Kyle came out of his shell during Christmas (in July) when he stepped in as Santa Claus. I’ve never actually met Santa, but I’ll bet he’s quiet like Kyle for most of the year except when he’s called on to do his part. We’ve learned to watch Kyle closely at meals, as in—just this noon, Caleb remarked “Nothing beats Indiana corn” to which Kyle’s eyes shoot a quick glance response “that’s a bunch of malarky…..nothing matches Iowa corn”, then he quickly looked away…without actually speaking one word. Read it right though, and he’ll always admit it. When I rode with Kyle on his last “training” run across Sag, it was pretty windy, yet the towboat was tilted just right and never bounced. I had to ask him exactly how he managed that perfection…and he just shrugged and mumbled “yeah, it’s a little tricky sometimes.” That’s the kind of humble guy he is. But don’t ask him to eat bass, he’s polite, yet not one bit flexible about THAT.
Amy paddled through a crazy lot of lakes on her days off. As in; Tuscarora to Little Sag to Gabimichigami to Bingshick, to Paulson to Seagull (that last portage is over 500 rods)—on a DAY TRIP. And if you’re lucky enough to have been routed by her, it’s likely that she’s been to every single lake—sometime this summer. All of them. She was our food packer, all area support person this summer (in more ways than one), and she has us all nodding and smiling at the dinner stories, and saying hmmmmm and….ohhhhhhhhh…..—just like she does.
Caleb likes to work. I could just leave it at that, but consider it for a minute. How lucky is it that we have an outfitting manager who just plain likes to work? He’s sharp, he’s competent, he’s efficient, and he works. Early in the morning, he works. At the end of the day, he keeps working. He’s beginning to build a reputation on the Gunflint Trail. Why? Because he works.
Rachel has recently fallen in love with Lucy—who is so new to the Tuscarora staff that she didn’t even make the group picture. But little Lucy has stolen all of our hearts (well, except for Denali’s, but she’s working on it). Rachel is teaching Lucy about everything. Because—basically Rachel is our manager and knows about everything.
If you see a young version of ‘Cher’ roaming the Tuscarora grounds, you know you’ve just met Chelsea. You might also find her chasing wolves through the woods, or sprinting into the crew cabin in order to write down some song lyrics or recipes for exotic sauces and veggies. When one of the staff members is stuck at Trail Center without a ride, I can tell you that Chelsea is the one who will find a way to pick him up. She’s all about taking care of people.
Elizabeth is a rockstar. People keep commenting on how immaculate it all is—we owe that to Elizabeth and her staff. During her days ON Elizabeth is a cheerful housekeeper—, on her days OFF Elizabeth is a cheerful paddler…. she conquers amazing distances with the same zesty spunk.
When Claire works late she doesn’t actually need a walkie talkie. When I turn to call her, she is right there. When I get ready to ask her to do something, she’s already doing it. So I quit asking, and just relish the fudge she makes on her time off. It’s unbelievably incredible. Unbelievably. And don’t get me started on the birthday cakes with peanut butter fudge frosting. Claire also likes to take leisurely swims around the entire circumference of Round Lake.
Mikey’s name is really Caleb, but we already had one, and that is too many Calebs. Don’t you think he looks a little like Michael Phelps? Mikey’s cheerful and efficient about whatever he does. When he leaves the office, we look at each other and say….”he’s a really good kid.” It happens over and over again. Because the truth is….he’s a really good kid.
Mitch has perfected the art of turning-your-mango-insdie-out-to-make-an-easy-to-eat-piece-of-fruit. It took a few tries, but pretty soon shwwwwoop, schwiiippp, shwaaam! One time Mitch was on duty, and he picked up a live bat with a garbage bag. Casually, with a shrug and an apology. He picked up a bat, did you catch that? The rodent. They do fly around here at night, to catch mosquitoes…….which is a noble thing for any animal, but this particular one was dying, and Mitch stepped in and picked it up to take it out of the guests’ way. In my book, he gets a permanent gold star. Forever.
Shelby is the cheerful floater. You might find her in the dining hall cooking or serving, or working in the store or answering phones in the office, or loading canoes in the outfitting yard. Sometimes she manages more than one task at a time. She adds a little sparkle to every part of Tuscarora this year—including this staff blog. Can you find her sparlkier words?
Emily came during the late-July hectic rush and has valiantly stepped up to be trained in everything, everywhere. She wore her official St. Olaf swim team suit, which might have helped her win the Tuscarora Triathlon swimming portion. Which she did, and believe me, there was some stiff competition this year. Real stiff.
My parents, Sheldon and Jane have been here a good portion of this summer. They work really hard around here, cooking, and wiring, and painting and Sikkensing, and fixing chairs and repairing broken widows. Their biggest contribution is reminding us that, in the end, everything really will be alright. And guess what? It is.
My nephew Tommy is resident volunteer and blueberry picking philosopher. He repairs kevlars, paints the awkward places and fixes tricky things. He also is always game to go picking with me after hours, and I love our chats. My heart slows down in the patch in a different way than it does any other part of the day —and a great memory of my summer will be of Tom calling through the patch “Milk and Honey”—when he finds a hot spot.
When people of our generation say “kids these days just don’t know how to work” Andy and I must fiercely disagree. Instead we have stories of young people who not only work for us, they throw their hearts and souls into this place. We wouldn’t be Tuscarora without them, that’s for sure.