Last night we crossed into Minnesota before stopping for the night. We’ve left the broad corn and soybean fields behind and re now traveling through Minnesota’s lake country. Small diverse farms are interspersed with previously timbered woodlands which are now home to recreational homes, fishing camps and all other sorts of modern recreation in the woods. We are crossing the State well off the interstate highway on 10, then 34, then 200, through the National Forest and te Chippewa Indian Reservation. We leave Leach Lake to our north – a place full of jet skis, fishing boats, and shore side moored party boats forlornly awaiting their owner’s return under tattered boat covers. We drive by and see two fisherman just as they are pulling a large fish over the side of their modest fishing boat – I can almost hear the joy and amusement in their voices with their success. IN a flash, the lake is gone and the woods close in on the two lane road. We pass marshy areas – alert for moose and deer in the reeds. “Northwoods Welding, Farm Fresh Eggs and Cut Flowers” one sign reads. Turn here.
And the blacktop ribbon unfurls just ahead of us – just enough for us to pass over following the low rolling contours of this plateau above and west of Lake Superior. North of us, the map indicates population is sparse until it stops altogether at the extensive Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Another trip we’ll come through here and stop for an extended boat trip – but for now, we keep rolling east.
There is just now a touch of color in the trees, but no real impact on the overriding green of the place. Green trees, green understory, green grass, green ferns – only broken by the stark white of the birch’s bark and the yellow blossoms of the roadside wildflowers. The branches drop over the roadway here on both sides. As if, if traffic were to stop for a season, the left and right upper edges would touch and they would cover the roadway leaving a tunnel for travel beneath.
This morning the clouds were reflecting the over arching geography of the land spread out ahead of us. We could see the long arch of the great lake reflected in te cloud formations – their edge showing us the boundary between the fresh water ocean and the land. We drive ahead through the forest imagining the quiet here once the long winter’s snow cover has arrived.
To our surprise, we cross the Mississippi River, a mere stream here really as the outlet to Moose Lake. Could it be we are at the headwaters of this mighty waterway? Many stream, river, and lake names have appeared in our travel over and over, Trout Creek, White River, Moose Lake, Duck Pond, but Mississippi? That name seems reserved for the real and authentic McCoy.