Endings and Beginnings

It reached 55 degrees yesterday and, after a long string of zero and sub-zero temperatures, our fingers are sufficiently thawed to make an entry in these notes. Not that the cold weather was unpleasant, mind you. The air and light were crisp and clear. The snow (and there is a lot of it!) was light and dry like talcum powder. Tires had good traction on packed snow. Fires burned reassuringly.  Everything hot tasted especially good. But, the hot tub froze solid notwithstanding the stock tank heater which worked most of the winter.

At 55 degrees the world is different. The snow has turned to slush and taken on a gray pallor. There is a sluggishness and weariness in the bones – a chill. The temperature dips overnight leaving trails of ice to challenge drivers and pedestrians alike. Theron took a full-body back flop on the way down to feed the chickens and has a kidney contusion and bruised ribs to show for it. Avalanches of heavy, wet snow cascade from the roof – usually just after the last batch has been cleared. But, 55 is 55 and what a pleasure to see the dogs lying outside in the sunlight exhausted from welcoming back the squirrels from their winter rest!
It would be remiss not to confess that we didn’t entirely stay put during that frigid stretch. Demaris headed into the Santa Cruz Mountains of California and spent two weeks in her tent while attending workshops with the Tom Brown Tracking School. She worked with wood, leather and soap stone while studying the philosophical underpinnings of living with the Earth within the confines of modern society. Theron spent two weeks in Madrid in deep immersion refreshing and advancing his Spanish language. Although immersion quickly became drowning when it came to the pluscuamperfecto de subjuntivo and other exotic grammatical constructions. He wishes he had listened to Sister Mary Zoe sixty years ago!
Highlighting our exceedingly active Bayfield winter scene are the annual Apostle Islands Sled Dog Races through the snowfields and forests along the shores of Lake Superior. This year hundreds of dogs competed in a variety of classes up to and including the 8-dog, 80-mile feature event. Our stock of sled dog related books was quickly snapped-up – especially the children’s selection. We were pleased to have Jeff King – known as the “Winningest Musher in the World” and 4-time winner of the Alaskan Iditarod – sign our supply of his book Cold Hands, Warm Heart: Alaskan Adventures of an Iditarod Champion. Jeff also spoke at the Saturday night dinner at the pavilion between his Friday and Saturday race events.
Our staff remains deeply involved in community activities this winter especially in the dramatic arts. Kristen played the role of the Rovian propagandist, Squealer the pig, in Orwell’s Animal Farm. She is also working lights for Annie! which is now playing. Jack is ably handling the gargantuan task of Stage Manager for Annie! for which his well-honed executive skills are essential. Two of our stalwarts have moved on: Colin has journeyed west to Boise to seek his fortune and Lois has taken a position at Northland College as Director of Gift Planning. We miss them both!
Well, we have just finished our first full inventory of our collection of books as well as our small offering of maps, charts, games, puzzles and other items. We discovered this to be no mean task! Every single book and item was scanned, counted and returned to its place on the shelf. Every discrepancy was checked and rechecked. So, now the picture of our inaugural year is coming into focus and plans for the year to come are being laid. It was a good year! We have a great team! We have a great selection! We have a great customer base of local friends and neighbors as well as the very special stream of visitors who come to the Apostle Islands to enjoy this most beautiful of places.
Stay in touch! We enjoy hearing from you!