This is an interesting place where we live, here in the West End of Cook County. Last Saturday, I was driving to Grand Marais on the back roads, on my way to hear the keynote speaker for the North House Northern Sustainability Symposium. As I rounded a corner, I was surprised to see two lynx on the road. I stopped as quickly as I could, ending up about 150 feet from the lynx.
In the last 10 years or so, it has become fairly routine to see lynx on the road, but usually you just get a glimpse before they bound into the woods. These two lynx were sitting on the side of the road facing each other and did not run away. To my great surprise, they looked straight at each other and started to make an unearthly noise.
I rolled down the window and was kicking myself for not having a camera, when I remembered my iPhone, which was in my pocket. I had never used the video camera on the phone before, but I managed to fumble it into action and started filming the big cats.
I expected them to run away at any moment, but instead they sat and continued caterwauling. After about 15 minutes, I decided to continue on to town, figuring that they would bolt as soon as I started the truck. As I pulled forward, one did dart off into the woods, but the other just sat serenely as I pulled up within about 20 feet.
As I stopped the truck and turned off the engine, the second lynx came back out of the woods, sat down and they started yowling again. This time, I was able to get a much closer video and really capture the unearthly sounds.
Finally, not wanting to be late for the speech at North House, I just pulled past them. They did walk slowly into the woods as I went by, but I was able to see them from a distance of less than 10 feet.
On the way home that night, I stopped at the same spot and rolled down the windows, in case they were still at it, but didn’t hear a thing. Incredibly, about five miles farther down the road, I saw another lynx. This one was bigger than the two I’d seen earlier and leapt off the road in the usual lynx fashion.
The next morning, I posted the video on YouTube and linked to it from the Sawbill Newsletter. A few minutes later, Sam Cook, the great outdoor writer at the Duluth News Tribune, called and asked if he could post it on the paper’s website. In the next couple of days, it appeared on numerous Minnesota news sites, including WTIP, Minnesota Public Radio and WCCO TV.
As I write this, my shaky, amateurish, iPhone video is the top trending YouTube video in Minnesota, with more than 50,000 views. It’s been seen in dozens of countries around the world.
So, this is an interesting place that we live in, here in the West End of Cook County, where experiences can come out of nowhere and engage the world.
Mark your calendar for the Waste Electronics Collection day at the Cook County Recycling Center in Tofte. The Recycling Center is just a half-mile up the Sawbill Trail from Highway 61 and discarded electronics will be collected from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18. Computers, servers and laptops are free and there is a small disposal charge for other items.
Of course, one of the big contributors to our richly interesting way of life in the West End is Birch Grove School. The Gala for the Grove, a key annual fundraiser, is scheduled for May 18 in Tofte. A gourmet dinner, live auction, raffle, music, and dancing are on the agenda. Call Diane Blanchette at 663-0170 for tickets, or if you’d like to donate an auction item. The auctioneer will once again be yours truly, and I’ve been instructed to wear my vintage tuxedo. I don’t have very good auctioneer skills, but it’s all in good fun and the only chance you’ll ever get to see me in a tuxedo.
Photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.