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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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West End News - December 14

West End News 12/14/17  by Clare Shirley
 
The Birch Grove kiddos will be putting their seasonal cheer on display in the annual winter musical this Tuesday, December 19th. The performance, entitled a Bear-y Merry Holiday, will run twice. Once at 1pm and again at 6pm. After each performance you can squeeze in some last minute holiday shopping at the Scholastic Holiday Book Fair, also at Birch Grove.

Former Birch Grover Joshua Schmidt is coming home for the holidays. While that might not seem all that newsworthy, it is worth noting that he will be playing music at the Poplar River Pub at Lutsen Resort while he is back. Josh is part of the successful Twin Cities based band The Step Rockets and he will be bringing an arrangement of classic folk rock with a modern flavor to the north woods. He’s playing on Tuesday, December 19 from 6-8pm. If you can’t make it then, don’t worry, he’ll be back at the Pub again on Thursday December 21 also from 6-8pm.

We’ve had quite a bit of snow this past week in the West End, especially up over the hill. There are roughly 18 inches on the ground up here, with about six inches of new sparkly snow covering the trees. The inland lakes are more frozen every day. Jessica Hemmer drilled a hole in Sawbill Lake just yesterday to measure the ice. She reports that there are 12 inches of clear, solid, ice. We ventured out on the lake not 2 hours after her report and found that the hole she had drilled was already frozen over, enough that we couldn’t break through it. Brr! All the recent snow brings an end to ice skating season. However, the high winds have created a nice firm wind-packed snow on the lakes making for a fast start to cross country ski skating season.

Lutsen Mountains is making good use of the cold temperatures and fast falling snow. As of this Friday December 15, the ski hill will be open daily. Daily lift ticket rates are still pre-season, meaning a little cheaper, until December 21st so now is the time to go if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

Whatever your winter activity, I hope you are out and about enjoying the glittery landscape and soaking up the last sunsets of 2017. I can’t think of a better way to close out one year and begin the next here in the beautiful West End. 
 

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Sunny's Back Yard: Life's firsts

Sunny has lived off-grid in rural Lake County for the past 17 years and is a regular commentator on WTIP. She shares what's been happening in her part of the world on Sunny's Back Yard.

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Chippy in a Pumpkin

Wildersmith on the Gunflint December 8, 2017

Wildersmith on the Gunflint  -  December 8, 2017     by     Fred Smith

With forecasts of new winter things to come, Gunflint weather has remained under the spell of a cold and snow sabbatical. As more of the seasonal character has disappeared, another week of little moisture and minimal cold has we frost loving folks in an out of sorts mood. 
                                          
A couple of positive notes however, have softened the effect during the current northern climate collapse. One of those was the full “little spirit” moon. In fact, the “big Cheese” in the night sky lived up to being called the “super moon.” Perhaps this year, “little” was a misnomer for “his lunar highness.”    
                                                                                                                                                
WTIP listeners have often heard my raves about Canadian sunsets over Gunflint Lake, but never have I gushed about a “moon set.” The scene was reversed last Sunday morning in the twilight hours when I was out doing critter chores.       
                                                                         
A glance toward the western horizon startled me into a gasp when I spotted the “hot orange” sphere as the orb was making its horizon decent. Doing justice to the spectacle finds me without enough descriptors. If others saw this brilliance, weren’t we all so lucky. If you didn’t get to see the setting of this celestial trek, please take my word for it, the show was of moonstruck intensity.   
                                                                                                                                                                
A second item in regard to the on-going downfall of the season northern folk cherish comes with both tongue in cheek seriousness and also a bit of humor. At the Christmas Open House of last Saturday, I was intrigued with stories shared by several residents about their experiences on our ice glazed back country roads. Thankfully, I didn’t hear of any injuries, but for every road or driveway circumstance, everyone has a tale to tell about “escapades on ice”, and how they are coping. My suggestion is to “keep on hangin’ on, things will get better, either with grit assistance from dry snow or spring.”   
                                                                                                                                 
Speaking more of icy adventures, I spoke with a fellow who pulled on his skates a few days ago and hit the ice over on Hungry Jack Lake. Guess for the most part the gliding endeavor was safe, but he did find spots where the hard water enabled seeing the lake bottom.      
                      
Whereas many lakes have several inches of ice enabling ice fishing, there are probably others with un-safe situations. Suggestion, proceed with caution.   

Happenings in the morning twilight hours at Wildersmith have my attention daily.  In the opinion of yours truly, there is nothing to match the energy explosion of each new day in the forest. Particularly, at this time of year when darkness extends past the seven o’clock hour, one can kind of sleep in and still arise in time to catch the wilderness world outside as it too wakes up.     
                                                                                                                                                                                        
As the night shift gang of martens, fishers and flying squirrels have punched out, it seems like “Christmas morning” around here when the day shift comes on. The glee of daylight, warming temps and breakfast has the daytime critters whipped up into a frenzy.  
                                             
It is such a joy to observe them flitting here and darting there as morning conversation clatters with a chorus of squawks, tweets and chatters. I feel like Santa Claus when going out to leave some nutritional tokens and see the little beings perched in line, waiting their turn. The company of the “wild neighborhood” is a never ending adventure. 
                                       
The Gunflint Community was treated to a delightful holiday season kick-off last Saturday night. Huge thanks to the GTVFD for putting on the festive occasion. Decorations were splendid and the food was dynamite. It was such a swell time to meet with friends and neighbors. I’m always amazed to see folks come out of the woods when I didn’t even know they were around.                              
Reports have trickled in telling of moose sightings around the mid-trail zone, episodes of wolf communications and a Lynx observation, all of which might be seen or heard unexpectedly.  Meanwhile, strange weather occurrences often prompt strange animal behaviors. Such is the case where a gal from over on Leo Lake reported the warm conditions have apparently awakened chipmunks around her place. Wonder if this might also have the bears turning over in their slumber? Let’s hope not!   
                                                                                         
And with one more critter tidbit, the same gal mentioned the sighting of a nasty raccoon in her neighborhood.  Boo, hiss, these masked invasives are not the most welcome out here! Guess we’d better alert the wolf/coyote patrol about extermination proceedings.    
                                 
I’m happy to announce the lone seasonal beacon of life in the Gunflint north has been lit!  Thanks to the devoted folks on Birch Lake for lighting up our lives. This twinkling sentinel might be said to reflect a likening to a lone star in the night announcing the birthday of all birthdays! Passing that glimmering tree in the dark of night is a remarkable reminder we are not alone on this journey.   
                                                                                                                                          
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day in the wilderness is great... Blessed are the north woods!
                                                
 

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Superior National Forest Update December 8, 2017

National Forest Update – December 7, 2017.

Hi.  I am Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior.  Here’s what’s up around the Forest in December.

What has been up until the last couple of days has been the temperature, followed by this cold snap into winter.  Our early snow followed by unseasonable warmth resulted in some truly awful forest roads, even by Minnesota standards.  Compacted heavy snow mixed with rain and subfreezing nights made ice rinks out of the Forest roadways.  The conditions were bad enough that the Forest took the step of closing some sections of roadway to the general public for safety purposes.  It only took a minute of travel on the Four Mile Grade between the Sawbill trail and County Road 7 to make the decision to turn around… and that itself was pretty hard.  Our colder temperatures are actually helping make the road less slick, and the closed sections should be open in the near future.  People planning on visiting the Forest should visit our website first and look for Alerts, which are located in the right sidebar.  Current road closures will be posted there.  Even if you are not planning on using the Four Mile Grade, you should be aware that all the roads are icy and people should be very cautious.

Be particularly cautious if you are in an area with active timber hauling.  Gunflint hauling is taking place on Firebox Road (dual use with snowmobile trail), Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, and Cook County 14.  On the Tofte District, hauling is on the Pancore Road, Sawbill Trail, 4 Mile Grade, Lake County 7, and the Trappers Lake Road.

What would make someone venture out into the woods this time of year you ask?  Holiday greenery, that’s what!  Permits to cut a Christmas tree are only $5 at Forest Service offices, or free to fourth graders participating in the Every-Kid-In-A-Park program.  Fourth graders interested need to first enroll in the program and get a voucher online at everykidinapark.gov.  The Every-Kid-In-A-Park program will give free admission to fourth graders and their families to national parks across the country.  Because the Superior National Forest doesn’t have an admission fee and isn’t a park, you get a free tree instead.  So load up the kids, a sled, the dog, and some hot chocolate and don’t forget enough rope to tie the tree on securely, we don’t want it bouncing down the highway. 

While you are out there, you can also get a permit to harvest balsam boughs for wreaths.  We actually recommend balsam for Christmas trees as well, the needles stay on the tree longer than spruce, and they smell better.  It should be noted that you are not allowed to take either white pine or cedar for a Christmas tree.  Tree identification sheets are available at our offices and online, in addition to more specific instructions on how and where to harvest a tree. 

Cross country ski trails have been in pretty sketchy condition this season so far.  Our website has links to all the organizations which groom the trails, so you can find out where the best snow is.  Fat tire bikes have become a great new way for people to get outside in the winter.  Because of this, we are opening a few sites to fat tire biking this year.  We ask bikers to make sure that the surface is firm enough to not leave big ruts behind you, and stay off the section of the trail tracked for skiing.  As a reminder, bikes are prohibited on ski trails other than what are designated.  Fat bike trails can be found in the Pincushion Mt ski area, the connecting trail between Lutsen Mt Road and the Norpine Trail system, and at the Flathorn Gegoka ski area.  For more trail information, go to the Visit Cook County website.

If ice skating is your thing, there has been spectacular skating this season on some of the smaller lakes.   They froze completely smooth and are snow free.  You have a huge surface to play on and you can’t beat the view.  Watch out though, while we have too much ice on the roads, we really could use more ice on the lakes.  Some larger lakes are still open in the middle, and every lake should be treated with caution right now, just be careful.

Whether skating, skiing, biking, or driving, have a great time in the Forest - and don’t forget the hot chocolate when you get home!  Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm for the National Forest Update.
 

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Great Expectations School News Dec. 8

School News - Great Expectations School - Dec. 8, 2017 - with Ryan and Spencer

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Zoar Lutheran Church

West End News - December 7

West End News 12/7/2017
 
While many of us don’t find much to celebrate about the long dark nights of winter, especially as the shortest day of the year creeps closer, the fine folks at the North Shore Winery in Lutsen are helping to ease the cabin fever. They have released a new white wine blend named Borealis. Made with Minnesota grapes, it is a nod to the dazzling night skies we sometimes get here on the North Shore. On Thursday, Friday and Saturdays during December, the you can enjoy a glass of the new release by firelight at the winery and even if the real lights aren’t out, you can still enjoy some new art pieces by Anna Hess.
 
For the under 21 crowd, you can still enjoy a night out in Lutsen. On December Lutsen Mountains is hosting Family Fun Night up at the summit chalet. It starts with a gondola ride up to the chalet on top of Moose Mountain. At the chalet, there will be a dinner, magic show, kid friendly music, art and face painting, all culminating with some fireworks. Tickets are 20 dollars per adult and 12 dollars per child (that applies to ages 6 through 12). It’s an even better deal if you have a ski pass! Visit lutsen.com for more info.
 
Zoar Lutheran church of Tofte is once again hosting their winter season Wednesday evening soup dinners. Each Wednesday from 5:30 til 7 soup is provided and served by Zoar church members and friends, often accompanied by music. It is just one of many ways Zoar contributes to the fellowship of the West End.
 
I was particularly disheartened to hear that Zoar has been the target of a series of threatening notes recently. The Cook County Sheriff is of course investigating the threat, but as of yet has not much information has surfaced. In the meantime, Pastor Daren Blanck and the church congregation have taken several steps to increase the safety and security of the church and its worshipers.
 
It’s hard to come up with words that accurately describe how disappointed I am that this kind of insidious fear and animosity has reared its ugly head in such a way here in our little corner of paradise. We should not spend too long being bewildered, though. We need to continue to talk to our neighbors, especially those we disagree with. We can’t continue to let hateful comments go under the guise of humor.
 
Along with Sunday service and Wednesday soup suppers, the church is planning caroling at the Veterans Home in Silver Bay and the Care Center in Grand Marais, as well as around the Tofte-Schroeder area.  Let’s all take their lead and make time to spread some Christmas cheer and maybe a little extra dose of love this holiday season.
 
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.
 

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Magnetic North - December 7 with Vicki Biggs Anderson

Magnetic North 12/07/17
Early Winter on Ice
 
Welcome back to Magnetic North where high winds and sun combine to polish the ice crust covering most roads and driveways. Until last night, folks in the Banana Belt, about half a mile uphill from Superior’s waters, still had bare earth and even grass showing. A good friend and fellow chicken keeper’s flock was even enjoying free-ranging, while my poor hens were cooped up. Now they are all in it together for the duration of winter.
 
My hens do have advantages when it comes to getting out for a few hours of winter sun. Paul and a friend built a huge chicken run 27 years ago and it still stands, affording the girls 200 square feet of outdoor access. Not that they always want out. Chickens are a titch wussy about stalking about in snow, so I always toss in a few of my female ducks come winter to stamp down the snow in the run. Why just girl ducks? Well, suffice it to say that male ducks- drakes - are not gentlemen. One might even put their photos up there with the likes of Harvey Weinstein. So in winter I have to segregate my three Swedish drakes in the dog kennel where they coexist with my two big Labs, Zoey and Jethro, neither of whom look the least bit enticing to a duck.
 
Tomorrow marks one of my favorite winter preparations. Not the hanging of ornaments on the tree. Not the baking of cookies. And for sure not shopping madness. For me it is the annual hay delivery from Dan’s Feed Bin. Fifty bales of sweet green hay will be off-loaded from the huge semi by two bully boys who swing those bales around like feather pillows. As they do this, a chore that takes only about ten minutes, my five goats hover on the deck between the house and garage where the hay is stored. Now, I’m not sure that goals actually drool, but they do something just as, well, weird. When new food, like fresh hay appears. Their upper lips curl up so as to fully absorb the delicious aromas released by the bales. 
 
This crazy looking behavior is actually performed by many creatures, from cats and dogs, to zebras. It’s call Flehman behavior and has more to do with finding members of the opposite sex than in locating dinner. By rolling back their gums, pulling a face so as to let scents enter their mouths, critters allow pheromones-the animal equivalent of Old Spice or Chanel #5-to flip a switch behind their front teeth.  The message? “Get ready for something good!” In this case, that’s fresh hay. And while hardly better than sex, when it’s below zero and the meadow is three feet under snow, hay and the occasional dish of cracked corn, spells survival.
 
Survival in the coming months for us hairless, featherless creatures depends primarily on warmth. Thus, my weekend delivery of beautiful split maple has me feeling all cozy and safe. Now all I have to do is fetch my daily stack without cracking a hip or twisting an ankle. These hazards are the reasons I always take my phone with me whenever I do chores. Plus, I popped for a special bracelet with a “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” button from my home security provider.
 
Oh, yes, I’m in that stage of life. If I ever doubt it, I’ve only to listen to my peers’ endless “organ recitals” or joint replacement sagas. Plus, my middle age daughter recently suggested that I install a granny cam, of all things, in my home. “Just so I won’t worry about you, Mom.” she cooed over the phone. “After all, you are all alone out there.”
 
Bristling at the “out there” remark, I put a stop to the whole thing by telling her that a “granny cam” would not be a good idea as I had taken to walking about the house naked. Just between us, this is a bald faced lie. But tough times call for tough measures. So now she is content with a gadget that will alert her if I don’t open the fridge within ten hours. Still irritating, but a small price to keep her off my case.
 
Sitting here now, listening to the wild wind, watching the ducks and geese goats sheltering from it in the woodshed, now stuffed with a winter’s worth of maple, I am sinfully content to be “out here” and feel anything but “alone.” I am blessed to have been born an introvert and an only child who learned how to enjoy my own company and find endless opportunities for entertainment. I have some very close friends, fresh eggs, money to indulge my knitting addiction and can, thanks to brilliant physical therapy help, can now walk without a limp, albeit with Yak Tracks strapped to my mukluks.
 
In short, I have enough. Best of all, so too do my darling and completely frustrating naughty goats, drakes and all creatures great and small who inhabit my wintry world.
Life is good, even on ice. 

Thanks for listening. This is Vicki Biggs-Anderson for WTIP with Magnetic North

 
 

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Library

Grand Marais Library hosts Jacques La Christian - 1800's Voyageur

David Popilek, a.k.a. Jacques La Christian, 1800's French Canadian Voyageur will appear at the Grand Marais Library on Friday, December 8th at 1:30pm.

CJ Heithoff talks with Jacques...

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CodeRed - High-Speed Emergency Notification System

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging residents to sign up for CodeRED. It’s designed to be a high-speed mass notification system to help keep us safe in the event of an emergency.

CJ Heithoff talks with Valerie Marasco, director of the Office of Emergency Management & Public Information.

You can register for CodeRED at:https://www.co.cook.mn.us/under the Sheriff’s Office or Emergency Management / Public Information pages.

 

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Sawtooth Elementary - School News Dec 05

Sawtooth Mountain Elementart - School News - December 5, 2017
featuring Lucas, Kian, Mali and Karis.

Mrs. Smith's kindergarten class has been busy with engineering projects, swimming lessons at the "Y", and illustrating stories.

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