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BWCA & Quetico Canoe Outfitting and Wilderness Resort on Minnesota's Gunflint Trail
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Starry, Starry Night, Or the Art of Looking Up

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 7:51am

Sometimes I forget to look up.

It’s so easy to spend the days in a whirlwind of phone calls, orders, and emails that when the sun goes down, I forget that Mother Nature’s just getting ready for another light show. Sure, I feel a little pang when I see those brilliant northern lights photos on my Facebook wall the night after a particularly stellar show, but in general, even the most promising Aurora Borealis forecast isn’t enough to pull me from my warm, cozy bed at 3 in the morning. In fact, my dad’s fond of telling the story of when, back in 1995, he woke me up at 4 a.m. one winter morning to check out the Comet Hyukatake blazing brilliantly over our backyard. I stumbled downstairs after him, stood at the back door for a second or two to take in the comet, and with a grunt, I bolted back upstairs to reacquaint myself with the bed covers.

 But just because I keep my midnight star gazing to a minimum, that doesn’t mean I’m apathetic to the night sky. I love watching constellations like Orion march across the sky each winter and I’ve even been known to set my alarm for some ungodly hour to catch the Persieds meteorite showers. It’s just, like most people, I need a little prompting to look up. 

When a group of college friends came up this past weekend, the professional photographer in the group was excited by the Aurora Borealis forecast and headed out on the Tuscarora dock to see if she could spot any color on the northern horizon. Although there wasn’t much northern lights activity when she was out, the night time photos she did snap reminded me of all the wonderment that passes us by each night. It’s so special to make our home in a place where the darkness is thick and the stars aren’t muted by outdoor lights. Sometimes, on a winter evening, I just like to stare up into the Milky Way, remembering that our view of the night sky isn’t that dissimilar from the ancient Greeks who were out there naming the constellations all those thousands of years ago. There’s something both grounding and magical to be found in the stars.

If you find yourselves in our neck of the woods, don’t forget to take a moment to step outside the cabin or tent some night and look up. It’s one heck of a show.

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Mon, 06/22/2015 - 5:14pm

Unless we have an unusually early spring, the moccasin flowers bloom right around Father’s Day each year along the Gunflint Trail. This year, the moccasin flowers bloomed right on schedule at Tuscarora Lodge. We spotted this beauty on the first stretch of the little trail across the creek from Cabin 2. The bunchberry grow thick beside this path and there’s plenty of other wildflower treasures tucked in if you look close enough – starflower, false lily of the valley, perhaps even some northern mountain cranberry plants and definitely, lots of little green blueberries.

Other things have been right on schedule at Tuscarora too. The outfitters keep busy getting groups of all sizes (including our annual group of 48 wonderful middle schoolers) ready for the woods, while the housekeepers whip up French toast breakfast most morning and keep the place looking great as the paddlers and cabin guests come and go.

It seems only natural that the days are at their longest while we get into the summer swing of things and there seems to be endless possibilities for activities and fun. On the Friday, most of the staff went into town to take part in some the solstice/wooden boat show festivities at North House Folk School, including the contra dance. There’s so much summer fun on the horizon: a 5th anniversary dinner celebration put on by the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and the annual Gunflint Lake Canoe Races on July 15, just to name a couple options. Perhaps we’ll see you in our neck of the woods sometime soon for your own summer fun.

It always seems like time moves so quickly after summer solstice. Dusk creeps in a little sooner each passing evening. Sometimes it seems as if we blink and suddenly it’s late August.

That’s why I like to keep my eyes to ground and watch for the wildflowers popping up right on schedule. It keeps the passage of time in perspective. Each bloom (big or small), along with everything else, has its place and season. It’s our job to notice those seasons and schedules as they pass us by and to take a moment to truly appreciate and enjoy each season’s nuances and beauty. Happy Summer!

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