Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Even a Blind Pig Sometimes Finds a Truffle

International Falls, Minesota
Voyageur National Park, Minnesota/Ontario Border

We drove across the Mississippi River yesterday. It was very small here on the Canadian border, almost a stream. It’s interesting to think that one could start here and canoe down to New Orleans. Someday, I’d like to do a long canoe trip. The Yukon and the Mackenzie have always been appealing.

I’ve discovered damselflies. They seem to be attached to the RV in great numbers. They are an order of the order Odaonata, which also includes dragonflies. Apparently there are 5,000 known members of the order. I had no idea that dragonflies had so many close relatives. This is a beautiful land of lakes and deciduous and evergreen forests. The rocks are part of the 2.5 billion year old "Canadian shield": hard granite rubbed low and round by millions of tons and eons of glaciers.

The news coming out of British Columbia on the west coast is very strange. Feet clad in running shoes have been washing up on the beach. So far there are five right feet and one left foot. The left foot doesn’t match any of the right feet. The femurs seen to have been severed by a power tool.

We had a National Park boat trip lined up today. It was 20 miles though forest islands to the Kettle Falls Hotel. There was a two hour break for lunch at the old hotel, twenty miles from the nearest road. I took a 1,510 page copy of Norman Mailer’s “Harlot’s Ghost” with me and made a little progress on it after lunch. Mrs. Phred had a hardcover Tony Hillerman’s: “Talking God”. I read “Harlot’s Ghost” when it came out in 1991, but my advanced age permits me to re-enjoy a good book with no recollection after a few years pass.

The Voyageurs used to hump nearly two tons of beaver pelts in big canoes from the northwest over this natural string of lakes and rivers that extends from here and far westward though the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.. The park sets aside 56 miles of the old waterway that marks the border between Canada and the US. The treaty of 1783, at the end of the Revolutionary War, treated this water communications highway as a natural dividing line between the two countries.

The boat ride up and back was guided by a young bearded .ranger. I think his name was Brendan or something else that sounds Irish and starts with a “B”. He did a great job, pointing out bald eagles, double breasted cormorants, white pelicans and loons.

Strangely, white pelicans don’t dive into the water after fish like the brown ones in Florida. They lack air shock absorbers under the skin so they get in a line of twenty or more and chase the fish up onto the beach. I really like this pictute of Mrs. Phred. I think I said something funny just before the picture. It looks just like a picture of her with her sister at age two. The eyes never change.

There is a lot of bootlegger history up here on the border. I used to drive past the windowless “Blind Pig” bar in Tampa’s inner city frequently and wonder what was inside. I learn that it’s a bootlegger term. You leave the booze on an island. The customer arrives later and removes the hooch and leaves payment. After a time the bootlegger retrieves the money. When I was in college I considered being a park ranger. They live in beauty and have cool hats, but they don’t make much money.

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