Sunday, February 28, 2010

Going to the Symphony on a Pair of Skis . . .

Downhill skiing is like going to a Kiss concert. It's big, flashy, you're on the edge of your seat, and there's a chance of serious injury.

Cross-Country Skiing, on the other hand, is like going to the symphony. There is technical precision, grace, and about halfway through, you realize the seats are a lot less comfortable than you thought they'd be.

I first fell in love with Nordic skiing the winter of '73. I had an old pair of wooden alpine skis from the '30s - about 4 inches wide with learther bindings and bamboo poles. My own version of backcountry skis! I would glide through the corn fields and out into the woods - often with my young son slung on my back in a makeshift *pack* designed just for him. I loved the quiet and solitude this mode of transportation provided. Those old skis now hang in the backroom - a silent reminder of a past life.

The following year I ordered a sleek set of skis from the Telemark area of Norway. Thin, long with step-in bindings and a matching pair of leather skiing *shoes*. My winters would never be the same.

Next to snowshoeing there is no better way to enjoy the outdoor beauty and serenity of a winter's day -catching glimpses of deer, fox, coyote, rabbits and a variety of birds who call Drummond Island their home.

These days I ski on wax-free wonders from Rossignol and one of my favorite gliding grounds is the Rainbow Trail system - created by the Drummond Island Cross Country Club in 2002. Views of one of Drummond’s inland lakes can be found here along with signs of otters, fishers, and bobcat. The trail is named in honor of a rainbow that appeared over the trailhead immediately following its completion. Since that time, the unusually high number of rainbows appearing at different parts of the trail leaves you with a sense of wonder and awe.

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. ~Ruth Stout

For more information on the Rainbow Trail system go to
Let me know when you go - I'll join you!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Family Game Night . . .

The perfect family board game is one that can be played each time with fewer pieces.
~Robert Brault

We tend to play board games under two circumstances: when our whole family gathers for any celebration and we break them out for a night of hilarious competition; and during blizzards, when the power is out and there is nothing better to do.  Both are perfect times to dust off relics of simpler times—Scrabble, Monopoly, Risk and the like.

Our cupboard holds stacks of classic games – a few favorites dating back to my childhood. Pieces and directions are often missing, but little is better than seeing the yellowing scorecards of games past. I grew wistful once at the sight of a slip of paper that recalled an afternoon Yahtzee marathon many years ago in which I most certainly annihilated my sister.

The longest gaming marathons I was part of involved a game of Monopoly one summer that went on for 12 hours – through one afternoon and into the wee hours of the following morning. My girlfriends and I were all so giddy from lack of sleep by then that the littlest thing would set off jags of laugher. Tears rolling down our cheeks, holding our sides kindof laughter.

Stacks of classic games hide in every home on a bookshelf or in the basement and they can turn a blustery night indoors into the stuff of memories. So whip up a snack and rally the gang for a classic family game night - an evening of laughter and play awaits.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Canadian Olympic Gold!

In honor of the Canadian Women's Hockey team - and what they have been able to achieve at the Winter Games! Another great Stompin' Tom Connors tune. Enjoy!

Congratulations on taking the Gold!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Comfort Food . . .

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. ~Edith Sitwell

There are certain types of food that make us feel warm and cozy. The mere mention of their name, brings a smile to the face. Comfort foods.

Foods that warm the belly, the heart and the soul.

Hot chocolate in a snowstorm; tea, toast and soft boiled eggs on a sick day home from school; fresh bean soup on a rainy, fall afternoon; Chili on a cold winter's night. Chocolate, in any flavor, shape or form.

Foods that take us to our happy place.

This is one of those foods.

Venison Stew
Aged venison browned in bacon grease gives an amazing depth of flavor to this hearty dish.


2 pounds venison (from the ham) cut into 2-inch chunks

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour seasoned with a pinch each: black pepper, salt, garlic salt

3 tablespoons bacon grease

1 large onion, quartered

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

4 cups chopped potatoes

2 cups sliced carrot

1/2 cup red wine


Place seasoned flour in a plastic bag. Add meat cubes and shake until meat is coated. In a large cast iron pot brown half of the meat in 1 tablespoon of the hot oil, turning to brown evenly. Brown remaining meat in remaining oil. Add onion, garlic, and basil and cook until lightly browned. Add potatoes and carrots. Add red wine and enough water to bring the liquid level nearly to the top of the stew mixture. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours. Serves 8.


For optional dumpling topping, mix dumplings according to Bisquick box directions and spoon onto stew 20 minutes before you are ready to eat. Cover for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 10 minutes.

A special kind of comfort in a bowl! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Talking funny . . .

I didn't know I spoke funny until my family moved to Westland, MI for two years when I was in fifth grade.

Waiting outside the building all the students gathered 'round, curious about the new red haired student with the funny way of talking. I was bombarded with questions - was I from Scotland? Ireland? Maybe Canada?

Mrs. Johnson seized the moment and taught an impromptu lesson on regional dialects. I sank in my chair, wishing she had simply introduced me as the new foriegn exchange student from some exotic locale. The lesson I learned that day - it is always best to have your speach patterns sound like those around you. Having red hair AND a foriegn language was two too many strikes for a young, scrawny tomboy to handle.

I proceeded to spend a lifetime trying not to sound like my mother - who despite retiring to South Carolina years ago still sounds like she is living in da Soo. She uses expressions like: "Wah" (Wow), "Holy wah!" (Really wow), "Eh. Okay" (What or hey), "Yah sure - hey" (You've got to be kidding. I don't believe it), and "Youbetcha" (Yes, without a doubt). My husband swears every other word she speaks is simply "eh". Really?

And even though the weather in South Carolina doesn't generally warrant them, she still keeps swampers (rubber boots), choppers (mittens) and a toque (knitted cap) in the front closet "just in case".

The last time I visited she spent an afternoon "oot and aboot" visiting a few lady friends.

The way my mother speaks actually has historic significance. In 2003 of House Resolution 183 in the Michigan Legislature in Lansing: "A resolution establishing  the Upper Peninsula's inhabitants way of speach as Michigan's official state dialect."

The whereas clauses gave this unique dialect antiquity ("around 1840"), an identity ("independent, hearty individualism and the active sportsmen's tradition") and status as reflecting "our multi-cultural heritage."

Most remarkable of all, this dialect is in peril. The resolution declared it to be "an endangered dialect that is on the verge of vanishing forever" from our Great Lake State. It didn't say anything about just what the dialect is.

But believe me, if you show up anywhere in the U.P. talking any other way we’ll know you’re not from here. Oh remember, camoflage or flannel are always in style if you want to blend in, eh.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rock Men . . .

If you don't know what an inukshuk is your not from the Great White North - or haven't travel extensively on the back roads of Drummond Island recently.

An inukshuk (or inuksuk, plural inuksuit) is a statue, made of few stones, resembling a cross-like figure - human like, with two separate legs. They have been erected by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America, from Alaska to Greenland. 
They represent safety, hope and friendship.

These days, they are erected by fans, tourist, artist and traveler. There is even an Inukshuk Landed Canadian Mission to Mars in the planning stages. Thanks to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games they are now recoginized worldwide.

A powerful symbol of home and life's journey.

May you all find your way home safely this week, on the road or in your heart, and give thanks for life's many blessings.

Monday, February 22, 2010

YOOker . . .


State bird: Robin

State flower: Apple blossom

State motto: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.

State pastime:

Growing up Up North, I thought Euchre didn't even have to be taught, it was in your genes! Everybody played.
You can’t live in Michigan unless you know how to play - and pronounce - Euchre (YOOker). It’s a fast game that requires a fair amount of attention (especially if you’re good at counting cards) but not so much that your game really suffers much if you’re nursing a mid-level beer buzz.

The beauty of Euchre is that it prevents conversations, accusations, recriminations, emotional outbursts and all the other stuff that’s likely to get out of hand when folks get to drinking in large groups.

My father was a crook and a card shark (and I mean this in the nicest way) who used to organize us kids into Euchre tournaments when we were camping. He would cheat us out of our weekly allowances. As a result, I never became much of a Euchre enthusiast. Cribbage was my game - but that's a whole other story.

Islanders love their Euchre, and will play it anytime, anywhere—by the woodstove at deer camp, after pancakes on winter mornings, on beach blankets under an umbrella, snug on a screened porch on a late summer night or down at the Northwood where they really get serious on a Sunday afternoon.

Come on up sometime and find a game to sit in on - like a foreign language  - anyone can learn!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sometimes Life Just Gets the Best of You . . .

I have nothing for you today - sorry. Seems an acute case of Sinustis has morphed itself into an acute case of Bronchitis. I am down for the count . . .

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Fish Fry Friday!

It is the end of another week. The weekend looms, with its change of pace and flexible ambiance. You’ve grown tired of dispatching quick and efficient evening meals. You don’t have the heart to produce grander fare for a celebration. Hey, it’s Friday night! Time to take a break and go out for fish!

Friday nights on Drummond Island translate to “let’s meet for fish.” You know you can go just about anywhere on a Friday night and find a delicious, reasonably-priced meal of fish. But from my perspective nothing compares to Fish Fry Friday at the Northwood. Especially if Celia is in the kitchen cooking!

Windy and raw, the late, wintry afternoon sinks into dusk. You gratefully seek refuge from the dark and cold, opening the tavern door. Warmth, happy chatter, and the moist aroma of stale beer mixed with frying fish invite you in. The immersion in the familiar excites and soothes. For a moment you wrestle with the anticipation of a cherished meal and fears of a long wait.

Fish Fry Friday is not just a tasty meal, reasonably priced. It is a socially-charged atmosphere where friends, family, and neighbors mingle, exchange stories, share comfort food and drink. All the while partaking of the Island’s famed friendly ambiance. It is an Island event. And it doesn’t matter how long you have been away – on a Friday night sharing stories and eating fish – you are always folded back in to the community.

Woe to unsuspecting Friday travelers arriving at mealtime expecting a fast and easy fish fry! The line may be long, but the wait is part of the festive sequence: strangers break into conversation while friends share camaraderie, sometimes at the bar or over a lively game of pool. Impatience is uncool. Bracketed and bolstered by companionship, the meal will eventually arrive.

When it is over you levitate back home – sated and warmed by food and spirit, the weekend officially opened.

If you head Up North be sure to stop by - the beer is always cold, the fish is always fried to perfection and you won't find a better selection on the juke box anywhere else!

The Northwood Restuarant and Bar
29944 E Channel Rd Drummond Island, MI 49726

Thursday, February 18, 2010

No Winter Lasts Forever . . .

Just remember in the winter

far beneath the bitter snows

lies the seed
that with the sun's love

in the spring

becomes the rose

The Rose - lyrics and song music by Amanda Mc Broom

The Rose was recorded by Bette Midler in 1979. Other popular recordings have been by Conway Twitty in 1983 and Leann Rimes in 1997.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Dog Sledding . . .

Yes - Dog Sledding - an Olympic sport. Well not officially, but during the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, Dog Sledding was an exhibition sport. The Olympic sport featured five Canadians and seven Americans with six dogs per sled.

Olympic Dogs.

Canadian, Emile St. Godard, and his team - led by Toby - won both 50 mile races held at the Games that year.

St. Godard, obviously a dog lover, called his team “my family.” He once stopped mid-way through a race (one he and the dogs were winning) because the ice encrusted snow was injuring the dogs’ paws. It is understood his dogs were fed a steady diet of Lake Winnipeg goldeneye fish to enhance their stamina and boost their energy. Toby, the lead dog, was a husky-greyhound cross and held a very high status as lead dog. But he also held the place of top dog in the heart of St. Godard.
When Toby was no longer fit for racing, St. Godard gave up the sport as well. What a pair they must have been. St. Godard was well respected for his concern for the dogs. A true ambassador for the sport, he remains the only dog sledder to be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and the only Gold Medalist for Olympic Dog Sledding. Emile and Toby – Canadian Olympic Heros!
You can read more about Emile St. Godard - now in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame at the following link:

To get a taste of what the world of dog sledding and dog sled racing is all about, head on up to Drummond Island this winter. Several dog sled races are held throughout the winter with the next one scheduled for the weekend of February 27 - 28, 2010. All events are held at the Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center :

For more information on the race schedule for February's contest, competion rules, and other dog sledding tidbits go straight to the source:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fishing on Hard Water . . .

Starting in late December, the waters around Drummond Island ice up and enthusiasts take to the frozen playgrounds on snowmobiles and pickup trucks in search of fish. Basing their operations out of small shacks, the fishermen walk around the frozen landscape periodically, checking tip-ups, breaking up ice buildups and drilling new holes. These men and women (yes, the girls Up North take to the ice too) approach their fishing responsibilities seriously - not even sub-zero winters can bar them from enjoying the great white outdoors.

Ice Fishing
by W.J. Mallory
As a fisherman I'm not dumb;

But fishing at 10 below makes me numb;
Not to say it isn't nice;

Many fish from chalets on ice;
My experience has left me thinking;

Most guys out there are just drinking;
To Little Bay De Noc;

The ice fishermen do flock;
For whitefish and walleye they stay;

Sometimes a pickup sinks into the bay;
This winter has been balmy;

We should be watching for a tsunami;
35 degrees yesterday afternoon;

Noodle rod and waders will come out soon;
40 today, at last;

I'll be in the lake real fast;
Over the ice and into the lake;

As agile and lithe as a cold snake;
Finally fishing among the floes;

Bouncing from cube to cube my lure goes;
45 minutes before the cold sets in;

Zero caught, but at least I was fishin'

Sturgeon Bay Charters owner Meade Gable has been out on the ice surrounding Drummond Island just about every day this winter. His Fishing Reports are as entertaining as they are informative. To read a few for yourself head on over to his Facebook page:

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's Hockey Night in Canada . . .

A great song written from the perspective of a girl (Lynn Miles) growing up in Canada, where ice hockey takes over the airwaves and the minds of men from October till May. Lynn's father was a hockey coach. The song is about memories she has of walking home through the snow and seeing television sets glowing blue in living room windows.
It's hockey night in Canada

There is a blue glow in every window

And I am walking home alone again

In the freshly fallen frozen snow
With my heart beneath my duffle coat

My dreams turning to icicles

I wish there was a sunny summer sky

And I was cruising on my bicycle

And I would wait

For all the lights to change to green

And I would race right through

And take it down the afternoon avenue

That's what I would do

But there's just these skating rinks

And the boys always get their way

It seems like it's hockey night in Canada

Almost every single day
They are clearing my street again

Trying to deny the season

And I want so much to disagree with them

But they refuse to hear my reason

There is a zamboni of sorts in all our souls

And the streets of old Montreal are cold

Equal ice time is all we need

To catch our breath and build our speed

And we would wait

For all the lights to change to green

And we would march right through

And take it down the afternoon avenue

That's what we would do

But there's just these skating rinks

And the boys always get their way

It seems like it's hockey night in Canada

Almost every single day

What are you watching tonight . . . ?