October 30, 2016-
This is always an
exciting time of the year for me. The leaves are down and in most cases, the
snowflakes are starting to fly. Our mild autumn continues and we have not
had anything but a few flakes fly way back on the 13th of Oct and there are
no chances for flakes for another 7 days or so.
Typically, I would be sharpening up my crayons to color
in all the pretty colors on the snowfall forecast maps, but with no snow
seen to fall this week, I am going to hold off on starting the
There is a bigger reason why I am holding off and that is
that the website is undergoing a major remodel. It's been a long time coming
and I am really loving how things are turning out. We have the nuts and
bolts of the new look all done and just have the filling in of all the data
and other info to go. A pretty big job in itself, seeing as how the site has
been going on for 18 years and I like to try and have most of its
interesting content archived for all to look back on. So that means
transferring 1000's of pictures, dozens of journal entries, historical data,
the businesses that support the site through advertising and more.
It was hoped that the remodel would be done by November
1st, but I knew that would be a real feat of accomplishment, seeing as how
we did not start things until around 2-3 weeks ago. Plus, as we have been
working through the remodel, we have come across ideas that we wanted to
implement that were not there when we first started. So I am tickled pick at
the progress and can all but guarantee the new look will be rolled out on
the 7th of November.
I am not going to spill the beans on what the new look
will be like and I also do not want to hype it too much, so as to avoid it
not living up to the hype, but I know just about all of you will like the
new look better, find navigating it much easier and probably the biggest
change is that it will be way more mobile friendly. One of the features to
it will be that it will recognize the platform you are viewing it from
(computer screen, tablet, smart phone...) and adjust the layout to an
optimized view based on that platform. When I first started the site, things
like smart phones and tablets were still years away from becoming reality,
so the old layout worked, but I realize that the move to smart phones or
tablets is a big deal and web content needs to work with those platforms. So
I guess the best way to put it is that the shag carpet is out and the newest
floor covering will be in. So stay tuned...it should be fun!
With Nora writing her entries, I have a bit of catching
up to do. First, the Keweenaw Snowmobile Clubs annual trail work session
went very well. We had around 20 workers this year and got a
lot of needed work done. It's amazing how fast mother nature reclaims
her own. Some of the trails we did this season looked like they had not been
done in 20 years, but were done just 3 years ago! Anyway, it was
"mission accomplished" and a ton of work got done.
As has been the tradition since it started, we had a
dinner for all of the workers. I fired up the smoker and smoked around 20
lbs of brisket and another 12 lbs of pulled pork. I think I have finally
dialed in the cooking procedure with the new smoker and the food was pretty
good. Probably the best proof of that is that we hardly had any left overs!
After the dinner and before we all mowed down on Nora's famous chocolate
sheet cake, we stepped outside for a
group photo. This year we were blessed with the help from some of the
members of the MI Tech Snowmobile Club, the Sledheads. Their knowledge and
youth was greatly appreciated!
So as mentioned, all the leaves are down...well most
anyway. We have a big oak right underneath the snow station that still
clings onto about half of its leaves, but the
maples and birch are pretty much bare. Which means that the forest floor
is carpeted in a new
blanket of leaves. Hopefully in not too long that carpet of faded autumn
colors will be covered in a blanket of white! Speaking of a blanket of
white...its a good thing that it is coming in not too long, as we have
almost lost all of the
snow left over from last season! Just kidding of course, we usually lose
all of that by the 4th of July! That was the scrapings from the ice arena in
Calumet! But driving past it does remind me that winter is coming and soon
the plow banks will be 20 feet high in that spot.
Not all of the color has gone away. If you take the
time and look hard enough, some pleasant surprises can still be found. Like these
leaves on a vine growing on one of the old mining buildings in Calumet.
Even though we have been warmer than average and
largely snowless so far this season, it certainly feels like autumn up here.
Most of the days have highs topping out in the 40's, it is the overnight
lows that are still remaining quite mild and other than a scattering of some
nights when the temp has dropped below freezing, we have remained freeze
free. It seems to have some of the insects confused. We are done with all of
the biting insects, but the other day we had a hatch of some kind of a very
small moth that likes to hang out around the house. On sunny days, the
cluster flies go through a hatch as well. Then the cold will hit for a day
or two and we will be bug free for a few days.
About as regular as any rite of passage from the warm
season to the cold up this way is the transition to hockey season. It is at
all levels, right from the kids so young that they can hardly walk yet, all
the way up to some seniors with the same problem! This weekend was the first
of the two annual home-at-home series between MI Tech and NMU in hockey.
It's pretty cool how they play both series in a home-at-home fashion, rather
than one team gets both games at home early in the season and another late.
We went to the game at Tech Friday night and it was a good one. I waited too
long to get our tickets, so all of the reserved seats had been sold out.
There were a few singles left, but I needed 3 together. So I bought general
admission and Gracie and I were joined by John Stachler and his son Jakob.
Since our seats were general admission, we needed to get there early to get
a good spot along the rail and we did. We watched the
two teams do their warm-ups and then settled in for the game. For the
kids, the game is sort of a secondary affair, as chasing the
Huskies mascot Blizzard is a more enjoyable thing for them to do.
So the end of October does not only mean the roll over to
the cold season theme for the website, but it means Halloween is here! Last
night the girls and my brother Jim got
busy carving pumpkins and baking the seeds. Nora and Gracie just
finished Gracie's costume for this year and she tried it out. I am not going
to spoil that one by any means, you will need to tune in next week.
This time of the year also means cutting or
"making" firewood. No special cutting party is planned for this
year. If anyone wants to head up and help, you are more than free to, but I
think between my brother and I, we should be able to get things done. A
load was dropped off about 2 weeks ago and at first I chipped away at it
by myself, making just enough wood to get me through the next few days. My
brother and I have had two "sessions" in the past few days and
each session has resulted in about a cord of wood being cut. It takes us
around 15-20 minutes to get that much done and then the saw is ready for a
re-fueling and a reloading of the bar-oil reservoir. We both agree that is
the prefect length to go at it and then stop. We do not exhaust ourselves,
but are able to put a dent in the pile that needs to be cut. Here is the
first stacking that I have been drawing from for the past week or so and
here is the second
cutting we did yesterday before dinner. If you are wondering why the two
piles are segregated, it is because the first load of wood I took was sort
of an emergency load to give us something to burn until the main loads
arrived. That first load was a mix of birch and some hardwood, mainly maple.
The birch burns differently than the hardwoods do, so I like to blend it in
with the hardwoods, rather than load the boiler full of birch.
Well, I guess that covers it for this one. A reminder
that I will be holding off on the snowfall forecasts for another week. If
something changes in the forecast and some meaningful snows are forecasted
then I will fire them up and put them into the current site format.
Otherwise, look for the snowfall forecasts to start on the 7th!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
October 23, 2016-
As promised...here is part 2 to Nora's entry...It wasn’t long before the rest arrived and we ventured inside the sauna building. We all jumped in the sauna where it was pretty
cozy. Being a person who is not a fan of small spaces I sat quietly wondering just how long we would be in this space. It wasn’t long and everyone was seated in the sauna and the door closed. Making things very dark. It was here that we were played a recording of various sounds….. As I closed my eyes I had a clear picture of what was happening...or at least what I thought was happening. Someone walking down a path, to chop down a tree to use to build a fire, to be used in a sauna stove, while running from swarms of bugs...only to jump in freezing cold Lake Superior before heading into the thick air of a sauna. I was reminded again what we notice when we are listening….really listening to what is going on around us.
Before heading out we stop in the front room of the sauna building where we were able to see who had come before
us, what they had eaten and where they had hoped to
venture off to.
It was right around this time that us girls had wished we could go to Hansen and Jig’s cabin. We were uncertain if it would happen. As luck would have it Jack volunteered to take us. Man we were pumped!! So up went the pant legs, off came the shoes and before we knew it we were back on the lake headed towards to tip of the island. The seas were rough and we took on alot of water. Noone cared and we laughed like school girls with each splash of Gitchee Gummee that hit our faces...and our arms… and our legs...soaked... we were totally soaked once on shore. Jack tied up the boat and we spread out to search for the cabin. Our directions were to go in at the clump of birch trees. So we walked into the woods, each about 10 feet or so from the other. We walked and we walked. Nothing. After about 45 minutes of hiking and going through some pretty thick brush, I had almost given up. At one point I came out of the woods and walked further down the beach. Heading into the woods again it wasn’t long until I reached the other shore off the Island. I wish I had the camera to show the other side of the Lake but decided against it knowing our trip would be wet. It was then that I had really thought this wasn't’ going to happen. That was ok. Disappointing but ok. After heading back down to where the dinghy was I found Jack. I verbalized to him that I didn’t want to give up but… Jack stopped me and said, “I’m not giving up!”. Alright! That was exactly what I wanted to hear!
Neither Jack nor myself had seen the others for sometime now. I was pretty sure they were together so I thought they would be safe. Jack and I split up again after the walk back down the shoreline. Wouldn’t you know we found another “clump” of birch trees. It wasn’t long and I heard a faint bird whistle. Jack had found it! I hollered out to the girls but with no answer. I wasn’t sure what to expect really. I knew that a few years ago there were 2 walls left of the cabin and something about a bed. As I approached the structure I just couldn’t believe my
eyes. In less than 8 weeks I went from not even knowing about Hansine and Jig to actually stepping in their
cabin. I think the only thing that came out of my mouth was “wow...wow”....There was a few courses of one wall
left, their stove, some cans and pots and
pans and their bed
frame. This beautiful, ornate, iron shaped
heart. After looking around for awhile I knew we needed to walk back down the beach and find the others. It wasn’t long and there we were….cousins...together in what was left of our grandparents log cabin. Before leaving we decided to jump in gramma and grampa’s
bed. We didn’t stay long as we knew we had to catch the boat back to Rabbit Bay. But, it was long enough to be etched in my heart and mind forever.
Once we arrived back to camp we were welcomed by the others who were waiting to hear about our adventure. We learned some information about our family that we had never heard before. One of the fun facts was how Jig and Hansine got their belongings to the Island in the winter. Apparently, they moved their belongings in the winter months by horse and sleigh. The horses were trained and once they heard the whistle they would head back to the barn which was in Rabbit Bay. Maybe a tale stretched some over time? I’m not sure but it’s fun to think about.
Since my trip to the Island I’ve spent some time researching my family. I found out that this woman’s name is
Martha Andersen. She’s Hansine’s mother and my great, great, great grandmother. I hear she was married to a Captain Andersen who was once the Mayor of the town where my family immigrated from in Norway. I know Anderson is a common name...it’s actually my maiden name. But, I do wonder could it be more than a coincidence that the home that the Grant Township letterhead was found, is owned by an Anderson? That might be my winter investigation to see if there is a connection.
Two weekends ago my brother Jeff and Joel and nephew Jaron came up for a visit and to do some bird hunting. For those of you who have been following the journal over the years you know we enjoy fishing and hunting together. I’ll be totally honest and say on a good day I can out fish
them...ha! Not true but I usually do catch the first fish was does earn some
bragging rights. I actually have never shot a bird, deer etc. I don’t know that I could. I’m in no way against hunting but I do wonder if the opportunity were right in front of me, could I pull the trigger? I’m so lucky to have brothers that have had the patience to teach me how to fish and hunt. I’ve definitely learned from the best!
Friday night we decided to go out to Jacobsville. It’s a special place for us kids and we go often. Especially, when they come to town. We decided to do some fishing. As I was gathering up my fishing tackle and rod, Gracie decided that she was going to fish too. So we packed up and were off to Jake. We opted on the old boat
ramp. While waiting for the guys to arrive, in true Gracie fashion she made her own fun with a stick. I love that she loves to be outside and explore the
world around her. The guys arrived and I was uncertain about what kind of lure to use. Joel doesn’t hesitate and “hooks” me up with something “great”. As he practically runs me over to be the first one to get his line wet! Cast after cast nothing. It then dawned on me that he totally screwed me over and had probably set me up with something that wasn’t the best. I decided on my own lure and it wasn’t long until I almost had a fish. I know you can’t “almost” catch a fish. Either you do or you don’t. I wish we wouldn’t have been talking so much and was paying more attention to my fishing. I reeled up my line and just as my lure was almost above the water I look down and there is a good size pike, mouth opened, about ready to hit my lure. I would have put my lure back in, but Joel had seized the opportunity and was in my spot, trying to catch MY fish. We all had a good laugh and a great time. Gracie did what she calls “wait”
fishing...You know when you need to wait for the fish to hit your bobber. She lasted the entire time and didn’t feel the need to reel up every 5 minutes which was a bonus. One of the things we were remembering was how our Grandpa Bergh would wash his SAAB at the boat launch and one of the boys forgot to put the brake on and the car ended up in the drink. Fun times and memories!
The following day we had planned to go out to the family property in Jacobsville. The day was humid, cloudy and the leaves were still on the trees. So not the best hunting weather but we were just happy to be in the woods together. It’s quite the
hike to get to the property but once there it’s worth it. Joel and Jaron saw some birds but most were way up ahead and on the ground. Once we arrived at the spot where we needed to hike perpendicular to the water it got pretty swampy and pretty hairy trying to balance on slimmy stumps. It was about that time the bugs started to come out some too. While trudging through the swamp land we saw some pretty apparent signs that a
bear had been around….by the looks of this tree, not that long ago and he appeared to be good size. I was feeling somewhat uneasy but then was reminded I did have a gun if needed. We got to the property and stopped for a little break. We were able to get in some target shooting before the rain started. The boys had hunted the property a couple years ago so the decision was made to head to that same area. It was so interesting to see how much of the land changes. From heavily wooded to sandy moss
to swamp. We didn’t see any birds on this part of the land but we did find moose tracks and some scat. And what appears to be a
lightening strike and a small fire. After a few hours of hiking ( we clocked in about 8 miles that day through the bush) we were all getting a little hungry. The
guys had packed some hot dogs, buns, ketchup the whole nine yards. I was impressed!
Food cooked over a fire tastes so good!! I couldn’t help but think we were making memories. Some really great memories. Many generations of Bergh’s have had dreams for this land. I hope this is just the beginning of Grandpa Russ’ dream coming true. A place to gather, sit a spell and just to be still.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my writings. Maybe this has made you think about your own
family. Where did you come from? Who is your
tribe? Most of us know a little about our immediate family and blood line. My sweet
Gracie does not. I sometimes forget that she’s adopted. I’ll never forget her birth mothers sacrifice but she’s so much “ours” that I forget our blood doesn’t run through her veins. Of course that doesn’t matter to any of us, but I suspect the day will come when she will wonder and want answers. Answers that she may never find. My hope is that through knowing so much about her family that she’ll have some peace. Maybe it will fill a void. Maybe not. But, for now I know one 7 year old who thinks it’s super cool that her great great aunt was the Sheriff of Keweenaw county! She’s also the same girl who made this announcement on the first day of
school. Here’s a little sampling of her latest art
work. Maybe a future Rabbit Island artist?
Again many thanks to Andrew and Rob from Rabbit Island!
Looks like they've extended the date to apply for the 2017 residency program
on the Island. Check it out at www.rabbitisland.org
God natt fra Keevenaw...
October 16, 2016-
BOTI! Back on
the Island...and boy does is feel good! Hey, that might make a good t-shirt.
BOTI. I guess it could also mean Better on the Island! Anyway, my
pretty-regular trip to southern WI to attend the Milwaukee Snowmobile Snow
is over and it feels as good as ever to be back home. This was a unique trip
for me, as I traveled alone. Both Nora and Gracie had stuff going on and
Gracie also got into a play last minute. I was totally bummed to miss the
play, but was able to catch the rehearsal they had on Wednesday.
It was strange to be traveling down that way all alone. I
cannot even remember the last time that I did it without Gracie, Nora and I
don't think I have ever made the trip without at least one furry child. I
did get to visit with my mom a bit on Thursday afternoon and evening and
again on Friday and also got to briefly visit with my older brother.
The show seemed to be a pretty good one. I did not walk
around the entire hall, but did walk around half of it and it seemed like
the selection of things was better than it has been recently and the crowds
seemed pretty good as well. We were never swamped, but pretty steady Friday
night and Saturday.
It was awesome to see so many of you there. I really
consider this site a kind of family, so it was nice to meet so many good
folks. I did not keep track of how many folks I did meet, but would have to
estimate it at several hundred, if not more.
I was able to leave 2 hours before the show closed on
Saturday and then took right off for home. After a bit of driving in
circles, trying to get onto the expressway (really Milwaukee, why close ALL
the entrance ramps!), I was on my way and got home last night around
Nora and I almost passed in the night, as she is on her
way to central WI for a training seminar, although we did get to spend some
time together last night and this morning and she will be back Tuesday
evening. So a pretty short trip for her and it will be nice to have the
whole family together once she is back on Tuesday.
For those of you waiting for her second entry, it will
come next week. Because we need to coordinate together to get it posted, and
first I was out of town and now her, we did not have the chance to compile
things. So that is why you are stuck with me again!
So it is for sure autumn up here now. The colors are at
full peak. This was the
look from our front porch this morning. The pups and I took a very short
walk in the woods this afternoon and this was the
look from there. It is also a very beautiful autumn day up here, with
tons of blue sky and temps in the upper 50's. While walking through the
woods, it was fun to look up and see the
colors of the trees accented by the background of the blue skies.
Gracie had left with her uncle on a road trip to Copper
Harbor to see the colors and Nora was getting ready for her trip, so it was
just the pups and I,
but we still had fun. My brother was gracious enough to come over to the
house and feed and take care of the pups when I was away. He even went the
extra mile to take them for some walks in the woods. So it was nice to know
that they were in such good hands when I was away and Nora was busy at work,
or taking Gracie to the rehearsals for the play and then the play itself.
Those were the only pictures I have to share with you
this week, but I promise you that they will not be the only color pictures I
share with you this season. The weather looks a little questionable for leaf
peeping tomorrow, but later Tuesday and into Wednesday and Thursday look
like it will provide some opportunities for taking them in.
I really do not have a whole lot more to talk about,
other than the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be holding their trail work
session this coming Friday and Saturday. We will be meeting at the Trailside
Lodge both Friday and Saturday morning at 9:30 to organize, get our marching
orders and then head out. It looks like the weather will be OK. Perhaps a
few flakes of snow or scattered showers later Friday. If you want to head up
and help out, the Trailside Lodge
and D's Basecamp are both offering free
lodging for workers and I will be cranking out the smoked brisket and pulled
pork for Saturdays dinner.
Speaking of snowflakes, we did have our first ones fly
Thursday around midday. I did not see them as I was headed down for the
snowmobile show, but both my brother and Gracie reported them to me, so I
will take that as official!
I did release my seasonal outlook last Monday and while
there were no dramatic fireworks associated with it, my general thinking is
that most folks will be at least OK with what this winter brings to most of
the Midwest. I cannot see any reason to say that record breaking cold and
snow will occur for anyone, but it will be at least an average winter for
snow and cold. I can also add that I am encouraged by the warm autumn we
have had thus far. I ran into quite a few folks at the show this weekend
that were worried, but based on my knowledge and experience, a warm autumn
can be a better sign for the upcoming winter than a cold one.
So I guess that about covers it for this one, except to
let you all know that a good friend of mine and guide at Togwotee Mountain
Lodge just had a special series of videos posted to YouTube highlighting his
story. He is a great guide and an even better person and I encourage you all
to check it out here.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
October 9, 2016-
I feel like the
opening band that nobody came to see by sitting down to write. Don't worry,
I am not sulking, but with as great as Nora's entry was last week, there is
no way I can compete with that. Especially based on the fact that the past
week was pretty uneventful and the fact that today is Nora and my 12th
anniversary and I am more interested in spending time with her than sitting
here and writing! Sorry!
Anyway, Nora will be writing again very soon. Hopefully
next week! I suppose it is a good thing that I have the opportunity to write
this week, as I do have some important announcements. First is that I will
be manning the booth for the Keweenaw at the Milwaukee Snowmobile show next
weekend, so if you are at the show, please stop by and say hi! I will have
memberships for the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club for sale as well as some
ThinkSnow stickers. I am looking forward to the show as it is always fun to
be in a room with the "snow brotherhood" (sisters too!). Haydays
is a lot of fun, but it really seems like it is still summer when that
happens and although the weather can be very nice in Milwaukee for the show,
it just seems more like winter is just around the corner when I attend that
show. So pleases stop by to say hi and talk snow!
The second big announcement is that in two weeks, the
Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be holding its pre-season trail work session.
The work will be done on the 21st and 22nd. There is free lodging for
workers at the Trailside in Calumet as well as D's Basecamp in Toivola. We
will be all meeting up at the Trailside Lodge at 9:30 in the morning both
days. There also will be a dinner held for all volunteers on Saturday
evening, the 22nd. We have some important work do to, so all help will be
much appreciated. No special tools are needed, although if you have some
light construction equipment and want to bring it, that would be great, as a
bridge re-build is part of the work we will be doing. If you have any
questions, you can e mail me.
The third announcement is two parted. First, I have ended the
warm season forecasts and will be taking a break for a few weeks and then
starting up the snowfall forecasts in early November. If there is some snow
to forecast for by November 1st, then I will start then, otherwise will
start on the 7th. Part two is that I have all but completed my seasonal
outlook. Just a few more things to polish up and then I will post it to the
site. That will be happening tomorrow morning. So be sure to check back into
the site tomorrow for that dandy!
That about covers it for the announcements. Now onto the
goings on in the Keweenaw! The weeks weather was a mix of nasty and nice. We
had some beautiful days with sunshine and temps in the 60's, but we also had
some days where it rained all day and did not get out of the 40's. Yesterday
morning we even had our first wintry precip of the season. It did not fall
as snow, but was frozen. It fell as sleet. I actually got a text message
from a friend living up here for his first winter and said it was sleeting
out. So I went out onto our front porch and sure enough, some sleet was
bouncing off the vehicles parked in our driveway!
Believe it or not, we have not turned our heat on yet! We
probably could have or should have! But the house has not gotten too cold.
Plus, we have been firing
up the fireplace quite regularly, that takes the chill out of the main
living areas of the house very nicely and technically, I guess it could
count as heat. Anyway, the heat in the floors has not been turned on yet and
it looks like we will get through the first half of this week without having
to turn it on.
It is amazing how true autumn weather has been avoiding
us so far. In many years we would have already seen our first snow and by
far our first frost, but no snow and no frost, just the short period of
sleet yesterday morning. Without a frost yet, the garden is still producing
some yummies, although the plants do look to be running out of steam and
almost longing for a frost, so they can call it quits for the season! While
out cutting the grass this week, I was able to stop and pick a
nice ripe strawberry! We picked up some plants this season and one group
of them are ever-bearing and are still producing fruit. I never thought I
would be picking strawberries up here in October!
As I think I mentioned a week or so ago, Nora's brothers
came up from downstate and were joined by her nephew who attends Northern MI
University in Marquette for some hunting. Nora went out and did some bird
hunting with them on Saturday and then they came over Sunday and did some
hunting in our woods. Grace
even got in on the action. While she did not actually hold or shoot a
gun, she did help them clean their catch for the day and ate the partridge
for supper that evening!
Since I got far enough along with the office remodel that
I could take a short break I jumped back into the lighting project for the
kitchen. I cannot even remember when I started that project, but know it was
well over a month ago. Then the office remodel took over and the beam for
the lights sat in the shop for weeks. So it was nice to get back on that job
and even nicer to finish it this week. Not only did another item on my to-do
list get checked off, but we gained a nice and very much needed lighting
fixture in our kitchen area. We can now sit at the "bar" and
be able to see our food while eating! It was none too soon, as it is now
dark out when I am eating my breakfast and is getting dark when we sit down
I think I will be jumping back into the office remodel
this week. I still need to make the counter top for my work area and hang
some pictures in the room. Once that is all done, I will be sure to give you
a look at the final project. I actually am going to build a secretary type
desk for my office, but that may not happen for a month or two, as I would
like to get started on a new dinning table in time to finish for
The mild autumn has really delayed the color show up
here. Typically we would be right at peak right now, but I would have to say
our woods are at least 4-5 days away from peak, if not a bit more. Next
weekend will for sure be the peak weekend for the colors in our area,
although we will probably still have something of a show for the trail work
weekend! Here is a shot
I just took out our front door of the color in our woods. It is cloudy
out, so they do not look as far along as they really are. I would put them
at around 60-65% right now. When the sun is out, there are trees that are
just magnificent. Here is a
shot of a few leaves I took earlier this week on a tree that is on our
So I guess that about gets you caught up on things for
this week. As mentioned, it looks like the mild weather will continue for at
least the first half of this week, with a bit of cooling, but still nothing
that would be considered cold by our standards. I hope to see as many of you
as I can at the Milwaukee show next weekend and until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
October 5, 2016-
At long last! My apologies for the delay,
but this entry was a true collaboration between Nora and I and so not only
did we each need to do some work, but we also needed to sit down together
for part of it. So that can get a little tricky at times! Anyway, this will
be the first of two entries she will be writing. So enjoy!
“Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods and listen to the magic whisper of old trees”....I came across this quote and just love it. Do we stop long enough to really be still? To listen to our surroundings? For me, this has been a recurring message that someone has been trying to tell me this summer. I see the words, “be still” often. I’ve never enjoyed the crazy busy life style and seem to struggle with the need to slow things down a bit at times. Wasn’t it just last week I was flying back home to the Keweenaw with our brand new baby Gracie in tow? Hard to believe that was 7 years ago and now that little one climbs in my lap, I look and see that same face smiling back at me….minus a few teeth. She’s dreaming of getting married, driving a car and having “real science” when she gets to Middle School. It’s at those moments I want time to slow down and just be still a little longer.
You may have noticed that John is taking a much deserved break from the weekly journal. I went on a little adventure and John wanted me to share it all with you. I will admit that there is a small part of me that wants to just keep it with me and not share. To me... it’s just that special.
As a small child I would spend a considerable amount of time with my
grandmother, June Bergh. She lived in Jacobsville and was a gem of a lady. The door to her home was always open, with fresh coffee, a story about Jesus and treats waiting to be had. One of the things she loved to do was gather up all the old photos and jewelry and spread them out on the dining room table. Oh how I loved that! Grandma would let me touch and wear everything my little heart desired. We did this often and I believe that is where my love of my family history began. My only regret is that it wasn’t until I was in college that I started to write down little things that she told me along the way.
My interest has always been my grandfather Russell’s mother's
side. That was until I rec.’d a call from a friend in July saying, “Nora don’t you have relatives that were Bergh’s?”.
My friend had found some stationary behind a wall in a home belonging to the Anderson’s in Lac La Belle. (If you're still with me this little tid bit will be of interest later) It was Grant Township stationary from the 30’s. On this stationary William Bergh was typed and then crossed off and replaced with “Ida Bergh”. Ida was my great, great aunt and also the Sheriff of Keweenaw county. You see she was appointed as Sheriff after my Uncle had passed away within hours of beginning his 2nd term as Keweenaw County Sheriff. Ida was re-elected 3 additional times and “reduced crime and applied a philosophy of kindness and cleanliness to the courthouse and jail”. How’s that for a take charge, 1940’s kind of gal?! Ida was also responsible for saving many of the men from the shipwreck “City of the Bangor”. Here’s a little blurb from my cousin, Martha. The “City of Bangor” ran aground on the Peninsula quite a bit north of the Copper Harbor lighthouse. The men on the boat were from Detroit and most were not dressed for Copper Country winter. They were wearing loafer shoes and their coats were not warm enough. They were able to get off the boat and waded through hip-deep snow drifts until they got to the lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper then walked from the lighthouse to the west end of Copper Harbor to my grandma and grandpa's house. My grandpa was outside and heard the swish of the lighthouse keeper's oil slicker pants as he walked, knew who it was from the sound, and knew there was trouble. My grandparents had just butchered a pig for meat for the winter, so they had enough provisions. The crew of the Bangor came and stayed at my grandparents house, lying all over the floor as they thawed and melted. My grandmother tended frostbite and hypothermia, and made sure they were well fed.
Later on, they were able to get most of the cars off the boat and drive them over the ice, through the Harbor to land. Some of the cars were washed overboard.”
Stories like this remind me of the hard times folks faced back then. How many people today would give their only meat? Or welcome strangers into their home?
The letterhead prompted me to contact my cousins Lois and Martha (Ida’s granddaughters) and they were able to fill me in on much of the history that I hadn’t been told or didn’t remember. The most exciting news was that my Great, Great Grandparents, Eric “Jig” Bergh and
Hansine Henriette Bergh
(that's Hansine in the back) had come from Norway and settled on Traverse Island, also known as
Bergh Island. The best part? Parts of Eric and Henriette’s cabin were still there on the
island. Something that my great, great grandparents built with their own hands, was still standing. How can that be? The moment I heard this I knew I had to find a way to get permission to go to the Island.
The island, which is now called Rabbit island is privately owned and about 4 miles off the Keweenaw Peninsula. My initial thought was there was no way the owner would allow us onto his
private island. I was so wrong! After doing a little research I learned that Rabbit island is home to the
Rabbit Island Residency, an artist retreat. So I reached out to Andrew, co-founder of the residency program and Rob the owner of the Island. Within a few days I heard back from Andrew saying that he’d gladly welcome us on the Island.
This summer they held a series of “Island Talks” and as luck would have it there was one last talk being held in September. Andrew emailed saying, “I’ll be happy to take you to the Island myself”.
My cousins Lois and Martha were up for the week and were excited about the opportunity to go to the Island. The only thing that could stop us from getting there at this point was the
weather. We all held our breath waiting to hear that the weather would be ok to head out. Earlier in the week the weather looked pretty sketchy for Saturday. And since our house was struck by lightning the week before I wasn’t taking any “weather’ chances.
Feeling like a kid on Christmas eve I tossed and turned much of Friday night. Saturday arrived and after picking up the girls we headed on our way to Rabbit Bay. Being overly anxious we had arrived about 45 minutes early. That gave us some time to catch up with each other. Shortly after arriving we were joined in the road by Charlie. Charlie lives in lower Michigan and his daughter was one of the artist on the Island. Next to arrive was Karen. After arriving on the Island I heard someone lovingly refer to her as “Grandma Karen”. Let’s just say that I hope I’m as lively and full of adventure as she one day. The final group of folks to arrive were young adults from Ahmeek. They were actually moving out West the following day. What a way to spend their last day in the Keweenaw.
It wasn’t long and we could see Andrew coming across the lake. I had wondered at that moment if he knew how excited we were? Could he know how grateful we were for this chance to walk the very intimate wilderness that
my great, great grandparents had walked? I had hoped.
The group was too large to all go in one trip so Lois,
Martha, Karen and I stayed on shore and waited for the second trip. During this time we were able to take some pictures and enjoy our view.
There she was….just waiting for us to come
Andrew had warned us that it was a little rough on the lake. The plan was to head down the shore to the
sandstone cliffs then shoot across the lake. I had the Nikon and one extra lens with me and had planned to take enough pictures to last a lifetime. I found out quickly that the rough seas were going to make it tough to get any good photography on the journey over. I was able to snap a picture of the
little falls and an
eagle flying overhead. (It wasn’t until I downloaded the pics that I saw the bonus on the tree top) After taking these few pictures I spent the next 5 or so minutes trying to figure out how to get my camera around my neck to secure it as the waves were picking up
some. The problem being I really didn’t want to let go of my safety line….which was a metal pole. As we continued
on, in some nice winds, it struck me that here we were in the middle of “Big Lake” totally trusting our new friend Andrew. Turns out he was a great Captain and got us to the
dinghy safely. I had done my research and knew we had to jump in the dinghy that would take us to the shore. I think the others might have been a bit surprised about the transfer that was about to take place. But,
everyone took the leap and made it to the shore safely. Once on shore we were greeted by
Charlie and company
who helped us make it across the slippery sandstone ledge. Maybe I’m wired differently but there’s something about an adventure with strangers….it’s as if you become
After arriving on the Island we made our way up a small incline of rocks that lead us to a welcoming area of sorts, the
“foyer” of the Island, that included a fire pit and handmade benches. The perfect spot to sit and be still…..or put one’s dry socks and shoes
Andrew welcome us all and introduced us to the artist who had been staying on the Island. First up is
Mary Rothlisberger. Mary is an artist from Colorado. Followed by
Jack Forinash from Utah who is an architect along with
Kelly Gregory from California who is also an architect. They came to the Island as a team and had previously worked with each other before so they knew each other well. At this point I was really looking forward to hearing from the artists but I was having a hard time focusing. Would anyone noticed if I just wandered off? Probably. I longed to walk the shore and feel the crisp air on my face, just as
Hansine had done 120 some years
before (that's her2nd from the left). Be still Nora. Just be still.
Next up we learned that Mary, Jack and Kelly had a few activities to share with us. The first was a short 10 minute or so hike to the
middle of the Island. During our hike Jake carried a boom microphone to record the sounds. They were going to record the walk in the woods so we were all asked to be quiet...again someone saying, be still. I had a feeling the quiet part of the journey would be the most difficult. We were all so enthusiastic and wanted to share everything we were experiencing at those moments. One of the things we were asked to do was to really observe what we were hearing, smelling, the general feel of the Island. Did it feel differently? It didn’t take long to notice the difference. The crashing of the
Big Lake was quieter. Still present but much quieter. The air seemed thicker. Almost a
jungle like feel. Not that I’ve been to the jungle lately but you get the drift. Green….everything seemed so
green. I never did see them, but there was a welcoming committee of birds just singing and chirping away as we entered the
forest. I hadn’t noticed them while we were on the
shore. You’ll see that much of the ground is rock and
roots. I didn’t get many pictures of this hike due to the camera noise after shooting a
picture and even though I dumped all my iphone pictures the day before somehow I had no space when I went to use my camera on my iphone. It really was a blessing because I wasn’t distracted by either camera. I was able to just take it all in. Time to stop and feel the leaves, smell the spruce needles. The smell of home.
We returned to base camp
and had a quick snack. I noticed this hanging at camp. Who knew
Superior had a tide?
Right around this time it started to drizzle and the wind
picked up. What seemed like a doozy of a storm quickly passed us and we were met with
blue skies and some sunshine. Perfect
hot tub and sauna weather!
Next on the agenda was a trip to the sauna. This is such a beautiful building. Much more than just sauna! Some of us had arrived at the sauna ahead of the others which gave us some time to chat and tell a joke or two. Here’s Lois and Martha telling a
“Sven and Oliei” joke to pass the time.
More to come...!
Good Night from the Keweenaw..