The School Supply Drive Results Are In

 

(Published in the Aug 15th Warroad Pioneer)

I’m excited to be able to announce that through the multiple efforts around Angle Days, our small community raised nearly $900 for the Angle Inlet School supply drive.

Working with long-time teacher Linda LaMie, we identified a list of seven key needs for the coming school year. Never having organized anything like this before, I fully expected to be collecting crayons, tissues and glue sticks, but when she started explaining that the rough-cut flag pool rips every flag they hoist to shreds in very short order, I knew we had to do something different than ask folks to stop at the local dollar store for colored pencils. Continue reading “The School Supply Drive Results Are In”

Angle Days Filled with Friendly Competition

One-Room Schoolhouse to Benefit

The fifth annual Angle Days and the 32nd annual Chili Cookoff is in the books at the Northwest Angle.

People of all ages came out to enjoy the near-perfect weather and a variety of events held across the Angle mainland. Continue reading “Angle Days Filled with Friendly Competition”

Press Release: Angle Days Summer Festival Returns August 4-6

The residents of the Northwest Angle would like to invite you to attend Angle Days, “the Top of the Nation’s Summer Celebration.” This small community, called simply “The Angle” by locals, now has a new northernmost icon and this year Angle Days will focus in part on celebrating the new icon’s designation.

It’s the fifth annual Angle Days, as well as the 32nd annual Chili Cookoff and Blueberry Dessert Challenge. In addition to those two mainstays, the variety of events throughout the weekend are sure to heat up the fun that first weekend in August. Continue reading “Press Release: Angle Days Summer Festival Returns August 4-6”

Constantly Good

 

Somewhere along the winding dusty road, I came to believe that change is good. Change is good for the simple reason that it can’t be otherwise, or it wouldn’t happen.

Choosing to believe in a friendly universe seems nearly impossible at times; oh, how we suffer! How we hold tight to our suffering, our persecution, believing it makes us so righteous! I have treasured mine, wrapped it up safely with golden bows and security guards. I have glorified the martyr-making tales of woe residing in my mind.

But then the fireflies come out, a thousand of them at once. The wildflowers bend in the blue-sky breeze. The white caps roll and tease and polka-dot the lake. The starry edge of the universe wraps itself around all that I know like a glitter headband keeping the wild hair from my eyes so that I may see and dance and sing to the skies. Continue reading “Constantly Good”

All about Angle Days

Column 32 Published in the August 2, 2016 issue of the Warroad Pioneer

Angle Days is this coming weekend – August 5-6. Our crew has opted to put what little event budget we have to work in different ways this year, instead of into direct advertising…so, can you guess what I want to talk about in this column?

Thirty years ago, someone had the idea for the chili cook-off and the blueberry dessert challenge, and those two competitions are still the cornerstone of our little festival. The public gets to taste the chili and pick the winner. The variety never disappoints, even when some years there are only four cooks and other years there are 18.

It’s The Angle; you just never know what’s going to happen, and no matter what does, it all works out.

A small panel of blueberry discerning judges get to decide who used this local “blue gold” best in a sweet treat.  Then, of course, we all get to eat them.

In the four years since renaming it Angle Days (it used to be the Blueberry Festival), we’ve added many different events that represent a little piece of what The Angle is all about.

There’s a Fun Run – which is more like a trail walk. The High Noon Shoot Out is a clay pigeon tournament. The Golf Cart Race & Obstacle Course has been popular with all ages and is a highlight to both participate in and watch. The Trash-to-Treasure competition is themed “garden art” this year; it represents the resourcefulness and ingenuity it takes to live at The Angle.

The Edge Riders snowmobile club will put on their annual fish fry, and the Girl Scouts will host the Sunday morning community breakfast. Angle Outpost does the Walleyeball (volleyball) Tournament and Anglewood Builders sponsors the Casting Competition. So many local businesses and the area resorts donate prizes and participate as best they can on what is usually a busy turnover day.

Linda Knight donated another gorgeous quilt this year for the raffle; it’s made with Minnesota Commemorative Cloth and at Linda’s request, the funds raised go specifically towards keeping all of the fun competitions either Free or at a very low cost of entry. For example, it used to be $30 to enter the chili competition and now it’s only $10.  (Thanks, Mom. Your generosity has always been something I aspire to live up to.)

Speaking of family, my dad’s band – The Knightlighters – will provide the live music. They’ve donated their musical gift in the past, but we’re actually legit enough now that we can give all the members gas money to get here. I’m excited to be joining them on keyboard for the first time on mainland turf. The home-made dance floor that was donated by several individuals a few years back will be set-up and ready.

We’re planning our gourmet lemonade flavors, painting a photo-board cut-out, mapping out where the vendors will set-up, and trying an Angle Flea Market for the first time this year. Fireworks are planned; they just need a ride from Fargo to Warroad, where Chris Ford has volunteered to bring them across the lake. The dunk tank will be back – thank you Warroad Chamber of Commerce! Hammerschlägen is on the docket if the right volunteer steps-up in time. And I’m sure there are more fun tidbits I’m forgetting.

It’s a small-town affair (wait, we’re not even a township), and it takes a little bit from a lot of people to make it happen. But, it sure is a good time, and it feels great to show people The Angle.

Of course, I’m still dreaming about making that fishing tournament I keep talking about happen someday, and a pontoon parade, and water races of some sort. And wondering how to get the islanders more involved….

Good thing there’s always next year.

If you want to check out the schedule of events for Angle Days, visit www.facebook.com/MinnesotaAngleDays.  You can also email nwangledays@gmail.com if you have questions, want to sell your wares or have ideas or feedback.  I’d love to hear from you and hope to see you at the ‘big’ event.

 

Angle Days Planning Underway and Northerly Park Explained – Part 2

Column 27 Published in the May 24, 2016 issue of the Warroad Pioneer

Last column marked a year of Angle Full of Grace and I celebrated by talking about my latest passion:  building a public park here at The Angle.

Before this vision started taking shape, there was the dream of growing The Angle’s summer event, the Blueberry Festival, into an inclusive representation of the unique facets of The Angle. We renamed it “Angle Days” and over the last three years its personality has started unfolding: family fun, quirky competitions, displays of resourcefulness, good cooking, and outdoor music and movies.

The planning is just getting underway now for the August 5-6th event. We are still a very small volunteer crew (2-3 of us) with a handful of folks in the wings who step-up to help as needed. I’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in joining the fun!

If you haven’t been to Angle Days, book a cabin or a campsite now. The Angle fills up. The kids come out in droves. The weather almost always pleasantly surprises us. (Knock on wood.)  You can surely plan a day-trip too, just make certain to pack for all adventures. You may just end up sitting in a dunk tank or taking a spill off of a paddle board or dribbling epic chili down your front while navigating the crowd or singing your heart out with the band while dancing with your sweetie under the stars.

Angle Days is a great time and you’ll get a good taste of what this community is all about. Follow us at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaAngleDays for updates and tidbits leading up to the festival.

Back to “Northerly Park” – which is its working name – I want to share more of our application to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. We were asked to explain how our park idea meets four specific state-wide criteria for regional designation and subsequent funding. Here are the first two:

LOCATION DESCRIPTION: This parcel of land is the southwest corner of Township 168, Range 35, Section 28. Lake of the Woods County is in process of purchasing the parcel from the state (for the agreed price of the closing costs) with sole purpose being construction of a public park. It is approximately .25 square miles or 162 acres. Currently untouched forest, the land is centrally located within the NW Angle community and borders the main road. The northwest corner of the parcel is partial muskeg on the waters of Angle Inlet Bay, near Minnesota Historic Site Fort St. Charles on Lake of the Woods.  The land encapsulates a near-perfect representation of Northwest Angle terrain and vegetation, missing only the exposed bedrock that is common and unique to the area.

CRITERIA #1: PROVIDES A HIGH-QUALITY OUTDOOR RECREATION EXPERIENCE

“Northerly Park” will attract outdoor enthusiasts in all seasons. Winter snowmobilers can pass from the nearby Outlying Area Reporting Station (OARS), to the park’s Warming Hut and directly out to trails on the frozen lake or southbound trails along the main roads. Snow-shoers and cross-country skiers will have access to wooded trails and lake trails, as well. Spring, summer and fall will provide flora and fauna tours, walking and biking trails, public fishing opportunities, and historical and educational experiences. The location of the park, along with the history of its land, makes this the most unique park in northern Minnesota.

The high-focus areas would include an observation tower overlooking the lake, cedar boardwalks over the muskeg and through the beautiful “cedar swamp,” as well as the primary structure, a 30×50 cedar log pavilion with six log picnic tables, all built from the trees logged during the park’s construction. Cement floor and steel roof provide durability and protection from the elements. A grand stone fireplace built from local stone can be used for cooking, heat and light. There would be a children’s natural play area and structure, as well as a rugged log outdoor fitness area with push-up logs, sit-up planks and pull-up bars. A small grass amphitheater (and future cedar log stage) would host local and visiting musicians, outdoor movies, weddings and other events, and possibly even the one-room school’s annual Spring Play.

The area has significant history. Local schools already journey to The Angle for class field trips. “Northerly Park” would be a natural extension and educational experience for existing field trips and would attract additional groups.

Criteria #2: Provides a Natural and Scenic Setting Offering a Compelling Sense of Place

Arriving at The Angle by vehicle, all visitors would see the entrance to “Northerly Park” – a naturally-wooded, picturesque day-use area for outdoor enthusiasts of all seasons. It will be a peaceful place to decompress after a dusty drive, get a first glimpse of beautiful Lake of the Woods, and learn about The Angle’s unique history.  Apart from asking the community elders, no other such educational opportunity has existed in the past. And apart from the small church and the one-room school’s playground structure, there are no other public facilities at The Angle. They are sorely needed.

It is a remote area and yet a very popular outdoor destination at the same time. The park would serve as a representative microcosm for all that The Angle has to offer: winter and summer trails, wildlife, fishing, birding, and the perfection and solitude of untouched nature.  A four-mile circuit of intersecting trails with unique stopping points would highlight the park’s main activities, including the Observation Tower, foot bridge over a spring stream, boardwalk through the cedar swamp, Showy Lady Slipper observation, bird watching, fishing, etc.  The boardwalks would help provide access for all ages to the pristine natural environment of The Angle.  A muskeg boardwalk leads visitors to a floating dock system and fishing platform, the first public access to Lake of the Woods at The Angle proper.

Many visitors come simply to document being at the northernmost spot in the contiguous US, but they are quickly enthralled with the uniquely rugged attributes and quaint remote lifestyle. They stay on, or often return again, to learn more about how life came to be as it is here. Northerly Park would be a first-of-its-kind public place at The Angle, a place to take it all in, learn and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

The World is Too Much With Us

Column 8 Published in the August 11 Warroad Pioneer

It occurred to me some time ago, as I watched my two-year old run joyously up and down the grassy ditches of our driveway, that this glacier-smoothed prairie land isn’t flat to her. She has mountains to climb every day, valleys to explore, caverns and arroyos. There is no cellular longing in her for the great pines that used to anchor the soil and the wolves here. No ancestral guilt for the unchecked logging of a century ago that left us with only the fast growing birch, popple and balm of gilead. “Junk wood” as I’ve heard it called by the old timers. When you’ve survived sixty some winters on the sweat of your own labor cutting, hauling, stacking, and tending to the fires, I suppose you’ve earned the right to judge the wood that warms your family.

The land feels flat to me of late. I walked the road, and the curing crunch of gravel underfoot offered up only a minor healing tonic. “The world is too much with us, late and soon. Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” Wordsworth knew. He saw clearly the growing disconnect with nature. My distracted mind can’t see the summer moss and mushroom patches. The wild lilies bloomed and broke, and I barely noticed.

This place, this Angle drew me home four years ago this September and never have I regretted it. But the worldly world still pulls and tugs and busy-ness erodes the rhythm of deep, barefoot breathing. The sunrise and sunset of the harvest blue moon sang quietly through my window as I worked diligently at my computer, its ghastly light interrupting sleep patterns and dream therapy.

We’ve moved from one reactive happening to the next this spring and summer. Northerly Park grant planning, a friend’s death, a sibling’s wedding, a 300+ person community event, and oh  my  gosh, potty training. Why did no one tell me it’s so hard!? I read a how-to book, for goodness sake, and felt like a fool doing so, but I’ve been at my wit’s end too many times these last many months. Still it drags on.

Our Angle Days event will be behind me when this goes to press, but now, as it breathes down my neck like a disorganized dragon, I wonder how it always comes together like it does. Each year, we bite off more and more, plan bigger and broader, invite, advertise, market – all in hopes to share this place, this simple beautiful life.

And as the stress roils, the Angle works its silent magic to gently bring me back.

Today it was the east wind and a soft blanket of rain that reminded me, brought me home. I stared over a flat gray lake and let the mist meet my skin just as I used to in the monotone winters of the Pacific Northwest.

You have forgotten, the wind breathed to me. This is The Angle. This is the truth of life. Somehow, someway it all always works out perfectly. Everything is as it should be. Even the spending and getting. Even the flatness.

You have chosen to remember, it said, sweeping across the miles of rocky shorelines and untouched islands of Lake of the Woods, bringing the cleansing rain as easterlies always seem to do. Remember you are home. Remember you are whole. Remember you are enough.

Now go. Get up. Run with the wolves again. Show your little one just how majestic these flatland hills truly are.