Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sad Doings this Morning

The hunters were out in force at Big Island this morning as the duck season resumed (don't think the goose season ever ended).  There were three blinds set up and lots of gun fire.  One of the boats had a dog to boot.

The commotion seemed to have spooked a pair of Lake Manitou's swimming deer.  We saw a buck leave the island in the lead followed by a doe or fawn--couldn't be sure.  I was amazed that they took on the near-freezing water of the lake--they must have been terrified.

As they reached the mid-way point heading for Wolf Point, the second deer began to lose speed and dropped back from the buck.  The buck turned toward the laggard deer for a brief time, and then turned for the mainland again.  The following deer struck us as losing steam for sure, but continued gamely on.

Unfortunately, the hunters were breaking camp at this time and a hunter in one of the boats saw the buck.  He circled the buck once in his boat (with dog in front), probably out of curiosity to see this large thing in the water.  I don't think he was aware that he intervened in the path of the following deer.  At that point I think she gave up the fight, as she disappeared under the water never to be seen again.  The buck soldiered on toward the point, and the hunter to his credit continued on his way as well.  The buck made it to shore--but I can't imagine him surviving--soaking wet and exhausted on a twenty-five degree day.

Ask any farmer in the area, and they will tell you that we have way too many deer.  Still--it is sad to see them go out this way.

Friday, December 21, 2012

First Snowfall

A good day for a first snow.  It is, after all, the shortest day of the year and the first day of Winter.  It may well be around for a white Christmas--it depends upon the Swans.  I still feel that ice on the lake is reliably predicted by the presence of the Mute Swans in the water at Big Island.  So far they have just done a fly by.  I'll keep you "posted."

The bell in the foreground, by the way, was used to respond to the bell on the shore--letting visitors know that we heard them--and that we would send a boat over.  Amazing the changes that cell phones have made to our daily lives--also amazing how quickly this all happened.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


We've had a couple of unseasonably warm days.  The lake has been a mill pond--perfect for rowing to shore.  The days were each capped by a beautiful sunset.  Here is the one that came today.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Now I Get It

I guess I'm a pretty slow study.  Until a few years ago we used the island as a summer home and we were always in California for Christmas.  When we came here for the winter months, I was puzzled by the timing of the Christmas lights.  In California people always put them up around mid-December.  Here, it is more like the first day of December.  Last winter, as I was turning blue from the cold and dragging out the outdoor lights in mid-December the "light" dawned.  It's a heck of a lot milder for decorating at the end of November!  So here we are.  Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Foggy Morning

We looked out the window today to find these two fishermen seemingly suspended in mid air.  The lawn and the lake were the exact shade of foggy gray.  The sun came out just before the twilight, and it looks like Thanksgiving is shaping up to be a good day.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Favorite for 2012

The favorite tree has traditionally been the little wild cherry off the kitchen deck.  Got to say it was out shone this year by the shag bark hickory by the boat ramp.  The color on the island has been more subdued this year--but I'm thinking that may just be the bout of rainy weather we just got through.  I think all the bright colors just came and went as the rains fell.  Here is a sampling of what's left.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A New Top for Treasure Island

As you can see from prior posts, we are in need of a new roof--courtesy of a violent storm. "T'is an ill wind that blows no good," is the saying, and it is true here.  We have replacement insurance courtesy of Safeco and Smith Sawyer, so we are installing a new roof--and we only had a few years left on the old one.  Here are some pictures.  Shad Sibert is hard at work and Rochester Boat Company is moving material on and off.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Turtle Time

The lady of the house encountered this little fellow walking down the front walk as big as you please--just as the sun was setting.  The turtles emerge from Lake Manitou every spring and many make their way to Treasure Island, where the ground is nice and high and the digging is easy.  As Fall approaches, many--but not all--of the eggs hatch.  The little ones head back to the lake where they bury themselves for the long sleep as winter descends.  Another group of spring eggs simply stay unhatched until the following spring. 

This little guy is a snapper, and he will have many adventures till winter sets in.  If he can avoid the big fish, and the birds, he can live a very long time and grow to a good size.  The mature turtles have few enemies here. Automobiles are a big problem, as so many of the females choose to cross the street to lay their eggs.  Another problem we have seen lies with the many tire casings strewn about the lake bottom--broken loose from piers where they served as boat bumpers.  We have seen two turtles that were so big that their shells filled the interior space of the casings.  The turtles were able to wiggle in, but could not escape the flanges afterwards and drowned in the lake.  Life in the wild.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Reds Rule

As summer winds to an end, we find the Treasure Island flowers giving us a forecast of the Fall color to come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Who Needs Stonehenge?

I can always tell when we're at the end of August.  The newer house on the shore lights up like a lighthouse, reflecting the setting sun behind Treasure Island.  Stereo sunsets!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Around Lake Manitou

I'll see if I can get this link to work.  It is for the new Lake Manitou calendar.  You will find our cottage in the snow scene.  The Lake Manitou Association has been a very positive force for the lake--thanks to tireless work among the officers, board, and volunteers.!i=2029452398&k=vjXrCLF

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Back in Action

Hard to believe, but we're back.  The island looks whole again.  We do have a patch of tarp on the highest roof.  We need to find a good time to re-roof up there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

If you look just below, you can see how the house looked from the front.  Nature, courtesy of an 80 mph blast, has done some remodeling.  The best thing about living in a small town in mid-America--people really pull together at times like these.  Shad Sibert was out within one hour of the storm to get tarp over the hole in the roof.  Randy Overmyer was out shortly after, and will have his tree crews on site by 7 am tomorrow.  I'm told we'll be ready to go by Sunday.  Hard to believe, as we look like a war zone today.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pictures from Last Week's Guests

We enjoyed having three generations on the island last week.  George the senior sent along some pictures.  I thought I'd share them with all of you--as I don't get a chance to take many pictures of the island during the rental season.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Show Time

Well, the rental season is upon us.  Time to spruce the island up for summer.  The point deck was restored to its former glory over the winter.  The kitchen deck just took a new coat of stain after the power washing.  Alice's deck is coming up.  The chairs on the Alice deck are being painted in primary colors this year--who says we're set in our ways!  The fence separating the domestic north of the island from the wild south has been painted a sparkling white.  The main pier has been re-decked and carpeted. The crew is coming in this morning to roll the pier in the lake. Nothing like a carpeted pier for bare feet.  Aluminum decking is pretty--but it's hot.  The hot tub is all plumbed--just needs cleaned and filled.  Cookie is busy with the planting.  Lots of flowers of course.  Busy times around here.  We like our visitors to enjoy the surround as much as we do.

Friday, April 27, 2012

First Family Outing

Well, Bert & Edie have taken the kids for a walk on land for the first time.

The day of the hatch, they went immediately to the lake in conditions that were pretty daunting. The wind was screaming in from the north.  We had a time with the waves in our little rowboat. I can't imagine what a brand new gosling would make of the conditions! 
We now have just five little ones.  One was lost to the weather or predators.  Such is life in the outdoors.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Edie's Back!

We have the first baby goslings of the season--a week earlier than last year.  I'm not sure Bert is even aware of the hatch. As I write this, he is just paddling around the corner.  So far we have five very active babies, and at least one egg to go.  I don't like to get too close.  I'm afraid Edie might jump to her feet and squish someone.  Edie is looking much more alert now.  A trance seems to come over her when she is nesting.  Bert and Edie have a challenge ahead, as it is supposed to get to freezing tonight. 

The goslings like to poke their heads out into the sun, and then run back under momma's wing like it was a big revolving door.  They're very adept at using their heads to lever their way into the warmth. 

I've included a picture with a huge amount of enlargement.  Hope the pixels don't break up.  I'll be staying on Alice's deck for pictures until Edie trots the little ones out into the open.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goldeneye are Back

These are some great-looking ducks. Every year they pass through Manitou--spending a few weeks at the lake. They are extremely shy, and easily spooked. When they fly off, they make a high trilling sound in time with their beating wings--one of the great sounds of winter. We have around a dozen bouncing in the water around the front of the island. They are diving frequently, so there's food of some kind in the freezing water.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Cold but pretty. Honeymoon Island Right, and Big Island Left

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Love in Bloom?

I looked out the window toward the Elks yesterday to find two eagles on the ice! They couldn't have been more than fifty yards from the sea wall. I grabbed my peanut camera and found they translated to two specs. These little cameras have a perpetual wide angle lens that isn't worth a darn when it comes to birds. In my desperation, I held the camera to my binocular lens and the two kind of canceled each other out. Voila--a picture--of sorts-of the eagles.

I think they may be an item--as they took to grooming each other after the photo was taken.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

If You Break an Egg....

OK. Sometimes I get my old sayings pretty scrambled--but I think one goes..."If you break an egg, then go make an omelet."

Along those lines. We find ourselves iced in today. The ice can't quite reliably hold our weight. So--if you can't go ashore...make a snow man!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Ice

For a time, we were able to keep a passage open to the shore. Now it's so many ice cubes.

Fissures form as the ice pack attempts to make its way to the dam. Treasure Island serves as an obstacle, so the pack cracks.

The ice is problematic this year. The last two winters were very bitter, but they were great when it came to walking ashore. The refrigerator door slammed weeks before Christmas and we were pedestrians until April.

This year, we have the variability of a mild winter. We have been chopping our way through with the boat. Now we have to hold a bit, hoping to get a bit more ice for walking. I threw the mushroom anchor on the ice pack--and it bounced! Unfortunately, I weigh a bit more than an anchor, so we have to wait. Of course, rain is forecast for this evening. Back to open water?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Eagle Strikes

Lots of action for what started as a clear sunrise to a peaceful winter's day. It was the great clamor that alerted my wife to this morning's events. She looked toward the Elks from the island to see--and hear--a great cloud of crows hovering over a black area of ice. As she pulled her binoculars for a closer look--up from the multitude rose a Bald Eagle with the remains of a crow--feathers still flying from the carcass. The crows followed for a ways--but kept a respectful distance. The eagle took his position in his favorite tree on the point near White Creek, complete with the remains of the crow, and the other crows retreated to our point deck tree to continue their noisy confab.
Then, after a short time, they all flew to the feathered pile on the ice where the deed was done. Here they formed a circle around the feathers--not picking at them--but as if in solemn observance they formed groups of four to six and began a long period of clucking. After a time, they all dispersed, and we have reclaimed our quiet winter's morning.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Ice is Here

Swans on the way to Big Island.

On the way back to Rain Creek.

Have you ever left your home for a long trip, or closed it for the Winter? If you do like I do, the last thing before you leave you'll take a last tour of all the rooms.

Sometimes I think the swans are the same. They almost never venture from the South Shore and Rain Creek--save for just before the lake ices over. At that time they take a tour of the "rooms" at Big Island and return. The last two winters they made their tour precisely one day before the lake froze solid. This time around they made the trip a couple of days early. Today, I held a 1/4 inch chunk of the lake's surface in my hand. However, I think we will be back to open water by day's end. I wonder if they'll be back?

The Coots are also confused by the sudden freeze. They have congregated on our shore side lot. I almost never see them out of the water--but the sudden icing left them with no other option.

If you look closely around here in winter--you will never find a dull moment.