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Across The Lake

Flowering crabs have small fruit, about marble sized, but out the front window, I watched a chipmunk scale the tree, head out on a well fruited branch, and quickly stuff a full half dozen of those little apples into his cheeks. They were puffed out with dimples where each was held, ready to be carried to a winter stockpile.

Nearby a pile of new-fallen leaves gave further evidence to the advance of the seasons. Trees seemed a shade less colorful this year, the dryness of late summer reflected in the way some trees gave up and shed so quickly, and the towering basswood by the back fence yielded leaves much smaller than the usual ones of dinner plate size.

Before this last spell of warmer weather, I picked up some vanilla ice cream on a cool day in the middle of the week. Jayne Dueffert was checking me out at the register, and made some comment about the ice cream this late in the season. I told her how our youngest was coming for a visit and I needed to make a peanut butter malted for her while she was here. Jayne gave me that quizzical look I often get, and get just about every time I mention peanut butter malted milk.

Suzi couldn't remember when it started, nor could I except that she was just a youngster at the time, nor did either of us remember how we came to choose peanut butter as a flavor. Whatever the reason, it became sort of a father-daughter thing. Just enough milk, malt powder, ice cream and then a generous spoonful or two of peanut butter -- creamy style is best if you're going to use straws -- and turn on the blender. It still tastes good, but probably not as a regular menu item. Except when you have daughters.

Photographers, amateur and professional, are invited to enter a photo contest offering a couple thousand dollars in prizes, for pictures or videos emphasizing how Blackduck is a great place for families. It's part of the Economic Development Corporation program aimed at stressing what the Blackduck community offers as a place for a rich family experience.

I thought of that last weekend when looking for a coffee mug. Not just any mug, but one with a Blackduck label. Grandson Drake needed one, and having arrived years ago at the stage where acting on a grandson's request has a pretty high priority, I set out to buy. Moon Drug seemed a likely spot, but the ladies there gave me a supportive smile but said they were out of them -- summer visitors had bought every one. Did I try Northwoods Gift?

It was early and Robin Stomberg hadn't opened yet, so I drove around. Tried Liz at Blackduck Floral but it wasn't something she stocked. Nothing like that at Family Foods either. Timberline has their own travel cups, but no Blackduck mugs. Northwoods Lumber acquired a lot of stuff when Hardware Hank closed, but not coffee mugs. Gift shop at Countryside had none, either. Neither did Carmen among a lot of used mugs and uptown, the antique place was closed. Last chance: maybe Robin was back.

Northwoods Gift was open, Robin was there and he not only had just what I had been looking for, he had alternative suggestions. When I mentioned a dishwasher had worn the lettering off an earlier mug, he showed me one with an etched design that would never wear off. Another design or two as well, but by this time I was satisfied and also curious. Why aren't more places offering Blackduck mugs? Seems that to get them at less than a full retail price, they have to be ordered in quantity. Like six or 12 dozen at a time, Robin said.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Blackduck mugs. You could tie up a fair amount of cash in what is pretty much a seasonal item. It's probably a wild hair idea, but instead of selling Christmas wrapping or magazine subscriptions door to door as a fund raiser, might a Drakes mug or one like those at Northwoods Gift work as well?