Monday, January 25, 2010

That darn lake!

Of course, one hates to complain about Lake
Superior, this beautiful sea on our doorstep. But she has this habit of moderating all our temperatures!

People sometimes ask if we have air conditioning here at WindCradle and we laugh! "Yes, and her name is Lake Superior." In the summer it's never hot with all that cool water right there.

But in the winter it's almost never super cold either. Often people will say when they hear I live north, "It must be ten or twenty degrees colder up there than here in the cities." But it's not. Most mornings it's warmer because of the big lake.

Take this morning for example: it's twenty degrees (just heard it on the radio) in the Twin Cities, but here it's 35. That means we're getting rain and they're getting snow.

Yesterday we drove out of the rain up the Gunflint Trail five miles to our little church on Maple Hill. We found ourselves in a major winter storm with blowing and drifting snow. We drove back down toward the lake into rain.

This is a problem? you may ask. Well it is if you like snow, and I do. If you pictured yourself in the drama of blizzards, it's a disappointment.

When I was a girl growing up in Western Washington State, we'd sometimes get snow and it would be so exciting and then the wind would turn and I'd wake up in the night to the sound of a Chinook wind, blowing warm air and turning our snow to slush.

Lake Superior is so big and so lovely and so moderating. Maybe it's about time for me to accept her moderating influence, to not need the drama of blizzards. At least I can drive ten minutes to fine snow...

Maybe that's a gift of aging: we can lose our need for drama, and enjoy moderation and everyday beauty around us.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hidden Places

The North Shore has many hidden places--deep caverns dug by rivers running from the higher places down to Lake Superior. Many of them are really only accessible in the winter, when the ice freezes and snow covers. I'd never been on the Onion River before last Thursday, when we went with some friends. Karen led the way, and Ellen (the reason for these great pix) brought up the photographic rear.

The walls of these caverns reach high above our heads; small frozen waterfalls come out of rock faces. The colors are subtle but beautiful, reds, browns in the rocks; the ice ranging from smokey colored to bluish green.

Perhaps because we can only hike these places in winter, or because they are invisible from the road or even from the Superior Hiking Trail--or maybe because they are so deep and mysterious--they seem like lovely mystery tucked away. So much of our spiritual life is like that--mystery hidden that we encounter from time to time and can only relish for a short time. Ephemeral is the word for something fleeting--as spring blossoms, fall color on trees, and hikes on rivers in canyons.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Yesterday, we went snow shoeing up the Devil Track River. Eighteen months ago there was a torrential rain storm which washed many trees down this river and down various creeks into this river. The bridge crossing Highway 61 was nearly pushed out by the debri.
So the trees that are left standing along the edge of the river are ones that have hung on. I was fascinated with their roots as I passed them, curling down around rocks and into any little crevasse they could find.
This root seems to have sought so hard for any
place to hold on and to find nourishment, straining and struggling over hard stone.
It's curved around so long past this rock that it slmost looks like it's is rock itself.
Our spiritual quest is like this: like our putting roots down seeking nourishment, stability
and meaning. We have something to learn from trees--as they send out roots seeking, always seeking.
Ibelieve that there is something in each of us that longs for meaning and depth, that we, despite the ways we may have used distractions, are seeking, always seeking God.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Walking on water

One of the best parts of winter here is the hiking we can do on rivers and creeks. In the summer these would be almost impassable, but with a layer of ice and snow, they become paths going through steep, rocky cliffs.

Suzanne's son Steve is visiting from California
and so we hiked today on deer trails through the woods. When we got to Crow Creek we hiked up it. At first there were some other tracks but then there were only animal tracks and ours. It felt like maybe we were the first people to go there.

Some places had very steep sides and others lots of trees and moss. We could see blue sky above, but during the winter the sun never hits these deep places.
Lucy the dog loves hiking up the river. When we can hear the water bubbling under the ice, she sometimes sniffs around looking for it.

This feels like a winter gift--surprises folded into the landscape, smooth ways where there were heaps of rocks and brush.
Here is a water fall that seems to have frozen almost instantly.
What gift this is--walking on water--exploring God's good earth.