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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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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!

 


What's On:
A simple garbage can does the job

Remembering Kristi Downing

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Kristi Downing, a well-known artist from our area, passed away the week of December 1, 2013.  This edition of Artist Open House featuring Kristi originally aired in October of 2011.  In addition to all that is presented about her in this feature, she was a long-time participant in the Crossing Borders Studio Tour.  

Kristi Downing’s studio is set back from Lake Superior in a sheltered grove of trees. This is where she creates her raku pottery. Each piece distinctive, no two alike.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen recently visited Kristi for another edition of Artist Open House.

We thank Greg Nichols for sharing additional photos of Kristi, taken in July of 2013 at North House Folk School. 


 
Wooly Bear Caterpillar

Magnetic North: All hail the Wooly Bear

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Welcome back to Magnetic North, where my faith in the wooly bear caterpillar has turned to rock solid belief.
 
Some months back I found a solid black wooly bear caterpillar on the chicken coop steps.  Reporting this stunning news in my radio commentary brought the usual comments -all denying that caterpillar colors do not a winter foretell. Well, you scoffers, let’s have a little respect for the little guy now!
 
Remember that bone-splitting cold snap last month, huh? And now? Now, as we are caught with our mukluks still in mothballs? Mother Nature dumped an inch of snow an hour on us in some spots along the shore. My personal best  - drift-wise - was only 18 inches. But that was before my snow plower pushed close to 3 feet of compacted snow up against both garage doors. Love the clean driveway. Just wish I could get the car out. Hint. Hint.
 
But am I bitter? Heavens no.
 
I love snow and cold. It’s just that being of a certain age, I am fed up with those downer warnings on the radio about how I should conduct myself when faced with 2 feet of snow and 5-degree weather. You know the drill:
 
Cold air in one’s lungs mixed with excess muscle exertion is the prime cause of heart failure among middle-aged and older adults.
 
Translation: Geezers, save your breath to cool your soup and get some nice neighbor kid to wield that shovel.
 
Well, my chickens and ducks and goats and geese need food and water and reassurances that, all evidence to the contrary, death is not imminent. Not for them. Not for this kid.
 
I do love winter, though. Everything looks so fresh. Clean-sheet fresh and new. The evergreen trees seem to march forward out of the forest, standing guard over their bare naked brethren until their leaves come back from the dry cleaners or wherever they’ve gone.
 
My mallard ducks, the ones who choose to stay the winter once the pond freezes, are true winter warriors. The small flock of nine - six drakes and three females - move around the house, choosing the least windy locale, preferably close to the heated water trough and the round blue plastic kiddy sled mounded high with chicken scratch.
 
One drake is a holdover from two summers back, an outcast really. He wintered in the chicken coop where he was fed well and kept warm but his plumage got dull and frowsy.
 
No wonder the wild birds chased him off last spring. And even though, living outside on the pond, he got just as handsome as the other drakes, still they kept him at a distance.  Night after night, throughout the summer and fall he parked himself outside the coop, not wanting in, but not welcome with the wild flock wherever they got to. Then the cold and snow came.
 
Being a compulsive fixer, especially of critters, whether they need fixing or not, I tried for three cold nights to catch him. In the process, I named him Marty, after the old movie starring Ernest Borgnine, about a homely guy who pines for love and spends his life pretty much alone.
 
Well, Marty proved mighty sprightly, even taking to the air at times to avoid my clumsy grasping. Eventually, after landing face-first in a pile of snow, I gave Marty a piece of my so-called mind and gave up the effort.
 
Then lo, one starry night, Marty was not alone.
 
The smallest female mallard in the wild bunch sat next to him in the snow by the steps of the coop. He gave me that sideways, “Yo! Wassup?!” duck look as I shone the flashlight beam at him and his sweetie. She averted her eyes shyly and snuggled a titch closer to her new best friend. They’ve been an item now for a good week. Right through the blizzard.
 
Although in the worst of it, they took to shacking up on the deck between the house and garage. In the way of all outcasts, old Marty has grown some serious survival chops. And it looks like at least one of the wild bunch appreciates that. Plus, his plumage does fairly glow after his summer in the sun.
 
Time compresses in these deep winter depths. Time to really notice the critters, let alone water and feed them. I’ve hardly finished the morning chores before tuck-in time looms. Just when I have less time, everything takes more of it.
 
Water buckets stand in the back hall thawing. They never completely do, so a mound of ugly ice blocks is forming by the wood shed. And, instead of a simple push of a door or gate. I need a shovel most days to get into the goat corral and coop.
 
And even though I do love the long nights inside, after the two dogs have their last run, I put them in and wander into the dark again. If it’s a clear night, I’ll take the kick sled and do a few loops down the driveway or around the snowblown paths. Most times, I end up in the side of the garage where my three geese and retired chickens are housed in luxury amidst dozens of bales of sweet-smelling new hay.
 
Sitting on an old lawn chair, I wait for the geese come over, taking little nibbles on my shoelaces and at last allowing me to pick them up, one at a time, to be warmed and fussed over. Oh, they protest, but in less than a minute, a long gray neck lays languidly over one of my shoulders and one of them settles on my lap.
 
Imagine a goose down pillow that makes soft murmuring sounds - call me crazy, but I feel like one of the blessed of this life to be allowed this delight. I forget the shoveling, the wall of snow blocking my car, the doomsayers on the radio. And I bless the all-black wooly bear for giving us such a wonderful early Christmas gift.


 
Grand Portage National Monument (Jvstin/Flickr)

Behind the Work: Archaeologist Bill Clayton

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Bill Clayton is resource manager and archaeologist at the Grand Portage National Monument. In this edition of WTIP's ongoing series "Behind the Work," Bill shares how his work allows him a closer look at the fascinating history of this region.  Produced by Carah Thomas.


 
Cook County Courthouse (Jimmy Emerson/Flickr)

Cook County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers explains your proposed property tax statement

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Puzzled about your proposed 2014 property tax statement? Cook County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers spoke with WTIP’s Ann Possis earlier this week to explain more about them.


 
Sign at the outskirts of the White Earth Nation (J Stephen Conn/Flickr)

New constitution for White Earth has implications for MN Chippewa Tribe

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On November 19th, almost 80 percent of the voting members of the White Earth Nation, part of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, approved a new White Earth constitution. The new constitution, among other things, establishes a new rule for determining tribal membership. The White Earth Nation will be the first band in Minnesota to do away with the so-called “blood quantum” law for tribal membership. WTIP’s Kelly Schoenfelder recently spoke with Professor John Borrows of the University of Minnesota, an expert on indigenous law, about the new constitution.


 
Jessa Frost, para-skating on Deeryard Lake in Lutsen

West End News: November 28

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There is a lot to be thankful for in the West End these days.
 
Down in Beaver Bay, a new business has started up.  The Blue Anchor Restaurant, which has been closed for two years, has reopened with new owners and new energy.  Tim and Nicole Joyce met while attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.  They opened their doors on October 15th and have already become a favorite stopping place for locals.  They are open every day from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., offering an extensive breakfast menu, soups, burgers and sandwiches.  You can enjoy your meal near the fireplace in the dining room, or order food to go.  Everyone who has stopped there comments on the friendly atmosphere.
 
The Cook County High School alpine ski team, which trains at Lutsen Mountains, is experiencing a change of coaching leadership this year.  Jim Vick, of Lutsen, was the coach for nearly 15 years, along with able assistance from Jim Elverhoy from Tofte and Mike Larson from Lutsen.  The new head coach is Charles Lamb, of Schroeder.  Charles is a veteran of the popular Lutsen Junior Alpine Club, where he has coached, organized and generally slaved away for a number of years, so his transition to high school coach is a natural one.
 
Speaking of which, the Lutsen Junior Alpine Club is gearing up for the upcoming ski season.  The club is a development effort to get kids hooked on a lifetime of downhill skiing.  It is open to all kids under the age of 15.  A parent must accompany children under 6 years old.  Kids 16 and older can participate if there is space available.  Of course, there are many opportunities for older kids to help out as volunteers.
 
The club provides junior racing skis to the kids who choose to compete in races.  The participants have to provide their own boots, poles, and season pass.  The club strives to make sure that every child can participate, so if you’re interested, get in touch and they’ll find a way to get you skiing.
 
Registration for the Lutsen Junior Alpine Club is Dec. 3 at the Lutsen Mountains rental shop.  Contact Charles Lamb at 663-8017 or Rick Backstrom at 387-9789 to get more detailed information.  As always, you can contact WTIP for complete contact info.
 
The Annual Birch Grove Holiday Book Fair is scheduled for the week starting Tuesday, Dec. 10.  The sale is open during school hours at the Birch Grove School and features books for children and adults, Wolf Ridge calendars, computer games, cookbooks, puzzles and more.  There will be special shopping hours Tuesday, Dec. 17 from 1:30 until 6:30 p.m. during the always-entertaining Birch Grove Winter Program. 
 
The Birch Grove Foundation is advertising a business opportunity for an entrepreneur to manage the Lake Superior Youth Hostel at the Birch Grove Community Center.  The hostel has been operating as a successful private business for many years.  Recently, the Birch Grove Foundation acquired the hostel. 
 
The job includes working with large school and church groups who stay at the hostel while skiing at Lutsen Mountains on winter weekends.  However, the foundation would like to expand the youth hostel, so the job could grow as time goes on.  There is certainly a demand for youth hostel services year around in the West End.
 
The “wild ice” skating season has come and probably gone for another season.  Great skating was reported on Dyers, Caribou, Deeryard and Fourmile lakes over the last week.  High winds and cold temperatures held down the skating enthusiasm a little bit, but the folks who braved the elements reported having a sublime experience.  Jessa Frost from Tofte took advantage of the wind by flying a para-foil kite while skating on Deeryard Lake.
 
With the 3 inches of snow already on the ground over the hill – and more on the way – it’s time to hang up the skates and pull out the skis and snowshoes.


 
Heidi Doo-Kirk

Good news from the Y, new long-term housing, and more discussed at County Board meeting

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Cook County’s Danna MacKenzie moves on to a new state position, good news from the YMCA, and new long-term residential housing were discussed at this week’s County Board meeting. WTIP’s Tracy Benson spoke with District 4 County Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk about this week’s meeting.


 
The MN DNR's Jeff Lightfoot joined us to talk about this year's deer hunt (Paco Lyptic/Flickr)

Deer harvest numbers down this year in northeastern Minnesota

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The 2013 deer harvest in northeastern Minnesota declined from last year. WTIP’s Tracy Benson spoke with Jeff Lightfoot with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about the details from this year’s firearms hunt.


 
Heid's book "Original Local"

Anishinaabe Way: Writer and poet Heid Erdrich

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Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe writer and poet Heid Erdrich has just completed a recipe book and memoir titled "Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories and Recipes from the Upper Midwest" (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013). In this segment, she discusses the realm of indigenous foods, the importance of protecting traditional foods in relation to Native culture, and she shares her introduction to a recipe from the book for a dish inspired by her visits to the North Shore of Lake Superior. Signed copies of her book are available at Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. This book and many other books by Heid Erdrich can also be found at Drury Lane Books in Grand Marais, MN. "Anishinaabe Way" is produced by Staci Drouillard.


 
Ruthanne Hedstrom Vos explains the various of phone and internet scams that are common today (Hendrick Hansen/Flickr)

Phone & online scams - what's out there and how to avoid them

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Phone and online scams have become more common in recent years. Ruthanne Hedstrom Vos spoke with WTIP’s Mark Abrahamson on North Shore Morning on Monday, November 25, about some of the scams that are out there, and what we can do to avoid them.