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North Shore Weekend

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  • 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:

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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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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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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Lake ice

North Woods Naturalist: Winter water turnover

It’s time for the winter water column turnover.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about this twice a year event that’s critical to the health of our lakes.
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint December 1, 2017

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - December 1, 2017     by     Fred Smith

Going into the final scene of 2017, activity amongst us humans is easy going along the Gunflint Byway. It’s the shoulder season for businesses along the Trail while we all wait in anticipation for winter to get fully underway.                                                                                                       
Life is pretty calm as the sands of time trickle toward another new year, but atmospheric things are a happening not to the liking for many of us.       
                                                       
Right after the big turkey day, “old man winter” took a hike, leaving the area in a mire of rainy clouds, drippy roof tops and snow melting to slush. Being under the white pine canopy, the yard around Wildersmith had minimal snow, and what was there is now melted back to autumn brown. Guess we’ll be starting winter all over again. Other places throughout the forest still have a measure of snow, but everything white has taken a beating.  
                                                          
A brief thermometer down tick returned conditions to the ice making mode before spiking up once again over the past few days. This made for slippery going, with backcountry roads, driveways and walking paths in a state of being an accident waiting to happen. So far, the Smiths’ have been cautious remaining in the upright position, but it isn’t easy. I hope the same for others moving about along the Trail.           
                                                                                                                           
With our pronounced driveway incline, I sometimes wonder if the vehicle might be there until spring, should I not be able to negotiate the curvy hill to upper level parking. Actually, getting up the slippery slope is of less concern than coming down. Knowing trees are the only means of halting an uncontrolled slide into the lake, it’s always a “white knuckler” in the absence of dry snow.        
                                                                                                                                     
Whereas a meltdown used to happen about once a season, such situations seem to be occurring with far more frequency over the past few years. With the approaching holiday season in mind, yes “Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” and yes, “Ginny”, “climate change” is becoming a real nag on nature!   
                                                                                                                                                     
One might expect a return to normal “Biboon” (winter in Ojibwe) eventually, but in the meantime, those of us with a zest for snow/cold remain rather subdued. Perhaps the cold, “little spirit” moon, of Sunday morning, can get our “spirit of the north” off his duff and back to work. Maybe a little “snow dance” would add support!                                                                     
A couple of friends were hiking the Lonely Lake Trail and high cliffs above Gunflint Lake last weekend and shivered at an episode of howling wolves. Wonder if the pack might have been beckoning the “old man of the north” to get back on track?    
                                                                                                                                        
The cold season set back is no doubt causing  frustration with business owners as they are gearing up for seasonal activities. In as much as last week, cross country ski tracks were laid in the mid-trail area around Bearskin Lodge, and other trails in the system were being packed. It would appear the now diminished snow pack might be putting prep’s on hold. Meanwhile snowmobilers are also stymied with too little snow to even open their sledding system, and ice making has turned oozy.        
                                                                                                                                                  
On a brighter side of things out this way, residents of the Gunflint Community are reminded of the OPEN HOUSE CHRISTMAS PARTY, Saturday (the 2nd) from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. The Trail Volunteer Fire Department is hosting the doings at the Schaap Community Center (Mid-Trail). Food and refreshments are provided by Department members. All Gunflint neighbors are invited! In the SPIRIT of this giving season, a donation to the local food shelf is welcomed!     
                                            
Although the landscape blanket is depleted at the moment, planning is well under way for the colorful Gunflint Mail Run January 6th. With the race little over a month away, the call is out for volunteers. Many are needed to make this upper trail dog sledding adventure happen.       
                  
If Trail folks have helped before, organizers need you once again. If you have not been a part of the team in previous years, but want to join in, get in touch with the Mail Run volunteer coordinator Cathy Quinn, 218-387-3352 ASAP, or sign-up on line…gunflintmailrunvolunteer@ @gmail.com.                                                                                                                                                                
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every-day life in the forest, is great, regardless of slushy set-backs!                                                                    
     
 

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Superior National Forest Update November 24, 2017

National Forest Update – November 23, 2017.

Hi.  I’m Tom McCann, resource information specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior.  With the change of season, we’re changing this program to air only every other week until spring.  Here’s what’s happening these next two weeks.

With the advent of winter comes winter driving.  With temperatures right around freezing, we can have some hazardous icy conditions out on the roads.  You might be in a clear area where the warm sun keeps the road above freezing, then go over a hill or hit a shady patch, and suddenly the road is covered in ice, or just hit that time of day when the day’s puddles become the night’s ice rink.  Watch out, and leave plenty of following distance between you and the car ahead.

There are plenty of good reasons to get out though, despite the possible ice.  One is that it is again the season for holiday greenery!  Permits for Christmas trees are only five dollars, and they smell so much better than the artificial variety.  Balsam firs make for fragrant long lasting Christmas trees, and in many places their removal might actually help the forest ecosystem.  Know your trees though, it is illegal to cut white pine or cedar with a Christmas tree permit, and while it is legal to cut a spruce, they lose their needles in a hurry.  If you have a child in fourth grade, they are eligible this year for a free permit through the “Every Kid In A Park” program.  Visit “Every Kid In A Park” online and register - full details and links can be found on the Superior’s website. You may also wish to harvest balsam boughs for making wreaths.  A personal use permit for making up to five wreaths is available for $20.  Princess pine, a small pine tree shaped club moss often used to decorate wreaths, may not be harvested on the Superior.

For full details on harvesting balsam boughs or Christmas trees, refer to our Holiday Greenery flyer, or our Holiday Greenery web page.   You’ll find lots of identification info as well as the rules and guidelines on harvesting.

If you’ve eaten too much turkey, and would like to start on your New Year’s resolution to exercise ahead of time, you’ll be interested to know that the Superior National Forest, in partnership with local trail partners, has decided to open limited sections of the trails at the Norpine and Flathorn/ Gegoka Trail Systems to dual use of fat tire biking and cross country skiing.  These sections of trail, in addition to single track bike trails at Pincushion, are now open to fat tire cyclists.  Visitors who are interested in fat tire biking opportunities on the Norpine Ski Trail System or at Pincushion should check the Visit Cook County website for current trail conditions and opportunities.  Cyclists who are interested in exploring the trails at Flathorn/ Gegoka should contact National Forest Lodge in Isabella for trail conditions and information.  Links to both websites can be found in the Current Conditions box for those trails on our website.

As a reminder, this dual use is being authorized in partnership with area ski and cycling associations and it is our hope that the use of fat tire bikes will not detract from the skiing experience.  Cyclists are reminded that bikers should always yield to skiers and they should only use the portions of trail which are not tracked for skiing.

Speaking of dual use, logging truck traffic is lighter this week.  Winter hauling on Gunflint is taking place on the following roads: Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Forest Road 1385, and the Gunflint Trail.   Tofte logging traffic will be on the Pancore Road, Sawbill Trail, the 4 Mile Grade, Trappers Lake Road, Temperance River Road, and the Wanless Road.  Remember that if a small road looks plowed, there is a good chance it is being used to haul on. 

Whether you hit the trails on a fat tire bike, or go off in search of the perfect tree for your living room, get out and enjoy our winter.  It beats sitting at home waiting for spring, because it will be a long wait!  Until next time, this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint November 23,2017

WTIP News     November 24, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint    by  Fred Smith

‘Tis the season, let the holiday madness begin, while we “Gunflinters” watch the chaos from afar. Blessed is our border country peace and quiet with the bounty of “Amazon” and UPS just a click away. No crowds, no fuss, what a deal!                                                                                                          

Speaking of good tidings for the coming season, the Smith’s will be looking forward to those good folks over on Birch Lake lighting up their annual holiday sentinel in the coming days. With exception of some decorative lighting in the mid-Trail business area, this sparkling testament to the holidays, adds a glitter of excitement to the otherwise absolute dark of night, along the byway.                                                                                                                                                                         

Another seasonal happening is the Borealis Chorale held in early December at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the village. Several of our Gunflint Trail neighbors are members of this amazingly talented choir and orchestra. I’m told practices have been long underway.                                                                                               

We at Wildersmith hope your stuffing day was a pleasant gathering of family and friends.  The Smith’s had the pleasure of working/serving at the forty-fourth UCC Community dinner. Locally, this long running Thanksgiving celebration is such a joy for both the preparing volunteers and those who come to partake in the bounty.                                                                                                                                                        

Nationwide, and even on the local scene, there is however some measure of sadness. If we, in this self-proclaimed greatest country of the world, really pay attention, over forty millions of our fellow citizens struggle with hunger while living in poverty, including thirteen  millions of children who go to bed hungry each night.                                                                                                                                                  

How can we ever be so self-satisfied in times of this on-going need, while over indulging? This is a “great American tragedy” and should be real food for thought as we begin to “just go nuts at Christmas.”  Instead of putting Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, every one of means should be looking at themselves in this mirror asking, “what can I do”!  Solving this domestic hunger problem alone will better define the US of A as “truly” great!                                                                                                                               

Reflecting on our wild country weather, it’s been pretty seasonal for the second straight week. A couple mini snow, sleet and freezing drizzle episodes have been the only moisture happenings in the upper Trail region. Meanwhile the mercury spiked up for a drippy day or two and then scurried back down to make more crust on the miniscule fallen white.                                                                                             

With coldness in mind, the big lakes up this way remain rolling with even the slightest whimper of wind, while ice making continues on lakes south of the Laurentian Divide. I’ve observed Poplar Lake, the largest down that direction, has put its’ on winter coat, so those up toward Trails end, can’t be too far behind. A couple nights of calm air should do the trick.                                                                                      
 
By the way the average “ice on” for the Gunflint is in the second week of December. I’m guessing the yearly “ice on” contest pool for those living around Gunflint Lake is taking dates right now!                                                                                                                                                                                         
A fresh skiff of snow last Saturday night covered the crusty blanket in the yard around Wildersmith. Not to beat a deceased horse about my observance of tracks in the snow, foot prints in the fluff were so many one would think a herd went through. Fox and pine martens, to mouse tunnels and other neighborhood beings in between, left their imprints. All of which were headed in a hundred different directions.                                                                                                                           

Cross country skiing is on the minds of many, and trail preparations are well under way. However, the grooming process is only in the packing stage. According to Dan Baumann at Golden Eagle, the snow base is adequate, but tracks have not been laid as this weeks’ report airs. I’m sure other sections of the mid to upper Trail system are at similar stages of getting ready. A check of lodge websites will surely advise when final touches have been applied. In the meantime, skiers are welcome to come out and get on the packed lowland stretches.                                                                                                                    

Recently, during a break from saw dust making, a frenzy of blue jays caught my attention. At our deck side eatery, two of the provision stations feature ear corn on a spike. I watched as half dozen jaybirds took turns badgering each other for position in order to chow down on the golden grains.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Now some of you listener/readers might be wondering if this guy doesn’t have enough to do, other than watching a flock of birds making pigs of them self. Guess I don’t, but I did find interesting, there was one, a bully amongst the bullies; two, there may be some apparent pecking order; and three, the number of maize seeds gorged into their gullets ranged from six to twelve per stop.                                                                                                                                                        

The gluttonous interlude found the two cobs devoured of their golden elements in fifteen minutes. While it would seem they might choke, none did during this chapter of my “wild neighborhood” story.                                                                                                                                                              

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as each one offers something new, to see and learn! 
 

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