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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!

 


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 8, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith     June 8, 2018    

Our stickiness of May’s last days is a distant memory. Conditions along the Trail have dropped back into the “cool” of the north beginning with this weeks’ scoop. Thank goodness as a little of the hot and humid gets old pretty quick!                                                                                     
Residents and businesses out this way are thankful for the more tolerable temps but even more, so because our arid ways have been squelched with several droppings from the heavens. In fact, our first weekend of the new month was quite soggy. Most likely the weather was not the best for early season vacationers, paddlers or anglers, but for those of us on edge due to wildfire danger, we’re smiling in spite of cold, dreary conditions.                                                                                                                                                             
The thirsty earth has been gobbling up every raindrop. All of this recent fountain of life will be put to good use as the deciduous forest finishes leafing out, and coniferous cousins are sending this seasons’ shoots skyward. The last of our “green-up” extravaganza is observed in sugar maples. “Mother Natures” exercise in shading the wilderness landscape is now complete, and the natural world is on to weeks of a summer fling.                                                                                                              

Whereas busy lives don’t often allow for contemplation of many simple, natural things going on about us, I spent some quiet time recently, watching our leafy tokens react in a blustery morning wind. While you might think I don’t have enough to do, I find many interesting goings-on in the forest by just letting my senses respond to creations’ stimuli.                                              

In that regard, speaking of our newborn foliage, not only is every leaf species unique in shade, shape, and texture, each seems to have its own character when the wind sets it in motion. To mention a few, I noted some greenery shimmers/quakes; some spin; some turn their bottom sides up; some plane themselves out sunny side up; some flop from side to side and many others just bop around. All the while, they’re swishing some in-audible resonance and hanging on for dear life. It’s a summertime ode.                                                                                                                              

New colors are falling in line for the warm season parade. As the early yellows are fading, other tints of the spectrum have perked up. Right on schedule for the first of June, the pink of wild roses, baby-blue of forget-me-nots and muted red of columbine have spruced up the yard around Wildersmith. Meanwhile, I’m also seeing uncountable tiny white blossoms of wild strawberries. This is a really sweet time of the year.                                                                                           

The return to cool, and some moments downright cold has surely energized the fleet of hummingbirds in this neighborhood. I suppose they must be on the move to tank up as much as possible to stay warm. They are so excited I can barely hang out a fresh jar of sweetness without being swarmed. The other day while hanging the unit up, one of the brilliant ruby throats hovered within inches of my nose, certainly encouraging me to get out of the way.                   

The fox mentioned a few weeks ago, has apparently adopted the Smith’s. It’s not here every day but shows up frequently knowing I’ll throw it a scrap. It also has found enjoyment in the pursuit of squirrels hanging out around my wood shop door. The foxy guy has already caught one, and the other day I saw a red/orange blur go by my window as the fox flashed by chasing one of the rodents around the house. This time the squirrel made it up a tree in the nick of time.                                                                                                                                                                             
The Trail event calendar intensifies this weekend with the Boundary Waters Expo starting Saturday morning over on East Bearskin Lake. Then on Sunday the Gunflint Trail Historical Society holds its annual shrimp boil and bake sale fundraiser.                                                                                     

This happening takes place at the Seagull Lake Community Center beginning at 4:00 pm through 6 pm. John Schloot and his crew will be at the boiling pot as usual for this scrumptious touch of southern cuisine up north.                                                                                                                                  

A donation of $15 per plate is suggested, and you’ll need a few extra bucks to take home some of the baked goodies from the north woods kitchens. Don’t miss it!                                                                                                                                                                          

On a closing note, The GTHS will be having its first membership meeting of the summer on Monday, the 11th. The gathering will include the annual business meeting beginning at 1:30 pm in the Seagull Lake Community Center. After the business of recognizing Board of Trustees with expiring terms of service, there will be an election of new Board members.                              

The days’ program speaker will be Wayne Anderson, who will be “Taking A Walk Down Memory Lane” with reflections on iconic names and places during his many years of life along this scenic treasure. This will be more Gunflint Trail History in the making. Following Wayne’s presentation, treats will be served.                                                                                                                                                                                     

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, and some are even better!
 

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Superior National Forest Update - June 8, 2018

National Forest Update – June 7, 2018.
 
Hi.  I’m Paulette Anholm, front desk staff, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. For the week of June 8th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

We are starting to see some real summer now, not only with temperatures, but with black flies, mosquitos, and ticks.  All of these lovely blood suckers are happy to have so many people returning to the outdoors.  Black flies and mosquitos around here are mostly just annoying.  They can be annoying enough to truly ruin a camping trip, but still, they are just annoying.  Ticks, however, are a different story.  Ticks can carry many diseases among them Babeosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted-Fever, and Lyme Disease.  Here in Minnesota, we’ve now seen incidences of all three of these diseases.  Lyme Disease cases are occurring in larger amounts than before, leading some people to tie the increase in disease to an increase in ticks possibly due to climate change.  Regardless of the cause, it is a disease to treat seriously and take steps to prevent tick bites, and to know what to do when you find an attached tick.  Prevention is the best idea – wear long pants, and as silly as you may feel, tuck them into your socks.  This won’t keep the ticks off, but it will make them stay on the outside of your pants where you can spot them.  Use insect repellents on your clothing to keep the ticks away as well.  If you find an embedded tick, use tweezers to remove it without pinching the body.  The idea is to prevent injecting the contents of the tick into you by squeezing the tick.  Inspect yourself often for ticks – if removed early, there isn’t time for the disease-causing organisms to go from the tick into you.  Luckily, by taking measures to prevent tick bites and prompt removal of attached ticks, we can still enjoy our trips into the forest.  Except for those pesty black flies and mosquitos!

You won’t have to worry about much logging traffic though.  Things are similar to last week.  Logging trucks are using the Trappers Lake Road, the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Old Greenwood Road (Forest Road 144).  Do still watch out for rough roadways, though some grading is starting to take place.

The other thing to watch for on roadways are fawns and moose calves.  You should watch for the adults too, of course, but we’ve had a lot of people seeing the newborns out with their moms.  Remember, a moose with a calf is very protective, and you should not try to approach them for photos.  People have been charged by protective mama moose, and you really don’t want a moose mad at you.  Deer protect their fawns by hiding them while mom goes out grazing.  Fawns will lie perfectly still when you stumble across one.  Don’t try to pick it up, or try to help it – it is just fine.  Also, don’t stay near for too long, you’ll only stress the poor thing.  Just leave fawns alone and mom will come back and take care of it. 

People also like to “help” abandoned bunnies and chicks who “fell” out of the nest.  As nice as the thought is, bunnies and chicks usually don’t need help.  Snowshoe hare moms leave their young alone, just like fawns, and abandoned bunnies are not really abandoned at all.  The mom is usually very secretive, and you may never catch her coming back to nurse the young.  For baby birds that seem to have fallen, well, that’s part of learning to fly.  Chicks will fall, or fly, out of the nest and be not quite good enough to fly back up.  Mom will still feed them on the ground, just let them be.

I hope you make some time this week to get out in the woods and search out some of these young animals and their parents.  It looks like we could have some great weather, so get out there!

Until next week, this has been Paulette Anholm with the National Forest Update.
 

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June 2018

Northern Sky - June 9-22

Northern Sky  -  by Deane Morrison  June 9-22 2018

During the two weeks between June 9 and 22 the moon switches from the morning to the evening sky. It starts out as a waning crescent that drops diagonally toward the sun from morning to morning. On the 13th we get a new moon, at which point the moon crosses to the evening sky and begins waxing.
 
In the western evening sky, Venus continues to outshine everything else. Starting on the 9th, the Gemini twins, which have been dropping toward Venus, start to pass the planet on the right, or, its northern side. The Gemini twin stars are Castor and Pollux, Pollux being the one closer to Venus. On their way toward the horizon, the twins pass the young moon on its way up.  
 
We can see this after nightfall on Friday, the 15th. We’ll have a young crescent moon below Venus and the Gemini twins off to the side. When the sky has darkened on the 16th, grab your binoculars and look for the lovely but subtle Beehive star cluster midway between Venus and the moon. You’ll see two stars bracketing the Beehive to the upper left; these are the Aselli, or asses. In Latin the Beehive is called Praesepe, the manger, and the Aselli are two donkeys feeding at it. On the 19th, the Beehive will appear immediately southeast of Venus, that is, just to its lower left, but by then we’ll have a nearly first-quarter moon that might wash out the stars a bit.
 
Jupiter is up in the south after nightfall. To the west of Jupiter is the bright star Spica, in Virgo. Actually, it’s the only bright star in Virgo. Above these two objects is Arcturus, in Bootes, the herdsman, a kite-shaped constellation. Just east of the kite is Corona Borealis, the northern crown, which looks like a tiara hanging in the sky. Its brightest star is Alphecca, or Gemma, the jewel in the crown. Alphecca is a double star, a pair of stars, one significantly fainter than the other. It’s an example of what’s known as an eclipsing binary. Every 17.4 days, the fainter star passes in front of the brighter star as seen from Earth and causes a slight dip in Alphecca’s brightness. The most famous eclipsing binary is Algol, in the winter constellation Perseus. The variations in its brightness are easily seen. To the ancients it looked like a winking eye in the sky.
 
If you’re up late, camping or just outside with a southern exposure, you can watch the summer stars follow Jupiter into the sky from the southeast. First Scorpius and its gigantic red heart, Antares. Then the Teapot of Sagittarius, with Saturn shining above the lid of the Teapot, and finally Mars, which is brightening by the day. Everything rises earlier every night, but practically speaking, you won’t see Mars till after midnight.
 
The summer solstice happens at 5:07 a.m.—almost exactly sunrise in Grand Marais—on Thursday, the 21st. At that moment the sun reaches a point over the Tropic of Cancer and Earth will be lighted from the Antarctic Circle up to the North Pole and over to the Arctic Circle on the night side of the planet. You may have noticed that the sun is about as high as it gets for about a month before and after the summer solstice. And about as low as it gets for two months centered on the winter solstice. That’s because, of course, the sun moves northward and southward most slowly around the solstices, when it changes direction and appears to stop for a while. In fact, the word solstice is derived from the Latin for “sun standing still.”

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota.
She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and in this feature, she shares what there is to see in the night sky in our region.

"Minnesota Starwatch" can be found on the University of Minnesota website at 
astro.umn.edu.
 

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Magnetic North - June 6, 2018

Magnetic North 6/1/18

Love at First Sight
 
Welcome back to Magnetic North, where the woods and lakes and portages draw folks of all ages and abilities, like me. Or, I should say, like me 48 years ago. 
 
Today, it would take Jaws of Life to get me out of a canoe and there isn’t money enough in this world to make me hike uphill in the dark, surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes, to pee at 3 a.m.
 
But my attitude, and my body were far different in June of 1970. My husband at that time, Jack, and I had been white watering canoeing for a few years on the rivers of Ohio, where we lived before moving back to Minnesota. Jack loved canoeing and as much as he enjoyed rivers, he had his sights set on the Boundary Waters, and so insisted on getting a lake keel on our 18 foot Kevlar canoe.  Jack had been on a Boy Scout trip in the BW and remembered it in a dreamlike way, replete with aurora borealis, more stars than one had ever seen, glistening fresh water lakes and stunning forests. And, because he knew my weakness for animal life, he promised that if we went there I’d see eagles, moose and deer.
 
And thus we set off for the North Shore in June of ‘72, leaving baby Gretchen with my parents in the cities. All the way up to Duluth, Jack lectured me on the wonders ahead, never guessing that his wife was about to fall head over heels in love with.....a place she would one day live without him.
 
I remember still how my breath caught and stopped as our car rounded that curve above the Duluth harbor where first you spy Lake Superior. Not since leaving my home on the East Coast ten years before had I seen so much water. An inland sea. It was love at first sight. And so it went, all the way up the narrow highway to Grand Marais. I craned my neck to take in each glimpse of the lake as Jack lectured about the Precambrian shield on the high side of the road. So when we finally got to the Gunflint Trail and took that sharp left turn uphill, away from the lake, I protested. “Where are we going?”
 
“Round Lake,” he said. “That’s where we put in.” 
And we did, in a Biblical deluge, right behind a scout troop of about two dozen young boys, all with old aluminum canoes. I mention that only because the kids dropped the canoes so often, with the resounding clatter of a garbage can hitting a brick wall. Wet boy scouts, it seems, are tone deaf. 
 
Since this was our first backpacking venture into the BWCAW, we packed poorly and thus had to make two trips over each portage to get all of our gear to the next lake. But for that first day, just staying on our feet in the mud was the top priority. That, and beating the scouts to the choice camp site we wanted on the next lake. I still remember passing one poor boy, lying on his back off trail, pinned by his heavy pack, kicking his mud caked hiking boots in fury as he brayed for help.
 
The trip now is something of a blur in my mind. I don’t recall having seen any wildlife, perhaps a beaver swimming back and forth off Ellis lake, where we were camped for two days on a lovely little island. Not out of liking the location, but because Jack sprained his ankles trying to keep our canoe from blowing out into the lake. We never stayed that long anywhere else. It sticks in my mind as a “forced march,” indicative of the difference in temperaments between Jack and myself - a difference that would eventually pull us apart.
 
Each night, I would fold myself into the sleeping bag, listening to the drone of millions of mosquitoes, loon calls and the distant clanging of the boy scouts dropping or turning over their blasted aluminum canoes,  and replay that drive up the shore. The shore.  That is where my heart was, not in the woods. 
 
Still, upon our return, we immediately began planning our next trip in the “B-Dub” - this time smart packing, with a red hard sided pannier, ultra lite packs and tent, and a meticulously planned route with even more portages and lake and campsites than on our first outing. It would be in late August, a month with little rain, warmer lake water and, the gods willing, fewer scouts.
 
And so we returned in August of ’72 and this time we nailed it, at least on paper. The missing element, I now realize. was that we did not factor in the love of nature, only the conquering of it. Our success on the second trip was all about reaching goals, such as the number of portages and lakes tallied in ten days. Now that I think about it,  we were more like decathlon racers, than lovers of woods, trails, and waters. Smug hares zipping by the lumbering tortoises who had packed poorly, strapping toilet seats and other badges of shame to their bodies and packs. And the result was that our victory over nature did not bring us back to those trails and lakes. Ever again.
I say bring “us” back ever again because I did come back. This time with someone who, like me, relished being close to the big lake. So much so that Paul and I scoured the real estate ads for two years until we found a home we loved, loved probably as much as we loved each other. Our farm was homesteaded in 1913 by Scandinavian immigrants, probably much like both sets of Pauls grandparents. 
 
We had no plan, no goals to accomplish when we packed up and moved here. We just felt that it was where we belonged.
 
One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis goes something like this - that when the most important things in our lives are happening, we often have no idea what is going on. I think that is so true of how I came to be here, spinning tales for you some 48 years after I fell in love at first sight with Lake Superior and with the little town pinned to its shores. I had no idea what was going on. None at all. 
 
For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North
 
 

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Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus)

North Woods Naturalist: Avian Insectivores

There is a class of birds that almost completely feed on insects. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about avian insectivores.
 

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Malcom Potek - Glass Artist

North Shore Morning host, Shawna Willis talks with glass-artist, Malcom Potek about his "Cracking the Kiln Code" class at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

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Wildwoods Wildlife Rehab Center - May 31, 2018

North Shore Morning host, Dennis Waldrop talks with Wildwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center's Tara Smith about the animals they are seeing at the center and volunteering opportunities.

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 1, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith   June 1, 2018
 
Commencing with this weeks’ report during a busy Memorial Day weekend, the North Woods has experienced a sudden turn to summer. Our atmosphere lost its’ spring luster to some ugly July/August stickiness. We can only hope this unpleasant natural sauna is temporary.                                                                                                                                                                              

If you’ve been following my column over the years, it’s plenty evident I don’t favor hot and humid. So with what’s been going on in the last days of May is not making me and the moose very happy. Our only consolation is in knowing the tropical madness throughout Gunflint Territory is not as miserable as it is for our Minnesota brethren to the south.                                                                                 

The unofficial start of the summer season found the Gunflint Byway alive with uncountable visitors during the long holiday. There were people everywhere. If this is an indication of things to come, businesses out this way could have a banner summer time.                        

For yours truly, the weekend found me caught in the midst of chores for two seasons. With help from some great friends, I was putting the dock into the lake one day, while stacking firewood the next. In regard to the woodshed filling, this wood will be remembered as having warmed me twice over, both now and a winter or two down the road.                                                           

Some scattered showers in the upper Trail had done little more than settle the dusty back country roads and barely tempered wildfire danger. At Wildersmith the rain gauge collected less than two tenths, while areas in the mid-trail and up at the end saw a little over a third of an inch. Then in the past couple days “Mother Nature” finally squelched the recent drought with a great one-inch soaker.                                                                                                                                             

One of those earlier shower episodes included some big-time thunder and lightning, so I’d be surprised if there might be a strike smoldering somewhere in the forest. Everyone needs to keep an eye to the sky for smoke signals. Let’s hope the recent moisture episode doused that danger.                                                                                                                                                                                            
Other thoughts about water find area lake temps have really spiked up the past few days. Whereas the water was in the high thirties about three weeks ago as ice went out, this past weekend found it had reached the sixty-degree mark on Gunflint.                                                                                

Another issue finds the late spring/early summer pollen time exploding. I don’t usually pay much attention to the happening, but this dusting seems beyond normal. The collective allergen is layered on everything, from the vehicle to a yellow/ green skim on lake surfaces.                                   

I was over on West Bearskin Lake last Sunday headed for the annual big pancake feed at Camp Menogyn. I couldn’t believe how the wind had blown the pollen slurry into a nasty goop up along the shoreline. It was, and is pretty yucky!                                                                                                             

Speaking of another annual back woods annoyance, the black fly hatching has catapulted the bitin’ critters into our everyday lives. At the same time, mosquitoes are gaining attention too. So the war is on!  Bug nets and a slathering of repellent dupes are called to arms, and all other exposed bodily parts.                                                                                                                                                                     

Bruno reports have intensified since we last met. Members of the Gunflint ebony sloth are getting closer and closer to human interactions, but I’ve heard of no major calamities yet.                       

I did hear of a crazy happening that took place for a fisherman in the mid-trail area. Although details are somewhat sketchy, it seems his tackle box was set on the dock while he tended to some other business. Returning later, the tackle box was found upside down on the dock in a pool of water.                                                                                                                                                                    

Blame is pointed at a bear as the best possible culprit, after having been observed in the neighborhood earlier. Conjecture has it the bear mauled around with the box trying to open it (probably thought it looked like a campers food chest), and knocked it into the lake. Then not to give up on a potential feast, managed to pull it out of the water and back onto the dock.                                                                                                

Apparently finding access too frustrating, the accused departed leaving the angler’s treasures un-opened. When opened by the rightful owner, the box was half full of water and in a tangled mess while revealing a few dings and bite marks. Knowing bears can find a way to get into almost anything, one might guess this bear is off scratching its head in wonder of what it missed.                                                                                                                                                                              

In closing, a reminder is given with regard to the Boundary Waters Canoe Expo. It’s the first big summer event on the calendar along the Trail. Activities and the latest on everything paddling will begin at 9:00 am, next Saturday, June 9, and run through Sunday afternoon. For more info, go to the Boundary Waters Expo website, or email quinn@bearskin.com.                                                                                              

For WTIP, this Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great as we await a next adventure in the “wild neighborhood.”
 

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Superior National Forest Update - June 1, 2018

National Forest Update – May 31, 2018.
 
Hi.  I’m Brandee Wenzel, administration and support assistant, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. For start of June, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

With the start of the summer months, we are getting some good thunderstorms.  Just a reminder to everyone, lightning is nothing to play around with.  Most lightning strikes occur in front of the rain, so if you are out on the water and hear a storm approaching, don’t wait until the rain starts – get off the lake and seek a safe place to ride out the storm, immediately.  If you are on land, avoid sheltering under tall trees, and minimize your contact with the ground.  If you’re in your house, well, have a second cup of coffee and enjoy the show.

The rain we have been getting has helped a bit with fire danger, but it is still pretty dry.  We need a good soaker to really relieve the fire danger.  Green up has also helped a lot as wet live vegetation is pretty resistant to fire, and the rain is also helping forest green up to progress.

Rain is also letting us start to grade some roads.  Many roads are still in pretty rough shape from winter and spring – the 600 Road, in particular, has some large sinkholes in it, so drive with caution until we can make some repairs.  If you run across any particularly noteworthy road problems while you are out driving, please take note of where the problem is, take some photos if you have a phone with you, and report it to either the Tofte or Gunflint Ranger Stations.

There is still not a lot of timber hauling going on out on the roads.  You can expect truck traffic on the Trapper’s Lake Road in Tofte, and on the Greenwood and Firebox Roads in Gunflint. 

You can start to expect more visitor traffic though.  Be patient and respectful of visitors that might be a bit lost, or are driving a bigger rig than they are used to.  If you are one of those who might become a bit lost, be aware that automobile GPS units often have problems with our roads.  Some snowmobile trails appear as roads on a GPS, and some roads don’t appear at all.  Your best bet is to purchase a visitor map from one of the districts which will have all the roads on it.  Navigate from the map, and don’t trust that calm voice coming from your GPS which tells you to turn down a trail into a lake.

You will also have to be patient on our main street of Highway 61.  Culverts are going to be replaced in several places along the highway causing one lane traffic with flaggers or temporary stop lights.  Just plan for delays, don’t try to make up your lost time by speeding after you pass the construction. 

This weekend is graduation for seniors in both Grand Marais and Silver Bay.  Congratulations to all of them!  Unfortunately, there are often auto accidents associated with graduation, so please celebrate with care.  Don’t let you or your friends become a statistic this weekend by drinking and driving or letting someone else get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t.  We look forward to all of you heading off into life this fall, whether college, job or tech school. 

Enjoy your weekend, and until next week, this has been Brandee Wenzel with the National Forest Update.
 

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The Muffin Man

CJ Heithoff talks with Drury Lane Book's, The Muffin Man.
Kevin Kager has worked with children at daycares in Cook County for over 20 years.
His Muffin Man story hour is a favorite Saturday morning event at Drury Lane Books.

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