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”

The Little Store That Could

J&M General Store For Sale as it Nears its 20th Year in Business

 

On the corner of two gravel roads, across from the northernmost post office in the lower 48, stands an unimposing general store that is open seven days a week, some 360 days a year. Somewhere else, those hours might be utterly unremarkable, but here, in an area that isn’t even a township and has only about 120 full-time residents, it’s a model of good business work ethic and a day-saver for the many customers who find what they need without having to travel to “town”. Continue reading “The Little Store That Could”

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”

Lessons in Orange

Six years ago, my first fall back in the Northwoods after a 23-year hiatus, I was out for a walk on the quiet gravel roads of our off-season when a slow-driving truck of orange-clad elders slowed beside me. They were all smiles and we spoke of nothing significant, but before driving away they cautioned me to wear hunter’s orange next time I was out and about on foot. “Even on the road?” I asked in disbelief. “Even on the road,” they said.

Continue reading “Lessons in Orange”

Precious Life

Resorts are shuttered or getting close to it, now. Traffic has slowed. Boats are being pulled. And the leaves fall like manna for hunters and 4-year olds, though the end of our fall color is already nigh. We raked the biggest pile simply for her diving delight one day, and within minutes I found myself in it as well. I have fond memories of playing in the leaves as a child and it seemed only fitting to give her that same experience.

The portly black bears are braver now, scavenging closer and closer for their final meals. We smiled one morning to see our compost pile dug through and muddy black paw prints across our deck.

“Mom, do bears eat people?” she asked me on one of our dusk walks. Continue reading “Precious Life”

VFW Supports Angle School

Representatives from the Warroad VFW Post 4930, Jeff Ploof and Gordon Heurd, journeyed to the Northwest Angle on Saturday, September 30 to present a $600 check to the Angle Inlet School. The funds are earmarked for a new flag pole, installation and lighting. The existing pole is a rough cut log and no longer has a pully system attached. When it was functional, it tore the flags to shreds in a matter of weeks. Mr. Ploof and Mr. Heurd met schoolteacher Linda LaMie for a tour of the one-room school house and shared stories about community history and the new updates to the building.

The donation came about as a result of the school fundraising efforts at this past summer’s Angle Days event. Community member Deb Butler reached out to pulltab auditor Gail Haugen, who then involved the VFW’s gambling manager Dan Demolee and the rest of his team.

On behalf of The Angle community, teacher Mrs. Lamie, paraprofessional Mrs. Shoen, and all “The Angle Kids”, THANK YOU to the entire group at the VFW and to everyone involved. Also, a big Thank You to Mr. Ploof and Mr. Heurd for making the trek all the way to The Angle.

(Published in the October 3 Warroad Pioneer)

 

The Roughing-Up of Fall

The pelicans are long gone. The caterpillars are crossing the roads, and the snakes, when it’s sunny, are sunning. The Northern flickers are caucusing and the ravens are ever talkative, chortling every chance they get at their fair-weathered friends who fly south for the winter.

Even in these fall winds and crazy rains everything feels, well, right as rain…even as we move the mortally wounded snakes to perish somewhat peacefully in the grass, and shoo the uninitiated babies back to the sidelines of the gravel roads. Nature so gently and unassumingly reminds me that everything is as it should be, always.

Then I read the news. Continue reading “The Roughing-Up of Fall”

Mea Culpa

 

We walked today, picking fall flowers, dried seed pods and colorful leaves. Chattering like a busy chipmunk, she found pretty rocks in the gravel, drew line after line for us to race from, and marveled at the troops of soldier mushrooms. It was more a meander than a walk, but definitions matter not to a four-year-old. Her thoughts bubble over into words like a flowing well in the flat lands; there is no filter, no pause and the music of it all soaking the earth is innocent and pure.

And it never stops. Ever.

Even in her dreams she is talkative and loud. A social sleep talker, telling her stories and voicing her fears.

But it is a respite to tune into her world, letting it drown out my restless mind that takes eternal practice to quiet for even the rare millisecond. She is my practice. Continue reading “Mea Culpa”