11/26/03 – Our phone is working again, at least enough to get
calls that come our way. The whole system should be fixed by
We had just one more lovely day of ice skating on Sawbill Lake
last Saturday before seven inches of snow fell. Carl and I skated
all the way to the north end of the lake, about five miles, one
way. On the large center section of Sawbill. the ice was a huge,
perfectly smooth black sheet.
Carl strides across a
flawless surface just before 7" of snow ended lake skating
for the year.
11/24/03 – Due to a bizarre combination of circumstances, all
three of our radio phone systems have been out of order for the
last few days. We hope to have them fixed soon, but in the
meantime you can reach us by email. Sorry for the inconvenience.
11/21/03 – After the recent warm spell, the temperature
dropped last night and froze the standing water on Sawbill Lake
in a continuous smooth surface. This is what we wait for. I put
the blades on just before sunset and headed out. Sawbill was
frozen about 4" thick in most places and about 2.5"
thick in some places. There is still open water around the tips
of the islands and points, so a skater has to stay alert. I
thought Alton would be fun to skate on too, but I received a
surprise when I walked across the portage. Alton is still
completely unfrozen! – Bill
Sawbill Lake as seen
from just in front of the portage to Alton (notice skate tracks
in foreground) and Alton Lake as seen from the end of the portage
11/19/03 – Being that Sawbill is at the end of the road, my
daily exercise often consists of running, somewhat monotonously,
up and down the Sawbill Trail. In spite of repeating the route
literally thousands of times, I always see something that makes
it interesting. On Monday, I was outbound at about quarter to
five. As I passed through the grove of mature aspen trees about a
mile and a half from Sawbill, I heard one of the trees crack
loudly during a brisk gust of wind. It particularly got my
attention because I was knocked cold by the falling top of an old
aspen about eight years ago. Although waking up in the middle of
the woods with a headache and no short term memory was an
interesting experience, I have no desire to repeat it. Nothing
fell this time though and I continued my run. On the way back, in
exactly the same spot, another gust of wind brought the
unmistakable sound of a tree breaking in half. As I looked up, I
saw about forty feet of aspen tree falling right at me. A few
quick steps took me out of harm’s way, but the tree came to rest
less than five feet from where I had been running when it started
its descent. Both of the dogs, who were running with me, lay down
and curled up into balls when the heard the crash. The rest of my
run was nearly effortless as the adrenaline worked its way
through my system. It is just a reminder that forest is beautiful
and benign, but ultimately has no feeling, one way or the other,
for we who pass through it. – Bill
11/18/03 – Long time Sawbill crew member and current
University of Chicago student, Ruthie Hansen, has published an
article in the hip new Chicago area on-line magazine Gapers Block.
She describes the preparation of "queso" which is
familiar to all Sawbill crew members from the last decade.
11/16/03 – It has been a truly quiet week at Sawbill. After
the cold snap that iced over the lakes (4.5��? thick as of
yesterday) we got more snow and the temperatures have warmed up.
We are disappointed that the lakes have not been suitable for ice
skating this season. Skating is one of the great joys of living
in the north woods in the rare years when the ice is thick and
smooth enough. Our friend and noted author, Peter Leschak, says
it well in his recent
essay in the Minnesota Volunteer Magazine.
Meanwhile, we have been brainstorming alternative methods of
frozen lake recreation. Carl Hansen, and his cousin, Will
Hutchinson, decided that Sawbill Lake would make a good driving
range to hone their golf swings. They painted a few balls dark
green, recruited Homer the retriever as an automatic ball return,
and hit the links.
Carl and Will showing
good form on a wide fairway.
While the boys were golfing, Cindy Hansen was hosting her
annual Christmas cookie baking marathon. Her sister, Sherrie
Hutchinson, niece Anna, nephew Will, joined the rest of the
Hansens in kicking out a few hundred cookies.
Anna reaches for just
one of the many decorated sugar cookies on the countertop.
11/7/03 – Sawbill Lake froze over yesterday, November 6th.
This is a fairly normal date for ice up. In recent years, we’ve
been averaging a later ice up date. We have about 5" of snow
standing on ground. The ice is not safe for travel yet, but it is
supposed to be below zero tonight, so that should firm things up
Sawbill Lake as seen
from the canoe landing at 1 pm on Friday, 11/7/03.