I used my family’s cranberry-growing heritage to create an early 20th century murder mystery that takes place in northern Wisconsin. The leading personalities are from Chicago, a Wisconsin farming community, and an Ojibwe reservation. Many of the story’s diverse characters had reasons to disregard the death of Tim in 1919, until the truth was unburied forty years later.
I tried to convey the hardships of early cranberry cultivation, before the use of chemical herbicides, when harvesting was a community activity, and prior to sprinkler systems, which are used today to protect against frost. I wanted the reader to know how logging the pinery affected the Ojibwe people and changed the terrain of the upper Midwest. I tried to express the serenity and wildness of the North Woods of Wisconsin, where neighbors are few and mosquitoes are many, where loons provide your morning wake-up call and whip-poor-wills won’t let you sleep at night.
The pictures below show ripe cranberries which by the 1960’s were still harvested using “rakes”.
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