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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!

 


What's On:

West End News: March 16

If you, like me, have been a little stymied by the strange midwinter thaw and are in need of some entertainment out in the community, might I recommend heading to Lutsen this weekend. Papa Charlie's, up at Lutsen Mountains, is hosting their annual DuLutsen music weekend this Friday and Saturday. DuLutsen is a weekend chock full of Duluth’s top musicians playing way up North of North, as they say. This is a great opportunity to catch some good tunes from our neighbors to the South right here at home. This year you can hear groups like Black-Eyed Snakes, Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank (featuring Ryan Young of Trampled by Turtles), Jillian Rae, Sarah Krueger, Rich Mattson & The North Stars, and Brothers Burn Mountain. Tickets are $12 at the door and music starts at 8:30 both Friday and Saturday.

If that doesn’t entice you out of your midwinter stupor, listen to this! This year marks the 42nd annual St Urho’s day celebration in Finland. St Urho, of course, is famous for chasing the grasshopers out of Finland, thus saving the grape crop. Folks, this is a three day event. It kicks off with the Miss Helmi Talent and Beauty Contest from 6-8pm on Friday the 17th. There’s a parade through Finland on Highway 1 that starts at noon on Saturday, March 18. There’s music around town throughout the day Saturday as well as a craft fair, games and lunch at the Clair Nelson Community Center. If you’re still standing, you can win some door prizes at a raffle drawing at 3pm on Sunday. St Urho may be made up, but this party is for real. So put on some purple and we’ll see you in Finland!

If you need something slightly calmer, the woods are lovely right now. The thaw and freeze has made for a very solid crust that keeps a person on snowshoes right on top, making for easy travel all over the place. The inland lakes are pretty icy, but if you don’t mind a little slipping, you can usually find a ribbon of windswept snow along the eastern shores to carry you along on skis. Traveling so close to shore has given me insights into the winter woods I otherwise would have missed. Like the scattered remnants of an otter’s lunch, blue and orange shells adding to the illusion created by ocean-like ripples the wind has made in the snow.

So there you have it. Good tunes, a parade, and peaceful wilderness, all out our backdoor this week in the West End. I feel better already.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that this week I am especially grateful for WTIP. In addition to all the wonderful things WTIP does for our community, which I’m sure you’re hearing about during this membership drive, I’d like to add one very personal thank you note. Years ago, my Grandpa Frank Hansen transitioned his newspaper column, the West End News, to WTIP. While I always enjoyed it when I heard it, I never fully appreciated the lasting impact of those recordings. Now, years after he’s left us, I can still listen to his voice recounting history and news as though I were in his living room anytime I want, just by clicking a button on WTIP’s website. It’s one of the only places his voice is recorded to my knowledge. So thanks WTIP, for capturing the voices of our community, what a gift.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School

School News from Sawtooth Mountain Elementary: March 16

Juniper and Wyatt report the latest school news.

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Cook County culinary arts at work

Community gathers to support school -- and to eat!

The Grand Marais campus of Cook County Schools/ISD 166 was a busy place on Thursday, March 9. It was the site of the Cook County Education Foundation EATS (Enriching Academics Through Sustenance) annual event .

Dining establishments taking part this year were:

Blue Water Cafe
Gunflint Mercantile

Java Moose
Cook County Whole Foods Co-op
Lutsen Resort Restaurant
My Sister's Place
Skyport Lodge and Raven Rock Grill
The Crooked Spoon
Sven and Ole's
Cascade Lodge and Restaurant
 
And of course taking part were the Cook County High School Culinary Arts Class, taught by Jason Gesch

In addition to food, there was live music—this year members of the Cook County High School band performed as well as the Plucked Up String Band. And Silent Auction items lined the school hallways for friendly fundraising competition. 

Rhonda Silence was there and she shares this report. 
 

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Raven in Snow

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 10

The upper Gunflint has been in the midst of another grappling match between winter and spring. Commencing this week’s report finds the usually mild mannered “sweetheart" of spring out of character, by having “Old Man Winter” in a choke hold.

Now he’s escaped again!

Fact is, our month three full lunar orb on Sunday could easily be better heralded as the “mush (not crust) on the snow” Ojibwe moon.                                                                                                                              

The grizzly “Great White Spirit” just can’t keep a grip in his ’16-17 rendition and is slip sliding into oblivion while we border country residents continue trekking about on softening slush and greasy ice. At the moment of this release though, it’s back to subzero and wind-blown snow. Guess the “old” part of his “Old Man Winter” designation confirms he just can’t command things as in days of yester year. It’s a “bear” getting old, for all of us!

A forecast of temps reaching into the 40s and rain drops instead of snowflakes earlier this week, finds us Gunflint folk uttering disgusting remorse at the cold season's passing.  So it’s onward and upward toward buds, blossoms and new forest babies.

Enough cold did hold on for the Cook County Snowmobile Club’s trout derby last Sunday on Gunflint Lake. Once again the “one day” shack community development sprung up on the lake ice with several hundred folks snowmobiling and milling about while some 70 serious hard water anglers tried to trick a trout, into taking a bite.

At derby’s end, few finny were taken, but everyone had a good time getting together.  The old adage that about ten percent of the fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish prevailed once again as the “fishing was great, but the catching was not.”

By late afternoon, shanty town was gone, leaving nary a trace.

The winning catch for 2017 was hooked by Shirley Heinz. Her four pound- three ounce specimen won the grand prize of $500 while Parker Slanga came in second at four pounds one ounce and Connie Rasmussen took home the bronze at three pounds six ounces. Congratulations to all who took part and to the great group of organizers for putting on this swell event in the upper Gunflint territory.

The spotlight was to be shining back at mid-Trail this Sunday with the “Dog Days of Winter” on tap. However, bad winter remains after last weekends’ meltdown and rain have caused a cancelation for this year.

Night time visitors to the Wildersmith place over the past week included the regular pine martens and their fisher cousin, along with some flighty flying squirrels. Meanwhile, in the day time, we enjoyed some winged folk as they frenzied over a roasted chicken carcass from the Smith kitchen. In the end, several species got a sample before Mr. Raven called a halt to the tasting by lifting off with the boney morsel.

Further down the Trail, during a trip to the village, we were confronted by a trio of moose. It was the first we had observed in many weeks so it was quite startling when we came over a rise and there they were two gawky yearlings and their mom. It was not a close call, so the engagement was pleasant. Yes Virginia, there still is a moose, or three, in the woods!

A couple notes in closing, first a reminder is offered to “spring forward” with clocks once again. Don’t forget to set time pieces ahead before retiring Saturday night or mankind will leave you behind by Sunday morning. Will we ever come to understand, you needn’t mess with the universe, as it was intended?  Oh well!  

Secondly, next week at this time the community Northshore radio station will be into its spring membership drive. This amazing broadcast phenomenon is all about grass roots, being built from the ground up. So yours truly is encouraging one and all to keep it growing by joining anew or re-upping with a pledge of devotion to keep WTIP on the right track. Please consider investing your “green” where it will reap a huge return for this “Grass Roots” funding effort.

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Gunflint Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, energized by the miracles of nature!
 

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Great Expectations School

School News from Great Expectations: March 10

Hailey and Charlet report the latest School News.

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School

School News from Sawtooth Mountain Elementary: March 9

Recko, Patience and Cameron report the latest School News.

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West End News: March 9

Not to go full Minnesotan on you, but I need to take a minute to talk about the weather. Here in the woods of the West End, we’ve been treated to the full range of weather patterns over the last week. One day, we were skiing on the lake in sunshine and warmth. The next, we fell asleep to the sound of rain pounding the roof interrupted only by the occasional flash of lightening. When we woke up, it was once again a winter wonderland with big soft flakes floating down. As I write this, the wind is howling and chickadees are actually being blown right off the railing on our deck.

The rain and melted snow has refrozen into a very hard and thick layer of ice covering the ground virtually everywhere. Now, I’m no Chel Anderson, but it seems the local red foxes are having trouble catching mice. Typically, the foxes will listen for the mice under the snow, then pounce into the drifts in dramatic fashion. I suspect that the hard crunchy snow and thick ice is preventing them from a lot of this hunting activity. I come to this hypothesis after a couple of recent encounters with the cat-like red foxes.

Just yesterday, moments after I had walked in the front door of our crew housing to visit with Jessica Hemmer, a red fox appeared hot on my trail. Rather than come inside, he (or she) stopped just under the bird feeder and spent several minutes scratching spilled seeds out of the crunchy snow. Filling bird feeders is an inexact science in this household, so often we have a pretty decent pile of spilled seed on the ground but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a fox partake in the buffet. Jessica and I watched the fox until it causally trotted off towards my house. I later noticed its tracks up on our deck as well.

Jessica then told me about another close fox encounter this past week. I suppose an alternate hypothesis to the difficult mouse hunting conditions could be that Jessica is simply a fox whisperer. Maybe they just like her company, she is pretty cool. Anyway, Jess was hiking Briton Peak in Tofte a few days ago when she noticed a red fox skirting around the parking lot in the woods. A few minutes into her hike, and there was the fox again, heading straight towards her on the trail. It walked right up to her, gave her a look as if to say “um, excuse me, you’re hogging the path” before sauntering around her and continuing on towards the trailhead. Lest no one believe her, Jess managed to get the whole thing on video. We both wondered if well meaning folks were feeding this fox near the trail head, contributing to his blasé attitude.

While it's tempting to feed these beautiful animals, especially when it seems you could almost feed them out of your hand, doing so is not in their best interest. Rough winters come and go, and with them the corresponding fluctuations in populations. Living so entwined with the natural world, as we do here in Cook County, it’s important that we do not alter the natural patterns and behaviors of our animal neighbors by providing easy meals.

In other canine news, the frequent dustings of new snow on the hard packed ice has been great for spotting wolf tracks. There appear to be three or four wolves that frequent some of our favorite ski trails. Unlike their foxey friends though, we have yet to see anything more than some footprints and scat. Maybe this is the cabin fever speaking, but I think we’ll try stepping out on our back deck tonight for a good howl and see if we can’t start up a conversation.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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LSProject logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: Preserving Rock of Ages lighthouse

The historic Rock of Ages lighthouse in Lake Superior has fallen into disrepair. A small group of people have banded together in an attempt to preserve this iconic light.

In this edition of The Lake Superior Project, WTIP's Rhonda Silence speaks with David and Heather Gerth of the Rock of Ages Preservation Society. 

Photos courtesy of Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society

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School News from Birch Grove: March 6

Kalina, Arlo and Tucker report the latest School News.

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Northern Sky: March 4 - 17

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

As the equinox approaches, the night-time hours are shrinking fast, especially near the polar regions. Look for the Hyades cluster, with Aldebaran within the constellation of Taurus, the Bull. The full "worm" moon can be seen on March 12. Mars and Venus will separate in the first half of March. Saturn can be seen in the pre-dawn sky, near the "teapot" of Sagittarius.

 

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