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Jim Cumming - From the Publisher's Pen

Jim is the publisher of the Fort Frances Times Ltd. He writes a weekly column and can be contacted at jcumming@fortfrances.com

Can't remember smoke being so thick

The National Post headline reads: “Pikangikum First Nation faces second evacuation in just over one month.”

I can't imagine what it is like to live in that community where two fires have combined into one giant fire shooting a plume of smoke high into the air.

I can't imagine fleeing from my community even once threatened by fire yet a second time in such a short period. I can't imagine wondering if I will have a home to return to.

Getting to know our cabin neighbours

As I write this week's column, I can't help but think of how fortunate we are to be on Rainy Lake.

We hosted a party for all of the residents within an island of our cabin this past weekend marking two national holidays.

Over time, we have lost track of the new residents. It was a fun event as most of those in attendance had not met each other before

The cabin owners in the area have changed a great deal in the past half-decade through sales and residents growing older and having to move their properties to other family members.

We are a nation of immigrants

I am looking out through the windows of our cabin sunroom. It is overcast and warm.

The rain that was called for overnight didn't occur. I can hear birds in the background.

The Canadian flag that has flown from our flagpole for decades hangs limp. I realize that my family and I are very lucky to live in Canada.

July 1st was once called Dominion Day. Today it is Canada Day.

Resigned to the loss of trees

TREES

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

—Joyce Kilmer

Don't pass up the attractions nearest to us

I sometimes think that as a resident of the Rainy River district that I have not taken enough time to be a home tourist.

I suspect that many of us are that way.

As a family, we travelled to Winnipeg to take in the various museums and art galleries.

We headed south and visited the Historical Forestry camp in Grand Rapids, and the Minnesota Mining Museum in Chisholm with the kids.

We never travelled to Ely to see the wolves. Our trips came during the off-summer season destination.

Everything happens for a reason

Sometimes “things happen” as my good friend Phil Bangert would say.

This past weekend was like that and it became a bit of a trial.

We were heading to the lake. We were even leaving early to try and avoid the lineup moving over the overpass. We were on schedule.

We arrived at the boat landing, removed the top from the boat and loaded the supplies and groceries for the weekend.

We turned the key. Not even a click was heard. A new battery was needed and a quick trip back to the Fort was needed to acquire a starting battery.

Should we be worried about earthworms?

As I travelled the highway to Rainy River delivering papers last Wednesday, I could not help but notice the flocks of sea gulls in the field feasting on what I suppose are earthworms.

Gardeners love those earth animals as they break up leaves and other vegetation and leave behind rich nutrients for plants to grow on. I was always told that a healthy garden is filled with earthworms.

I know several fishermen who have patches of gardens that are designed to grow healthy crawlers to be used as live bait for walleye.

Paper could have a renaissance

Every two weeks we put two blue boxes on the boulevard. At our home, the blue boxes contain a mixture of empty cereal boxes, clear plastic containers that once held strawberries or some other fruit, salad dressing bottles and empty gallon jugs that once held milk.

Asselin Transportation collects all of the material in the blue boxes for the town and puts it all together for shipment to a Winnipeg sorting and recycling facility.

Getting the cabin set up for the season

We finally made it to the cabin.

Earlier this year, the International Joint Commission had expressed concern that flooding on Rainy Lake might occur with the record snow fall through the winter and heavy rains last October, but we were able to pull right up to our dock. The lake was higher than we expected.

There had been reports that Rainy Lake was much lower than appeared normal to many cabin owners at this time of year. In many a previous year, we often found that through the early part of May, a great part of the first part of our first dock was out of water.

Looking forward to trees blossoming

In the spring of 1980, my wife and I were on our hands and knees with shovels, bare root stock digging holes for shrubbery and trees. Today those same trees and shrubs are coming to the end of their lifetime.

We have watched and enjoyed them from the time that they were mere root stock. That was almost four decades ago. The silver maple in the northeast corner of our yard appears to be splitting down the centre of the “y” that were the two main branches.

The trunk now measures almost a meter in diameter. The tree will produce a lot of firewood.