hearty enough to survive, tame it, love it.

These songs will sing on without us but someday we won’t know the words. I want to write them down. I want the songs to sing on. The small line of harmony I might add to the greater melody will be dwarfed by what is to be learned by listening and writing down the stories. Continue reading “Bring Me Your Stories”

Joan of Oak

I met Joan Undahl only six years ago when she invited me to lunch at Sportsman’s Oak Island Lodge to gracefully hand over the involvement she still had in The Angle’s annual Blueberry Festival. We laughed and talked, and I’m sure I must have seemed naive and yet oddly familiar in my fresh-from-the-city attitudes. Over the years that followed, I saw her many times at luncheons, when she needed groceries delivered or the rare boat ride to Young’s Bay. She was always sending me letters with random ideas for The Angle she had saved over the years, and I was honored to have been chosen in her eyes as someone who might carry-on those dreams. Continue reading “Joan of Oak”

When Life Doesn’t Look Christmas-Card-Perfect

 

Every year I “want” to be the type who gets family photos taken in the beautiful fall colors so they can be perfectly printed and ready to send out in early December. I want to write a witty Christmas letter that details our year and makes people chuckle and sigh. I want to send personalized cards and gifts right on time wishing friends and family a joyful season.

But as it so happens, I rarely get around to doing any of those things. Continue reading “When Life Doesn’t Look Christmas-Card-Perfect”

Grooming The Road Less Traveled

The Angle Welcomes a New $10 Million Dollar Man

 

The road to the Northwest Angle is a multi-faceted character in an epic, cross-genre novel that spans decades. The story has had many narrators over the years, from the original logging and dragline crews, to the hearty stick-pickers and early adventurers, to the Lake of the Woods county folks who’ve matured and maintained it, to the oft-traveling parents, school bus driver and local package carriers who, today, use the road nearly 260 days a year.

To know The Angle is to be intimately acquainted with its road. The only over-land passage in and out, it belongs to both Canada and the US. It sports a tarred toupee for a majority of its winding miles, but the final 18 are gravel, and that is where its bi-polar personality is cemented and made infamous. Continue reading “Grooming The Road Less Traveled”