100 Years Ago

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On Summer Seas (1916)

The National Park Service was created one hundred years ago.  Yellowstone preceded that, being designated in 1872.  And once upon a time, I dreamed of being a forest ranger.  My imagination had me up in a tower in a sea of green trees–a rather narrow view of the current job description.

morning in mountains

Glacier National Park

 

One of the more unique rangers we’ve met was dressed to the hilt as a French voyageur  and remained in character, impressing our youngest.  I think there was even bread baking involved.

 

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1868 Quetico Superior Route, Passing a Waterfall by Frances Anne Hopkins (Scene showing a large Hudson’s Bay Company freight canoe passing a waterfall, presumably on the French River. The passengers in the canoe may be the artist and her husband, Edward Hopkins, secretary to the Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.) (public domain)

That national park was the site of the Rainy Lake gold rush in the mid-1890’s.  Northern Minnesota is not the first place I’d think of when searching for gold.  Better odds, maybe, of finding Forrest Fenn’s treasure chest.

chest

Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Chest

 

 

Portal

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I won’t be making it to this year’s Fennboree, but if I could, I would take a moment in Santa Fe to get a look at an ancient wrought iron gate on East Palace Avenue, the site where dozens if not hundreds of scientists, mathematicians, and physicists, after meeting with gatekeeper Dorothy McKibben, disappeared from sight beginning in April 1943.P1000401

(Well, first I might stop at that French pastry shop at La Fonda where Amy bought those gorgeous treats for Forrest’s book signing last September.)

Said portal transported those invited to the site of the Los Alamos Ranch School on a mesa in New Mexico.  You probably know (part of) the rest of the story, but for me, I learned a lot from a book called Bomb, by Steve Sheinkin, my newest favorite non-fiction author.  Wow.  He used to write textbooks for schools but kept notes on all the things they wouldn’t let him put in–fascinating stuff I should have learned.   Sheinkin puts it together in a compelling and quick read.  (Young Adult level but hey, who’s got time for an academic treatise these days?)

So back to the story:  the race between the Americans and the Germans to develop the bomb; some very, very brave Norwegians on a mission; the spies who wanted to steal the plans for Stalin;  the guys who just wanted to give it to the Russians so there wouldn’t be only one superpower in possession of the new and terrible weapon of mass destruction.

When I was young, my ideas of Russian spies were partly based on Boris and Natasha, and hearing intimations about the McCarthy era excesses.  Somehow my public school history classes never got much past the Civil War by the end of the school year, hence the black holes in my knowlege.  (No, that’s not a typo;  it’s spelled Fenn’s way.)

 

[Side note:  There was a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode titled Buried Treasure.  Hmm.  Frostbite Falls?]P1000443

 

I could also rave about Sheinkin’s newest book,  Most Dangerous:  Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret Viet Nam War.  I have no excuse for not knowing or remembering more about the topic, having been of school age when it was in the newspapers, except that the facts didn’t all make it into the media at the time.  I wish that weren’t still true. History gives us perspective if we’d only choose to look at the parallels in our own day.  Does your view of Ellsberg color your impression of Snowden?  What caused Benjamin Arnold to switch sides?  Had you even heard of the Port Chicago 50?

Do you agree with Abraham Lincoln?

“I am a firm believer in the people.  If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.  The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

(Check out Steve Sheinkin’s  other books like King George:  What Was His Problem?  or The Port Chicago 50:  Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights or  Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, etc.)

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Catching Up is Hard to Do (hum to the tune by Neil Sedaka)

Kayak and lily pads Time on the water, priceless.  Home again?  Also priceless, but busy.  I was north.  I was east.  Was I west, “in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe?”  No, darn it.  Not yet.  But this bronze reminded me of the drawing in the Thrill of the Chase book.kids sculpture columns Another great thing about the road trip?  Listening to the audio version of The Black Count, a true story about Alexandre Dumas’ pere by Tom Reiss.  Fascinating.  The Count of Monte Cristo was one of my first favorites.  I read an old copy found in the attic.  Next best was the 1998 French miniseries of it starring Gerard Depardieu.  I didn’t mind the subtitles, it was so engrossing.  And now to learn how so much of it was based on his own father’s experiences (including hidden treasure), enlightening.  Also, it explained a lot of the history of the French revolution/devolution/rise of Napoleon, areas my education was thin on.

Minnetrista

Minnetrista

So, my treasures when I arrived home?  A lawn turned to meadow, wild blackberries to forage, and a garden exploding with cukes, beans, and tomatos, etc.  Now that the pickles and jams are in the cupboard and the beans and tomatos in the freezer, except for the awesome salads Caprese and salsa verdes and, well, you get the idea.

Jungle garden

Jungle garden

Intrepid came to visit and fortunately she loves to pick berries, dig potatos, etc., just happy to be outdoors.  She’s begun her fourth (and purportedly toughest) year of residency.  Six twelve hours days on for a month, then six twelve hour nights for a month, then same at a different hospital, rinse, wash, repeat….  I’d help her if I could.  The least I can do is give her organic veggies. pickle pot

Forrest Fenn’s Holiday Ornament Contest

LichenSo it’s December 20th and I still hadn’t submitted an entry to the contest over on Dal’s site.  Better late than never, right?  But before I headed out back, I checked the rules once more—hand made of found, natural items—and thereby saw the awesome competition.  Fantastic ornaments.

{Results are in.  Congrats to the talented winners!}

Okay, so clearly I’m not winning this thing but since Forrest is mailing every entrant a bona fide arrowhead from his collection, I’m not not entering.  (BTW you still have time to enter, too.)

I planned on making bells somehow out of pine needles since I hadn’t come up with any other ideas.  You know, Snoopy’s “Christmas bells, those Christmas bells, ringing through the land, Peace on earth and good will to man.”

I booted and bundled up.  It wasn’t long before the hike took its own course.  I got to a pond that was just icing over, bubbles trapped below the surface, took some photos, and proceeded along the frosty edges.  raccoon prints

 

While I took more pictures, the outline beneath the surface finally registered.  Yikes.  An alligator snapping turtle?  It was in shallow water.  Is it hibernating?  Is it even alive?

turtle in ice

A little farther on, I found another one.  It’s much bigger, older cousin maybe.  I didn’t see them this summer, but often enough in summers past to paddle carefully and not tip over the canoe.

turtle 2

 Add those beasts to my list of frightening things.  (Spiders, snakes, prions, and, I forgot to mention, cougars.  One’s been sighted again within twenty miles of here.  Yes, really.)viny

Anyway, on my way to the white pines, I found some twiny, viny stuff for binding, red berries for color, wild grape vines for fun, and all manner of prairie grasses.  A thought started to form in my mind.  Hmm.  One of Forrest’s treasured possessions is Sitting Bull’s Peace Pipe.  Still running with the Peace theme, it began to take shape.  But just in case, I continued to the pines and grabbed cones and needles—brown from the ground, green from the branches torn off by the White tail deer who just love destroying the young trees when their antlers itch.red berries

So, here’s what I brought in the house.

raw materials

 

 

Here’s what I came up with.  (See the authenticated original here.)P1000070

 

 

 

“IMO” (very important words on Dal’s blog) this ornament is small enough and light enough to go on a Christmas tree.  I could prove it, except our tree isn’t up yet.

In fact, it’s still alive and well in the back yard, a beautiful Frazier fir that we planted maybe 7 years ago.  Maybe tomorrow Mr. W will saw it down and bring it in while I bake cookies.  Company’s coming.  I’m not usually this far behind, but it’s hard to say no sometimes.

Besides, I’m “having too much fun!”

milkweed

Up My Creek

IMG_20140926_095709_595Play day.

A week and a half late but a perfect day for it.

(Inre:  Warm waters/Putting In— I made a less than graceful re-entry after the picnic lunch.  I need more practice.)

Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus Purple Cone...Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus Purple Coneflower 3008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monarchs everywhere lately!

IMG_0018Once the harvest is over, I may have more time for the Chase.

 

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All Wet

 

Just Ducky

Just Ducky

So.  We were going to celebrate 35 today by taking the kayaks out. A little rain never stopped us.  (It’s not like it’s a ‘gully-washer’ or ‘toad-drownder’, as our OK friends would say.)  Thunder and lightning, ( or ice,)  though, is another story.

Kulusuk, Greenland. The old and the new: kayak...Kulusuk, Greenland. The old and the new: kayak ontop of a dogsled. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But, as an old man once said (everyday of his life), “It’s a good day for it.”

Maybe.  Maybe it’s a good day for frogs, toads, and other hoppy things.

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Froggy Serenade?

Too Far To Walk

Too Far To Walk

Yep, and later we might go out for pizza.

 

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“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” –Heraclitus

Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor, birthplace...Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor, birthplace of Heraclitus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)