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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: September 2009
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « August 2009 | October 2009 »

9/30/09 - Frost! Last night was the first hard frost of the season. We had some nips of frost way back in August, which were followed by almost a month of warm, calm weather. Now, after a wicked windstorm a couple of days ago, this morning dawned crisp and cold. Until now, we haven't seen much color in the trees. That should change quickly now. - Bill

A sure sign of fall. Frost on the ol' canoes.

9/29/09 - Another big walleye! Sawbill camper Ellen Freiberg showed up at the store the other day holding this big fish from Sawbill Lake. Still recovering from the shock of seeing her biggest walleye yet come up on her hook, she told us it took her fifteen minutes to land it. It measured just longer than 25 inches, and more than five pounds. Nice catch, Ellen. - Lee

Ellen Freiberg and her big walleye.

9/24/09 - I spotted this ghostly white flower growing in the shade of black spruce trees during a recent trip through Cherokee Lake. The Indian-pipe flower, monotropa uniflora, grows in deep shade under conifers. It gains nutrients from decaying wood and by latching onto the root systems of living plants, thus, it doesn't need chlorophyll and grows up white instead of green. Other regional names are ghost flower, corpse plant and ghost pipe. - Lee

Indian-pipe flowers.

A gathering of Indian-pipe flowers, also known as corpse plants.

9/21/09 - Witness the birth of a new era. Of outhouses. And potty humor. The Forest Service decided to upgrade the rest of the outhouses in the campground after installing a super-duty concrete, handicap accessible two-holer near site four last fall. One near the picnic area went in this afternoon, amid a clamor of engines growling and laborers standing around waiting their turn. The rest are set for installation tomorrow. The new fixtures appear bomb-proof and are designed to weather 200 seasons. The Caesars would be proud. But, wouldn't you know it, the days of our beloved 40-year-old wooden toilet sheds, with the spring-loaded doors that slap shut and just enough elbow room for a penguin, have come to and end. - Lee

Recognize this spot? Neither do I. It's where the outhouses on the way to the landing used to be. The guys are digging the hole for the outhouse vaults.

These concrete boxes are the vaults for, well, the deposits that Sawbill campers will soon be making.

This is the rig it took to drop the load in place.

That's teamwork. Hope nobody's in there.

Worker installs exhaust pipes. Thank goodness.

The old outhouses uninstalled, taking a victory lap around the parking lot, ready to ride off into the sunset. Adios amigos.

9/20/09 - This is the time of year when mushrooms are common in the boreal forest. A couple of old birch stumps that are right in front of the store entrance have developed an impressive brace of fungi over the last few days. As you can see from the pieces on top of the stump, the squirrels find this species a tasty treat. - Bill

These appeared overnight a couple of days ago.

Red squirrels store mushrooms in the branches of spuce and balsam trees for consumption during the winter. Old-timers used to say that you could tell how much snow we were going to have by how high the squirrels stored their mushrooms.

9/19/09 - The leaves seem slow to change this year. Amid an unseasonably warm September, with local highs for the first nineteen days five degrees warmer than last year, some of us are wondering where the fall colors are. At this time last season I accompanied a visiting friend on a nearby "leaf peeper" trail and the maples were practically burning with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. Yesterday I stopped near that trail to take a picture of the turning leaves, and it left me hoping, more than anything, that the best may be yet to come. - Lee

The hillside in the background is just beginning to be shaded with red.

This vista of the Temperance River valley shows just a spark of the colors that will brighten it soon.

9/18/09 - The big news at Sawbill today is that we have a new golf cart! We've had a golf cart for years that we use for tooling around the campground. Homer and Roy love to ride in the golf cart. When they hear it start up they come running and jump in. When the new cart arrived today they piled in to give it a test ride. - Bill

Homer and Roy are excited for riding in the new cart.

9/16/09 - From Suckatash, Ryan Suffern's blog (used with permission):


This shot of Sawbill Lake is particularly special for me. While it's probably been over a decade since I took the pic, I'll never forget that morning - getting up at the crack of dawn and going out in a canoe with my little sister, Whitney. The lake was eerily fogged in that morning, and the water was so still, you could have easily imagined walking across it. And besides the sound of our paddles in the calm water, there was hardly a sound to be heard. It was such a beautiful moment reserved only for those willing to get up so early, and oh, what I wouldn't give to be back there in that canoe right now.

It was up in the Boundary Waters that I think I first got the bug for taking pictures. Year after year and summer after summer, I would return with my family to these cherished lakes, and over time, I found myself trying to take better and better photos of the beauty to be found up there. And while I was crazy for catching fish (and we certainly did a lot of fishing), I also noticed that I was becoming just as interested in "catching" a good pic to bring back home. So in no small part, I know I owe this place for having been the catalyst for my first creative love.

The above photograph also means a lot to me because it was one of my first images that I ever had blown up and framed, which I gave to my Grandma & Grandpa Kielhorn. I cannot think of Sawbill and of the many, many trips I've taken there without thinking about my grandparents, and specifically my grandpa. Always in pursuit of finding the fish at just the right time of day, he would so often wake me up in my tent from a deep-summer-vacation-sleep, and the two of us would go out and see if they were biting. Some of my fondest memories of my grandpa are those early morning fishing trips - just the two of us out on Sawbill and not a soul in sight.

In the past couple of years, unfortunately, both grandparents have passed away. I guess that's just life, or as Kurt Vonnegut might say, "So it goes." I miss them both terribly, but it at least makes me happy to know that for the last several years of both of their lives, this photo was proudly on display in their bedroom. That everyday, my grandpa would wake up and that this would be the first image to meet his day. That maybe this photo might just make him think of those early morning fishing trips, and perhaps even put a smile on his face. - Ryan Suffern

9/14/09 - A few minutes ago, I was walking between buildings when I heard the gentle sound of woodpecker tapping overhead. It turned out to be a three-toed woodpecker working on a dying mountain ash tree. There must have been a good number of bugs, because the relatively rare three-toed was joined by a downy woodpecker and a brown creeper.

While I watched the woodpeckers working, a red squirrel was dropping hard, green red pine cones from a height of over sixty feet uncomfortably close to my head. The squirrels seem to deliberately drop the cones on the racked canoes behind the store where they strike with a satisfying and resounding bonk. - Bill

9/11/09 - At this time of year, when sad memories have been on our minds, it is always good to enjoy a paddle in the wilderness - remembering those who are gone - and finding sweetness in the joy that they found in wilderness. - Bill

Cindy, Phoebe, Roy and Homer drifting in a beautiful canoe built by Joe Seliga.

A white pine silhouetted by a towering cumulus cloud.

9/6/09 - The White House has declared September National Wilderness Month. From the press release:

The American wilderness has inspired wonder and imagination for centuries and is an irreplaceable part of our Nation's heritage.

Even before the birth of the United States, visitors from near and far were struck by its splendor and purity. The unaltered American landscape stood apart from any other in the world. During the years of westward expansion, the wilderness frontier became synonymous with pioneer values of steadfastness and rugged independence. This month, we celebrate this history and renew our commitment to preserving the American wilderness for future generations.

Forty-five years ago, the United States achieved a landmark success in protecting these magnificent wild spaces. The Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act, which sought to secure "for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness." The Act has been widely recognized as one of our Nation's most important conservation laws. This law and the National Wilderness Preservation System it established have served as a model for wilderness protection laws in many of our States and in countries around the world.

The vision and structure established in the Wilderness Act continue to receive broad support. This pioneering law created a framework for bringing Federal public lands under additional protection. Over the past 45 years, the Congress has enacted numerous laws extending wilderness protection to vast swaths of public lands. These laws have enjoyed bipartisan support. Ranchers and anglers, small-business owners and conservationists, and Americans of diverse backgrounds have come together to preserve many of our Nation's most cherished public spaces.

My Administration has already demonstrated a commitment to protecting our wilderness heritage. On March 30, 2009, I signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which established the most recent additions to our Wilderness System. As my Administration continues to prioritize wilderness protection, we will work closely with the Congress, organizations, and private citizens to ensure that all stakeholders can make their voices heard. United by a common purpose of preserving our precious natural spaces and our wilderness heritage, we will ensure that future generations inherit the unique gift of knowing nature's peace.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2009 as National Wilderness Month. I call upon all Americans to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, learn more about our wilderness heritage, and explore what can be done to protect and preserve these precious national treasures.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

Article printed from The Gov Monitor:

URL to article:

9/4/09 - JoAnn (Seliga) Nilsen stopped in for a surprise visit the other day. If you recognize her maiden name, it's probably because it's the same as a popular model of canoe we rent called the Bell Seliga. The Seliga's namesake was Joe Seliga, a renowned Ely canoe shaper, and JoAnn's father.

JoAnn was out for a drive with her husband and noticed the canoes in our lot. When she introduced herself, Clare showed her the original wood and canvas Seliga the Hansens keep in the dome for special occasions. JoAnn was excited to see one still in service, but said she has 11 (count 'em! - 11) of her own originals.

When asked what she thought about Bell reviving her dad's hull design, she said, "They're great canoes to paddle, what can I say?" - Lee

JoAnn (Seliga) Nilsen, and her husband pose with the Bell Seligas out back.

9/2/09 - Sawbill celebrated Mary Alice Hansen's 86th birthday Tuesday with a picnic by the landing and birthday cake in the office. For those who don't remember, or others who just don't know, Mary Alice and husband Frank started Sawbill Canoe Outfitters more than half a century ago. They've since passed the family business along and moved into town, but it's always great to see the pair back at Sawbill, their natural habitat. - Lee

Mary Alice makes a birthday wish.

Bill, Frank and Mary Alice share a laugh at the picnic.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « August 2009 | October 2009 »

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