Listen Now
Pledge Now


 
 

North Shore Weekend

800px-Lake_Superior_North_Shore.jpg

  • 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:

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: November 25

The yearly spending madness in America is officially underway with the “black Friday” weekend. In the midst of this coming mayhem, I hope your Thanksgiving Holiday has been stuffed with a joyous time of family, friends and goodies from the bounty of all who made it possible. Further, if you were able to share our abundance with someone less fortunate, kudos for your decency and generosity, you can’t be thanked enough!

“There’s no business like snow business.” Finally, after much wringing of hands about when and if it would ever come to these parts, production and distribution got under way. Last weekend's snow and return to more normal temps has the landscape in dazzling white, with the forest flocked to the hilt.

We’re even into ice-making on some of the smaller lakes with the mercury hitting the nothing mark in places up at this end of the Trail (it was zero at Wildersmith and slightly below at Seagull Lake).

This neighborhood did not receive what prognosticators envisioned, but neither was it a bust. Our first measurable dose piled up at seven inches, and with the accompaniment of howling winds during the storm, it looked like much more in many locales. Guess some might consider ourselves lucky compared to the upwards of two feet that fell in several North Country counties to the west. However, for a few of us “zanies,” there can never be too much.

I find interesting the excitement created when forecasters begin to sensationalize the coming of a first winter storm. It would seem everyone’s trigger is tripped, whether” the coming” is with scorn or elation. Beginning with the first reveal of a cold season storm advisory, suspense begins to build. Questions, of when will the furies of such arrive; how much will it pile up; and how bad will it get, resound throughout the kingdom.

Evolvement of the situation intensifies if the “watch” turns into a “warning.” Folks edge up on their seats and ears perk to the media, many in disgust, with others in hope of a doozy. The storm is getting close, it seems to be real; will I be able to get home, or get out; is my vehicle ready; do I have enough food; will the power and communications be interrupted; will the snow blower start; where’s my shovel; will school be dismissed early or called off? Oh so many concerns echo through our minds.

Arrival is confirmed as trifle flurries at first, energy then escalates to a full blown visit from the “Polar Express.” Curiosity whets our senses, noses to the glass watching a calm vertical descent of the heavenly flakes, while ears detect howling air suggesting a horizontal delivery. Whatever the means of conveyance, the magical sensation of snow whitening the world around us is capturing.

Seldom lasting for more than a few hours or a day or two, the work of “old man winter” idles down to an end. The body of this “old guy's” toiling lies in varying states of crystal serenity. With our mini-universe blanketed in white, the results, are sometimes not as bad as predicted and others far worse than anticipated. Regardless of one’s opinion on the end product, it’s difficult to argue the peaceful splendor of new fallen snow.

In immediate days following the cold atmospheric drama, our wilderness territory comes alive with intriguing, mysterious signs of life we have not seen for months. Tracks of “wild kingdom” critters indent the bleached carpet in infinite shapes, sizes and directions. For yours truly and other outdoors people, the wonder and curiosity associated with critters leaving a trace is beyond the ordinary “what,” “why” and “when” of human understanding. Tracks, tracks everywhere make living in the wilderness setting a deeply profound encounter into the “wild”unknown.

Oddly enough, enthusiasm for the first winter season happening does not wane. For many folks, it seems subsequent wintry episodes conjure up the same anticipatory energies as the initial act. So for us winter enthusiasts, bring it on, the joy of the times are at hand. Happy snow activities to all!

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great and having them with snow cover is even more delightful!

(Photo by Tony Hisgett on Flickr)

Listen: 

 

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: November 18

Gunflint territory has chalked up week three of November, and little has changed with regard to winter being a non-factor. Conditions along the Trail have been splendid, if one favors warm weather. We did have a couple mornings where the mercury slipped below the freezing mark at Wildersmith, but sunshine later on those days refreshed memory of a September song.

The damp gray days of last month have succumbed to a mini-drought with no consequential rain in this neighborhood for going on three weeks. This has given way to tinder dry forest under growth and dusty back country roads.

Our mid-month, “freezing over” “Super moon” had us under its luminous spell earlier in the week. The moonrise was awesome and the ensuing spotlight hanging over the forest was nothing short of spectacular. Sadly, it should have shone on the “breast of new fallen snow," but such was not the case. It did, however, “give a luster of mid-day” to the warm forest floor below.
 
As our Thanksgiving celebration is but days away, folks out this way will not only be thankful for many bountiful blessings, but would also be grateful to get this winter thing going. Purveyors of cross country ski operations would surely welcome a good dose of “old Man Winter” ASAP.   

In the meantime, I’ve noticed our “vernal like” atmosphere has one neighborhood species in a spunky, romantic mood. I don’t know if the autumn months are a normal time for amorous attractions in the red squirrel genus, but something spurned a couple of the red rodent critters into an apparent courtship right out on our deck rail.  

If one lives in the woods long enough, it is likely you’ll see most anything happen in the “wild neighborhood.” So observing this mating ritual might have been expected, although it was certainly a surprise.  

Those avian in gray tuxedos have been marvelous entertainment over the past few days. Talk about being habituated, this “whisky Jack” couple has turned the tables. Whereas we humans are often guilty of perpetuating such with certain members of the animal kingdom, this dapper duo is doing a marvelous job of training us in the Smith house.    

An example is shared as yours truly, sat near a deck side window last Sunday. Without warning, one of these Canadian Jays flew right up to the glass, perched on the sill and pecked anxiously to get my attention. Startled at first, it didn’t take me long to jump up, grab my bag of bread cubes and hurry out the door to serve the winged wonder. Talk about being conditioned, yes we are.   

While out serving the handsome critters a day earlier, I watched some winged activity that featured jaybirds of both gray and blue varieties. On this occasion, I’d been serving the grays while one of the blue varieties sat nearby in a tree watching enviously. 
Afraid of my presence (they are only brave when they can bully smaller birds), it would not join the dining experience. 

During this scenario, the grays’land, take a beak full of nutritional fare and fly off to nearby trees where their treasures are stuffed in bark crevasses, thus stored for consumption at a later date. I could see the blue was eyeing this process, apparently planning a felonious raid on the gray cousins’ cache.  
                                                    
It wasn’t long before one of the grays flew off with a mouth full, and the blue took a following flight pattern. A short stroll around the deck, found the gray nearby, stashing its morsel while the blue landed on a nearby branch. Without concern, the gray took off in search of a second helping, leaving its rewards unattended. 
                                                                
Moments after this gray departure, the blue made its move. The blue bird invaded the “staff of life” treasure chest, helping itself to the hidden loot. Soon to fly away, Mr. Blue undoubtedly went off to plan its next larcenous escapade.  

Summing up observation of such daily happenings in the wild, securing a regular meal is not only highly competitive, but involves cunning and patience. Survival goes not only to the fittest, but also to the shrewdest.

In other animal snippets, the bears are still on the prowl, and the eight member Gunflint/Loon Lake wolf pack was observed up on the ridge, above this Canadian border lake by a deer hunter in recent days.

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great and forest adventures are fabled!  Have a safe and glorious Thanksgiving!

(photo by Dick Daniels via Wikimedia Commons)

Listen: 

 
The town hall, fire department, and rescue squad buildings, reflecting the 17 years of outstanding leadership from Paul James

West End News: November 17

Leadership is on everyone's mind these days, as it usually is after a presidential election. If you're looking for an example of dedicated leadership, look no further than former Tofte Township Supervisor, Paul James.

Paul was a Supervisor for 17 years and for many of those years served as the Chair. Year after year, he was selected from among all the township residents at the annual community meeting to lead the discussion about the upcoming priorities for Tofte.

Paul's contributions are too numerous to list in full, but just a short list would be his important role in upgrading and professionalizing the fire department and rescue squad. He led the charge for the town to acquire ownership of the Birch Grove School building that now houses the Birch Grove Community School and the Birch Grove Community Center. He negotiated with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to design a highway reconstruction plan that best met the needs of the town. He guided the town through a comprehensive planning process and led the charge for affordable housing.

In addition to all of this, Paul has been active in Zoar Lutheran Church, served as a volunteer fireman and led the Timberwolves snowmobile club forever.

Paul also led by example and could often be found doing some of the many unglamorous chores that keep a community looking good and functioning smoothly.

In my mind, Paul represents the second generation of leadership since Tofte re-incorporated as a township in the late 1970s. When the older generation started to age out, there was some question about who would step up. Paul stepped into the gap and never missed a beat.

I know that Paul will be an inspiration for a new generation of township leaders and the entire West End joins me in offering our sincere thanks for the thousands of selfless hours that he has put in on our behalf.

Congratulations to Deb and Nan at Lockport Store in Lutsen for their glowing review on the national website, onlyinyourstate.com. The popular online magazine said, "…this little cafe is a can't-miss-it stop on any trip up north." It's nice to see the rest of the world discover the good food and cordial atmosphere that every West Ender has known about for years.

If you're looking for a place to celebrate Thanksgiving, remember the community Thanksgiving at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland on Thursday, November 24, from 2-5 pm. This dinner is open to everyone and is very much in the cooperative Finnish spirit that abounds in this neck of the woods. If you are located closer to Grand Marais, the Congregational Church up there offers the same deal - good food, good company, no sermon and absolutely everyone is welcome.

No matter where you are on Thanksgiving, remember to take a moment to be thankful that you live in the wonderful West End.

For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

Listen: 

 
Rough-legged hawk

North Woods Naturalist: Fall is closing in

Fall has been a long time coming, but it’s closing in on us. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the November of 2016.

(Photo by Richard Droker on Flickr)

Listen: 

 
Lake Superior Project/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: Stories of loss, love and remembrance from the Maple Hill Cemetery

The Maple Hill Cemetery is a small cemetery outside of Grand Marais. It's a lovely place, located high on a hill overlooking Lake Superior.

In this edition of The Lake Superior Project, WTIP's Martha Marnocha takes a walk through the cemetery with two local residents, Sherrie and Jeannie, to reflect on stories of loss, love and remembrance.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Leland on Flickr)

Listen: 

 

Northern Sky: November 12-26

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

A supermoon, also called the Beaver Moon, mid-month; Venus bright in the southwest horizon; the "loneliest star" can be seen in the east; Jupiter in the morning sky; Leonid meteor shower may be diminished by the waning moon; a bright Acturus - the "guardian of the bear."

(Photo courtesy of Dave Grubb on Flickr)

Listen: 

 

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: November 11

What a difference a couple weeks can make. November has turned uncommonly in the opposite direction of winter along the Gunflint Trail. Whereas we “fell back” with our timepieces last weekend, strides toward winter have reversed into a backward course as well.

For several days north country has felt like September, and those of us favoring cold and snow by this time, find it quite unsettling. But what is one to do other than “grin and sweat it.”

A journal check of last year found we at Wildersmith had our first inch of snow on the twenty-ninth of October and temps by week two of November were in the 20s at night and 30s during the daytime hours.

How warm has it been? Well if your thermometer was in the sun last Sunday, the mercury registered about 70 degrees (probably record setting) at some places up the Trail while in the shade, mid-fifties to sixty was “bad” enough.

“Wild neighborhood” critters in the process of “getting ready” are probably confused. And I might have been seeing things, but I’d swear some deciduous beings poked out green bud tips after several days of sunshine and heat. On the human side of happenings, we even had a few boats go up and down Gunflint Lake over the past several days.

Interestingly enough, it’s been so warm as to draw out a batch of those pesky buzzing pests. While catching up on some early season tree pruning, the nasty nippers have not lost their touch in tormenting me, generally being a pain in the eyes, ears, nose, and hair below my hat band while biting at my wrists around my glove cuffs.

At the same time, the house had been buttoned up for the season, and this has had to be un-done with opening windows, leaving storm doors open and a resort to ceiling fans. I can see only one thing positive being drawn from this warm, yucky situation - home heating bills will be less taxing. Score: Consumers one, utility investors nothing, so far!

I haven’t received any success reports from deer stalkers, but one would guess the warm weather had whitetails wild in the woods, as opposed to their normal cold times meanderings. I’d guess venison takings were probably minimal on opening weekend. One thing for sure, both deer and moose are likely more into sweating it out from the temps instead of human predation.

In the meantime, snowshoe hares around the place are not taking the heat too seriously. I’ve observed several over the past week having advanced to half and half in their summer to winter coat transition. While on the “Bruno” side of the ledger, one would suppose they are not seeing a need to den up just yet, so we should not tempt bears by putting out winter small animal and bird feeding facilities for a while longer.

Regular avian friends at Wildersmith seem not one bit concerned about this weather oddity. Nuthatches and chickadees are swarming like it was December/January and “whiskey jacks,” having been AWOL for months, are now arriving for both a breakfast and afternoon hand-out. Furthermore, ruffed grouse are content to hang out in this neighborhood oblivious to the fact that winter arrival has been derailed.

While this weather anomaly has some of us aghast, blue skies are tinting border country lakes and mostly calm air is reflecting mirror images of lake shorelines with an unimagined upside down beauty. No pun intended, but the current heaven to earth magic kind of gives one a warm all-over feeling.

When the territory will surrender to the glory of winter is yet to be seen. For the time being, everyone in the Gunflint community is enjoying this idyllic calm before the storm.

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great and will often render a wilderness adventure.

(Photo courtesy of Cimexus on Flickr)
 

Listen: 

 
Brady Lillie and Birch Grove alum, Josh Schmidt, are performing for the Birch Grove Community School dinner at Papa Charlie's

West End News: November 10

I'm feeling proud to be from Cook County this week. Our local election season was civil, sane and focused on the desire to make life better for all of us. The voters stepped up for the schools, making a strong statement about the importance great local education. Most of our local and state representatives were re-elected by wide margins, reflecting the fact that they're doing a pretty good job of working for us.

I thank everyone who serves in local elected office. It's a hard job and often a thankless job, but every single office holder in this neck of the woods is dedicated, hard-working and effective. Disagreements, when they occur, are about the issues and not the people.

On the national level, my feelings are just the opposite. I won't bore you with a litany of election ugliness, as others are doing that a-plenty. But, regular listeners will recall hearing me say that I personally believe that Donald Trump is a con-man. In spite of his being the winner of this awful election, I've seen nothing to change my opinion. The only thing I can say is that time will tell.

Another great example of good local leadership is the upcoming "Free Day at the Dentist" for all Cook County Youth on Monday, November 28. This wonderful program is under the umbrella of the North Shore Health Care Foundation and sponsored by the Oral Health Task Force and Grand Marais Family Dentistry.

Here's how it works: Just call Grand Marais Family Dentistry at 387-2774 and schedule an appointment for any child between the ages of 18 months and 26 years. The free visit will include an exam, cleaning, x-rays, fluoride and/or sealants. This offer applies to everyone, so to be eligible, you just have to be a kid.

This program has been going for a number of years now. A long list of generous people and organizations, too many to mention here, pony up money to make this happen. I'll just say thanks and you know who you are.

Before you take your kids to the dentist, take them - and yourself - to the annual Birch Grove Community School Dinner at Papa Charlie's from 5 to 8 pm on Saturday, November 19.

Not only is a delicious dinner served to you by Birch Grove staff and parents, there is also a big silent auction and some really good live music. The auction is famous for its scope and variety, but the music this year is something special.

Mysterious Ways is the band performing. The leader is Josh Schmidt, Lutsen boy born and bred, along with his talented musical partner, Brady Lillie. Josh and Brady will be freshly returned from an ambitious and successful national tour with their full band, Step Rockets. A heavy touring schedule will have sharpened the skills of these master musicians, so don't miss it, whatever you do.

Several canoes were rented at Sawbill last week and there were campers in most of the local campgrounds. It's the latest canoe and boating season that I can remember and the visitors were rewarded with stunningly beautiful weather.

Several people have commented on seeing white snowshoe hares recently. The white rabbits in the brown woods really stand out, defeating their clever camouflage plan. They probably have the right idea in the long run though. After all all, they've been West End residents for a long time.

For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

Listen: 

 

North Woods Naturalist: Fall to winter changes

The seasons are changing, slowly -- and they are getting warmer. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about fall to winter.

(Photo courtesy of Gary J. Wood on Flickr)

Listen: 

 

West End News: November 3

The Bloodmobile is returning to Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte on Monday, November 14. It's surprising, in this day and age, that blood donation remains such a critical part of medical treatment. Having a good supply of blood on hand quite literally saves lives every day. The donation process is easy, fun, and leaves you with the good feeling of having done your part for your community. Jane Johnson is handling the scheduling this time around, so call her at 663-7254 to make your appointment.

Schroeder residents should all plan to attend the public hearing at 6:30 on Wednesday, November 9. Schroeder's Comprehensive Land Use Plan is being revised and this public hearing is your chance to weigh in on those changes before they become set in stone. Land use plans are just the kind of thing that people often say, "when did this happen?" and "why didn't I hear about this?" Well, this is happening now and you are hearing about it now. The more community members weigh in on the plan, the better it will be in the long run.

Schroeder Township Supervisor Bruce Martinson commented that Schroeder has more private land that can be developed than any other part of the Cook County. That fact surprised me until I thought about it for a minute.

Schroeder is in a job creating state of mind since Minnesota Power closed the power plant there last month. Hopefully, the new land use plan will get that process started.

A fun project is happening at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte. The church has two old bells. One is the longtime church bell and the other is the original bell from the old Tofte School, which was a classic white schoolhouse located in what now is the middle of the Bluefin Bay complex.

Three West End craftsmen are combining their talents to restore the bells and make them more interesting. Randy Nelson of Tofte cleaned and repainted them, Dave Rude of Tofte is making an interval control system that will allow them to be programmed to ring according to a pre-set schedule. Dave Gustafson of Schroeder is building a new enclosure to house the bells. Soon, we'll all be enjoying the fruits of their considerable skills.

We were working in the office at Sawbill this morning, when Cindy suddenly started saying, "moose, moose, moose!" Sure enough, a big, healthy-looking cow moose was strolling up the driveway. Just as she disappeared behind a building, Cindy started chanting again, "another one, another one, another one!" Here came a two-year-old calf, calmly stepping around the parked cars and following her mom into the back yard. They arranged themselves in the yard in front of the picture window, where they obligingly posed for pictures and video before wandering off down the ski trail.

Moose in the yard is a rare event these days, but it is a big part of the joy of living in the good old West End.

For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

(Photo courtesy of Veronika Ronkos on Wikimedia Commons)
 

   
Listen: