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Phone: (218)663-7150
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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615


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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: December 2000
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « November 2000 | January 2001 »
12/26/00 - We have had a wonderful holiday here at Sawbill so far. Our college students, Adam and Ruthie Hansen, have returned from Madison and Chicago respectively. The weather has been classic winter - mounds of fresh white powder, temperatures below zero every night, and northern lights dancing among the stars. We all enjoyed the extra Christmas day gift of the partial solar eclipse, that bathed the landscape with soft golden light at midday. We have a big ski planned for later today, but first we need to haul some firewood into the houses for our furnaces. The cold weather is causing large gaps to appear in the stolid wood piles. - Bill

12/20/00 - Vivian and Willard Stevens have been camping on the Sawbill Campground for as long as I can remember. Viv sent the following e-mail today:

Hi Bill,


The following incident happened while we were at Sawbill in August.
Thought you might get a kick out of it. Should have sent it to you a
long time ago.

While Paul and LeAnn and their kids were on campsite #3 in August they
were feeding nuts and whatever to the chipmunks. One day Paul put out
four peanuts and 4 pistachios on a rock to see what the chipmunks would
prefer. When he came back some time later, he was surprised to see that
the pistachios were gone, but the peanuts were still there.
Guess that goes to show that you have some chipmunks, and maybe red
squirrels, who have discriminating tastes. None of the ordinary for them
when they can get the best!

Have a super Holiday Season!!!!

Vivian Stevens (and Willard, too, I suppose)

12/17/00 - Cindy and I were invited by our friends Scott and Lee Bergstrom, who own Thomsonite Beach Resort, to go on a sleigh ride on the Gunflint Trail. The sleigh rides are given be Mark and Nancy Patten of Okontoe Camp. The beautiful sleigh is pulled by two Belgian draft horses over two miles of lantern lit trails. Mark, who is a cheerful soul, keeps up a running commentary during the ride. The trail crosses a small lake, a creek and makes a stop at the "Kissing Tree." A vault of stars arches overhead, snow blankets the spruce trees that line the trail, steam rises off the broad backs of the giant, peaceful horses, and Mark sings Christmas carols in a beautiful baritone. After the ride, the Pattens welcome you into their home for a cup of home made hot chocolate. Their house is a turn of the century hand hewn log building that they moved from the nearby community of Isabella in the early '70s. They have since learned that it once served as a bordello for the early 20th century logging camps around Isabella and was known among the loggers as "The Clinic."

The Gunflint Trail is a paved road that requires quite a bit of salt to keep the numerous corners and hills from being too slippery. Moose have discovered the salt and get down on their knees in the middle of the road to lick it up. It is a magnificent sight, but also a significant road hazard. We counted 11 moose on our trip up to Okontoe. - Bill

12/14/00 - Cindy and the kids saw an unusual moose on the way to school yesterday. It was a large bull, that on first glance, seemed to have only one antler. It is not unusual to see a moose with one antler that has dropped off, although usually in late January or early February. As they drew near to this bull, they realized that he had both antlers but one was huge while the other was very small. The stunted antler was perfectly formed, but tiny. It must be a pain to carry around such a lopsided load on top of your head for six months. - Bill

12/12/00 - We have been under a cold snap here for the last few days. The temps have not topped zero for highs and have been near minus twenty every night. The full moon of December seems to bring on the season's first real cold snap every year. It does make for some brilliant nights. It is the only time we feel the need for window blinds on our bedroom windows, as the moon is bright enough to fool us into thinking it is dawn at all hours. - Bill

Steve Krahn has relisted the vintage Sawbill Lodge postcard on eBay. It is a nice black and white shot of the lodge in its prime circa 1951. The building pictured still exists at Sobakken Resort in Lutsen. It was disassembled and moved there in the early '80s.

12/8/00 - We had a typical fluke North Shore snow storm yesterday in the Tofte area. Tofte received 16" of snow during the day, while for twenty miles in any direction, including here at Sawbill, total accumulation was 2" or less. Fortunately, the thickest snow fell on the ski trails that lace the hills above Lake Superior. Grooming is scheduled for Saturday, so trail skiing will be on the agenda for Sunday. - Bill

12/2/00 - I could feel the shoreline moving by. On ice skates, I challenged myself to trace the lake, to stay as close to the edge of land and water as possible. I had to quickly move my skates slaloming partially-covered boulders, leaned my shoulder into fragrant, fluffy cedars, clicked my skates on wickets of branches held up from submerged windfalls. I saw cul de sacs of the lake I had never seen. I left arcs of skate tracks in little nooks that would not have accommodated canoe or skis. Behind a curtain of cedars, I skated into a very small shrine. Its floor, covered in a fresh linen sheet of snow, glowed in the shadows. It felt good to move with the lake this way, like dancing with an old, familiar partner. It's my favorite time of year. The lake is entranced, perfectly still, as if holding its breath before the next exhalation of snow. Until then, it feels like time has stopped. We work less, postpone errands and chores, so we can move on the lake as effortlessly as stockinged-feet on a vast ballroom floor. Soon, the snow will come and fill in the molds my skate's and Bill's skate-skis have etched into the lake. Later this winter, when I am trudging along in snow shoes, I will lift up all the snow and press it into my memory like a printer's carved wood block. The image of long graceful strokes covering a huge canvas, will seem fantastic, like a spell written in an ancient language. I will smile and laugh, as I do so often, recalling the wonder of these woods. OB
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « November 2000 | January 2001 »

 


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