While driving with my kids recently they threatened to put blinders on me. I could see thimbleberry bushes lining the road and I wanted to stop and pick them. I did stop a couple of times and that’s when the kids started to use their hands as blinders. For all of our safety I decided I wouldn’t stop to pick anymore.
Thimbleberries taste good and contain Vitamins A and C. They can be a bit tart but it’s a flavor I enjoy. They are fun to pick because you can usually do so standing upright. Thimbleberries are a delicate berry similar to raspberries so you have to pick them carefully or you can cause other ripe berries to fall off of the plant. If they aren’t quite ripe they will be a little more difficult to pull off and if they are too ripe then they will end up as red mush on your fingers. When they are plucked off of the plant they resemble thimbles so that is how they got their name. I love their leaves because they are big and have a fuzzy feel to them.
If you see me on the side of the road, don’t worry, I’m probably just picking thimbleberries. Here’s some more information about this great berry.
Thimbleberry’s real name is Rubus parviflorus. It is in the Rosaceae (Rose) family and is in the same genus (Rubus) as raspberry, blackberry, loganberry, boysenberry, tayberry, dewberry and many others. Rubus fruit are an aggregate fruit composed of small, individual drupes, each individual is termed a drupelet. In a sense they are many little berries grouped together to make one large berry.
The young shoots, roots and leaves have been used to treat many ailments. A tea is made of the leaves or roots as a blood tonic in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dysentery. Its effects are believed to tone and strengthen the stomach helping increase appetite. Rich in vitamin C, Thimbleberry helps boost your immune system and was used to ward off scurvy. A poultice of the dried powdered leaves treats wounds and burns and the fresh leaves can be crushed and applied to treat acne. A decoction of the roots has also been taken to treat acne.
Wintergreen is such a pretty plant. You can find it in the BWCA and on the Gunflint Trail in abundance. Did you know its leaves and berries can be used? Here’s some information from the emergency outdoors blog.
The leaves and berries can be eaten as a trail nibble. They are both very flavorful, however the leaves can irritate the stomach if swallowed. The volatile oil of wintergreen is very toxic, so one should never take the volatile oil internally. It is said that a mere 6 milliliters of wintergreen oil can kill an adult human. The active ingredient in the oil is methyl salicylate, which is a compound similar to aspirin. In fact the oil of wintergreen was used in some of the first commercially prepared aspirin tablets. Due to this property, the wintergreen plant was used by many civilizations in much the same way as we do aspirin today. Most often the chemical would be derived in a tea, which would soothe sore muscles, calm a headache, and relieve general pain. For a more potent supply the tea would be left steeping for several days until it started to ferment. This fermented liquid was the preferred method for use as a medicine.
Cooking the leaves or berries of the wintergreen plant will fill the house with the wonderful aroma, but the flavor of the berries and leaves will have diminished. When the leaves or berries are heated the volatile oils are vaporized into the air. If you want to use the berries for their flavor it is best to use them fresh. Pureeing them will bring out more flavor to the food.
The young leaves in the spring while still red are tender and highly flavored with oil of wintergreen (checkerberry), but in the mid-summer become tough and less palatable.
Woodmen esteem the mature leaves as a substitute for tea. In the eighteenth century the plant was highly reputed as a tea-substitute; and we are told that the French-Canadian court-physician, Dr. Hugues Gaultier “decouvrit le the du Canada… qu’il designa comme un breuvage excellent.” (Translated to: Canada discovered the tea … designated as a great beverage)
“Can the dog go outside? “Yes, he goes anywhere he wants to.” However the dog, Rugby, is going to be 11 years old in October and he is pretty much deaf. He also has no fear of vehicles and has been known to sit down in the middle of our driveway at Voyageur or behind tires of parked cars.
Rugby also loves people. He loves to meet new people and greet them in the store or outside. The next time you’re at Voyageur take an extra look around and say hello to Rugby and check behind your tires before you leave.
I love the fact Native Americans named their full moons each month. It makes it so much more interesting than just saying, “Tonight’s a full moon.” It’s interesting because it’s usually a glimpse into what was happening in the natural world historically during that time of the year.
The name of the August Full Moon is most commonly known as the Sturgeon Moon. It’s seems like an easy name to figure out because it was the month when they(Algonquin Tribe) had the most success fishing for sturgeon on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain in particular.
Can you imagine if different groups of people named the full moons? I could think of a few fun ones like teachers and retailers, how about you? Any Full Moon lists or better names for full moons you can think of?
Retailer Names for Full Moons
January- Everything red for your sweetheart moon
February- Bring out your inner Shamrock moon
March- Summer is Almost Here Moon
April- Artificial flowers for cemeteries Moon
May- Schools Out Celebrate Graduation Moon
June- Fathers are overrated let’s celebrate the 4th of July Moon
July- Summer is Over Moon
August- Back to School Moon
September- Halloween is Coming Moon
October- Christmas is Just 2 months away Moon
November- Black Friday Moon
December- The more you spend the more they will love you Moon
Teacher Names for Full Moons
January- It’s like starting over Full Moon
February- Make the unattractive students feel worse Full Moon
March- Wish we’d have another snow day Full Moon
April- Thank Goodness for Spring Break Full Moon
May- These Kids are Driving Me nuts Full Moon
June- Thank Goodness it’s over Full Moon
July- The only month fully free Full Moon
August- I can’t Believe School is starting soon Full Moon
September- Another Year Begins Full Moon
October- Homecoming Full Moon
November- I’m sick of these kids already Full Moon
December- I can’t wait for Christmas Break Full Moon
“What’s the forecast?” Each morning and throughout every day at Voyageur we are continually asked about the weather. We print a forecast for the area in the morning but with today’s access to the internet people want to know an up to the minute forecast. They would love for us to pull up the radar image on the internet too.
I like to know what the weather is going to do. It helps me plan and prepare when I’m heading out into the Boundary Waters. Do I need a tarp over my gear? Should I wear my rain gear? One way to not completely rely on the forecast is to just keep these items easily accessible at the top of your pack while you’re paddling the BWCA.
When looking for a forecast for our area we usually look at the Superior National Forest or Ely and then come up with our own idea of what our weather is going to do. We don’t look at Grand Marais because our weather is never the same as it is in town. Grand Marais is 60 miles away and has the influence of Lake Superior so our weather is way different.
Like elsewhere in the USA it is a rare occasion when the forecast is accurate. What to do? If you’re heading into the BWCA wilderness with no access to forecasts then it might be helpful if you learn to read the clouds or memorize some weather folklore and become your own weather forecaster.
Rain before seven, clear by 11.
When the dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass.
When grass is dry at morning light, look for rain before the night.
Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.
Halo around the sun or moon then expect rain real soon.
When smoke descends, good weather ends.
When the wind is out of the east tis neither good for man or beast
When the ditch and pond offend the nose, then look out for rain and stormy blows.
When sound travels far and wide, a stormy day will betide.
When clouds look like black smoke a wise man will put on a cloak.
Whether it’s the hot and dry weather we’ve experienced or just that time of the year the leaves are beginning to change colors on the Gunflint Trail. The smell and look of fall is in the air on Saganaga Lake too. Come take a look and you’ll see some red, yellow and orange beginning to appear.
There aren’t too many places I would rather spend an afternoon than on Saganaga Lake. We found a beautiful place out of the wind, caught a few bass, swam in the refreshing water and enjoyed the warm sunshine on our skin. A day with the kids in the BWCA is a beautiful one indeed.
People often ask me, “Is there a place to hike in the Boundary Waters?” Besides the longer trails like the Kekekabic and Border Route Trail there are tons of places to hike, every portage is a hiking trail. I love to explore portages and while on canoe trips I will often ask to be dropped off at a portage so I can hike while others fish. The other day Elsa and I dropped off a couple of canoes at a portage and in spite of the rain we decided to hike the portage. It’s always so much more fun without a canoe and pack.