St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rambling up the River Road

Yesterday, with the morning mist, took a drive that ended up on covering the River Road from St Croix Falls to Grantsburg.  Morning drives are the most fun--especially if you go very early or just after 8 am -- to miss the go-to-work traffic. 

Talked to Margo yesterday on the phone.  She has been in West Bend, WI for over a month now helping out with her father's therapy after his stroke about 6 weeks ago.  He is coming along, but is not independent enough to be without some physical help, and his wife, Kathy, who is 87 and not able to do any lifting, is not able to take care of him at home without help.  

Anyway, Margo says that possibly this week he may come back to the condo for a trial with her and Kathy helping him.  He can walk with a walker, and with guidance and steadying get in and out of bed, the bathroom and somewhat dress himself.  The stroke weakened his left side and especially annoying, wiped out the vision of everything on his left, so he has to be reminded to turn his head to see what is there or he bumps into it with the walker.  He will be 89 later this month. 

So, Margo plans to be down there the rest of May.  She has to come back for some doctor's appointments in the beginning of June, and so the plan is for Merlin to try an assisted care for about 2 weeks while she is gone (assuming he still needs help) and then for her to return for what may be the rest of the summer. 

In the meantime, Scott and I completed maple syrup season and are getting firewood cut and cleaning on the farm where a seemingly endless amount of junk fills the garages, sheds and barns, some left from the actual farming days, but too much really junk that was dumped by neighbors, relatives and strangers who wanted to store something left from a garage sale, an old mattress, junk furniture, non-functional electronics and so on. 

By sorting and cleaning things, we can pass some to the thrift stores, some to the recycling bins, some to garage sales, some to the neighbors, and some purely is garbage that no-one will take without having garbage pickup or a garbage dumpster. 

Now, I am way too frugal to spend $600 on a dumpster just to put in broken dishes, old toilets, broken panes of glass, old canned food, mattresses, etc, so thus the sorting and hauling.  

We got a used '99 Dodge Dakota pickup two weeks ago and with the trailer are loading things up for their final move off the farm.  The Frederic metal recycling place is pretty good at taking anything that has metal in it, even if it is mixed with wood or plastic (i.e. old microwave or freezer) -- and they don't charge, and often pay for it if the metal content is reasonable.  A tire on or with a rim is accepted free, for instance. 

This morning, the lawn shows signs that it will need mowing in spots already this week.  The cold temperatures so far and predicted this week have kept us from putting out the few hundred seedling flowers desperately overcrowding their planting flats in the sunroom. And, of course, I spend a lot of time with my volunteer activities so things slide without Margo here to help out. 

North from St Croix Falls up the River Road

Across from Riverside Auto it looks like the Wild River folks are planting trees on an old field

Neighbor Wilson farms some of the old sand fields north of Evergreen Av.  Whatever the amount of rain, the sand is firm and farmable.  

The spring-soaked hillside just north on the River Road off of Hwy 87 is always early with skunk cabbage and cowslips

At Spangler's landing, the river is high and flowing fast

Flooding the lowland at Nevers

This field had soybeans last year and so no stubble to stop the wind from blowing up a sandstorm.  In the 50s and 60s when the whole area a mile or so north of Evergreen was farmed, some windy days you barely could see to drive the river road due to blowing sand.  Now much is in trees, but a dry windy day and an open field can still blow badly.  The whole sand barrens is supposedly a set of sand dune ridges blown up after the St Croix drained leaving 20 feet of sand on top of 100 feet of clay lake bottom (according to a UW geology paper). 

The Grantsburg end of the trip was to the Northwest Wisconsin Regional Writers monthly meeting

Under this tilled up flower bed is the old goldfish pond we had on the farm when I was growing up.  By the time her grandchildren came along, Mom began to worry about one of them falling in and drowning, so filled it in for a flower bed.  The legends created by Marv, Ev and I are that the pond rim under the dirt contains all of our beautiful agates and Indian artifacts, still set in concrete. 
 Mom never worried about us drowning, just her grandchildren.

Late news:  An oriole and a hummingbird both showed up the first time today.  The purple martins are examining the bird house with the missing roof.  

Sap sucker and his wife are visiting the maple tree almost every 5 minutes all day long.  The sap is running a little making that side of the tree wet.   I wonder if this is where people first got the idea for tapping maples.