West End News: June 14

Western painted turtle
Western painted turtle

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This is the time of year when turtles appear all over the back roads in the West End. Pretty much anywhere that a road goes near a lake, stream or swamp, you will see numerous turtles crossing the road or perched along the shoulders. These are females who are taking advantage of the soft, sun-warmed gravel on the roadside to lay their eggs in holes they dig with their back feet. Most of the turtles you see are western painted turtles, but every once in awhile you can see a huge snapping turtle.

Every year I see a few turtles that have been hit by cars, which always makes me wonder why? Did the turtle dart out in front of the car? I can just hear the driver now, "It came out of nowhere. Really, the turtle hit me." It's frightening to think that someone could be so inattentive in their driving as to not see a turtle on the road. I simple can't believe that anyone would be so mean as to hit a turtle on purpose.

Back in the early 1960's a crew member at the old Sawbill Lodge, during a slow day at work, took a can of white paint that was kept in the boathouse for lettering numbers on boats, and painted the name of each person working at the lodge that year in small, neat letters along the edge of the shells of half a dozen turtles. For years, we would see turtles named Betty, Linda, Buck or Dusty sunning themselves on logs during the summer. Eventually, we didn't see them anymore and I had pretty much forgotten about it, until 1990 when the legendary Rainbow Gathering was held near Barker Lake here in the West End. The Rainbow folks had put a large sign on the beginning of the Sawbill Trail that read: "You cannot reach the Rainbow gathering by traveling on this road." In spite of the sign, we had several groups that wandered into Sawbill, lost and looking for the gathering. One cheerful group, driving a VW van, arrived at our store wondering where the Rainbow Gathering was. After giving them directions, I asked them if they hadn't seen the warning sign when they turned up the Sawbill Trail. The driver responded by saying that he had seen the sign and read it to his passengers, who happily told him to ignore it and keep driving. Then he mentioned that they were all glad about being lost because they had seen a turtle crossing the road near Sawbill Creek and had decided to stop and help it to safety. "And," he said, "the turtle's name was Dusty! It was painted right on his shell!" This was roughly 30 years after the turtle had been labeled by the bored lodge worker. The Rainbow People were delighted that the cosmos had directed them to become acquainted with Dusty the turtle. I shouldn't have been too surprised, as Wikipedia informs me that western painted turtles can reach sexual maturity by the age of 6 and can live up to 55 years in the wild.

Congratulations to Silver Bay entrepreneurs Lyn Singleton and Lisa Larsen who have opened a new bakery in Beaver Bay. It's called the Honey Bee Bakery and is located in the Beaver Bay community building. The products include a variety of pastries and breads, along with sandwiches, soups and coffee. I've heard very positive feedback on the pasties. Lyn gets up in the middle of the night and does the baking, while Lisa, her daughter-in-law, handles the books. Local businesses are the life blood of our economy, so be sure to show your support to this wonderful new enterprise. Even if you don't want a fresh, warm, sticky, sweet caramel roll, force yourself to stop at the Honey Bee Bakery and have one.

It's not too early to reserve your spot for the eighth annual Lundie Home tour sponsored by the Schroeder Historical Society. This year the tour is Saturday, July 14th. It will feature several homes and cabins in the West End that were designed by the famous architect Edwin Lundie. This year, some additional homes will be toured that were designed by author, architect and "Cabinologist" Dale Mulfinger. Mulfinger will be present on the tour and will be giving a presentation that day at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder. As always, the tour will be followed by the popular "dinner on the ledge rock" with live music and beverages. There is a suggested donation for the tour and reservations are required, so contact Suzanne at the Cross River Heritage Center, 663-7706, for more details. Dale Mulfinger's presentation, however, is free and open to the public.

Returning to the subject of turtles for a moment: did you know that if you are a Minnesota resident under the age of 18, that you can take, possess, rent or sell up to 25 turtles for use in a non-profit turtle race?  But, the western painted turtles that you take, possess, rent or sell for use in a non-profit turtle race must have a longitudinal shell length of more than four inches. It's the law.


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