Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From the Bartender's Window

As I mentioned in my last post, Saturday was my first day bartending at the Harbor Haus for the season.  It was a wonderfully, steadily busy opening day when I looked out my giant window onto the Harbor.  The gray clouds loomed eerily, but I could still tell the sun was shining.  It cast that darkish greenish tint on the water.

While a couple patrons and I were looking at the noteworthy hue, it started to rain.  So picture this.  The lake is nearly glass (a rarity in itself).  The water and sky are a shadowy turquoise.  Suddenly you start seeing sparkles -- diamonds dancing on the water.  Raindrops like you've never seen before!  People in the restaurant were oohing and ahhing at this enchanting sight.

But the magic didn't stop there.  Soon after, a rainbow stretched from the gap in the Harbor into the heavens.  If that didn't get the guests all fired up, minutes later we saw TWO rainbows side by side.  A patron in the bar asked what I put in her drink to make her see two rainbows.  Oh, I wished I had my camera, but you know me with cameras.  If I ever see the pictures from the lady who took them that day, I will share the link in the comment section of this post.  But I'm sure they'll be sold for a million dollars instead.

The next day at work, what did we see?  Another rainbow!  All three of these spectral wonders stuck around for quite a while.  They were visible every time I looked out.  Ahh.

The next day at work, what did we see?  A black bear jumping into the lake for a bath off the east tip of Porter's Island.  Again, people were jumping out of their seats at the windows.  Man, I sure love my view at work.

Friday, May 27, 2011

3... 2... 1... Summer!

It's Memorial Weekend.  Though that means something nostalgic and patriotic to most people in America, to me it means that I'm going to be busy until the middle of October.  I start bartending full time tomorrow at the Harbor Haus.  I have many events to plan and volunteer for.  I have a feeling this summer will be even busier than last year.  People are already up with their kayaks, motor boats, mountain bikes, RVs and families.  Oh, boy... here we go!

I think I'm ready for it, though.  I had an extremely peaceful and relaxing spring.  For that I am ever grateful.  It will give me a breath to meditate on when I feel like I can't take it anymore.

The grass is green and lush everywhere up here.  The golf course and people's lawns are in their prime.  As far as flora goes, I'll try not to stick every new plant I see under your nose, but I do have an exciting one to mention.  

Last year I got really into wild edibles.  I wanted to find the marsh marigold, but had no luck.  Well, when I saw it in the ditches this spring going up Hwy. 41, I knew what it was instantly.  I tried a raw leaf (though upon revising the plant book, it said to cook it first to get out the toxins... I am still alive), and it tasted like a dandelion green.  I feel no need to harvest them now, but if I'm ever scrapping for food, I know where the marsh marigold are!

On a completely different note, I forgot to tell you that the Isle Royale Queen IV is shipping out and back every Monday and Friday.  I would expect the number of days to at least double after this weekend.  And soon I will be doing the Can-can every time it comes back when I am at work.  That's fine... at least I don't have to wear the dress!

Speaking of Isle Royale (my most favoritest vacation spot ever), if you have been following this blog for a couple years, you know that I like to go every spring for a wonderful vacation with my friends.  Well, my dear, that time has passed.  Aaron and I have been busy planning to buy A HOUSE IN COPPER HARBOR!!!!!  I didn't want to tell you until we signed (though you may already know),  but we are officially so close to that.  I hope I didn't jinx myself.

We are buying the old Mercantile, Garden Brook Market, Brickside, whatever you may know it as.  It is right in town, so that means no more going days without seeing a soul out on Woodland Rd. for this girl.  Oh, no.  It's all hustle and bustle from here on.  But that's okay... I can see my beautiful Majesty Lake Superior from the front window.  I'll let you know when we move in.

Emerging in the business building will be Brickside Brewery: Copper Harbor's first microbrewery.  Right down my front porch?  Danger!  They are hoping to be up and running by fall.  I wish them the best!

With that I will close.  I will do my best to keep you posted on my little slice of da Harbor during the chaotic summer months.  Please bear with me.  And if you get sick of waiting for a post, come on up (or down, if you live in Canada) and get your own slice!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Stroll to the Lighthouse

I haven't walked to the lighthouse in a couple weeks.  Since the bell buoy has been brought back, I've had a suspicion that it's in a different spot.  I strolled down there today to see what I could find out before the ferry boat starts taking tours.  

At first I thought, Yes!  It's closer to the shore than it used to be.  But after I watched and listened to it bob for a few minutes, I thought, No, that's where it usually is.  Huh.  I would imagine that the buoy itself is attached to a spot on the bottom with some sort of clasp or hook.  I tried finding out how bell buoys are attached for you to no avail.

So I'll go back to my second opinion.  The buoy is just where it always was.  Good.  That's fine with me!

But I realized a couple things on my walk today.  As I was clearing branches out of the culverts from Lake Lily Creek, I stirred up a swarm of... the inevitable... blackflies.  Yes.  Blackflies are here.  Get out your bug nets if you plan to do yard work, people.  They are feeding.  Oy.

I also found some more flowers on my walk too.  Some I forgot to mention last time, and some like that area.  They were barren strawberry, bearberry, purple violet, dandelion and blueberry -- all very short plants.  I also noticed that the red flowers of the red maples are falling off to make room for the leaves!

And a few of my favorite little green friends that are lush, but not yet budding are the yarrow, roses, St. John's Wort, bilberries, thimbleberries and raspberries.  Really now.  How could you not love the spring?  I have one full week, starting today, that I can enjoy the peace of this land.  Then it's back to work full-time bartending!  I can do it....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Wildflowers

Okay, so I think I'm getting a little carried away with the wildflowers.  Whenever I see a group of petals shooting up from the foliage, I have to know what it is.  I enjoy this extraneous curiosity, however.  And today I realized a common thread to all the flowers I have seen so far.  

They are: round-lobed hepatica, wood anemone, trailing arbutus, bird's eye primrose, wild strawberry, periwinkle and juneberry.  I also found one with bunches of tiny white flowers that I have been unable to identify.

Except for the juneberry, which grows from branches of a tree, all the others grow low to the ground.  I would say five inches high at the most, while most are only a couple inches off the ground.  Isn't that neat? Or am I the only one who thinks that's a great way for these flowers to emerge, since the Lake Superior winds could kick up petal-ripping winds at any time?

Nice work, you little flowers.  You have intrigued me and delighted my senses.  I look forward to visits from the rest of your friends too!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Surprise Guests

Today I ventured out toward Porter's Island.  You know, just a walk on the rocks from Hunter's Point.  With northeast winds up to 20 mph, I knew the waves were rolling in big, but I decided to try my luck.  However, as I stood on the east edge of Hunter's Point, looking across for a ridge that wasn't getting mauled by incoming waves, I knew it was not my day.  Porter's Island was really an island.

Instead, I sat on the south side of the big rock that protrudes up from the tip of Hunter's Point.  There I would be warm and dry as I wrote.  Porter's Island was my subject for the day, and as I looked east past it, I noticed a friend who has come back for the summer: the Bell Buoy!  Oh, handsome bell buoy, how did I not hear your lovely dinging as I rode into town?  I apologized for my lack of perception, but rejoiced in his presence.  He will be with us until the fall.

As I was finishing up my thoughts for the page I was penning, a large and powerful wave found its way over my shield rock and right in my lap!  It soaked me!  I squealed and stood up to see if anymore were on their way.  Nope.  Just the one to remind me that Lake Superior always has a trick up her sleeve.  Oh, that blue little devil.

I found one of my favorite foliages growing today.  Fiddleheads!  If they weren't the fuzzy kind, I could have had myself a green little snack.  Everyday I notice more and more species budding or popping up from under the brown depths of the earth.  Spring doesn't just melt the snow, it melts my heart.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Peepers, Road Ride and Firsts

My last post may have seemed a bit vague.  In a way, it was meant to.  “What are the adventures she had on the deer trails?” you wondered.  I wanted to wait for the video to upload, so you could hear for yourself.

One evening on one of my usual walks, I noticed the deer paths leading in the opposite direction from which I often travel.  The terrain was only ground foliage and low juniper bushes in a field of pine trees, so I easily meandered through.  Low and behold, what did I see 40 yards in?  A ridge jutting ten feet up in the air, stretching twenty feet wide.  “I am going to climb that!  It was put here just for me to find!”  

I noticed how mossy it was.  I mean furry with moss... like it was alive!  I introduced myself and walked around it before daring to tread upon its coat.  A quarter of my way around this rock, I noticed that it was indeed a ridge that sank into a valley behind where I first met it.  Wow.  I never knew that was there.

I slithered down into its marshy depths.  The spring peepers were so loud!  Oh, my goodness!  I have to go back and get my camera so I can take a video for my loyal blog readers!  So I did.  See what you make me do?  Here is that video.

Did you hear that bird at the end?  Gosh, I wish I could tell you what it was... do you know?  Anyway, it called one more time after the time you heard it on the video, and all the peepers quit peeping.  There I was, after half an hour of peeper bliss -- standing alone in silence!  I knew that meant it was time to leave the marsh.

I continued on to my usual spot on the beach.  I went to visit the ice caves from the winter, but in the last post I didn’t mention what they framed.  As I looked through the first cave, I saw a freighter right in the center, waaaaaaay off in the distance.  That’s why it didn’t show up in my picture, so I thought I’d spare you the details of my camera’s inadequateness.  Then I climbed to the party-sized cave, and guess who was in the center of that frame!?  A little otter swimming about.  Oh, what a sweet little thing.  Once again, the pictures did not turn out (hopefully I will get my camera fixed, so I can see what I’m taking pictures of!)

Pretty neat, eh?

Wednesday I went for a bike ride on M-26 along the shore of Lake Superior.  I don’t know of many road rides with scenery as captivating as that!  The sky was so sunny, and even the breeze was warm.  I was riding in shorts and short sleeves.  Allehlujah!   The ride was magical, and traffic was minimal (hence why I chance riding in the spring).  

Twice I had to stop and get off my bike because the shore boulders were calling me.  “Amanda,” they said, “come walk out onto me.  You will be standing right above the lake.  You know you want to.”  I didn’t need much convincing.  I slammed on my brakes from a full throttle pedal, and walked down to the “beach.”  Oh, sweet glory.  High on a boulder-ful ridge on the Big Lake in the sunshine.  I tell you.  It doesn’t get much better than that... at least for me!

Are you tired of reading yet?  Well, I’ll make the rest short.  Yesterday I experienced a series of “firsts.”  I saw and smelled my first patches of Trailing Arbutus since I have lived up here.  I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that it took me, um, five and a half years to find some, but I knelt down right in the mud and got a good nose full more than once.  It kind of smells like Gardenia.  Mmmmm.

Today I also saw my first Red Headed Woodpecker ever in real life!  I looked at it and memorized its colors and patterns and thought, hmm, I’ll have to check the bird book when I get home.  I guessed correctly about it being a woodpecker, but a Red Headed?  What a treat!

Last thing.  I also ate my first dandelion greens!  I ate them right off the ground, grit and all.  Mmm, I haven’t had those for a year!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rock Arch and Swans

The trees and bushes are budding exquisitely.  I often find myself inspecting the different colors and shapes shooting out from the branches.  New life is finally springing up in da Keweenaw.  Thank goodness.  We need it.

Summer business owners are making their way up to take the boards off their windows.  It's neat to roam the town this time of year and watch all the preparation -- yard raking, sign fixing, roof hammering -- like something big is going to happen.  We hope it will, but give us a couple more weeks of peace, please (at least that's what I want!).

I've had some cool adventures lately.  Mainly following deer paths through the woods by Woodland Road. It's been quite an eye-opener; the landscape is amazing around Lake Lily and through ridges and valleys.  I never knew they existed!

I traveled to the old ice cave from the winter to what is now a rock arch.  This is what it looks like in the warmer months.

Yesterday Aaron watched three swans fly in and land in front of our house.  After studying the bird book, our best guess is that they are near-mature trumpeter swans.  They were about twice the size as the Canadian geese!  We also got to watch them take off and fly over Porter's Island.

If you like to hike or mountain bike, come on up!  The trails are cleared and dry for your summer adventuring pleasure.  Check out our summer trails club events at www.copperharbortrails.org.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rolling Down the Highway

You may already be aware that US Highway 41 is the main drag in Copper Harbor.  The US Highway 41 that runs all the way to Miami, Florida.  The US Highway 41 that is so busy with families, dogs, bikers and drivers -- all of who usually don't look where they're going -- in the summer that I dread driving a vehicle through town.

Yes.  That's the road.  Well on this beautifully sunny Tuesday evening no one was around.  The occasional car would pass, and we would wave.  Otherwise, the street was empty.  Ahh, I love the spring.

A visiting friend busted out his long board.  This is a wooden board about twice as long as a skate board with the ability to turn when the rider leans to one side or the other.  I have never done this before, so I practiced on the flat part of the vacant road.

After enough practice I got the courage to take it up the hill by the General Store.  The same hill that I came flying down last spring on my roller blades.  Here's a link to that post if you want to laugh at me.

My teacher, and owner of the long board, offered to show me how to carve, so I could steer it gracefully down the hill.  I'm a snowboarder.  I know how to carve.  Yeah, after three or four turns on my first try, I was going so fast I jumped ship and landed on myself as the board rolled and rolled and rolled down the hill.

Okay, so I took that as a sign to start in the middle of the hill.  I did it twice with some sort of skill.  It was really fun -- rolling into the sun on a vacant road.  I think only four cars came by while we were out, and that's just because they thought the General Store was open!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sunsets in the Lake

Yesterday the only sun to be found was at sunrise and sunset.  The rest of the day was gray, windy and cold.  Am I complaining?  No.  I made the best of the sunny times.

In the morning, right as the sun came over the trees, I grabbed a beach towel (along with my down jacket, hat and mittens) and laid out on the dock to absorb some rays through my, um, face.  Ahh, what a treat.  Soon the clouds blocked that diamond in the sky, and I went back inside.

As the day grew to a close, I watched the clouds loom over the horizon, leaving a gap just above the lake.  When the sun sank low enough, it blasted through the gloom.  I watched the sun sink, and I even took a picture for you.

You can even tell how windy it is by the wave rolling in.  With the sun setting between the gap, this is the best time of year for sunsets, and I get to be around to watch every single one of them!!!

Below is one from the day before.  

I'm not showing you these because I think they're the most beautiful sunsets I've every seen.  I'm showing you them because the sun is sinking right in the middle of the lake, as viewed from my house, and that is pretty stinkin cool.  Soon enough, though, the sun will sink behind the land on the right (where the lighthouse is).  By then, I'll be too busy to notice!