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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:
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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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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 11, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith   May 11, 2018 
            

Going into week two of month five, this time of the Ojibwe “budding flowers moon” is not yet a reality. However, at the rate things have been going for the past seven, there’ll be blooms by the time we reach the fullest of heavens “big cheese” near months’ end.                                                  

Days, since we last met on the radio, have been pleasant, comfortably warm and sunny with cool nights settling back into the thirties. In spite of this pleasing atmosphere, the territory continues struggling to muster significant rain. Light showers earlier in the week tempered the wildfire potential. Yet the danger is only a few hours of drying wind and sunshine away, still no burning ban.
                                                                                                                                                                           
With the fishing opener at hand, hard water has not given up on the bigger lakes out this way, but several smaller bodies are said to be beckoning anglers. So, wetting a line is not going to be the opening day bust we expected a few weeks ago. 
                                                                                      
Most wetlands, swamps, and ponds along the Trail have become liquid again, attracting any number of waterfowl. Further, there are several reports of loons overhead, and I’m told the nesting pair at Chik-Wauk has returned to their seasonal home on Sag Bay. One more winged note, robins have returned to the area, but none have been observed in this neighborhood to date.                                                                                                                                                       

We at Wildersmith have been privy to a menagerie of up north critters over the past week. Observations include a moose, fox, snowshoe hares, a new pine marten and large wolf tracks along the Mile O Pine. While Trail neighbors have reported bear sightings, and a lynx.  
                                                                                           
The moose, perhaps a two-year-old bull, interrupted an evening trip up the Trail by slogging along in front of our vehicle for quite a distance. It stopped several times and turned to look at us who were no doubt interrupting his meanderings too. Without a close encounter, “Murray the Moose” eventually went off into the forest.  
                                                                                                                                        
Meanwhile, those north woods bunnies are out and about after having not been seen for weeks. In the process of changing to summer attire, the only lagomorph memory of winter can be found in their bleached undercarriage and white socks.  
                                                                                         
The fox mentioned has paid us a visit twice in the past few days. While I’ve heard of many folks with friendly foxes, this is a first at Wildersmith. This foxy guy shows up out of nowhere and might be a lost pet because it has no fear of us    two-legged creatures. It is quite persistent about wanting a hand-out and hangs around until we willingly oblige. Guess it has us hooked, and the pine martens now have to share their poultry treats.
                                                                        
While I have not observed any bears yet, the first reported observation came from some folks over on Washout Rd. Since that news came in, more of the ebony beasts have been poking around at various locations. And the lynx sighting came from somewhere up the Trail. 
                                
My earlier mention of Chik-Wauk causes me to remind WTIP listener/readers the historical campus will be opening for the season two weeks from this one (on Memorial Day weekend). It looks to be a busy season with more of the Gunflint story, great natural history programming, and construction of two exciting facility additions. 
                                                                                            
The timber frame Watercraft Exhibit Building (WEB) will be raised in a week or so and an Interpretive Cabin will go up as soon as the frost is out to allow for footings. The cabin will be located on one of the original resort cabin sites, while the WEB will be near the Back Bay just off the entrance lane. Actual exhibits in the two buildings, are dependent on funding resources becoming available but hope to be open for viewing the summer of 2019.  
                                                                                                                                                                                  
Two of our Gunflint neighbors have recently been honored for their devotion to helping people. Gunflint Community congratulations are extended to John and Rose Schloot. The longtime residents and owners of Cross River Lodge (formerly Borderland Lodge) were recognized as 2018 winners of the Dolly Johnson Friend of Emergency Services Award.  
                                                                                            
Commencing in 2003, the awards program recognizes people who are not on the front line in emergency situations. The honor for John and Rose is bestowed for their on-going and ever-present support of our local EMS and Search & Rescue volunteers in crucial behind the scenes roles during times of crisis. We on the Gunflint are so fortunate to have folks like the Schloot’s in our midst. Thanks to the both of them and many others always standing ready!   
                                                                                                                                         
On a final note, the Gunflint Green-up reunion held last Saturday was a lively and scrumptious success. The potluck provided so many delectable offerings, one attendee who shall remain anonymous, was observed with an assortment of five desserts on his plate. Big thanks to the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee organizers and all who attended.     
                                                                                                                                         
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with wilderness adventures yet to be seen.
 

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News May 01, 2018

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School News - May 01, 2018
with Jack, Elizabeth and Hunter.

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May Night Sky

Northern Sky: April 28 - May 11, 2018

Northern Sky by Deane Morrison for April 28 - May 10 2018

April's weather has been forgettable, but on the evening of the 29th it gives us a gorgeous full moon. Perfect fullness happens at 7:58. That's just minutes after moonrise in Grand Marais, so when it first clears the eastern horizon it'll be one of the roundest moons ever. April's full moon is called the full pink moon, after wild ground phlox, also known as grass pink, a small pink flower that carpets the land this time of year. This full moon won't be especially large or small, but if you can get outside just before eight o'clock on Sunday, the 29th, it will be worth it.
 
The next night is a treat for anybody who follows the Celtic holidays. It's April 30, the eve of May Day. According to old Celtic tradition, sundown on April 30 was the beginning of the holiday known as Beltane. It signified the end of the dark half of the year, which began at sundown on Halloween. The critical events that defined the dark and light halves of the old Celtic year had to do with evil spirits. At sundown on Halloween, they came rushing out of exile and started causing illness and otherwise making trouble, but at sunrise on May 1 they disappeared into exile again, and the light half of the year began. Beltane, or May Day, and Halloween are astronomically based holidays. They're what's known as cross-quarter days and they fall more or less halfway between an equinox and a solstice. Groundhog Day is another one, but the fourth cross-quarter day doesn’t get much press. That’s Lughnasa, a harvest holiday at the beginning of August.
 
As we get into May, the moon will be waning and spending less time in the evening sky. Be sure to have a look at Venus; it's the bright object that comes out in the afterglow of the setting sun. In the east, Jupiter is a rival beacon. These are the two brightest planets, and when darkness falls you can compare them not just in brightness but in color. On the night of the full moon, Jupiter rises below the moon and follows it across the sky.
 
Jupiter is about as bright as it gets now because Earth laps it in the orbital race early on the night of May 8th. That event is called opposition because it puts Jupiter opposite the sun in the sky. At opposition an outer planet rises around sunset and sets around sunrise. On the 10th, Jupiter and Earth come within about 409 million miles. That's their closest approach, and it comes after opposition because Earth is moving farther from the sun while Jupiter is moving in, and that brings them closer before speedier Earth pulls away.
 
For early risers, we still have, in this order, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter strung from left to right across the predawn sky in the south. This string of planets is lengthening as Mars moves eastward against the background of stars while Saturn and Jupiter move westward. Saturn and Jupiter appear to move westward against the stars, in what's called retrograde motion, now because they’re at or nearing opposition. When Earth is lapping one of the outer planets, the act of passing it by makes it appear to move backwards, or westward, even though the planet’s own motion carries it eastward. It's the same when a runner in an inside lane laps a runner in an outer lane. The outer runner will seem to move in the opposite direction from how he or she is actually moving. Saturn reaches opposition in late June, Mars not till late July.
 

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Superior National Forest Update - April 27, 2018

National Forest Update – April 26, 2018.
 
Hi.  I’m Chris Beal, a wildlife biologist on the Gunflint Ranger District, with this week’s National Forest Update, everything, or at least a reasonable amount, of what you need to know when you are visiting the Superior this week. 

It is nearly May, and winter is, hopefully, maybe, cross your fingers, over.  After some truly spectacular storms, the lake has calmed down, the snow has quit, and it seems spring is actually here to stay.  With spring comes the migrating birds.  Robins went from some sporadic sightings to large numbers in people’s yards over the past week.  Most of the robins are males right now, arriving early to set up territories.  You can observe a lot of fighting and other territorial behavior as they settle disputes over who owns which patch of grass, which can be pretty entertaining for us.  Sparrows have also started to trickle in, and the clear plaintive whistle of the white-throated sparrows can be heard welcoming the warmth to the north woods.  Their song is supposed to sound like ‘Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody’, or if you learned it north of the border, they sing ‘Dear sweet Canada, Canada, Canada’.  Mixed in with the white throats are white-crowned, tree, and other sparrows.  These birds all love seeds, so it is a good time to keep the feeders full and sprinkle some millet on the ground as well.  Yellow-rumped warblers are the leading edge of warbler migration, and they’ve been seen in Duluth.  They’ll be working their way north along with the rest of the warbler tribe as our insect population increases.  Speaking of insects, butterflies are back. Mourning cloak butterflies with dark wings trimmed in cream are fluttering along roadsides.  These hardy insects actually hibernate through winter, so they are some of the first butterflies to appear.

If you do have bird feeders, you need to start taking them in at night because butterflies aren’t the only hibernators awakening.  Bears are starting to roam, and they are pretty hungry right now.  We heard one description of someone who had taken in the feeders but had the bear come up to the deck to lick the grate on their grill.  So, plan on hiding in the garage anything that could even remotely be thought of as tasty to a hungry bear.  Remember that bears are after food, and not particularly interested in you.  So long as you don’t put yourself in a situation where you are a threat to them, they are going to leave you alone.  It is in their nature though to chase dogs, so keeping your dog leashed and under control when outside is a good plan.  While you’re at it, with the birds returning and starting to nest soon, it is also a good time of year to keep Kitty indoors. 

There’s no logging traffic on the roads right now, but that it because the roads are very treacherous.  Our timber crews are really recommending staying off the back roads for a while unless you really need to be out there.  It is a mix of soft roadways, ice, and still deep slush in some places, so until it all melts and dries up, roads are hazardous.  If you have to be driving, leave word on where you are and when you are expected to return.  Take it slow, and expect the road conditions to change around every bend.

Most snowmobile trails in the area are closed or in poor condition according to the DNR website, and off-trail use of snowmobiles is not allowed if snow cover is less than four inches.  The trails are not in good condition for ATV use either.  It is easy for ATVs to create ruts and damage trails in the spring, which will ruin good riding for the rest of the year.  Don’t ride on closed trails or roads, but also use good sense and don’t ride when your machine will dig ruts even if the trail is theoretically open.  Check the Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use map to see if your route is open: some routes open mid-April, but some won’t be open for use until later.  You should also check for any posted temporary closures due to seasonal conditions.  Use of ATVs off of designated routes is not allowed on the Forest.

The remaining snow and the damp conditions reduce fire danger, so over the next few weeks, the Forest will try to conduct some spring prescribed burns.  Most of these are to maintain wildlife openings near the shore.  These openings are used by migrating birds and help keep the diversity of habitat available in the forest.  We can’t tell you the exact times of these burns because they are weather dependent, but you can check our website or Boreal for more information. 

Starting next week, May 1st, issued permits will be required for overnight trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  You can reserve these online at Recreation.gov, and pick them up at Forest Service offices and cooperating businesses after watching our Leave No Trace video.  To accommodate wilderness explorers, our offices also start our summer schedule of being open seven days a week, 8 to 4:30. 
Enjoy the return of birds, butterflies, and life to the Forest while you wait out mud season.  While you wait, this a probably the week to put away your snow blower and winter toys, and unearth the lawn mower and summer toys.  You might even look a little at the boat and canoe, but there’s no rush on that yet.  Until next time, this has been Chris Beal with the National Forest Update.
 

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West End News - April 25, 2018

West End News   by   Clare Shirley    4/26/18

The Tofte township is still accepting applications for the Town Treasurer position. The Treasurer is a paid position, with minimal time commitments. There’s a bit of bookkeeping that you do from home, and you attend the monthly meetings with the Supervisors. It’s also a wonderful way to contribute and stay connected to the current events in the township. Outgoing treasurer Nancy Iverson is available to help guide you through your first couple of months, so don’t be nervous about bankrupting the town your first day on the job! If it sounds like a good fit for you, let the town clerk Barb Quade know. You can reach Barb via email at TofteMN@boreal.org.

Spring is still springing over the hill in the West End. Sawbill lake is sporting 15 inches of solid ice with about 9 inches of rotten ice on top of that. On Wednesday we attempted to drive in to check on the status of Brule and Homer Lakes but had to turn around about halfway down the Brule Lake Road due to deep drifts of melty snow. I can only assume this means those lakes are frozen in for a while yet.

The snow is starting to recede, leaving great deep puddles in its wake. It’s sort of like a small scale glacial melt, leaving puddles behind instead of lakes.

Our 2-year discovered one such lake-like puddle just today. She is sporting a new pair of rain boots and is thrilled when the temps rise above freezing and the puddles magically turn from slippery ice rinks into splashy, muddy, wading pools. Her personal mission each afternoon seems to be to leave no puddle un-stomped. This afternoon, she got a little more than she bargained for when the puddle turned out to be a washed out corner of the Sawbill Lake canoe landing. Instead of standing in inches of water she found herself submerged up to her shoulders. Luckily her daddy was close at hand to pluck her from the slush and rush her back up to the house where a warm bath made everything better.

This should serve as a cautionary tale for all of us this time of year. Even ice that is a foot thick can be unsafe as it honeycombs in the warm weather. Ditches are deceptively soft. Puddles might turn into accidental polar plunges. So be safe out there and keep thinking warm thoughts!

Another happier spring surprise is that Lutsen Mountain is open for skiing on the weekends, through May sixth! The snow is silky corn in the morning and soft bumps in the afternoon. If you don’t know what that means, then you don’t know what your missing and you better go check it out! Season passes for next year are already available and on sale with a special early bird rate. If you buy one now, it will also cover the rest of the weekends this season, bonus! As if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday, April 28th Papa Charlie’s is hosting the Beer Lover’s Dinner. For $75 you can enjoy a four-course dinner paired with local Voyageur beer.
 
 For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley, with the West End News.
 

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Ella and Greta

Great Expectations School News - April 27, 2018

Great Expectations School News with Ella and Greta.
April 27, 2018

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Vicki Biggs-Anderson

Magnetic North - April 25, 2018

Magnetic North 4/23/18
Of Mud and Memories
 
Welcome back to Magnetic North, where memories trickle, then rush through our minds like the thousand streams returning to Mother Superior.

While away last week, I planted flowers in my California daughter’s garden, even as I shivered knowing that soon I would be in for another month of frozen ground and maybe even a snowstorm before I could do the same at the farm back home. From six to twelve inches of snow fell hereabouts as I basked in sunny warm weather.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped out of the car at the end of my road and sank into, not snow, but a good five inches of wet clay. Worse than mud, clay fastens to our feet, as gravity weren’t enough to bind us to the earth. Ordinary shoes turn into clay platforms on which to teeter around on. Still, I was thrilled. This meant that the stream surrounding the meadow and running into the pond would soon be roaring under and then over the ice. The little spring under the tamarack tree on the driveway would open it’s arms to my remaining mallard ducks and drakes, with new ducklings sure to follow. Best of all, the fence I’ve been dreaming of all the long winter nights can now be staked out. After 27 years of suffering goats eating my roses and the small crops I plant in raised beds, I think I’ve got them licked.

Chuckling at my brilliance and the goat’s chagrin, this weekend, I stomped through the soggy grass around the house with lengths of orange baling twine - saved in my ‘string too short to be saved’ box  - tied end to end. And as I went, I found the usual assortment of flotsam, small hints of lives lived and lost, even as I sat inside by the fire, snug and unaware.
There was the expensive monogrammed dog collar for Jethro, worn only once after Christmas, then gone, forever I thought. But no, there it was just off the south deck, intact with tags, where his sister dog, Zoey must have gnawed it off his skinny neck. 
Nearby, the evidence of a less funny encounter. Tufts of deer tail, hunks really, with bits of hide, the edges ragged. As I paced off the fence line farther into the yard, more deer hair and hide. Enough to fill one pocket of my barn coat. Did the dogs bring these trophies in from the meadow and was the carcass still near  -  near enough to attract predators close enough to endanger the goats?

The irony of these thoughts wasn’t lost on me. Here I am fencing the goats out, while worry nagged at my mother’s gut imagining slavering wolves in the night feasting on goat meat after polishing off the poor deer they’d taken down. So far, twenty-seven years of having goats and not one lost to a predator. Still......
 
As I made my way around the corner of the deck, a bath towel sized shadow on the steps down to the basement entry caught my eye So that’s where that throw rug I hung out last November got to! Next to reappear. a carved bit of deck railing winked at me from beneath the spent hay by the woodshed. And so it went. Found objects and memories of other spring thaws showed themselves, one by one. 

The most unpleasant discovery this year is the sinkhole over an old dug well is caving in again, despite the load of rocks piled into it last summer. I know Paul would never allow such a hazard to exist and probably would build some structure over the depression before tackling anything so optional as a fence. He also would have replaced the fallen clothesline poles, big cedar jobs that surrendered to the pull of the clay beneath two years ago. And that old outhouse by the coop? Set originally on two cedar skids, it now lists crazily to one side, making for a precarious perch inside, to say the least. He would never have tolerated such a wanton waste of a good biffy. And then there are the shards of green rolled roofing that left the roof of the coop last month on a wild night of even wilder wind. Wasn’t the roof red when we bought the place? Paul and his friend Art put the green on in an afternoon. Or was it his friend, BJ?

By the time I’d rounded the house, tying the last length of twine between the coop and dog kennel, I was ready for a large mug of coffee and spring. The stream was, as hoped for, growling awake across the road, promising the pond breakup within the week and spring peepers serenade perhaps by month’s end. All in all, a Sunday very unlike my last, planting flowers in Los Angeles. Still, just as fine in its harvest of found objects and fond memories.
I found this little poem by one of my favorites, Edna St. Vincent Millay, that captures the essence of such a simple day in early spring. And while it’s too soon for butterflies and flowers here, the same vivid sense of what is coming and what is past shines in her words. Here ’tis.
 
Song of a Second April
April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.
There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.
The larger streams run still and deep,
Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively,—only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North.
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 20, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       April 20.2018   
 
Starting this weeks’ Gunflint scoop, one would think “old man winter” must have forgotten to turn-out the lights and/or left the door ajar as he departed for his spring/summer vacation.  As I’m keying this weeks’ news, the “grizzly geezer” made an about turn and returned to take care of matters.       
                                                                                                                                                              
He has resurfaced with a blustery vengeance, although not hitting the Gunflint with the same snow maker fury as places farther south of border country. Nevertheless, howling winds and horizontal snow brings back memories of January.    
                                                                                    
In spite of the late season madness, there’s still something magic about falling flakes. Once again the Smiths’ were captured in beautiful white fantasia while returning from the village last Sunday afternoon. At almost the same moment, both of us spoke to the romance of driving through our pine halls as boughs were being re-decked, even knowing it’s likely just for a short time. Call us a little nutty but “ya can’t help but love it!”    
                                                                                                  
During my daily runs down the Mile O Pine, and prior to the latest dropping, I appraised the Mile O Pine landscape as perhaps reflecting a “tale of two seasons.” Such is perceived as the rays of sunlight have been beaming at the southern exposure of windrowed snow along the north side of the road, providing a declaration of spring. Day after day since March, those white mounds have been gnawed away to almost nothing a good distance back into the woods.  
        
Whereas looking one hundred eighty degrees in the opposite direction, one finds the plowed banks in the coniferous shade, protected from “Sols’ power, still pure white and frozen waist high and more. 

Some might proclaim my appraisal as a bit of a stretch, but “a tale of two seasons” is a natural reality in this time of our struggling weather transition. It is snow today gone tomorrow just wait twenty-four hours.

Reports of “wild neighborhood” critters moving about come from several sources over the past few days. Three species of the canid variety have made impromptu arrivals in the Gunflint Lake area. A wolf darted in front of my vehicle one evening, while a coyote or coyotes have been making any number of visits along the south shore.  

Meanwhile, a fox was digitally captured by the lady of the Wildersmith house in the beautiful woods to our east. The scene was recorded following a successful predator/prey episode with one of the neighborhood squirrels. She didn’t actually observe the stalk/chase and catch, just the aftermath, as the fox stood over its’ late day snack. Foxy eventually carried the prize off into the woods.   
                                                                                                                    
Obviously, the rodent didn’t realize hunting season for its species is open year around. See the fox and its catch alongside my Wildersmith website posting on wtip.org, scrolling down on the Community Voices column.   

Over the past several days, I’ve seen several of those “Minnesota Chicken birds” officially known as Grouse. Guess the winter and predators have not ravaged all of them.   
                                          
On a closing note from animal kingdom around Wildersmith, the Smiths’ were delighted on a recent afternoon with an extended visit from a pine marten. The roan fur ball dined at the feeder, then succumbed to some warm sunshine and curled up on the threshold of its’ dining quarters for what turned out to be a long nap. This is highly unusual as their skittish nature has them spooked by even the slightest wilderness commotion.    
                                                                      
After snoozing and lounging around for the better part of a couple hours, even allowing a couple photo ops, it headed off into the treetops. Our furry friend returned later for a poultry dinner treat as the sun settled in the west. Every day can dish up an un-expected “wild woods treat”, one just has to be in the right place at the right time.                                                                                                                                                                      
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as we close out the first month of our winter/spring theatrics. 
 

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West End News - April 19, 2018

West End News by Clare Shirley           April 19, 2018

Ice out seems to be the hot topic right now. Specifically, will it ever happen? My guess is yes, but maybe not in time for fishing opener on the bigger lakes. Sawbill lake is still sporting about 2 feet of ice with a foot of dense snow on top of that. Days just above freezing, with nights dipping into the low 20s, aren’t doing anything to help. It looks like spring will make a tentative reappearance next week so I remain hopeful that this is not, in fact, the beginning of the next ice age.

Our dear loons have started their migration north, only to find that their summer homes are still iced in. Loons farther south in the state have been found hypothermic and starving. If you see a loon or another waterfowl, in distress there are resource centers that can help them through the tough spring. Just be mindful, if you’re going to rescue a loon, toss a towel over its head first. They are bigger and faster than you might think and nobody wants a loon beak poking them in the eye. The rescue centers recommend placing these birds in a large cardboard box with a towel and keeping them warm. Some centers even have volunteer drivers who will come pick the birds up. Google is a good way to find the bird rescue center nearest you.

One benefit of this late coming spring is excellent snowy conditions for this weekend’s Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge at Lutsen Mountains. This is the fourth annual event, taking place on April 21st and 22nd at Lusten. Saturday will feature the Hillcross and Hillclimb, from 9 am to 6 pm. Then you can dance off the chill with DJ Beavstar at Papa Charlie’s starting at 9. Sunday’s event is the Cross Country series, from 9 am to 4 pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling Lutsen. Spectator tickets include all-day access to the fancy Summit Express gondola. The viewing deck, food, and beverage service at the Summit Chalet will be open and ready. This is always a well-attended event, and a fun way to cap off your winter sports.

You should also mark your calendars for the annual Gala for the Grove. This lively event takes place each spring and is a wonderful night out in Tofte, supporting the Birch Grove Community School. This year the gala will be on Saturday, May 19. The champagne social starts at 5:30, a dinner and wine are served at 6:30, a live auction starts at 7:30, and the dance party starts at 9. For more information or to get your tickets, call the school at 663-0170. I’ll give some more details as the event draws near, but be warned that tickets are limited!

The Tofte township is reluctantly accepting the retirement of longtime Treasurer, Nancy Iverson. Nancy has done a great job keeping the township’s books on track and we are sad to see her go! Nancy hopes to make the May meeting her last as Treasurer so the supervisors are seeking applicants for the position. The Treasurer is a paid position, with minimal time commitments. It’s also a great way to stay connected to the current events in the township. Serving as treasurer is just one way you can help serve your community, if it sounds like a good fit for you, let the town clerk Barb Quade know. You can email her at TofteMN@boreal.org.

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

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