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HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES it is a peaceful morning. The tall pine deacons stand with their heads in the mist and the river flows by, one assumes, hidden in quilts of fog. Occasionally a floating Goldeneye decides to take to the air, wings whistling, and leaves a dark trail across the water—proving that there is indeed water

Attendance on the Rise

HERE AT THE CHURCH O THE PINES, it is a fine Sunday morning. Old Man River flows by within his banks—or maybe a few inches over. The ice floes have migrated south. Other beings have migrated north, and there is a great cacophony from the river, composed of the voices of geese, goldeneyes, hooded mergansers, wood ducks, mallards, eagles, even

The Star Maiden

FROM THE CHILDREN’S CORNER: The Star Maiden is a beautiful retelling of an Ojibwa legend, based on a story found in ‘The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation,’ 1850, by George Copway, Chief of the Ojibway Nation. It is a legend about the origin of the Water Lily. Being fond of Native American legends, waterways, and wildflowers,

An Edifying Snow Day

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES we awaken to another inundation. Limb-sized snow bombs roused us several times during the night, shaking the little cabin—and at least one large limb broke off and fell on the deck. But we arise this morning to sparking sunshine and a barometer that says the storm is past. Yesterday was The Caretaker’s first

Distressed Decisions on a Pleasant Morning

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES IT IS A FINE AND PLEASANT MORNING. In true Minnesota fashion we are grateful that it is 15 degrees below zero in March, and not 35 below. The snow is sparkling in the Churchyard, the stumps all have white, high-top hats on, the tall pines all reach for the heavens just like the

Quilt of Snow

Quilt of Snow

TODAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES, all things rest under a quilt of snow. It is a reminder that hardship is often accompanied by beauty. Squirrels bound along, leaving tracks in their wake. The Pileated Woodpecker flashes through the woods, a streak of red and black and white. The Pine Siskins have a one word, hymn, as always–“Sweeeeeet?” The

The Cheery Chickadees

The Cheery Chickadees

AS WE PLAN for summer trips and Road Scholar expeditions, we awaken here at the CHURCH O’ THE PINES to below zero temperatures. And news that at Lake Kabetogama—scene of our August National Park boat trip to Kettle Falls—the overnight low was 42 below zero! That’s 42 degrees less than nothing!! I have been at our little cabin on Fawn

Every day in a beautiful place is a beautiful day

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES a soft quilt of cloud hangs over the forest. It is not an especially pretty morning—no spritely sparkles or brilliant beams of light. But it is a morning full of promise nonetheless. When the boys were little I made up a saying and repeated it often: Every day in a beautiful place is

Gitche Manito’s Owl

Gitche Manito's Owl

ON THIS SUNDAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES BY THE FROZEN MISSISSIPPI, the crows are hollering and squalling wildly from the woods. Perhaps they have found Brother Great Horned Owl (or Sister) and are feeling outraged. Again. Crows love to bedevil owls. It is the smiling story of the Ojibwa that when Gitche Manito was creating things, on the

Soft and Far Away

soft and far away

ON THIS SUNDAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES the grounds are wrapped in cotton batting. The sounds of the world all seem soft and far away. Even the brash laughter of the crimson-capped Pileated Woodpecker is muffled. The first real snowstorm of the season has left the forest changed. Some of the big pines here have seen 120 winters,