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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!

 


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Humming-bear

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 18, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith     May 18, 2018
    

May is rapidly moving along, surpassing the half-way point heading into this weekend. Warm season rituals continue occurring with each fleeting day.                                                               

Out this way, the most exciting tradition of late has been the final days of hard water on the larger lakes. Gunflint Lake is one of the last to bid ice farewell out. Sure enough, Sunday afternoon (May 13), somewhere between one and two o’clock, the big ice cube took a dip, not to return.   
                                                                                                                                                                                        
The prelude to final crystal disbursement is music to our ears. Gnashing of the honeycombed chards always plays a remarkable chiming tune of northern lakes delight. 
                                                                                                                                                             
On another delightful note, the happening couldn’t have come at a better time for yours truly. The Smiths’, and perhaps other north woods residents have been fretting powerful ice flows for several days as it can play havoc with our lake water systems, shoreline, and some permanent docks.                                                                                                                                                    
Unless one has proficiency in ancient glacial activity, this is an annual contemporary thing of which most folks from “Urbania” have no concept in regard to the “might” of an ice shield, being propelled by even the slightest of breezes. But we are breathing easier now as the ice chunk only moved the heavy steel piping about six feet and did not tear out the system yielding us life’s liquid sustenance. The whole scene makes one feel pretty helpless knowing the solidarity of “Mother Earth” and the power of “old Sol” are the only ice stoppers.                                                                                                                                            
Approaching the end of springs’ month two, our re-birth is not ready for “prime time” just yet. However, the impeccable ability of “Mother Nature” to start anew has the deciduous “green-up” at the point of explosion. Buds are bulging with enthusiasm as verdant hues are serving up a blur of lush haze on Sawtooth Mountain sides. Leaf out should be completed on schedule by the time we get to June. While our timber flora is unfolding, at ground level, green shoots are piercing the recently frozen earth along the Trail with new energy.                                                                                                                                               
In spite of the happy days at hand, the last character of our long winter has not disappeared entirely. At the time of this scribing, man-made piles of snow and mini-back woods glaciers, hidden deep in the shade along the Mile O Pine and other backcountry roads remain as memories of the season past.                                                                                                                                                                
Although the 2017-18 snow accumulation out this way was not severe in-depth numbers, it nevertheless has displayed staying power. Around Wildersmith, we’ve had snow of some consequence on the ground since October 27th, a total of two hundred four days so far!  Be assured, I will notify when all sign of winter is gone.                                                                                                                         
Taking this brief bit of cold season trivia further, bitter cold was not really severe by past North Country measures. But a sampling of what its’ been like, the day our Gunflint Lake ice went out,( last Sunday), the night before still saw a skimming of ice on the quiet open water strip along our shoreline. So however people define cold, include “persistent” with the descriptors.                                                                                                                                                            
Getting back to warmer spring thoughts, “skeeters” are back in the picture. Both Smiths’ have recorded the first itching nip of 2018. Meanwhile with snowmelt in many places still running lakeward, such is harboring habitat for black fly hatching so we can expect those torturous beings sooner rather than later. One can also add ticks to the list of our disgusting annoyances.                                                                                                                                                                      
And, speaking of other creeping, crawling critters, members of the arachnid family are spinning their nighttime web of intrigue as noted in the fiber network glistening through the early morning forest sunshine. Verifying the intricate phenomena, unfortunately, I seem to interrupt the networking every day on my first outdoors trek, by walking headfirst into the invisible filaments.   
                                                                                                                                                               
While a few bear sightings have been reported, we at Wildersmith can now confirm a first sighting too. Happily, it was not in the yard or up on the deck, but along the Trail.    
                              
Our recent fox visitor made another stop during the past few days. I find it interesting, but not surprising the hungry fellow takes a while to consider consumption of left-over seasoned, cooked meat. It’ll eat it grudgingly, but much prefers its protein raw, like a chicken part. Seems beggars shouldn’t be so choosy.   
                                                                                                                                   
On another foxy note, I see where one of this guy’s cousins was not spared by a vehicle in the mid-Trail area. Trail travelers need to give our “wild neighborhood” critters a “brake” particularly as inexperienced babies start exploring the warm blacktop.         
                                                                                                                               
In closing, the territory remains moisture depraved. With all ice out, I can’t say enough about getting those wildfire sprinkler systems ready. Seeing increased visitor traffic due to early paddlers and the opening of walleye season, more human’s mean chances for an accidental fire being set are increased substantially. Since there is no burning ban, residents and businesses have to be ready on their own. Yours truly can attest the water is very cold, but my systems stand ready.                                                                                                                                                                      
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, in every season.
 

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Superior National Forest Update - May 18, 2018

  Superior National Forest Update – May 17, 2018.
 
Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Supervisory Administrative Support Assistant, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of May 18th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

The old saying of “In Minnesota, if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour” has been very true this week.  Rain, 80 degree days, frozen bird baths at night, sun, calm, and wind:  we’ve had all but snow, and cross your fingers, we won’t be having any of that.  Winter, spring, and summer seem to be shifting as smoothly as a sixteen-year-old learning to drive a stick shift, but the progress, just like the young driver, is still always forward.  We had a lesson in how close winter still is when we dug into a gravel pit on the Forest and found the frost only 2 and a half inches below the surface.  Despite the frost in the ground, hummingbirds returned to the Forest in time for Mother’s Day.  It is always incredible that such a tiny animal can navigate across the entire country, fueled by nothing but tiny insects and flower nectar… and a lot of bird feeders.  If you are feeding hummers, make sure to use straight sugar water with no colors added.  The color of the feeder itself is good enough and dyes can be bad for the birds.  Change the liquid frequently, if it is getting cloudy before you change it, you need to change it more often.  Put the sugar water out when it is at outside temperature, not hot off the stove, or cold from the fridge, and the birds will love you for giving them some extra easy to find energy.

On the opposite end of the animal size scale from hummingbirds, moose are starting to calve.  Mom and baby moose have been spotted in several places on the Forest.  Be careful though, cow moose will not appreciate your getting close for a photo of their baby.  Stay well away, and stay on mom’s good side.

Outside of the animal world, we’ve been making progress on doing some spring prescribed burning.  Specifics of burns are posted on our website and on Boreal.com, so if you smell smoke, you can check to see if we are doing a burn.  If you end up near a burn, please respect all signage and don’t interfere with the fire crews.  It has been very dry the past week, so be very careful with fire, and keep an eye out for possible burn restrictions in the coming week. 

The dry conditions have also put us in the odd position of both having weight limits on roads due to soft areas, and also having the roads to hard and dry to grade in other areas.  The two together mean the roads are still in pretty poor condition, though they are a lot better than they were a week ago.  The weight restrictions mean that there is still limited logging traffic. On Tofte, logging traffic can be expected on the Trapper’s Lake Road and DMIR Grade (FR380).  On the Gunflint side, there are operations off of Greenwood Road and Firebox Road, but no hauling until road restrictions are lifted.

Going fishing?  You’ll be happy to hear that our docks are now all in at boat accesses!  Campgrounds will be entering fee status soon, possibly this weekend, but we are waiting for some water systems to come online.  Be prepared though to pay a fee for overnight camping in the fee campgrounds.

It’s a great time to get out in the woods this next week.  You can hunt for warblers with binoculars, or fish with a hook.  It’s just nice to get outside and watch as the trees change from bare to buds to leaves.  Spring in the north:  Don’t miss it!  Until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.
 

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Grand Marais Aikikai.jpg

Aikido in Grand Marais - 25th Anniversary

WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with Craig Waver, Sensei, about the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Aikido in Grand Marais.
Honored Guest Instructors, Rev. Zenko N. Okimura and Clyde Takeguchi, as well as many other Senseis and students from around the country, will help Craig celebrate.
 

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Lindsey & Regina Yoder

Bike for Freedom - Lindsey Yoder

WTIP volunteer, Mark Abrahamson talks with Lindsey Yoder and her mother, Regina as they prepare to complete the Bike for Freedom ride at the Canadian border near Grand Portage, MN.
Lindsey; her brother, Kyle; her sister, Krista; and cousin, Jackson; rode bicycles from the Mexican border to raise awareness of human trafficking and funds for Hope for Justice.
More information about Lindsey's journey can be found on Facebook - Bike for Freedom, Mexico to Canada.

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Lady and the Scamp - Part 5

Travels with Sarah
From Grand Marais to Ontario, Canada

 
 
Sarah-the-dog and I drove all day with the 13-foot fiberglass trailer on tow, and only managed to travel half-an-inch of the Trans-Canada Highway on the big map. We made it from Nipigon to Marathon. Progress was slow partly due to the 90 kph speed limit  -- 56 mph -- which I decided to follow since it’s easier on the gas when towing the Scamp, and gas costs more here. 
 
Marathon is the sort of “I could live here” picturesque town,  but after I shopped in the grocery store I changed my mind about that. I couldn’t see myself making friends with the low-key couples staring at the drab rows of food. I left feeling depressed. Another potential home off the list. Where was my home? Which continent? Where did I belong? Sarah was home to me but aged fifteen, she didn’t have a lot of time left. I watched her constantly, trying to second guess how happy she was about still being alive. Deciding when to euthanize a beloved dog is agonizing. Sarah’s vet had spoken of “the rule of thumb” and “quality of life” guidelines before we left on this trip. Sarah no longer enjoyed walks, she was deaf and carried a large benign cyst on her chest. On the other hand, she enjoyed her food, and sniffing smells as she pottered around. Anti-arthritis pills seemed to help with her agility, and she seemed to like traveling on her bed on the front seat.  And her bladder and bowels were functioning well. Dogs are such stoic beings, sometimes it’s hard to tell if they are suffering. Always a quiet girl when she wasn’t on a walk, skipping ahead, her tail a-wagging, she slept much of the time now she was old. I stroked her silky curls as we drove to the next campground. We would share charcoal grilled steak for supper.
 
In the morning we set off from our campsite in Pukaskwa National Park (fantastic place; five stars for nature and beauty, where I climbed flat slabs of rocks and ate wild blueberries high above the lake hoping I wouldn’t fall and die out there as Sarah was shut in the car). Later back on the highway, I picked up a couple of Goth hitchhikers. We drove for an hour or two listening to  Fleet Foxes and Trampled by Turtles, and the girl, Mary, said I was “totally rad”. I was prepared to take them all the way to Toronto, but suddenly at a gas station outside Wawa, we joined a line of stopped cars. 
 
Turned out there was a paint truck on fire on the highway and traffic was stopped on both sides, so there was nothing to do but sit on the dusty ground in the sun while Dave and Mary took it in turns to play their banjolino and sing. They’d been busking their way from Vancouver. I wandered around chatting to fellow strandees, which was the only way to find out what was going on as there was no Internet service. The owner of the gas station said I could camp there if I wanted as the last road blockage had been for ten hours. So five hours later, although the road had newly reopened, I pulled the Scamp into what I thought would be a quiet corner of the lot about a football field away from the gas station. Mary came to tell me they were heading off and confided that she wanted to break up with Dave. “Are you OK?” I asked. “You can leave him now and travel on with me” but she assured me she was safe and would leave him when they arrived back home in Toronto. And so my Goths set off.
 
Sarah was tired and I was tired and I had no desire to join the nose-to-tail traffic. We went to bed. Then the rain began. First, a gentle pattering of random drops on the Scamp’s roof, followed by an insistent drumming which made patterns over our heads. This was home, I thought, lying safe and warm in bed with rain pounding on the roof. It reminded me of the sound of monsoon rain crashing onto the corrugated tin roof of my childhood home in Africa. I curled up with Sarah and fell asleep to the rain’s music. 
 
The rain fell all night and container trucks arrived all night and hummed and snorted around us and the dawn light revealed that we were surrounded by a sea of semis who had kindly left us just enough space to sneak out.
 
So it rained from then on.  I drove by the burned-out hulk of the paint truck that had caused all the trouble but missed the photo-op as the traffic cop impatiently waved me on.
 
A few hours later my phone rang: “This is a courtesy call from CVS pharmacy” and I thought, wow! I have phone service! Maybe I am close to the American border. So I called my best girlfriend in Minneapolis and we managed to chat for a few minutes before my phone went dead again. Home can be a good friend on the other end of a phone. 
 
Heigh ho, the wind and the rain/A foolish thing is but a toy/And the rain it raineth every day.
 
Feste’s song from William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: sung by countertenor Alfred Deller
 
Feste's Song[]
When that I was but a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain, it raineth every day.
 

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Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Pain

WTIP volunteer, Brian Neil talks with facilitator, Lynn Arnold about the new "Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Pain" workshop being offered by the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic.

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News May 15, 2018

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News with Ty, Lucas and Charlie.
May 15, 2018
 

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Cloudy sky

North Woods Naturalist: Clouds

With all the crazy weather we’ve had this year, cloud watching has been good for seeking weather clues. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about clouds.
 

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NSky May Sky.jpg

Northern Sky: May 12 - 25

Northern Sky -  by Deane Morrison - May 12-25 2018
 
 
For a week starting Saturday, May 12, we have morning and evening skies that are free or nearly free of moonlight, and that makes for good starwatching. The moon becomes new in the early morning of the 15th, then starts its next march eastward across the evening sky. As it goes, it gets bigger and brighter and sets later, so we have less and less time to see celestial objects without the moon washing everything out.
 
On evenings around new moon, look for Leo, the lion, high in the southwest. Its most prominent feature is a backward question mark of stars, known as the Sickle. The dot of the question mark is Regulus, the brightest star in Leo. Regulus is also the sharp point of a stellar triangle; the other two stars are brilliant Arcturus, which is high in the south at nightfall, and Spica, which is below Arcturus. Arcturus is the anchor for the kite-shaped constellation Bootes, the herdsman, and Spica is the only bright star in Virgo. These days Spica and Arcturus are also part of another triangle, with Jupiter. Jupiter is a beacon in the east, near the peak of its brightness. Also, just to the southwest of Spica you’ll find a four-sided figure. This is Corvus, the crow—another of those constellations that aren’t very prominent but can be fun to find.
 
On Wednesday, the 16th, look for a very young crescent moon down by the horizon below Venus—that brilliant light in the west. The next night, the 17th, the waxing moon will have moved to about the same level as Venus. On the 18th, a fatter crescent appears below Pollux, the brighter of the Gemini twins. The other twin, Castor, is to the right of Pollux. On Monday the 21st, a first-quarter moon will be practically sitting on top of Regulus. And the evening of the 25th, a bigger, brighter moon appears above Spica.
 
If you have a lawn chair, you may want to grab it and look for Ursa Major, the great bear. It’s really high after nightfall these days, close to the overhead position, hence the advisability of observing from a reclining position. You may also need a star chart to make out the whole constellation. The Big Dipper is the bear’s hindquarters and tail, and the arc of the tail—which is also the handle of the dipper—leads you to Arcturus. Just remember “arc to Arcturus.” At the bend of the handle is a famous double star. Binoculars will bring them out nicely. The stars are Mizar, the brighter one, and Alcor, its fainter companion. These two have also been dubbed the horse and rider.
 
Also, I enjoy looking for three tight pairs of stars that represent the paws and one hind foot of the great bear—although not all star maps indicate that. The three pairs of stars form a diagonal line below the bowl of the Big Dipper and they have been named the Three Leaps of the Gazelle. They’re also not prominent, but they’re one—or three—more things that can be fun to find.
 
In astronomy news, NASA just launched its InSight mission to Mars. InSight is designed to find out, as NASA puts it, “what makes Mars tick.” The lander will plant a seismometer on Mars. It’ll study Mars quakes, and the mission will also track how heat in the interior of the planet gets dispersed, and how Mars wobbles. It may even be able to detect liquid water or plumes of active volcanoes below the Martian surface. All this data will shed light on the formation of other rocky planets, including Earth and the moon. Landing is scheduled for November 26th.

 

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Great Expectations School News - May 11, 2018

Great Expectations School News with Aria and Mary June.
May 12 - 25, 2018.

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