St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Visit to the Cabin

The front yard looking in from Evergreen Av.  This the snowiest year at the farm that I can remember, although one in the early 50s was pretty bad too.  A friend tells me that 1944 set the local record for overall snow depth (different than snowfall).  

This winter the cabin on the lake has been idle.  We stay just down the road at the farm, so other than to pick up some items we want, we haven't been up there and cleaned out the driveway since December.   

This morning, with the temperature almost -20, the wind blowing viciously from the west putting the windchill far below anything a rational human would go out in, Margo got an urge to make something with maple syrup.  

We are preparing for the maple syrup meeting tomorrow night, 7 pm at the Luck Museum, and she thought she might bake something to take along with maple flavor.  

"My maple syrup recipe books are all in the drawer by the refrigerator at the cabin.  Would you run up there an get them" she asked.  Now she hasn't been outside for two days so probably hadn't realized how cold it was and how deep the snow was likely to be wading in the long, long driveway to the cabin door. 

"Are you sure you can't just look up a recipe on the internet?" I asked thinking about the conditions outside.  

"No, there is one recipe for maple cake that works just right, and I never found it except in this maple cooking book I have up there."

Well, being a good husband, a guy just goes ahead whatever the danger and inconvenience.  "Wish I had some snowshoes," I commented having an opportunity to push spending $150 off budget.  
Dressing in layers and wrapping my pantlegs in heavy wool socks and tightly tying the laces on my boots,  I got the car started and drove to the cabin.  

The roads in Sterling are kept up well with the two men in the crew. The banks are pushed way back and sand on Evergreen and River Road to give some traction on the ice underneath.  

The lake on the right.  The roads are very good in Sterling!

Wolf Creek as it flows south under Evergreen Av at the intersection of the old River Road
Getting to the cabin, I looked in the long driveway and bucked up my courage and waded through the big snow ridge put up by the road crew.  
Cabin in the distance on the left; maple cooking slabs on the right.  Not even a deer track through the driveway. 

The snow was up to my knees!  After the first few steps, I felt the cold snow filling my boots and starting to freeze my feet.  The wind, probably 20-30 mph came across the open lake and blew bitterly across the driveway.  

A glacier slowly moves down the west wing of my old maple sap cooking shed, made from scrap lumber from our sawmill and various scraps of tin and leftovers based on tamarack poles. Now a storage building.  

The new maple cooking shed--left side.  The walls are all old doors and windows given to me from a remodel of a house in Dresser.  The lean to on the right has the Super C Farmall and some sap tanks.  The cooking shed is just a shelter for the cooker and cookee. My two best maples are on the right--test between 5 and 6% sugar, nearly double the average sugar maple.  

The cabin was fine--no mice in the traps, no breakins (this year I took everything out that was worth taking), and other than being the same temperature as the outside, ready to move in for sap season!

Looking down hill to the NW with the lake in the distance.  Not a track down there either.  Very hard to see that the snow is very deep through here.  
I braved the deep snow and bitter winds and made it to the cabin and shoveled the snow away enough to open the door.  Inside, out of the wind, was just slightly better.   I found the recipe book and picked up a few more just in case and found my maple syrup candy molds too, and then locked it back up and retraced my steps back to the road.   

Margo was pleased to get the recipe books.  She thumbed through them for a while and then commented, "Hmmm, guess the recipe must be in a book I have at Pine Island.  I'll call Scott tonight and ask him to send a copy by Internet.  Thank you anyway." 

A guy shows love for his wife in different ways!