Sunday, August 31, 2008


Perhaps an earlier sign of Fall than turning leaves--we now have new turtles on Treasure Island. They lay their eggs in the Spring, and the eggs hatch either in the Fall or in the following Spring--depending upon some mysterious inner clock or outer influence that I don't understand, if anybody does.

We put a screen over the turtle clutches that we can find, so that the critters can't dig the eggs up. Some mommas go to great care to disguise the nests, others just want to be on their way.

Here's to the little ones!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It Came on Cat's Feet

A rare foggy day on Treasure Island.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kayaking up Rain Creek

When we came to the island over a decade ago, you almost never saw a kayak or canoe on the lake. This could be a habit brought over from the old days when the lake was all fishing shacks, and anyone with an oar in the hand was assumed not to be able to afford a motor! Now of course, times are changing, and lots of folks are appreciating the pleasures of rowing on Manitou.

The best of it comes when kayaking Rain Creek. This creek, which feeds Manitou from the South, has its own delta just short of the lake, which almost rules out anything with more than three inches draft.

Now it's time to get into the laws of physics a bit. Kayaks are displacement hulls--they don't plane on top of the lake, but part the water. While paddling hard will, for a short time, increase your speed through the water, there comes a point where the laws of physics kick in and your boat will, with added force and speed, start to sink lower and lower. With each inch of drop, you pick up more wetted surface area, more drag, until you become a submarine (that's why sailors get really nervous when a speed boat offers them a tow). The moral of this story is simply that kayaking was meant to be enjoyed with a light touch on the oars. If you want a real workout, you can get it--but you won't go that much faster! The only other thing to remember is to keep your upper body over the boat (same as on a bike), and the joys of running up Rain Creek can be yours.

First you need to paddle along the east shore of Manitou heading south. Keep going until you see the delta formed by Rain Creek. You will find the Burton place boat house on your left, and then, just past the Burton house, you will see the Japanese sculpture placed by the Burtons for the wedding of their daughter, Linda (the senior Burton's are no longer with us, and the torch is passed to a new owner). About midway between the boat house and the arch, on the opposite side of the delta, you will find the mouth of Rain Creek. You have to watch the water carefully, looking for the clear areas between the lilly pads, as this is where the water is deep enough to cross, and begin your journey on the creek.

As you move up the creek, you will find a fork next to the wooden braces of an abandoned duck blind. A beaver lodge is also at this junction, but it appears to be abandoned as well. Take the left fork, and move on up until you get to a lagoon solid with lily pads. Here, you need to bear right while putting a fair amount of effort on the oars to pass through.

From this point, you should have a nice journey upstream, the distance you can travel being dependent on the height of the water. The beaver have dropped a lot of logs over the stream, and it takes a lot of rain to move the water level high enough so you can pass over them. I made it all the way to the dam at Millark a few years ago, but it took torrential rains and the paddle back was a bit hair-raising, as the current was furious and it would try to throw you into barbed wire fencing as the stream was well over its banks. Still, it was a lot of satisfaction to hear the roar of the water over the dam spillway and to know that you'd done the entire length of the river.

See you on the water!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Simple Things

As with all things--you will find that on Treasure Island, it is the simple things that bring you joy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Favorite Spots

As you live here, you will develop a routine of favorite things--and favorite spots. For me, it's a cold drink on the point at 4pm, relaxing in the shade and light breeze, taking in all the craziness that is the lake in late afternoon. Knee boarders, wake boarders, skiers, fishermen, tubers, in pontoons, deck boats, ski boats, bass boats--you name it. Since we are on the deepest part of the lake, the action is off our door step.

Next stop for me is Alice's deck at sunset. Relaxed in an Adirondack chair listening to the birds settle in to the wild half of the island at night. On this deck, nothing intrudes and nature rules.

For my bride--whose clock is a bit more tuned to the early morning--her favorite perch is the bench on the kitchen deck, wrapped in a blanket at early light, with her ever ready cup of coffee and the squirrels dancing around her.

Next best for C is the seawall itself. Armed with her trusty fishing pole at sunset--knowing that this is the day she'll get the biggest yet.

As the sun moves through the day, there is a spot for everyone. On a rainy day the pontoon in its lift serves as a front deck--the vinyl seats being the first to dry. Each spot catches the breeze or the sun and shade differently, each spot offers different treats to the eye.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Shore Side and the Bell Towers

It's wonderful to have an island. It's also wonderful to have a spot on shore where you can park a car, get your mail, and drop your trash. Here are some pictures of the shoreside--18' between two homes that have been deeded to the island since the 1920's. The pier is newly decked and carpeted and will accommodate a work boat and a pontoon or ski boat at the same time. The tower with the wisteria was the old bell tower. Before the age of cell phones, a visitor would ring the railroad bell. The bell tower at the house would then ring back to let the visitor know that a boat was being sent.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Bees Knees?

Many things puzzle me, as I have no formal training re. the natural world. For instance--why do honey bees go ape over yellow sumac, but ignore red sumac?

The Gardens Grow!

Now that we've escorted the four ground hogs off the island (see the earlier post for pix), we actually have more than a collection of stubs in the garden. In the frantic growing season of a Midwestern summer, plants can come back from anything!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bob's Bug Blog

So you have a grandchild or child that needs some bugs for biology? You've come to the right place. Most of them are beautiful, some might sting, but very few bite. The last time we had to fog for mosquito's was five years ago.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Wedding -- Magic in the Night

The old, old timers speak in hushed tones of the night that both Dorsey big bands played on the same night on Lake Manitou. Back in the days of the lake as a resort destination for Chicago--back before Florida took over. The old hotels are gone, first replaced by fishing shacks and now evolving into grand homes.

Last night, one of those grand homes had a wedding that will be remembered for a very long time--perhaps to be spoken of by old timers in hushed tones.

I remember the bride (don't know her name) as a girl water skiing on the lake with her brothers. Now she's grown, in what seems to be the flash of an eye she is this day a married woman.

I saw the tent going up a few days ago. Seven poles of white fabric in a size that would accommodate a circus show. They are a nice family, and we were all rooting for good weather--an outdoor wedding in Indiana is always iffy. The wedding was scheduled for evening, and I watched the gathering storm. Great dark clouds laced by lightning and gusts of wind. As our bride made her march--the storm brought darkness and a torrent of rain ensued. It was not a bad thing--but just added drama to a memorable occasion. As the ceremony closed the storm went on its way, and the tent did its job to keep all gathered cozy.

I was pleased to see no harm come to this couple on their special day. Then I watched a great fleet of boats approaching the island--to move to the South near the grand home. It turns out that word had spread that there would be fire works. People who like lakes love two things above all else in the evening--bands and fireworks! Here we had both!

Sure enough--a display of rockets and mortars ensued that has never been seen before near this lake, and will never be seen again. The sky filled with barrage's of stars, white bursts that looked like horizon to horizon dandelions in the night, reds, and blues, and booms that reverberated to echo endlessly. Great showers of golden sparks and this incredible moment when up in the sky went a number of red hearts--how did they do that! Great cheers came from the multitudes. I wish I could show you pictures, but I was transfixed.

I will forever remember this night--with a 3/4 moon on the right, and on the left the receding clouds from the storm aglow with distant lightning, and that magnificent display.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


It must be August, as the hibiscus are back in all their glory. They are on the wild half of the island, and we assume they must have been introduced--but we have no idea when. With a little telephoto magic, we have the wild half superimposed against a new row of large homes on the shore.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Island Whimsey

What happens when you combine an antique dealer of thirty year's experience with a Treasure Island cottage? See for yourself! You can see C's wonderful examples of folk art and antiques at the San Anselmo Country Store in California to purchase, or on Treasure Island to smile at.