Cover

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pp. 1-1

Series Page, Title Page, Copyright Page

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Foreword

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pp. v-vii

I first met Florence and Lee Jaques in the fall of 1943 when they checked into Gunflint Lodge for an extended stay. Lee had lived in Minnesota as a boy and young adult, and Florence was a Midwesterner who had transplanted herself to New York City. Her only previous experience in Minnesota had been a honeymoon canoe trip some years before, an adventure she described with great enthusiasm and insight in Canoe Country. ...

Canoe Country

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pp. 1-3

List of Illustrations

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pp. 4-5

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New York, February 20th

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pp. 8-11

He had been talking about the jungle trails on Barro Colorado Island, in Panama. Till my mind was a whirl of howling monkeys and motmots swinging, scarlet passion flowers and peccaries and blazing blue butterflies. ...

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Sunday, February 27th

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pp. 11-13

This afternoon we unearthed the canoe country maps. Lee has shown them to me before and I've always looked at them with sedate interest — never with the catches of breath they gave me today. ...

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Duluth, Minnesota, August 21st

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pp. 13-17

I've never been so cold in my life. I wear my fur coat all the time. If this is what Duluth is like in August what must it be in January! ...

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Thursday, August 25th

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pp. 17-24

I did appreciate our train's thoughtfulness in leaving Duluth so early yesterday morning; I could not have waited another half-day. ...

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Friday

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pp. 24-30

We had a sunny and strenuous day's canoeing, with many portages. One very long one, in the late morning, to avoid a series of rapids. The path was so constantly sunny, through small bushes, asters, and goldenrod, up and down hot little hills with rocks to stumble over, that two trips seemed unbearable. ...

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Saturday

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pp. 30-34

It's cool this morning. I'm writing this in a tall pine wood. Giant pines range up a long hill, with clean open spaces between the bronze trunks instead of all the undergrowth and ferns and twisted branches we usually have. Morning sunlight falls down to the matted needles in bars of brown sunniness and gold mist. ...

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Monday, August 29th

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pp. 34-37

Never hear a cow moose in the night, when you don't know what it is! It is the most blood-freezing sound, a wild and wailing whoop, uncanny as Dracula. I heard it first at midnight. "Lee! What is that?" ...

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Tuesday

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pp. 37-44

We broke camp yesterday morning, breaking our hearts as well, as we left our circle lakes behind us. I couldn't have left if it had been as ethereal as usual, but it was a dull and forbidding morning, with clouds of iron ranging low. After we were well away, however, the day forgot its sullenness. ...

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Wednesday, August 31st

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pp. 44-48

These voyaging days are translucent with joy. When we start out in the morning, the earth has such a before-Eden look that it seems a shame to shake the dew from the blueberries or strike our paddles into the sleeping water. Thrusting on into sun-filled channels; drifting into green-needled embrasures where chickadees are buoyant; ...

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Thursday, September 1st

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pp. 49-53

We were marooned yesterday on a sand beach. We went to see some more painted rocks, even more interesting than the first cliff, with moose and men in war canoes and the prints of many hands, all in bright red. ...

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Sunday, September 4th

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pp. 53-59

We decided to come exploring down the Bear Trap River. It is the most unfrequented place that Lee can think of, near by, and he hopes we may find moose. Deer we have seen often, though I've only mentioned one —I can't seem to get everything in —but all these days and not one moose has appeared. Lee is quite desperate. ...

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September 5th

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pp. 59-64

Today has been superb! Such sudden changes! And we've had a Noah's Ark of animals all day long. ...

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Tuesday, September 6th

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pp. 64-66

Of course it had to be last night, just after I had seen what mammoth creatures moose are! One came along in the middle of the night, took fright at our tent, and pounded off through the woods like a runaway locomotive. Such crashes from an Oriniack! I'm quite sure now I'd rather see than hear one. ...

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September 7th

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pp. 66-71

This is, I think, the most perfect camp of all. How can I say that, when they are all so different? When our three sapphire lakes were so especially glamorous? But that was a misted fairytale place. This is a clear carved design—true poetry. ...

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September 9th

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pp. 71-75

Ten days now since we've seen any human beings. It's quite a record. I haven't missed them at all. ...

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September 10th

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pp. 75-78

The sunset yesterday was Blake's "eternity in an hour." Great bubbles of clouds, cream and soft fire and amethyst, floating over all the world, in a sky so boundless that the world was only a small, dimmer bubble itself. When I lay back against the rocks, and looked up into the intense soft blue, with great circles of pink and rose and soft lilac gleaming there, ...

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Acknowledgements

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pp. iii-vi

In so informal and personal a book as this, a conventional preface in the usual place might have come between the reader and the good companions who were sharing their experience with him. But now that the journey is ended, and the spell broken, we can thank those who made it possible. ...

Title Page, Dedication

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xii

Here is no account of struggle and hardship; rather, it is the story of a release from the tenseness of present-day life. Its aim is a simple one— to give a picture of what anyone might find, through the winter, in the border country of Minnesota and Canada. Through this wilderness of lakes and forests my husband and I, ...

List of Illustrations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Basswood Lake, October 12th

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pp. 3-4

We awoke to our first snowstorm. The cadence of the white flakes falling through these immense pines was like that of attacking battalions, with our small lodge a blockhouse held against them. We had pancakes for breakfast to fortify ourselves. ...

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October 14th

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pp. 4-8

The snow has vanished and the birch and aspen stand bare on the shores, which before the storm were solid masses of yellow and orange, like marigolds in the sun. The wanigan on which the lumber crew have been living, and a smaller houseboat, pulled by the launch, came back to camp this afternoon. ...

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October 15th

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pp. 8-11

Hi and his duck shooters arrive tomorrow. They are to live on the wanigan while the crew move into the bunkhouse. Hi will not hear of our giving up this lodge. ...

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October 19th

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pp. 11-13

This week is a holiday one. Everyone does whatever he likes all day, and we all meet at supper to tell of our adventures. ...

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October 17th

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pp. 13-16

Hi and his guests arrived last night to take possession of the houseboat. They were in wild spirits at the prospect of a week's hunting, and we did not have to worry about the lack of conversation at supper. Joe blazes like a bonfire when he talks of duck shooting. ...

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October 20th

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pp. 16-18

Our last day, and the great flocks of ducks have not come down. Today, though it was stormy, our whole party went in the launch for partridge shooting on the Bass wood Falls portage. There we had sandwiches and Joe made a blazing fire for our camp coffee. ...

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Duluth, October 23d

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pp. 18-20

We have had five weeks of holiday canoeing. Now I go soberly and in the fear of God to live in a northern winter. ...

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Gunflint Lodge, October 25th

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pp. 20-24

Out on a Duluth street corner in the dark, long before dawn, we waited for the Wilderness Express. This hybrid, half bus and half truck, will be our only connection with the outside world at Gunflint Lake. It brings the mail, carries supplies, and takes us in and out. ...

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October 25th

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pp. 24-27

Starting out early this morning, we went down the Granite River, the lovely canoe route to Saganaga Lake. ...

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October 27th

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pp. 27-28

Here we are in a real birch forest. I've been in a birch wood before, but never in a great birch forest where thousands of the trees make lovely repetitions of "black branches up a snow-white trunk," far into the distance. ...

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October 29th

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pp. 28-29

The Wilderness Express came late yesterday afternoon. From now on it will bring mail only once a week, on Saturdays! Everyone came in and had coffee in the kitchen—Benny Ambrose, the guide from across the lake, who tells us entertaining stories; two Indians, a mother and her daughter Tempest, ...

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November 1st

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pp. 29-30

Snowing today. We decided to get ready for cold weather, and moved into the living room of our cabin. The unheated bedroom will make a fine closet, the kitchen is already the woodshed. These rooms and the enclosed porch will act as storm windows, Lee said, and keep this room comfortable. ...

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November 2d

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p. 30

Tonight we had whitefish and trout, sent over by Butchie's moth Nettahwense is a full-blooded Chippewa. ("Ojibway" is the more fora term, but the people here say "Chippewa.") She speaks no English a clings to the ancient Indian religion, as they say many border Indians do, though most tribes, even near the Arctic Circle, ...

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November 5th

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pp. 30-32

We have been exploring on foot, since we no longer go canoeing. The woods are silent now. The loons have gone, the chipmunks are asleep. No sounds are heard from the chickadees or partridge or deer. The whole world seems voiceless, waiting for the snow. ...

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November 7th

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p. 32

Lee and I climbed the high cliff back of the lodge this morning in the face of a snarling, stormy wind—a "wolf day," I called this one. On the cliff top the spruces bent from the wind and ravens whirled around us. Swaggering clouds flung past, almost low enough to engulf us. ...

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November 8th

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pp. 32-34

We have a real blizzard! Twelve inches deep, and still coming down. The gale makes the lake into a stormy sea; what must Lake Superior be like? What about the freighters? ...

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November 9th

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p. 35

The storm has vanished, the wind has died, the lake is calm. It is the time of snow. It is strange to realize that it will now stay like this until late spring—a never-changing white landscape. ...

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November 10th

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pp. 35-36

Still snowbound. The kitchen is our clubhouse, and we are now playing multiple solitaire at all hours. Ahbutch is wonderful at cards. She does not make the noise that the rest of us do, but her black eyes glow and she gets quite breathless in a quiet way. We are all game addicts except Lee, who endures games as he does bad weather. ...

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November 11th

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pp. 36-37

We all hope it will. Justine Kerfoot called from Duluth this morning, quite perturbed because no one had met her and the children; she hadn't had Bill's wire. And we had all planned to leave Saturday, Arizona and Jack for good, and Lee and I for a week on the North Shore, ...

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November 12th

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p. 37

The snowplow, late last night, came surging down our drifted hill and landed in front of the lighted lodge, looking like a giant orange butterfly. It is rather a relief to know that now a clear road leads from here to Grand Marais! ...

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November 13th

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pp. 37-40

Just before dinner last night, Bill and Justine came in with the two children. Justine is slim and dark, quite small. I had expected her to be a tall, husky person. Her hair was cropped short, she wore shirt and trousers, and Lee, coming in late, thought, in spite of all the warnings, that she was a boy, ...

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Schroeder, November 14th

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pp. 40-43

Walked down the shore today with Marie Aftreith to see what damage the storm last week had done. At Schroeder it was the worst one since 1905; fishermen's boats were smashed and boathouses, nets, and gear destroyed. Ninety ore carriers were held up in Duluth's harbor. ...

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November 16th

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pp. 43-48

Mr. Jacobs of the Forest Service took us with him today on his rounds—a fascinating day he gave us. I had hoped for mild weather, but it was two above zero—the coldest we've had. However, a bright sun counterbalanced the low temperature. ...

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November 17th

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pp. 48-49

Mr. Hendee, chief of the Forest Service here, joined us today, and after visiting the forest headquarters again we took the Caribou Lake Road. Here was a small and picturesque sawmill run by an old Negro and his family, with the help of a few Norwegians. ...

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Schroeder, November 17th

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pp. 49-53

Last night we met Mr. Aldous of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who is also staying here, and he told us tales of a baby porcupine his children had adopted. I have wanted a pet flying squirrel, but he almost made me long for a small porcupine instead. ...

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Gunflint, November 20th

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pp. 53-54

Today the five-day hunting season on deer opened. Hunters were coming by all night. This year they are required to wear outfits that are fifty per cent red, and we hear that there is no red material in the towns now—every bit has been bought by hunters. ...

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November 21st

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pp. 54-56

Lee had insisted all along that it would be foolish for him to get a fifty-dollar nonresident hunting license; after all, he had hunted enough when he was a boy. But as the season approached his resistance waned and all he needed was a little persuasion. Finally he didn't need that. ...

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November 22d

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pp. 56-57

The lake was as still as glass as we went over to breakfast, snowy hills doubled in the water, and rising mist half hid the clear pastel colors of the morning. The porch thermometer showed three below zero. ...

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November 23d

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pp. 57-59

I walked up the ridge with Lee, to see the spot where he had shot his buck, through a beautiful zero morning with hoar frost deep on the trees. In my ski suit, hood, mittens, and boots, with no cracks at wrists or neck, I am like my own little house. I take off my mittens to get cool, as you'd open a window. ...

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Thanksgiving

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pp. 58-59

Now the country is left to its few residents; the hunters have gone. The Kerfoots moved up into their own cottage on the hill today and shut up the main lodge. Butchie went home. Lee says "no more playing"; he is settling down to his work. ...

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November 27th

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p. 60

Bits of snowstorms all day. The rabbit that lives next door is all white now with black eartips, trying to be an ermine. We have wondered why he did not wander away, but it seems that each rabbit has his own little territory. Sometimes one may stay a whole season within a radius of a hundred yards. ...

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November 28th

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pp. 60-61

Mail day! I can't begin to say how exciting mail is when it comes only once a week! People begin to arrive by breakfast time; the house gets fuller and fuller till it spills over. Today the Blankenburgs came in from Saganaga. ...

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November 30th

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pp. 61-64

After more snow it is warm again, and Justine and I decided to walk to the cliff top. Bruce begged to go along. He seemed very small to wade through the drifts we would find, but I remembered the stalwart way he hiked down the Trail with me. Justine, agreeing he could go, got out the tikinagan, the Indian cradleboard. ...

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December 2d

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pp. 65-68

All the resort owners seem to take to trapping in the winter, though they keep their amateur status. Bill went off before daylight to start his winter trapping line. He has a shack over on Bruce Lake, seven miles or so from here, and he departed on snowshoes with thirty-two steel traps, blankets, grub, utensils, repair outfit, and cans of rotten fish for lure (not allure) hung all over him. ...

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December 3d

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pp. 68-70

This afternoon with the dogs was not the complete triumph we scored yesterday. Justine took the other three, all inexperienced, with Gus as leader. I mistrusted Gus. He's a big yellow brute with black triangles for eyes, and he looks devil-ridden and shifty. I thought firmly to myself, "Nothing will induce me to go out with him." ...

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December 4th

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pp. 70-71

Bill is still away and Lee is deep in picturing a fight between two bucks. He took a half day off this afternoon and we walked to the beaver pond. Justine took yesterday's dogs out again, for it is necessary to drive the dogs regularly to toughen them. ...

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December 5th

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pp. 71-74

Justine, Bruce, and I set up a trap line and rabbit snares today. I hope Bill won't resent us, as the early trappers did their rivals. Alexander Henry wrote in 1775, "At the Grand Portage, I found the fur traders in a state of extreme reciprocal hostility, each pursuing his interests in such a manner as might most injure his neighbor." ...

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December 7th

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pp. 74-75

Lee is the trapper, after all. He caught a shrew in a mousetrap. This smallest quadruped is only as big as two thimbles, and certainly doesn't look like the most bloodthirsty beast in existence! Its plush fur is white underneath, its eyes are set far down its long, sensitive nose, it has cocky whiskers and the tiniest feet—insect feet. ...

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December 10th

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pp. 75-76

Up in the dark and over to breakfast through a snowy gale. The wind howling like a werewolf across the lake and whole drifts blowing about made the Kerfoot cottage with its orange windows glittering behind icicles look very inviting. "Nobody can make me go outdoors today," I told myself. ...

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December 12th

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p. 77

Bruce was very funny at breakfast. Evidently the flood of adult conversation has begun to bore him, and he is determined to have his turn. "You know somepin?"—his favorite opening—and "Just a minute, Bill!" iii the reproving tone Bill sometimes employs, "Par'n me, I'm talking." ...

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December 13th

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p. 78

Twenty below, and a fierce north wind. This is the coldest kind of weather you can have, Justine says; subzero temperatures aren't so bad if it's calm. Still the lake is not frozen, though it's been cold enough for many days now; the wind is too strong to allow it. ...

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December 14th

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pp. 78-80

The wind blew hard all last night, but at some time there must have been a few minutes' lull, for when we left the Kerfoots after a spirited game of Chinese checkers and eleven o'clock coffee, the lake was a white expanse. It has been at freezing temperature for so long that a short respite from the wind was enough. ...

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December 15th

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p. 81

The coldest morning yet. The lake was so cold it looked dead, and the sky was as empty of color as a glass of water, except for the faintest tinge of rose in the north. The puppies came in frosted like little cakes, and the cat had the most grotesque expression with heavy white eyebrows and masterful whiskers. ...

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December 16th

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p. 81

Up to zero—really comfortable again. Why, I can remember a time at Gunflint when I thought zero was chilly! Justine, with an axe to test the ice, went across the lake to meet George, who wanted something for his beaver trapping. ...

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December 17th

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pp. 81-82

Charlie Olsen was bobbing for fish, so I said to Justine, "Can't we try?" On land the wind was warm and gusty, but Justine streaked off to the center of the lake, and when we got out from the shelter of the land the wind was bitter. Bruce blew like a leaf across the ice. ...

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December 19th

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pp. 82-83

We awoke to the booming of the lake, a symphony performed entirely by kettledrums. Clouds were galloping through the treetops. We found fresh tracks, sharply cut, where a doe and a fawn had walked around our cabin in the night, perhaps trying to see us, just as we try to see them. ...

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December 21st

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pp. 83-91

"Now listen!" I cried. "You stop belittling our temperatures! It's fifteen with a fierce wind, and somebody told me you can take off thirty degrees for that, so it's really forty-five below!" ...

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December 23d

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pp. 91-92

We decided to get ready for Christmas today; the Chippewa families are coming over for dinner. We brought the turkey in to thaw, and made cakes, and Bruce and I strung cranberries and popcorn for the tree. I haven't done that since I was very small. ...

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December 24th

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pp. 92-94

A delicious day, crisp but not cold, and I always love the day before Christmas better than Christmas itself. I put our birds' Christmas tree outside the west windows on a tall stump and decorated it with jackpine cones dipped in melted suet, strings of popcorn and cranberries, small bright apples, and birch-bark cornucopias filled with fat and sunflower seeds. ...

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Christmas Day

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p. 94

After breakfast Bruce distributed the presents, glittering like the Christmas tree in his excitement. Later, the Indians arrived by dog team and Charlie Olsen came along. My family had sent Christmas crackers in our box of gifts, and everyone wore the gay paper caps. The Indians love any sort of fun and frolic. ...

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December 27th

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p. 95

We have been lucky in escaping the flu which has swept the North Shore, but now Justine and I have both caught colds. The Indians on this lake are very considerate; since they have learned from the Kerfoots that colds are contagious, they don't come in when they have them and stay away when the Kerfoots do. ...

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December 28th

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p. 96

It's snowing. Justine and I made snowflake molds all afternoon. I'd read last winter in Natural History that it was possible, but I could never get the chemical—the poly vinyl formal resin in ethylene dichloride. (You'd think that would be easy to find!) Now a museum friend has sent a small bottle, and we've caught snowflakes all afternoon. ...

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December 29th

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pp. 96-100

I can never forget the utter clarity of these winter dawns. The complete stainlessness in the coloring of early morning is what affects me most deeply. What did I say, when the snow first fell, about the monotony of white landscapes? ...

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December 31st

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p. 100

Bruce and I went on our trap line. We found our first victim, a dead rabbit in a snare, frozen too stiff to look pitiful. Bruce seized him in triumph and ran off home. "You take a short cut and I'll take a long cut," he said. "I'll meet you at the wolf snare." Having caught a rabbit, he was sure we'd catch a wolf. ...

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New Year's Day

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pp. 100-101

Last night was New Year's Eve, and so after the children were asleep we took to drink and gambling. We played all the games the family sent for Christmas (to aid us in our solitary confinement)— parchesi, lotto, anagrams, checkers—we played them all at a nickel a game, reveling in Cuba libres and Christmas cookies, ...

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January 6th

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pp. 101-102

Lee and I took a morning walk across the lake. We always like to head toward Canada; it has a strong allurement for us. It is so rich and fortunate in the wilderness the United States has for the most part lost that it is an inspiring feeling just to face toward it. ...

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January 10th

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pp. 102-105

Lee has just found that he must be in New York the first of February. I thought when we came that I should be ready to leave after the holidays, but now I want the whole winter. I remembered today that I'd planned to go into Duluth off and on during our stay! I've never even thought of it since we've been here. ...

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January 18th

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pp. 105-107

Lee made me wake up early and stagger, more than half asleep, outdoors to see the moon with a star just beside it, like a Madonna and Child. It was a most exquisite portrayal, she gentle and slightly worn, the baby new and sparkling. ...

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January 19th

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pp. 108-109

Today we finished harvesting the ice, dragging it to shore and up an improvised slide to the icehouse. That is a chunky little building, and with its high window, where Bruce was perched outside on the sawdust pile, the spruce branches drooping beyond him, it made a charming picture. ...

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January 21st

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pp. 109-110

Our last day in the north woods! I long to stay till spring; perhaps some day we shall see its coming. ...

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About the Authors

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Florence Page Jaques (1890-1972) and Francis Lee Jaques (1887-1969), one of Americas greatest nature artists, wrote and illustrated eight books together. They met in New York City and were married in 1927; their honeymoon, a canoe trip through the Minnesota-Ontario Boundary Waters, was described in Canoe Country, published in 1938. ...