Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We spent the past weekend at one of our favorite Minnesota State Parks, Beaver Creek Valley.

Beyond the two weeks we spent in Colorado, we've only had two weekend camping trips this year. Both have been at Beaver Creek Valley.

It's in a very narrow valley in southeastern Minnesota, with lovely little Beaver Creek running through it. The base of the valley is only 200-300 yards wide with steep wooded bluffs rapidly rising alongside. The temperature in the valley is usually 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding area.

It's also only about 45 minutes from Ben and Bekky's college. This added even more pleasure to our weekend - they came to visit!

Ben visited on Saturday afternoon, and then stole Girl of the House away to college with him. He surprised her by taking her to a campus concert of Rockapella, one of her favorite groups. She even overnighted with him.

Ben, Bekky and GotH returned for Sunday brunch and hiking.

Beaver Creek is a trout stream, pure and clear, bubbling from several small springs in the rock at the base of the bluffs.

We walk down to the 'Big Spring' every morning for coffee.

On the drive home, we stopped in Rushford for a few geocaches. The search led us to a scenic overlook, high on the hill.

Another amazing place we never would have visited save for geocaching.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A new sign popped up on our road last week.

The one hundred year old bridge across the Cannon River is finally going to be replaced.

The township plan is to leave the bridge in place for walking and bicycling, and build the new one just slightly up river.

It was a bittersweet final ride across the river last evening.

The downriver view, soon to be obscured by a big fancy new bridge.

Meanwhile, til completion of the new bridge in July '10, our commutes have been lengthened. Now we'll have to go all the way into Northfield and then back north to our jobs.

It's a minor whine. Paul's commute will take fifteen minutes rather than ten. My commute will take ten minutes rather than eight.

I guess we'll live.

But it won't be as pretty. Crossing the bridge on my drive home has been my cue to take a deep breath, relax and really let the workplace go.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Off to school

Did you feel like this on Tuesday?

Were you ready?

Girl of the House was actually well prepared with her backpack of school supplies and her soccer bag.

The stressful "what to wear" decision of the day was made for her, simplifying things significantly. She was a Web Leader, one of a group of kids chosen to provide help to the incoming sixth graders. All of the Web kids needed to wear the red "Web" t-shirt.

Wouldn't that be a great idea? If everyone had to wear the provided clothing for the first day or two of school? I think there is too much stress and importance applied to the choice of clothing for the first day of school.

Wait, I think I'm advocating school uniforms? Now I'll have to contemplate that...

Monday, September 7, 2009

On the final day of summer, we played.

Yes, I do know it isn't really the last day, but for those of us with children returning to school it certainly feels like THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER.

I understand it feels that way for the Girl of the House, too.

We took a long hike in the still wildly blooming Carleton arboretum.

We loaded up the canoe and headed to the river.

Paul's parents first obtained this canoe in 1973. We took possession when we bought the 'home place'.

We've lived here since October 1998.

And yet, somehow, this was the first time we took the canoe down the hill and put it in the river. This was also the first time Paul ever used this canoe. 36 years? Yikes.

Let me tell you, in case you were wondering, this canoe is heavy. Really, really heavy. But well worth the battle.

I didn't bring the camera, for fear of drowning it. Next time I'll find a way to carry it. The river was quiet, peaceful, and full of birds. We saw an eagle, an owl, a kingfisher, multiple types of ducks, a great blue heron and more. We're already planning a return trip, without waiting another 10+ years.

And finally, on the last day of summer, the outdoor cats have decided that my potato bags are a great place to relax.

We'll be digging those puppies up soon.

Our house smells like onions.

We're making a crockpot full of caramelized onions.

They've been cooking since last evening and smell delicious, even though that's not the smell to which we typically wake up!

We slivered up five pounds of onions, and they should caramelize down to two or three cups. We can freeze them in small batches and use for adding to a quick supper.

Sunday we made
24 pints of salsa, seven pints of dilly beans and even a pint and a half of spaghetti sauce (see it hiding in the back row?).

We still have remaining tomatoes. 14 pounds!

Perhaps we'll try some sun drying?

Girl of the House, not to be left out, made some delicious pumpkin bars.

What a treat they were after a day of chopping, simmering and canning!