Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Lately I'm a day or two tardy in my posting and the photos are getting old, too. I'm still blogging about the weekend and the visit of "Charlie's Angels" to northern Minnesota. The Angels are likely somewhere in the U.P. eating a pasty each at this point, and NCW and I have returned to the big city. The leaves are still just short of prime here, but when we left Pengilly on Sunday some of the maples were shedding their red leaves and the temperature was in the eighties. Here in River City today we barely crept out of the 50's. I have this photo of NCW relaxing near her fire pit by Swan Lake and enjoying the last of September's heat.

So GOINFS. Last week when we were coming back from the north, both she and I spent about two hours trying to remember the name of these plants. It's a common sight to see them as they become more prominent and visible as autumn arrives. We finally had to call Sherrie to subtly ask her the name of the plant. Nearly everyone I know would have been up to the challenge, too. We were without google or access to the internet at the time, so we were helpless.

Sumacs. Those roadside, invasive plants that are among the earliest to change colors.

It makes a guy think that a smart phone might be a good plan and a way to keep from this kind of embarrassment again. Iphone 6, anyone?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Zimmy's is closed

The traveling bikers are here in the north country. The last two of the group who sometimes refer to themselves as "Charlie's Angels," arrived in time for a bike ride around Swan Lake. It was a very beautiful September afternoon, an unexpected reward for some forgotten good deed, no doubt, but definitely appreciated. We posed in front of the pretty maple in NCW's back yard.

Earlier in the day we walked a bit of the Mesabi Trail to enjoy the landscape and the changing leaves. We stopped to a have a look at the local baseball park and walk on the unmowed grass in the infield. These trees are standing near the baseball field in Pengilly. They are well along in the process of changing colors and falling to the ground.

Some of the more spectacular maple leaves at the height of their glory.

In the late afternoon we decided to go to Hibbing for food. Some of us are Bob Dylan fans, including members of the Angels, and thought that the Dylan-themed Zimmys would be a good choice for vittles. But tragedy, Zimmys is closed, a victim of tax problems and the economy of the Range. We had to eat pizza at Sammy's instead. Not a bad choice actually.  We stopped to visit Bob's old home first. It was being visited by some sort of tour group, but we we able to see the place and snap a few photos.

 Charlie's Angels in front of Bob's childhood home in Hibbing.

And then we returned to the shores of Swan Lake for a bonfire and deep conversation.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Calumet and the Mesabi Trail

After a ride in the country, Santini, NCW and I reached our destination near Swan Lake. The day was cloudy, but warm, and occasionally the sun would break through the clouds and brighten the leaves that are near peak of their color change for the year. These maple beauties live in NCW's back yard.

Desiring a wilder setting we drove to Calumet. And began a couple of mile hike along the Mesabi trail. The leaves were mostly yellows with a sprinkling of reds and still some greens. We mostly stayed on the trail and remarked on the relative silence and the beauty of the forest. The only excitement was the sudden appearance of a porcupine, a shy beast who waddled off to hide somewhere in the trees. See Santini's blog for details and photo.

Here, NCW is trying to figure out Santini's camera so that she could take a photo nowhere near the large hole in the ground near Calumet, after we failed to go through the rusty gate asking us to stay out. A photo was eventually successfully attained.

Santini and NCW went ahead of me for a while and I took a photo as they walked down the Mesabi trail in the general direction of Marble. Santini and NCW for scale. The leaves were mostly yellow.

A grove of aspens on the Mesabi trail near Calumet. They look a lot like birch trees, and there were some birch groves, too, but I liked the clumpiness of these aspens, (sometimes called poplars, I think.)

There may be biking and perhaps a visit to Bob Dylan's boyhood home in Hibbing. Or the Hull Rust mine. And a walking tour of Coleraine. Opportunities are wide open.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Whistling Well Farm

The nice thing about being retired is that when fall comes you can take a weekday morning and go to an apple orchard to procure some fresh fruit. One day last week NCW and I took a drive to Whistling Well Farm, an apple orchard and farm near Aspen State Park. It was a half hour or so drive, and when we arrived, there were no other visitors. We browsed the assortment of apple related goodies - cider, apple butter and honey, then took a walk to the part of the orchard where the ripe apple varieties were ready for picking. There were lots of good looking fruit hanging from the trees. I don't think they are that much cheaper than buying them at Trader Joe's, but the selection is different and the apples are verifiably local. The varieties that were ripe and being sold were Zestors and SweeTangos, of the ten or so varieties that they grow at the orchard.

The farm is small, growing mostly apples and pumpkins, and a few chickens and turkeys, but we were alone on the property, except for the staff, and it was a nice simple place to spend a few hours.  I took this just as we were exiting the orchard area and returning to pay for our bounty.

NCW is toting the bag of apples that we picked. They are the Zestor variety and are pretty tasty. We chose them carefully from some of the heavily-fruited trees in the orchard. The Honey Crisps, the darling of the apple eaters in the Twin Cities area, were not quite ready for picking. We took the Zestors home, along with a bag of SweeTangos, another sweet variety, and have been eating them with enjoyment.

I've picked apples in Michigan a time or two and this was a similar experience, except that the varieties of apples available were different, and the farm was a bit smaller than the ones I visited there. I think I may bake a pie.

As a bonus picture, I wanted to add a sea of either black-eyed or brown-eyed Susans, taken a couple of weeks ago at Como Park. They grow them thick and healthy near the rain garden near the peninsula facing the pavilion. The project to restore the shore line produced some surprising benefits, including these Susans. The bees must be happy.