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West End News: May 31

The Gordon family on Amicus II.
The Gordon family on Amicus II.

The Schroeder Historical Society sponsoring a lumberjack dinner at their annual meeting on Saturday, June 9th, starting at 5 p.m. at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder. The menu will include lumberjack stew and biscuits. I'm surprised that beans aren't on the menu as they were a famous addition to the cuisine in the old logging camps. The lumberjacks used to call them "blanket lifters." Another famous feature of logging camp meals was a long standing tradition that no talking was allowed once the food was served. Lumberjacks that were cutting, skidding and hauling big timber in the deepest part of the winter season were very serious about their food - so serious that they couldn't be slowed down for conversation. You could actually be fined for speaking during a meal. I’m confident that chatting with your neighbors will be perfectly alright at the upcoming lumberjack dinner re-enactment.

Joyce Krueger will provide old time piano music and Forest Service Naturalist Steve Robertson is presenting an entertaining program. He has promised that it won't be a lecture and it won't be boring, so you'll have to attend to see what he does. The lumberjack dinner is open to all and the cost is just a small free will offering. Contact Suzanne at the Cross River Heritage Center for details.

For a number of years, a group of local quilters have been meeting at the Schroeder Town Hall to work on quilts, share knowledge and socialize. Through the quilting, the West End group made contact with a group of quilters in Ostersund, Sweden which led to the group traveling to Sweden for a visit a couple of years back. Now, our local quilters will be hosting a delegation of the Swedish quilters in Schroeder very soon. Fifteen Swedish quilters are coming and they have activities planned in Duluth and Thunder Bay too. Local quilters Beth Blank, Nancy Hansen, Orlean Fischer and Linda Lamb have quilts on display at the Cross River Heritage Center, so you can look for them when you are there for the lumberjack dinner.

I want to acknowledge the recent passing of musician Doc Watson, a truly original American treasure. Doc was best known as a guitar player and singer, but could play a mean old time banjo too. He is often called a folk musician - and he was well versed in the Appalachian traditions that he grew up with - but he was really just a great musician, able to play comfortably in nearly every style of American music. He came to national attention in 1963 at the Newport Folk Festival and remained popular and active right up until his death this week. Doc had a quality to his guitar playing and singing that only comes along once in a great while. Although his technique was nearly perfect, it was the genuine humanity and a sense of genuine connection with his art that made him special. Local musician Bump Blomberg saw Doc at what must have been his last public performance just a few weeks ago in North Carolina. My condolences to the Watson family and the vast family of musicians that Doc mentored and influenced over the years. Although he will be sorely missed, his art will live on in future generations. He was 89 years old.

I'm pleased to see that my friend, Katya Gordon, from Two Harbors, has written and published a book about her experiences sailing with her husband Mark and two young daughters, Lamar and Cedar. I met the Gordons in 2008 when they had just returned from a cruise from Knife River to the Bahamas and back. Before I knew about the sailing trip, I noticed how capable and self-possessed their two little girls were, even though they were only 3 and 5 years old at the time. When I found out that they had lived a large portion of their young lives on a traveling sailboat, I realized that living in a large house in Two Harbors was a piece of cake for them. I see that Katya has been doing author signings in Two Harbors and Silver Bay, so I assume she'll be coming up to do one in Cook County soon. The Gordon's boat, the steel hulled cutter Amicus II, is a sister vessel to the Hjordis, which is based at North House Folk School in Grand Marais.

Fishing dropped off considerably during the storms over the Memorial Day weekend, but seems to be bouncing back nicely now. Lake trout are still being caught easily and the walleyes and bass have been generally cooperative as well. We haven't seen any mayfly hatch yet here at Sawbill, but expect that we will soon. The backflies and mosquitoes have been out for a couple of weeks, but the wild weather has kept the population small and mostly non-biting. With the water so high now, it's my guess that they will get quite a bit worse in the next week as the weather warms up a bit. It's all part of the fun here in the West End.