September is here. After the busiest August ever, we are all ready to catch our breath. Our occupancy rate was 92% so there were not a lot of empty cabins during the month. High room counts are both a blessing and a curse. The housekeepers always seemed to have lots of do. Luckily everyone from dock boys to outfitters to gardeners helped them. Head housekeeper Jesse did a great job keeping them all organized. At the end the money is nice but you wonder if you will live through it. Monday night was one of the first nights during the month that Bruce and I did not go back to the lodge after dinner. We just sat.
As fall comes everyone is seeing more animals on the trail. Many of them do not seem to be in their normal habitat. Dave at the front desk has seen a lynx as he drives to work for three mornings is a row. Wife Bonnie says take a picture but Dave says it is too dark that early in the morning. Down at the dock we have had a blue heron hanging around the past couple of days. Neither Bruce nor I can recall ever having one here. They are fun to watch. Bruce and I also saw a wolf down by the South Brule bridge as we drove to Duluth early one morning.
This is also the time of year when we finish up some of the summer activities. As the kids go back to school, Joey’s fishing fun will end. Next Sunday is the last barbeque for the summer. As soon as it gets a little cooler pizza Tuesdays will stop. In fact as it cools down, fewer and fewer people will be eating on the patio. Outside eating is a blessing for only a couple months of the year in northern Minnesota. The standup paddle boards and small kayaks will get put away as the lake gets colder. Berry picking is basically over. We did not have a lot of berries this summer. I never figure out why but am grateful for those that we do get to pick.
Speaking of picking, my garden is exploding. Green beans seem to be the big winners this year. The trellises they are growing on are almost ten feet tall. Blue Lake seems to be the kind that grows best for me. Also my onions and potatoes are producing huge crops. I will be giving stuff away just to use it all. It takes a long time for two people to eat the potatoes from an 8 foot square bed of them. Lettuce is also hanging in. The lodge is using lots and lots of my parsley. I made some pesto from the basil crop. That will taste good during the winter.
The other thing that we are starting to see is the color change. Yellows are appearing in the shoulder shrubs. The maples are starting to turn red. That is not a big deal because we don’t have a lot of them. Next week the poplar and birch will start to turn. Then everything brightens up.
Schools are staring and we don’t have as many children here. Our big family are giving way to couples for the fall season. Cabins are all full but not with as many people. It is a little relaxing to slow down a bit. We all need the break. The weather is a little cooler which also helps.
I thought you might enjoy the story of our totem pole in the lodge. It is one of those things that Bruce’s parents picked up to decorate the grounds and then we moved it inside. So here it is:
This really ought to be called the “Wildwood Lodge Totem Pole.” Before most of us were around thee used to be a resort on the west end of Seagull Lake called Wildwood Lodge. It was started in 1931 by Andy and Sue Mayo. They built the resort into a fine business.
In December of 1948, the folks on the Gunflint Trial decided to put out a tabloid called “Call of the Trail.” It was four pages long and had stories about the various resorts and people living on the Gunflint trail at the time. The section devoted to Seagull Lake contained the following article:
“Wildwood Lodge is situated down at the west end of Sea Gull Lake about six miles by water from the Landing. Last year the Mayos had a young man working for them who had a distinctive artistic frame of mind. He worked during his spare hours on a full sized totem pole. Completed it now is some twenty feet high, a mass of grotesque figures in brilliant colors and topped by a large carved bird with outstretched wings. On each wing is painted a large door key. The answer we like. In the midst of our winter, this bird sits up there on his lofty perch and calls out, “KEY – KEY-KEYRYST IT’S COLD.”
In the early 1950’s Andy and Sue decided that they had had enough of running a resort. Rather than sell the property they just stopped doing business. After continuing to live at the resort for several more years, the Mayos sold to the Isaak Walton League in what would later become an expansion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Since the Izaak Walton League bought only the land, the Mayos sold the contents and buildings separately. Bob and Marge Cushman bought the main lodge, disassembled it, towed it down the lake and reassembled it for their main lodge at Sea Island Resort. Bruce remembers going out to Wildwood by boat with his parents during the contents sale. On a whim, Bill and Justine bought the totem pole.
The Kerfoots transported the totem pole by boat across Seagull Lake and then down to Gunflint. After giving it a fresh coat of paint, the totem pole was erected between the trading post building and the parking lot. Today that would be in the southwest corner of the parking lot. A small flower garden filled with peonies and iris was right in front of it. Until the trading post building was replaced in 2001, that totem pole was the center post of many pictures taken by guests and visitors.
After almost 60 years of life and numerous paintings, our grand old totem pole has been retired to an easier life. The harsh winter winds and summer rain are too much for her now. She got a new coat of paint and moved into the warm climate in the main lodg where we think she still has many years of life.