100% Backwoods Yooper

Last week Barry and I drove to a Baraga-Ontonagon high school basketball tournament, about an hour from where we live.  We found ourselves ‘way back in the Upper Peninsula (Yooper) backwoods, re-living a family memory from the early 1980’s. Barry kept telling me to write a blog about our experience. I kept telling him, “Please, YOU write a blog about it!” Finally, he agreed. Please welcome my latest guest-blogger, my dear husband, as he shares our latest adventure. P.S. He’s publishing it in his column in our local newspaper, the L’Anse Sentinel.


The Rousseau Bar

The Rousseau Bar

It was September, 1979. We young Lower Michigan emigrants landed plop-dab on the old Mustanen family dairy farm on the outskirts of Pelkie. The rented farmhouse was our first UP home. Landlords Ned and Toini Moberg watched over us.

I had won a tough interview process for a L’Anse Sentinel reporting job over a talented woman writer who chewed tobacco.

Kathy was hired for an office position at Baraga County Memorial Hospital. In our early 20’s we were unknowingly laying the foundation to becoming Yoopers.

Among Kathy’s family in the distant “Thumb” of the Lower Peninsula we were something of celebrity, or perhaps just nuts. Her mom and dad knew very well this region from their dear friends, Don and Ann McConnell. They visited the deepest, darkest, buggiest and snowiest woods of rural Mass City at least annually. Don is related to the Miilu clan there.

And so it was, we young upstarts were almost neighbors. K’s parents, Joanne and Dale, soon made the trip north with the McConnells. It wasn’t long before we were at the Miilu A-frame camp, playing cards flying across the tables, a barrel wood stove and gas lamps adding charm and heat. I have a distant memory of eating bear. . .

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Posted in March 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 59 Comments

Itching relentlessly


A rash feels like raspberry plants.  Oh so prickly.

A rash feels like raspberry plants. Oh so prickly.

Forget it, friends.  No pictures of icebergs, snowflakes or squirrels beneath the bird feeder.

My life has narrowed to one perspective.



It all started with jumping jacks.  Or perhaps leg scissors.

I found myself with Sue and Nancy in the pool jumping up and down, up and down, up and down, c’mon, don’t stop, keep those legs movin’, keep those arms circling around and around and around.

Twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Once again, I fell head-over-heels in love with water aerobics.

It’s a sure-fire way to combat cabin fever, don’t you know?

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Posted in March 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 90 Comments

Jagged ice fields of Lake Superior

A field of jagged ice on Lake Superior

A field of jagged ice on Lake Superior

If you’re shivering and cold here on this winter day, you might choose to visit another blog.

I am aiming to show you some photos of jagged ice on Lake Superior here in Aura, Michigan.  At the foot of Saari Road, just in case some of you locals might care to bring your camera and visit the ice field.

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Posted in February 2015 | Tagged , , , , , | 108 Comments

Sprinkling petals atop snow

Dawn shadows on snow, deer tracks

Dawn shadows on snow, deer tracks

On some January mornings the sun rises and casts lemon shadows against the blue-shadowed snow.

In the night deer nibble spruce branches and bed beneath them during this dark phase of the moon.

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Posted in January 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 80 Comments

Where the heck ARE you, anyway?

Sunrise, sunset.  Swiftly fly the years...

Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly fly the years…

I have received such wonderful comments and emails lately asking such questions as, “When are you returning to blogging?  When are you coming back to Facebook?  Where the heck ARE you, anyway?”

Dear friends, I don’t know how to answer that question.

On one hand my heart leaps in joy to hear that you are missing the words and photos here on Lake Superior Spirit.

On the other hand, I am so enjoying this time *mostly* off the computer.  It feels right.  It feels warm and nurturing and healing.

After writing–oh goodness knows, how many posts–it must be over 1,400 now if you count all the blogs since Day 1 on several different sites–something inside has gone very, very quiet.  It doesn’t want to engage in the same way.  It wants to chop wood, do laundry. It wants to feed the woodstove, go to work at our little two-room school, to shovel snow.  It wants to delight in tatsoi, the new veggie we found in the co-op recently  (think:  a cross between swiss chard and bok choy in the shape of a wreath) and to figure out four different recipes to use it in.

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Posted in December 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 96 Comments

Battened down, eating sweet squash pie & not blogging much

Wings from our calendar

Wings from our calendar

Dear friends,

Wishing you well this fine November day, however the day finds you.

Just wanting to let you know that–even though I am not blogging lately–all is well in our Little House in the Big Woods.

We’re almost prepared for winter. Everything battened down, harvested, caulked, put away in shed and garage and house.

On Friday it snowed. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to admire (or decry) on Halloween. The witches and goblins laughed hysterically. Almost an inch remained on the ground Saturday morning. Almost four inches tarried up in the hill country. Today it’s 50 degrees (10 C) and melted.

I made sweet squash pie in an oat-walnut crust yesterday. When you eat a bite or six, the maple syrup tastes like the sap of trees, sweet trees, ever-rising.

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Posted in November 2014 | Tagged , , , , , | 89 Comments

One bright magical shining leaf that was known as Camelot

Sand shadows

Sand shadows

Today I shall tell you the story of one bright shining magical yellow leaf.

Before that tale births, may I share other stories of waves, sand, trees, autumn colors, and who knows what else?

Sideways sand shadows along Lake Superior

Sideways sand shadows along Lake Superior

Last weekend we drove east and north through the woods, past the two-classroom school where I work, down gravel roads, past brilliant autumn colors, into the magic of a cloistered road.  Our car wound toward the Mouth of the Huron, a remote beach perhaps 25 miles from our house.

We’ve been getting out of our patch of woods to enjoy the nip of fall lately.

“We should do this every weekend,” I say.  We nod.  We’ve said this before.

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Posted in October 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments