Listen Now
Pledge Now


 
 

North Shore Weekend

800px-Lake_Superior_North_Shore.jpg

  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

 

 


What's On:

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: November 11

What a difference a couple weeks can make. November has turned uncommonly in the opposite direction of winter along the Gunflint Trail. Whereas we “fell back” with our timepieces last weekend, strides toward winter have reversed into a backward course as well.

For several days north country has felt like September, and those of us favoring cold and snow by this time, find it quite unsettling. But what is one to do other than “grin and sweat it.”

A journal check of last year found we at Wildersmith had our first inch of snow on the twenty-ninth of October and temps by week two of November were in the 20s at night and 30s during the daytime hours.

How warm has it been? Well if your thermometer was in the sun last Sunday, the mercury registered about 70 degrees (probably record setting) at some places up the Trail while in the shade, mid-fifties to sixty was “bad” enough.

“Wild neighborhood” critters in the process of “getting ready” are probably confused. And I might have been seeing things, but I’d swear some deciduous beings poked out green bud tips after several days of sunshine and heat. On the human side of happenings, we even had a few boats go up and down Gunflint Lake over the past several days.

Interestingly enough, it’s been so warm as to draw out a batch of those pesky buzzing pests. While catching up on some early season tree pruning, the nasty nippers have not lost their touch in tormenting me, generally being a pain in the eyes, ears, nose, and hair below my hat band while biting at my wrists around my glove cuffs.

At the same time, the house had been buttoned up for the season, and this has had to be un-done with opening windows, leaving storm doors open and a resort to ceiling fans. I can see only one thing positive being drawn from this warm, yucky situation - home heating bills will be less taxing. Score: Consumers one, utility investors nothing, so far!

I haven’t received any success reports from deer stalkers, but one would guess the warm weather had whitetails wild in the woods, as opposed to their normal cold times meanderings. I’d guess venison takings were probably minimal on opening weekend. One thing for sure, both deer and moose are likely more into sweating it out from the temps instead of human predation.

In the meantime, snowshoe hares around the place are not taking the heat too seriously. I’ve observed several over the past week having advanced to half and half in their summer to winter coat transition. While on the “Bruno” side of the ledger, one would suppose they are not seeing a need to den up just yet, so we should not tempt bears by putting out winter small animal and bird feeding facilities for a while longer.

Regular avian friends at Wildersmith seem not one bit concerned about this weather oddity. Nuthatches and chickadees are swarming like it was December/January and “whiskey jacks,” having been AWOL for months, are now arriving for both a breakfast and afternoon hand-out. Furthermore, ruffed grouse are content to hang out in this neighborhood oblivious to the fact that winter arrival has been derailed.

While this weather anomaly has some of us aghast, blue skies are tinting border country lakes and mostly calm air is reflecting mirror images of lake shorelines with an unimagined upside down beauty. No pun intended, but the current heaven to earth magic kind of gives one a warm all-over feeling.

When the territory will surrender to the glory of winter is yet to be seen. For the time being, everyone in the Gunflint community is enjoying this idyllic calm before the storm.

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great and will often render a wilderness adventure.

(Photo courtesy of Cimexus on Flickr)
 

Listen: 

 
Brady Lillie and Birch Grove alum, Josh Schmidt, are performing for the Birch Grove Community School dinner at Papa Charlie's

West End News: November 10

I'm feeling proud to be from Cook County this week. Our local election season was civil, sane and focused on the desire to make life better for all of us. The voters stepped up for the schools, making a strong statement about the importance great local education. Most of our local and state representatives were re-elected by wide margins, reflecting the fact that they're doing a pretty good job of working for us.

I thank everyone who serves in local elected office. It's a hard job and often a thankless job, but every single office holder in this neck of the woods is dedicated, hard-working and effective. Disagreements, when they occur, are about the issues and not the people.

On the national level, my feelings are just the opposite. I won't bore you with a litany of election ugliness, as others are doing that a-plenty. But, regular listeners will recall hearing me say that I personally believe that Donald Trump is a con-man. In spite of his being the winner of this awful election, I've seen nothing to change my opinion. The only thing I can say is that time will tell.

Another great example of good local leadership is the upcoming "Free Day at the Dentist" for all Cook County Youth on Monday, November 28. This wonderful program is under the umbrella of the North Shore Health Care Foundation and sponsored by the Oral Health Task Force and Grand Marais Family Dentistry.

Here's how it works: Just call Grand Marais Family Dentistry at 387-2774 and schedule an appointment for any child between the ages of 18 months and 26 years. The free visit will include an exam, cleaning, x-rays, fluoride and/or sealants. This offer applies to everyone, so to be eligible, you just have to be a kid.

This program has been going for a number of years now. A long list of generous people and organizations, too many to mention here, pony up money to make this happen. I'll just say thanks and you know who you are.

Before you take your kids to the dentist, take them - and yourself - to the annual Birch Grove Community School Dinner at Papa Charlie's from 5 to 8 pm on Saturday, November 19.

Not only is a delicious dinner served to you by Birch Grove staff and parents, there is also a big silent auction and some really good live music. The auction is famous for its scope and variety, but the music this year is something special.

Mysterious Ways is the band performing. The leader is Josh Schmidt, Lutsen boy born and bred, along with his talented musical partner, Brady Lillie. Josh and Brady will be freshly returned from an ambitious and successful national tour with their full band, Step Rockets. A heavy touring schedule will have sharpened the skills of these master musicians, so don't miss it, whatever you do.

Several canoes were rented at Sawbill last week and there were campers in most of the local campgrounds. It's the latest canoe and boating season that I can remember and the visitors were rewarded with stunningly beautiful weather.

Several people have commented on seeing white snowshoe hares recently. The white rabbits in the brown woods really stand out, defeating their clever camouflage plan. They probably have the right idea in the long run though. After all all, they've been West End residents for a long time.

For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

Listen: 

 

North Woods Naturalist: Fall to winter changes

The seasons are changing, slowly -- and they are getting warmer. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about fall to winter.

(Photo courtesy of Gary J. Wood on Flickr)

Listen: 

 

West End News: November 3

The Bloodmobile is returning to Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte on Monday, November 14. It's surprising, in this day and age, that blood donation remains such a critical part of medical treatment. Having a good supply of blood on hand quite literally saves lives every day. The donation process is easy, fun, and leaves you with the good feeling of having done your part for your community. Jane Johnson is handling the scheduling this time around, so call her at 663-7254 to make your appointment.

Schroeder residents should all plan to attend the public hearing at 6:30 on Wednesday, November 9. Schroeder's Comprehensive Land Use Plan is being revised and this public hearing is your chance to weigh in on those changes before they become set in stone. Land use plans are just the kind of thing that people often say, "when did this happen?" and "why didn't I hear about this?" Well, this is happening now and you are hearing about it now. The more community members weigh in on the plan, the better it will be in the long run.

Schroeder Township Supervisor Bruce Martinson commented that Schroeder has more private land that can be developed than any other part of the Cook County. That fact surprised me until I thought about it for a minute.

Schroeder is in a job creating state of mind since Minnesota Power closed the power plant there last month. Hopefully, the new land use plan will get that process started.

A fun project is happening at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte. The church has two old bells. One is the longtime church bell and the other is the original bell from the old Tofte School, which was a classic white schoolhouse located in what now is the middle of the Bluefin Bay complex.

Three West End craftsmen are combining their talents to restore the bells and make them more interesting. Randy Nelson of Tofte cleaned and repainted them, Dave Rude of Tofte is making an interval control system that will allow them to be programmed to ring according to a pre-set schedule. Dave Gustafson of Schroeder is building a new enclosure to house the bells. Soon, we'll all be enjoying the fruits of their considerable skills.

We were working in the office at Sawbill this morning, when Cindy suddenly started saying, "moose, moose, moose!" Sure enough, a big, healthy-looking cow moose was strolling up the driveway. Just as she disappeared behind a building, Cindy started chanting again, "another one, another one, another one!" Here came a two-year-old calf, calmly stepping around the parked cars and following her mom into the back yard. They arranged themselves in the yard in front of the picture window, where they obligingly posed for pictures and video before wandering off down the ski trail.

Moose in the yard is a rare event these days, but it is a big part of the joy of living in the good old West End.

For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

(Photo courtesy of Veronika Ronkos on Wikimedia Commons)
 

   
Listen: 

 

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: November 4

Entering month eleven, this part of the world has said its good byes to the showers of falling leaves, even the tamarack needles have sifted silently to their resting place. Wilderness dioramas of “Neebing” (Ojibwe summer) have stopped.  

Quiet is now the order with cool season lyrics hissing through the pines and irregular ripples lapping against our granite shores.  An occasional “awlk” from a raven, chirping chickadees or chattering of a squirrel skirmish are about the only vibes breaking silence of the woods in advent of the “crystal coming.” A season unto its own, autumn seems so short. 

Meanwhile, tourist travel along the Gunflint has come to a near standstill, “leaf peepers” are history, outfitters have racked up the canoes, and most Trail food service establishments are breaking for a little R & R until ice is on and snow deepens on the trails.     
                   
Our month, of the “freezing over moon” (Gash Kadino Giizis), looks to be mislabled through the first November days. The making of ice has slackened to nothing as cold progress stepped back to allow “Tagwagin” (Ojibwe autumn) one last gasp, before it waves a white flag to the “old man in the great white north.”

Evidence, of crinkling skims on a few ponds along the Trail a week ago, has vanished.  Temps around here have been hanging in the high thirties to forties, under often drizzly or flurried dismal gray skies, all of which has made the atmosphere feel colder than it has actually been. This time of year is often more bone chilling than forty below in January.

One thing nice about the cool damp conditions of the past few weeks, “Mother Earth” is quite wet, indicating it should freeze holding a good deal of moisture. This is good for all things needing a moist jump start come next spring.   

Our pause in the parade toward winter has not interrupted one critter species from getting into the proper apparel mode. A couple weeks ago I reported snowshoe hares had not yet started fitting into their winter wardrobe. Over the past few days I’ve observed changes are occurring. The northwoods bunnies have now pulled on their white socks and under-belly wear, obviously sensing a need for “camo” in the frosty days ahead. 

The wilderness telegraph has, no doubt, let it be known whitetail hunting season commences this weekend. This happening in mind, the woods will be alive “with the sound of rifle booms (not music)” and the usual blaze orange fashion show. Good luck to deer seekers, lookout for one another and be safe!

On another note concerning this weekend, we get back to the reality of being in concert with “old Sol.” It’s “fall back” time, to our authentic sense of being. Don’t forget to set those clocks back before you retire Saturday night.  

Last week's WTIP fall membership campaign drive is over and grateful thank “yuz” have been extended to our wonderful community of radio listeners. As an on air volunteer voice, I would like to personally extend my thanks for kind words of listener appreciation about my weekly Wildersmith on the Gunflint commentary that were reflected during the stump for member support. Your gracious comments “make my day.”   

Many long time WTIP family members answered the call once again. It’s been a real “pledgure” to follow their re-upping of continuing love and resources.  Furthermore, a hardy welcome to forty-one new folks joining the WTIP clan, it’s great to have them on board. Thanks to all for helping to realize the “Treat Yourself” campaign goal!    

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where daylight is dwindling, and cold, northern nights are awesome!

​(photo by D. Sikes via Flickr)

Listen: 

 
Marbled murrelet chick

Gus' Wild Side: He is the walrus

In this edition of Gus' Wild Side, we learn about the marbled murrelet....and also hear about Gus and his wife's encounter with a biologist who seems to believe he is a walrus.

Gus’ Wild Side is a regular feature on WTIP. Gus writes about our connections to Nature as he explores wildness from the High Arctic to his own backyard along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

(Photo courtesy of Peter Halasz on Wikimedia Commons)

Listen: 

 

Northern Sky: October 29 - November 11

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.

A new moon on October 30; in the evening sky, Venus and Saturn on the southwest horizon; on November 5-6, a crescent moon gliding past Mars; in the morning sky, Jupiter low in the east with Arcturus; save the date: a full moon on Monday November 14, the biggest and brightest of the year.  Plus the origin of Halloween in Samhain, a cross-quarter day.

Listen: 

 

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: October 28

The weather outside hasn’t been frightful just yet, but Gunflint skies have been looking the part for several days during the past week. Last Sunday had one of those looks with rain in the AM that was on the verge of snow and temps in the thirties. By day's end, ghostly clouds seemed like they had a belly full of the white stuff.  

So in spite of official autumn being just beyond a month old, there’s a feeling winter is beginning to squeeze in at any time. As for yours truly, bring it on, all is ready in the Wildersmith neighborhood!  Meanwhile, about all “Mother Nature” has to do is put the bears to bed.    

With trick or treat time in the offing, old timers out this way will remember the winter blast of Halloween in 1991. Yes, it’s been a quarter century since the big ghost and goblin snow storm dropped over forty inches of the stuff in places along the Trail. One might wonder if this could happen again after twenty-five years, or was it one of those so called “one hundred year Weather Service" occurrences. Only the “MOM” in charge of all things natural knows.

A thing I know, though, is our “winter welcome wagon” is on and along the Trail. Flocks of snow buntings are ready and willing to lead your vehicle either up or down this Scenic Byway. Their annual return is kind of spiritually uplifting to those of us looking forward to the season of white landscapes and frosty breath.

This season of transition has unique moments often catching the eye of keenly focused observers. Happenings I often report may seem trivial, possibly leading another to believe I should get a life. However, for yours truly, it can be the simple things that make living in Gunflint country so special. 

Such is the case with a skinny but tall, red barked tree standing just off the deck outside my lake side window. This wispy woodland member has always been the last to leaf out in the spring, while being a holdout in giving up its foliage this time of year.  I’ve been watching from my favorite chair in the just-after-dawn, time slot, every day, since the falling commenced. Every other deciduous tree in the yard has called it quits, but this one has some “last hangers-on” growing season tokens. It has given up some ,but is clinging to perhaps a dozen or so, each leaflet withstanding days of gusty October winds and a number of rainy occasions.    

It occurs to me it enjoys a charmed life each year, adding a few inches of height while exhibiting character of being the toughest guy in this forest neighborhood. As death is imminent to most all growing flora during fall, I’m betting these last leaves will refuse to be taken until a good dose of wet snow bids them farewell. Spirit is reflected in many ways of the wilderness!

Since my report of a wolf sighting over in the Hungry Jack Lake area, sightings have been noted by several folks from around the territory. One family with which I visited, was hiking on a cold morning and happened on four specimens of scat, some of which was still exuding steamy body warmth. Obviously this pack was on the move somewhere just ahead, but never seen.

All these canid observations makes me wonder if the coming firearms deer hunting season, has them rallying pack members for when blaze orange clad, two legged predators start stalking what few deer remain in these parts.  

If one is an eagle fancier, they are sure to be interested in an article in the fall Audubon Magazine. I found it particularly engaging as the writing (Eagles & Chickens) included a supplementary snippet of chronological history on the big bird from 1782 to the present. It was entitled “THE BALD EAGLE’S RETURN,” authored by Jonathan Carey. Good reading on a cool fall evening!   

A reminder, if you haven’t already heard, your community radio station is in the midst of the fall membership campaign. It’s Halloween, so why not “Treat Yourself to a little of that WTIP sweetness.” Don’t procrastinate, or ghosts and goblins will surely be haunting you.  Join now at 218-387-1070; or 1-800-473-9847; or click and join at WTIP.org and thank you in advance.    
                
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day in the north woods is great and some are even better!

(photo by grfx Playground via Flickr)
 

Listen: 

 
The Lake Superior Project/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: Too many deer in the deer yard?

Deer weren't always common along the North Shore of Lake Superior. With the increase in their population, the plants that make our landscape so appealing are disappearing in areas where deer gather during the winter. 

In this edition of The Lake Superior Project, WTIP's Martha Marnocha joined State Park naturalist Kurt Mead and Silver Bay High School students to learn about a project being conducted at Tettegouche State Park. The project hopes to develop strategies for protecting young trees from heavy deer browse.

 

Listen: 

 
Buttered Lutefisk (Jonathunder / Wikimedia Commons)

West End News: October 27

The 2016 summer tourism season in the West End is in the records books and it may well be a record breaking year.  It was an unusually busy season for all, and especially busy through the fall, right up to and including the recently concluded MEA weekend. The traditional Minnesota school holiday was the latest possible this year, which extended the season beyond its usual boundaries. 
 
Back in the old days, many resorts in the West End would close on Labor Day.  The decision to promote the fall color season, back in the 1960s, quickly made September and half of October one of the busiest parts of the year.  Now, even the slow seasons see a fair number of visitors to the Shore.  Linda Jurek, Director of Visit Cook County, told me the other day that her highly effective marketing efforts are now shifting to spring and fall, because the capacity of Cook County to host visitors in the summer is approaching the saturation point.
 
If you need more evidence that the West End has become a "world class" destination, look no further than the venerable "Grey Lady,' the New York Times, that published a glowing travel piece on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness last week.  They tagged the beautifully written and photographed article as "relief from the election season" and for a couple of days it was the most read article in the Times. To be fair, the article described a canoe trip hosted by Sue and Paul Schurke in the Ely area, but of course, everyone knows that the best part of the BWCA Wilderness is in Cook County. 
 
Minnesota Public Radio's popular Newscut blog suggested that next year the wilderness will be overrun with people with accents that are not Minnesotan.  In my opinion, the article was designed to build national support for preserving the wilderness on the cusp of a political fight to prevent huge sulfide mining projects from opening on the very edge of the popular wilderness area.  My hunch is that political maneuvering will reach a peak in the time between the election and the end of the Obama Administration. 
 
Speaking of elections, I strongly urge you to exercise your rights and vote in this year's election.  Most West End residents have already received their ballots.  If you are a new resident, you can register at the polls on election day.
 
I've been frightened by the Brexit vote in Britain and the referendum on the peace settlement in Columbia.  Like the presidential election here in the U.S., polling showed strong support for one side and the election ended up narrowly going the other way, due to voter apathy.  It can't be said enough, every vote counts and elections have huge consequences. Please, please, please cast your ballot before or on November 8th.
 
By the way, the recent claims that the presidential election is somehow "rigged" is complete bunk.  Minnesota has a nearly flawless record and reputation for fair elections.  Our system has been rigorously tested by two extremely close statewide elections during the last decade.  The intensely detailed scrutiny that those elections brought to bear clearly showed that voter fraud in a complete non-issue.
 
If you really want relief from this year's campaigns for presidents, I recommend the venerable Lutifisk dinner at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte.  The annual dinner featuring the Scandinavian delicacy of cod fish soaking in lye has anchored the fall season in Tofte for generations.  This years feast is on Saturday, November 5th from 5 to 7 pm.  Of course, the delicious lutefisk is what draws in the crowds, but rest assured, if you follow a lutefisk free diet, there will be plenty of ham, potatoes and bread to fill you up.
 
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

Listen: