West End News: August 1

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April Knight, the adventurous nurse from North Carolina, arrived in York Factory on Hudson Bay on Tuesday, August 5th.  April left Sawbill Lake in Tofte on May 17th
 
She paddled solo to Winnipeg.  From there, she rode on a supply barge to Norway House on the north end of Lake Winnipeg. From Norway House, she joined another group of paddlers on the Mackenzie and Hayes Rivers for safety in the big rapids on those remote rivers.
 
April will be hanging around Cook County for awhile after she travels back from York Factory, so hopefully she will schedule a public slide show of her adventure.
 
I had the pleasure of guiding two rock stars for a paddle on Sawbill Lake this week.  Dessa is a hip hop performer with the Doomtree Collaborative based in Minneapolis.  She is not only internationally famous for her music, but is also a published author, newspaper columnist and radio host. 
 
Ben Burwell is a well known songwriter, performer, guitarist and member of the popular Twin Cities band Taj Raj.
 
The two were in the West End for a performance at Papa Charlie’s in Lutsen, where they play at least twice a year.  They’ve become big fans of the West End and are slowly sampling all the outdoor activities that we have to offer up here.
 
I must say that they are delightful people to hang out with.  They asked good questions, are sparkling conversationalists and just genuinely nice people.  Hopefully, they’ll be regular visitors for many years to come.
 
There are a couple of fun upcoming events at the Clair Nelson Center in Finland.  On August 20th, the next cooking class with Tracy Jacobsen will be held.  This class will feature red meat entrees.  There is a small charge for the class.
 
On August 29th, there is an Asian Dinner fundraiser at the Clair Nelson Center.  It will include, among other things, peanut steak stir fry, Asian barbeque pork, jasmine rice, manchow soup and five spice chocolate cake.  It makes me hungry just talking about it.
 
Sign-up for both events can be done by calling the Clair Nelson Center at 218-353-0300.
 
This week’s blueberry report is that the blueberries are ripe, plump, plentiful and can be found everywhere.  The picking season is now fully underway and the yields have been among the best I’ve seen in my 58 years in the West End.  Everyone’s secret spot is producing, but if you are a beginner, just go to any of the areas that experienced forest fire in the last ten years and you can’t go wrong.
 
We are at the front end of the prime season, so you have at least two – and probably closer to three – weeks to get your annual supply of delicious fruit.  I have learned from experience though that the early berries are the sweetest, so I give you permisson to leave work right now and go picking.
 
There are two teenage sisters who are staying in the Sawbill Campground this week.  They’ve been camping at Sawbill every year since they were born, as their mother did before them and their grandparents before them.
 
The entire family is nuts for fishing and have become acknowleged experts on all the lakes in the Sawbill area.  The sisters are very serious about fishing and are carrying the family expertise into the next generation with aplomb. 
 
I was chatting with them last year and they volunteered one reason they enjoy fishing so much.  They admitted that they tend to argue with each other almost continuously, but they never fight when they are fishing.  When I asked why, they looked at me like I was dim witted and said, “We can’t argue while we’re fishing because it would scare the fish!”
 
That is the best argument for world peace that I’ve ever heard.
 

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