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North Shore Weekend


  • Saturday 7-10am
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:
Ivy Vainio

Anishinaabe Way: Ivy Vainio

Ivy Vanio Final-Mixdown.mp36.14 MB
In this edition of Anishinaabe Way: Lives, Words, and Stories of Ojibwe People, Duluth photographer Ivy Vainio stops by WTIP on her way to the 2013 Annual Rendezvous Days Pow Wow at Grand Portage.  

Known best for her bold images of pow wow dancers, Ivy shared two of her favorite photos, discussed cultural protocols about pow-wow photography and shared information about a 2014 calendar project that features her work. The project is a benefit for the American Indian Community Housing Organization's (AICHO) artist's fund and the calendar features 12 of Ivy's pow-wow portraits. 

For more information visit or the Naamijig: Honoring Our Traditions Facebook page (link below). or the Naamijig: Honoring Our Traditions Facebook page (link below).">

Dr. Seth Moore

Dr. Seth Moore: Tribe gains seat on Great Lakes fisheries councils

Seth_Moore_finalcut_Fisheries_committees_20131016.mp36.33 MB

Dr. Seth Moore is Director of Biology and Environment with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

The Grand Portage Reservation is located in the extreme northeast corner of Minnesota, on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook County. Bordered on the north by Canada, on the south and east by Lake Superior and on the west by Grand Portage State Forest, the reservation encompasses an historic fur trade site on scenic Grand Portage Bay.

The band engages in fisheries and wildlife research projects throughout the year, working with moose, wolves, fish, deer, grouse, and environmental issues. Dr. Moore appears regularly on WTIP North Shore Community Radio, talking about the band's current and ongoing natural resource projects. 

In this segment, Dr. Moore talks about the Grand Portage band's 6-year effort to gain representation on two Great Lakes fisheries management committees.  Produced by Carah Thomas.

Tofte’s Noah Horak on the Baikal-Amur Mainline, somewhere in Siberia.

West End News: October 17

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[click above to hear audio]

West End teens have a great opportunity coming up at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland.    A weekly class called “Cooking Matters” will be available starting Friday, Nov. 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. 
Local chefs Nancy Olson and Marc Smith will start each class with a cooking demonstration, which will be followed by hands-on cooking by the participants. At the end of each class the student chefs will be sent home with all of the ingredients for the demonstration meal so they can prepare it for their own family.
“Cooking Matters” is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Finland Community and the University of Minnesota Extension Service.  The course is open to people from 13 to 18 years old.  It’s limited to 15 participants and is expected to fill up, so call the Clair Nelson Community Center quickly to register.  The contact person is Marc Smith at 218-253-0300.  You can always contact WTIP for full information.
Take it from a guy who never progressed much beyond Kraft macaroni and cheese; learning to cook well is the best favor you can do for yourself and your loved ones as you go through life.
Another West End blood drive is on the horizon.  The Bloodmobile will be at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte Nov. 12 from 2:30 until 6 p.m.  Contact Julie Rannetsberger at 663-7111 to schedule a time.
It’s fun to have Julie back organizing the blood drive. She did it for many years before putting it in the capable hands of Polly Erickson.  I don’t know if the baton is being passed back to Julie, or if she’s just filling in this time.  Stay tuned for more details next week.
The North Shore Stewardship Association at Sugarloaf Cove in Schroeder has a couple of interesting events coming up.
“Bats In Peril” is the title of a program scheduled for Friday, Oct. 25.  Tettegouche State Park naturalist Amy Funk will talk about the recent discovery of the “white nose fungus” in Minnesota.  This is the fungus that has decimated bat populations in the eastern United States.  Amy will talk about what this means for the future of Minnesota’s bats.  The program is free and starts at 7 p.m. 
Sugarloaf will also be holding their annual “Sugarloaf in the Cities” event Sunday, Nov. 3 from 5-8 pm.  This is the 11th year that Sugarloaf has held this important fundraising event in the Twin Cities, for the convenience of their members who live in the metro.
This year’s speaker will be Dr. Jay Austin, a renowned researcher of climate change in the Lake Superior region.  This is a great event for anyone who loves the North Shore.  Not only will it be an interesting lecture, but it also includes a light supper, a live auction and time for conversation with other fans of the North Shore.  This is Sugarloaf’s biggest fundraiser of the year.  Google Sugarloaf Nature Center, email or call 218-525-0001 for details and registration.
West End native Noah Horak is continuing his epic around-the-world adventure motorcycle trip.  Noah is a native of Tofte and the son of Jan and Kathy Horak.  He’s been riding his specially equipped off-road motorcycle for about a year and half around the U.S., Europe, North Africa, twice around the Asian continent and is now in Japan.
Noah completed the BAM route in Russia during August and September.  BAM is short for the Baikal-Amur Mainline.  It is a road across all of Siberia that was essentially abandoned after many years of construction starting in the ‘70s.  Much of it is now a single lane dirt track with rickety or non-existent bridges through some of the most remote parts of the earth.  It is considered by many to be the ultimate in adventure motorcycling.
Noah is keeping a detailed and colorful blog of all his adventures, which is fascinating to read.  If you type “Around the world with Noah” into your search engine, his blog will be the top hit.
Noah plans to keep riding for at least another year and a half, heading for Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.  He’ll finish up with a tour of every country in South America before a quick ride home via Central America and Mexico.
I have to admit to being extremely jealous of Noah.  There is no question that he will return to Tofte as a man who has literally seen the world.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

{photo courtesy of Noah Horak}

Ducklings - photo by Vicki Biggs-Anderson

Magnetic North: Bird brains and other family members

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Welcome back to Magnetic North, where I’m in a spot of bother with ducks…my ducks, primarily. Although, with the sheer number of mallards that show up for breakfast, lunch and dinner on my driveway, I’d never know if a migrating stray dropped in for a square meal.
It started small. As do all hot messes.

Last winter found my duck population quite pitiful; only two laying ducks, four domestic drakes, three wild drake mallards and one lone female mallard.
Oh, and then there is the faux domestic drake, a mallard who weaseled his way into the chicken and duck run. The cozy coop with its six inches of sweet warm straw was his reward for leaving the wild. But his punishment was harsh.
The domestics wanted nothing to do with him. Shunned by the females, pummeled by the drakes, his feathers soon lost their brilliant color and sheen, A clear case of “mallard-adaption.” Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that one.
So when most Cook County folk were poring over seed catalogs, I was up to my dewlaps in hatchery offerings. I ended up ordering three female domestic ducks and 10 female mallards. 
Not that I have anything against males, but when drakes outnumber the females by three or more, it’s not a pretty sight. The one wild female that overwintered with her three consorts put up with all sorts of abuse last spring. So much that I finally lost it one fine day after what seemed like hours of duck porn viewing out my kitchen window, I ran into the back yard wielding a broom and shrieking for all the neighbors to hear, “Fly, you hussy, fly. I know you can, I’ve seen you do it!”
Well, the duck’s endurance paid off for her. In late May she hatched out 11 ducklings. Nesting under the back steps, out of view for weeks, I had given her up for lost when lo she paraded the lot up over the deck and out into the sunny gravel drive.
By that time, my hatchery ducklings were in a brooder inside the garage. Oh, dear. Eleven plus 10, plus mom and the two domestic girls....An even two dozen ducks!?
“Well,” I reassured myself and friends, “most of them will fly off in the fall.” 
Sadly, two of the wild ducklings were taken by a hawk. And one of the ordered mallards failed to thrive. Then, the two adult domestics got picked off by something. Nature appeared to be cutting me a break. But no.
On July 30, mother mallard appeared with nine more ducklings in tow. So cute, so adorable. So hungry!
Just about then the new ducks from the hatchery were ready to release on the pond. I bundled them into three cat carriers and carried them down, knowing that once they got on the water and away from the featherless monster who so rudely grabbed, squeezed and imprisoned them, I might never see my little charges up close again.
That night, I tippy-toed to the pond’s edge to check on them.
Only the wild ducklings and the spring porn stars swan in the moonlight, Crushed, I went about my evening chores, closing up barn and coop and, surprise, surprise! The newly released youngsters were waddling about in the wildflowers by the chicken run waiting to be let back into the coop. 
Amazed, I shone the flashlight on each beak, counting one, two three...11?!

Aha! My old nemesis, the wild drake who would not live wild, had rounded up the newbies and convinced them that the good life lay - not in freedom - but in the sure thing of the well-heated chicken coop,
But did I open the door to the run? Did I go all soft and mushy at the return of the little darlings? I did not.
Hardening my heart, I left them there in the dark. Oh, I did put a little feed out and a motion sensor light so as to startle any passing predator. But I had the new babes to think about, didn’t I?
Mother mallard didn’t do as well with her second brood. Only four of the nine made it to adulthood. But those, added to all the others, gobble up more than three pounds of scratch feed a day, more if they can skinny into the garage and hit the tray of food set out for my retired hens.
“All you have to do is stop feeding them and they’ll leave,” more than one acquaintance has told me.

Tell that to any parent of a kid who no longer looks anything like a baby, nor eats like one. Easier said than done.
My fervent hope is that when the pond freezes, most of the mallard will, indeed fly away. The hussy and the mallard-adaptive drake will probably stay, leaving me with a manageable number of females in the coop, laying eggs that turn ordinary baked goods into tender fluff. Duck eggs do that, y’know.
At least, that is what I expect. Not plan. I know better than that. Anne Lamott, who wrote “Bird by Bird,” once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans,” Amen to that, sister! I only expect. And I keep those expectations way, way low.

For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North. 

Grand Portage band member Susan Zimmerman

Anishinaabe Way: Susan Zimmerman on Wild Rice

Susan Zimmerman Seasonal Life-Anishinaabe Way-Mixdown (2).mp311.58 MB
According to the Anishinaabe Migration Story, the People would know their home where they found the place where food grows on water.

This is how the people came to settle in the Lake Superior region, where wild rice grows on the water.   In this segment of "Anishinaabe Way: Lives, Words and Stories of Ojibwe People," Grand Portage band member Susan Zimmerman explains the ricing tradition and shares her favorite wild rice recipe.


The Land of Dreams

West End News: October 10

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A new program at the Birch Grove Community Center is starting up this week.  “Second Sunday Fundays” is just what it sounds like, fun activities for people of all ages from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month, starting Oct. 13.  The fun will include open gym, cards, games, and will wind up with a pizza from the hearth oven.   As always, cheese, sauce and dough will be provided, so you just have to bring your own toppings.  There is a small charge per person, but I’m sure no one will be turned away. Contact Patty at or call 663-7977 for details.
Also, at Birch Grove School and Community Center is the West End social event of the year, the annual PTO Halloween Carnival.  This year it is on Sunday, Oct. 27 from 2 until 4 p.m.  This is a really fun event, with the traditional games and costumes, good food and a lot of neighborly visiting. 
Each time I attend the carnival, I’m instantly transported back to my childhood and the Endion Elementary School Carnival in Duluth.  I vividly remember how excited I was and how much fun I had racing from game to game.  I also remember being very surprised to see my parents running one of the games.  I won a set of Chinese finger cuffs, which made a big impression on me at the time.
Volunteers are always needed for the carnival.  I ran the bingo game for many years before a younger parent took over from me.  Calling bingo was a lot of pressure, because many of the players were experts and I was always worried that I’d make a mistake.  Of course, I made many mistakes, but they were kind to me and always made it fun.  Most of the volunteer positions are low pressure, though, so please help out if you can.  Call Diane at 663-0170 to sign up.
It is the time of year for getting your flu vaccine, which most people call a flu shot.  In the West End, the first round of shots will be offered Tuesday, Oct. 15.  The lovely and competent nurses from the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic will be at Moon Dance in Lutsen from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and then again in the clinic office at Birch Grove in Tofte from Noon until 1 p.m.
You must be more than 9 years old to receive a flu shot.  If you want to bill it to your insurance company, bring your information and insurance card.  Otherwise, you can pay the reasonable cost by check only.
A few years back, Norwegian author Vidar Sundstol wrote a murder mystery called “The Land of Dreams,” set here in the West End.  The protagonist is a Forest Service law enforcement officer named Lance Hansen.  The murder is committed at Father Baraga’s cross in Schroeder.  The subsequent investigation ranges from Duluth to Grand Portage and from present day back to the 19th century.
The novel, which won a prestigious prize for Scandinavian crime fiction, features many actual people from the West End, including yours truly in a bit part as the nephew of the hero.  All of the place names are real and Sundstol describes the places, people and culture of the West End in great detail.
“The Land of Dreams” has just been published in English.  Author Sundstol is actually in the midst of an author’s tour and will be visiting Cook County this week.  According to the publicity, Sundstol lived in Cook County for two years back in the early 2000s.  I don’t remember meeting him, but he was connected to the local Forest Service through his girlfriend, who was a Forest Service employee.
In the English edition, some names have been slightly altered from the real names, but it’s easy to tell who several of the characters are based on.  For instance, “Becky” Tofte is the paymaster at the Tofte Ranger District and is described as friendly, motherly and the person who takes care of everyone at the station.  It’s not a stretch to see Meg Tofte in that character. 
Oddly, Sid Backlund makes a cameo appearance as the owner of Sven and Ole’s Pizza in Grand Marais.  Perhaps he gave permission to use his real name in the English edition?  It will be interesting to find out.
I have become Gary Hansen, who owns and operates North Woods Outfitters on Sawbill Lake.  In the story, which I’m only halfway through, my uncle suspects me of having an affair with one of my young employees.  I hope he lets me off the hook on that charge before the end of the book.  He likes my fictional wife of 25 years, Barb, very much and doesn’t want me to hurt her feelings.  Barb is the name of my ex-wife, so Sundstol seems determined to get me in trouble with my real wife, Cindy.  Thankfully, I am told that I’m not the murderer, so I’m at least grateful for that.
It will be fun to hear the discussion that the book provokes as it makes its way around the community.  It is the first book of a trilogy, so there should be plenty to talk about for years to come.  It’s published by the University of Minnesota Press and is already available on Amazon.   It surely will be in local stores quite soon, if it isn’t there already.

Zodiacal Light (Luis Argerich/Flickr)

Northern Sky: Mars, stars & zodiacal light

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

On this edition of Northern Sky, Deane explains a few of the encounters Venus & Mars will be having with stars in the next few weeks, and an opportunity to see the zodiacal light.

Read this month's Starwatch column.

Autumn has arrived...! (Photo by Bryan Hansel)

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: October 4

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Border country offers a “Boozhoo” (welcome) to October. September ended on a stunning note throughout the Gunflint corridor. The past week or 10 days in these parts have been magical in regard to our north woods transition from a warm to cold atmosphere.

If ever I have seen one, this autumn seems to be the most beautiful on record for yours truly. However, if you have followed me over the years of this column, you will remember that I have said this more than once about this dramatic multicolored experience as each year supersedes my previous recollections.

Our month of the “falling leaves” moon has been so aptly tagged by the Ojibwe ancestors of long ago. Mother Nature has many tasks to look after with the coming of each succeeding season.

This yearly segment is no exception as Sh” has now taken on the role of carpet layer in our northern forest. After a few short days of flaming iridescence, the tokens of flora life high in the forest have begun to trickle earthward.

With the help of a steady rain and gusty winds last Saturday night and into Sunday, the layering of leaves and age-old pine needles got under way. A trip leaf peeping with friends last Sunday found the umpteenth thousandth layer of such accumulation being put in place by “Her Highness.”

Golden brown flakes were floating down in our pathway like squalls of an autumn blizzard, while tawny needles of red and white pine pierced the air space like early winter sleet. And, as we tooled along the byway, these reminders of another growing season danced and skipped alongside and behind to what will most likely be their final resting place.

What a seemingly sad farewell to the joyous quaking and awesome shade that characterized our summer. As I reflect on our leaf peeping trek, we probably never give thought to the fleeting life of a deciduous leaf.  How about a leafy memoir?

Born at the end of a growing season, these tiny embryos of plant life remain curled in their winter husks for seemingly months on end. With a sudden burst of warm energy from old Sol come late March or April, these buds of a new generation wake up and begin to feel the juices of life enter their veins.

Gradually peeling off their winter coats they flex to open and accept the light of a new day. Soon stems of their lifelines are strengthened to enable a fluttering of movement. By June in these northern latitudes, the green hands are palm up, ready to meet the tribulations of life in the forest.

The solstice of summer finds them basking in the sunshine, turning their backsides up for an impending thunderstorm and hanging on for dear life during windy days. What a life!

By July’s end, minutes of daylight are slowly diminishing and the processes of life start taking notice. Green pigment production dwindles as other characters of their make-up step forward.

August finds them turning restless with change. Come September they are proudly dressed for the harvest celebration, but nervous with cool anticipation. Suddenly, life takes a turn. Juices of vitality begin to wither, flush pigments fade and the stem of support gives way. Gusts of the season cause them to lose their grip, and it’s the beginning of the end.

It’s October, leaves tumble and fall, skittering about until finally nestled on the forest floor.  They are not yet done, though, in their leafy contribution to creation. Decaying atrophy adds them to the eons that have gone before them providing nutrient substance for a new generation yet to come. And the beat goes on!

Amazing is the minimal duration for these verdant creations. While other species in the universe may also experience short spans of life expectancy, none seem to offer the rapture of a zillion dazzling leaflets growing green, to yellow, to orange, to red and even in death, a russet tone. Their grandeur will forever capture us. Happy fall!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor this abundant beauty in the northland!

Cook County Higher Education

West End News: October 3

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I am a huge fan of Cook County Higher Education. It’s the little college with the big heart that allows people in Cook County to pursue degrees and certificates without having to leave the county. 
Last week, Higher Ed announced an exciting new scholarship program funded by the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation.  The new program will provide significant scholarships to potentially dozens of people who want to pursue higher education, but have been held back by financial barriers.
Lloyd K. Johnson was a Cook County native who was the first in his family to go to college.  He graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and was the Cook County Attorney for a few years.  After a move to Duluth, he became a very successful businessman, which gave him the wherewithal to establish the Johnson Foundation.  Now, years after Lloyd’s death, his foundation is making it possible for many Cook County residents to receive the blessing of a good education.
If you are worried about your ability to attend college in the midst of a busy working life, talk to the wonderful folks at Higher Ed.  They’ve done it themselves and have helped hundreds and hundreds of your neighbors improve their lives through education.  They will walk you through it, step by step, helping you with whatever you need, academically and financially, right through graduation.
By the way, Higher Ed has two other well-established scholarship programs: The Wes Hedstrom Scholarship and the North Shore Health Care Foundation Scholarship. 
The Johnson Foundation also has a separate scholarship program for Cook County High School seniors who want to attend Lake Superior College in Duluth.
You can get information on all of these exciting opportunities by calling Kristin or Paula at Higher Ed.  Their number is 387-3411.  You can find them online by searching Cook County Minnesota Higher Education.  Or, you can always contact WTIP and we will put you in touch.
A big congratulations to Ailee Larson of Lutsen who was named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference athlete of the week, after winning a big collegiate cross-country meet last week.  She placed first among 147 runners.  Ailee is a student at St. Kate’s and is the daughter of Jana and Mike Larson of Lutsen.
I am thoroughly disgusted by the federal government shutdown this week.  There are many things wrong with our political system at the moment, but there are three main things that, in my opinion, are seriously wrong.
First, the radical Tea Party strategy to hold the country and world hostage in order to defeat laws that have been passed, signed, tested by the Supreme Court and enjoy majority support of the electorate is an attack on democracy itself.  Majority rule is the basis of our civil society.  Ultimatums and blackmail are never productive.
Second, extremely rich individuals and corporations, who have only their own narrow interests at heart, are funding these hostage takers, with no public accountability.  The unfair advantage created by unlimited and untraceable money in our political system has led to ridiculous gerrymandering of congressional districts that allows many representatives to disregard the voters.
Third, the people who are hurt the most by this insanity are our friends and neighbors here in Cook County.  They are the working people who take care of our campgrounds, maintain our roads, prepare our timber sales, protect us from forest fire, and the list goes on.  That these sincere and hard-working Americans are taking the brunt of a childish temper tantrum by a do-nothing minority of the most ineffective Congress in the history of the country makes my blood boil.


Wildersmith on the Gunflint: September 27th

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            There have been big changes in the scenery since we last met along the Trail. It appears Mother Nature was just waiting on the calendar to really get after the landscape pigmentation changes.
            In just a matter of days the big show has exploded. The striking tapestry of golden tones, along with a glow of molten red iron on our sugar maples, is simply breathtaking. The blur of our new autumn is just one of those “you gotta see” moments in time. I encourage everyone to make time to experience the Gunflint in full color regalia, but don’t wait too long.
            The morning of the day we ushered in our Technicolor season, it sure felt like fall too. In fact, it was downright cold last Sunday. The Smiths arose to a good hard freeze with rooftops crusted hard in crystal. So I’m feeling that summer can surely be put out to pasture.
            Moisture was on the menu over that past week as well. The rain gauge at Wildersmith had to be emptied twice with a total of well over two inches. I’m told that there was even more in other places along the byway corridor. It came to mind during the dousing of a week ago Thursday that, given a few degrees colder, we could’ve had a heck of a nice snow.
            It’s been like a zoo around the neighborhood in recent days. We had a late night deck-side visit by one of those invasive masked bandits. This makes the third straight year a raccoon has encroached on our neighborhood. Others living along the South Gunflint lakeshore indicate never having seen one. Why me?
 This migrant did a number on my apple tree. It managed to break a substantial branch out of the center, while pilfering part of the first good crop I’ve ever cultured.
 I’m now lying in wait for this alien with a fine slice of bread and jelly (this has always been well received in previous entrapment efforts.) If this masked ringed tail returns to take the bait, there will be more to come on this adventure.
A wanted guest made a cameo appearance last Thursday when a huge bull moose was reported ambling on the Mile O Pine not far from our driveway. I did not see it in person, but confirmed the visit upon seeing a trail of big hoof prints.  We haven’t had one of these icons down this way for several years, so this sighting was great news.
 The scoop on his visit was that it sported a massive rack, a real handsome devil. Since ‘tis the amorous season for these big critters, there is hope that there might be scent of a female companion somewhere nearby.  If such would transpire, we might experience more frequent visits from the now dwindling herd.
As a follow-up to the moose passing by, a third member of our wild neighborhood stopped by a day or so later. This one was also uninvited, and not necessarily wanted up on our deck, looking in the window. This peeping Bruno was of medium size, maybe a yearling. It was quite inquisitive after being discovered prowling around, but quickly high tailed it when I un-loaded a shot from my blank starting pistol.
I don’t know if this north woods Yogi had an eye for my apple tree either before, or after, it was dispatched. Next morning, I found a second incident of animal vandalism. Only this time, the tree was more seriously damaged.  The tree, which is not too far along in years, has taken two good whacks in a week.
 I can only imagine how it must have looked with about a 200-pound teddy perched precariously, munching my ripening Haralsons. At this writing, none of the three wild characters has returned for a curtain call. In the meantime, Act Two of this saga suggests that I’d best be picking what’s left of my apples, as I just got word of a momma bear and her twins frolicking just over the hill, grrrrr!
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the north woods glow, as October’s banging on the door!
{photo by Darkone courtesy of Wikimedia commons}