- much snow, sloppy going on the ice, but doable. No car travel - really unusual for this time of the year - typically Bear Island plows a road all the way out to the north end of their island - one mile from us. This year, no road that far, in fact, no road at all for much of the winter. So, we shlepped our stuff out to Wabun in multiple snowmobile/sleigh trips from Boat Line Bay - each ride, though, was really a kind of joy.
The first day on the island was lovely. While the unusually warm weather isn't all that good for the ice and portended a really early break-up, it sure was nice to walk about on snowshoes in shirtsleeves. We settled in and brought the house up to temperature and enjoyed our first sunset on the island. It's amazing how far south the winter sunset is. During the camp season it is not visible from our cabin.
Here's a note to Wabun alums that might pique your interest: Adam Wicks-Arshack and John Zinser, both Wabun alum campers and staff, have founded a fantastic birch-bark expeditionary enterprise in the northwest, accessed through www.voyagesofrediscovery.com - This was launched at Wabun in two consecutive falls of birch-bark canoe construction; the first, a thirteen foot canoe-building project done entirely in the Temagami bush, and the second: two canoes, one thirteen footer and another twenty-three footer, in the Wabun shop - you may see recountings of these in our Newsletters on Wabun's website (p. 47 of 2009-2011 and p. 4 of 2008-2009).
Now, they are embarking on a reach-out project on Bear Island here in Temagami. Upon completion, their large canoe was blessed by the Elders at Bear Island who were impressed by the sensitivity with which Adam and John sought to honor the canoe-building traditions of this area. Side note: Adam and John's efforts were joined by Eliza Wicks-Arshack, Adam's sister, an another former Wabun camper and staff alum. All three plan to return to Bear Island this May and engage the youth of the Reserve in the construction and use of the type of canoes so central to the history of the Teme-Agama Anishinabai. They are currently in the midst of a fundraising initiative to support this effort, one about which we at Wabun are very excited and support. You may reach the means to consider supporting this fantastic project by going to www.kickstarter.com/projects/voyagesofrediscovery/the-power-of-the-canoe-birch-bark-canoes-and-nativ I encourage you to visit their sites and think about lending your endorsement.
Also, I refer you to a great cover photo of John Zinser at the bow of the canoe he, Adam and Eliza, and two contributing friends built at Wabun by going to Issue 168, December 2011, of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Ltd's magazine - WCHA@wcha.org
Back to the time on Garden Island:
I have been smitten by tracking of both spring and the bird life on the island.
- last week we had temp's in the 60ºs - - - snow completely disappeared, grouse drumming in the front yard, birds tuning their songs during fly-ins and alightings, woodcock whistling through their flight patterns, the warmth of spring airs, and the sight of fading ice yielding to summer's water passages - - took the snowmobiles off the lake, as did everybody up here.
-woke up on Monday and Tuesday with temp's below 10º - ice building all this week with lots of booming - snow flurries Wednesday and Thursday nights, below freezing since then - weird - no travel on the lake by anyone, except by Bear Island's (local Indian reserve) airboat which does scheduled taxi runs from the store to the landing. Last year I made my last snowmobile trip across the ice in the last week of April - wow, c'est la differance
Alas, the spring seems delayed, but the locals suggest it is only a matter of some extended warmth and some wind that will make the ice disappear and free us all for boat travel - even as early as next week.
My regular visitor to the bird-feeder base in the front yard (Patrick) has split his time by feeding at the feeder at the front of the cabin, lying in wait for his intended, Patrice, and then pursuing her whenever she chooses to take advantage of the Raisin Bran I have provided at the feeder (being island-bound leaves me little alternative, I ran out of birdseed and have dipped into the camp's stores). This is the season. Patrick feeds and then huffs and puffs (great swelling of the feathers around his neck, strutting, and the displaying of his unfurled fan) in an amorous attempt to attract Patrice's attention.
|Patrick at the feeder, waiting, watching - where are you Patrice?|
Meanwhile, Patrice seems not quite ready to accept his advances. She takes flight whenever he approaches her, and scuttles off to a more distant location. The dance they do is wonderful to watch - often taking the better part of a 1/2 hour - he, making the moves, she, doing the rejection thing. In fact, Patrice retreats to the space behind the north side of the cabin, opposite to his southern exposure, where she can forage in peace - huddled down and picking among the food I have laid out for her - this isolation thing does interesting things to one's attentions, eh?
|I said, "Leave me alone!"|
I can't tell you how simultaneously gentle and dramatic the season change is up here - the mid-day warmths encourage the budding of leaves, the awakening of ground cover, and the complete melting of the snow, and with the thinner ice, the cold temperatures that are building more ice have created a cacophony of gentle thunderings of ice expansions that have raised pronounced ice ridges on the lake as large sheets come together and rise at their junctions - it's a beautiful, beautiful time of the year.
Happy Spring, all!