Feeding the birds outside your living room window is almost taken for granted here in the West End. Watching birds at the feeder is such constant part of life that it often takes a visitor's fresh eyes to remind us how lucky we are to have the quantity and quality of birds that we have both in residence and passing through. After more than 50 years, it is rare to see something new at the feeder. The other day, we spotted a small group of yellow-rumped warblers on our feeder. Wikipedia tells me that the cute little birds are known to eat sunflower seeds from feeders, but never before in our neck of the woods. The same day, a friend in Tower mentioned on Facebook that she also had yellow rumpled warblers at her feeder. Maybe the warblers are using Facebook to find out who has bird feeders. More likely, though, that the recent storms have blown them into an area where they don't usually hang out. In any case, they make a colorful addition to the usual chickadees and nuthatches.
The Birch Grove Senior Lunch continues to provide excellent programming. Recently, Alta McQuatters from Lutsen presented some of the long history that her family has in the West End. White Sky Rock, the popular overlook near Caribou Lake, is named for Alta's grandfather. Her memories about the connections between her family and certain place names brought up a general discussion of place names, how important their history is to understanding our culture, and how their origins could be lost if they aren't carefully documented. Carrie McHugh, of the Cook County Historical Society, picked up on the conversation and is working to get some funding and person power to investigate place names all around Cook County. It will be fun to see the results as they appear.
On Wednesday, Apr. 24, at 11:30 AM, Sherrie Lindskog will be presenting information on her new laughter group. The old saying that "laughter is the best medicine" turns out to be absolutely true, both for physical and mental health. The Senior Lunch already includes quite a bit of laughing, but Sherrie's presentation should increase the percentage and provide some very interesting information too. Everyone is welcome to Senior Lunch at Birch Grove, but if you aren't a regular, you should call ahead so they can be sure to have enough food. The number is 663-7977 or call WTIP for contact information.
As if that isn't enough fun in itself, the Latin Dance exercise group meets at 10:30 a.m., just before the Senior Lunch and all are welcome. What better way to work up an appetite and get yourself ready to laugh.
West End parents and kids will be glad to hear that the popular Campsite Kids program will be offered through Birch Grove this summer. Campsite Kids is a qualified day care for kids from kindergarten to fifth grade and runs from June 11 through Aug. 29. Although it is based at the awesome Outdoor Classroom facility at Birch Grove, the emphasis of the program is to get kids doing fun outdoor activities all over the West End. Field trips, hiking, creative projects, a possible cabin overnight are just a few of the offerings.
If your kids are younger than kindergarten age, don't despair, because Birch Grove School is offering their popular Saplings program for the pre-school crowd again this summer. Conveniently, it runs on the same dates and times as the Campsite Kids program.
Space is limited for both programs, so if you're interested, call Diane at Birch Grove School. Her number is 663-0170 or contact WTIP for complete contact information.
Peggy Anderson of Schroeder will be hosting a veterinary clinic at her business, Temperance River Traders, in Schroeder, Thursday, June 6. A vet will be there from the Ely Vet Clinic. Appointments can be made by contacting the Ely Vet Clinic at 218-365-5911, or contact WTIP for full contact information.
It's the time of year when I start getting a lot of people asking me for my best guess of when the ice will go out. I've been getting a few chuckles and a few groans by confidently predicting that it will be on Aug. 1. All kidding aside, this could be one of the rare years when the ice doesn't go out before the opening of fishing season on May 11. That said, predicting the ice-out date is nearly impossible. One year, the ice was completely black and obviously within a couple of hours of going out on Apr. 28. We had a betting pool going and we almost gave the money to the person who had bet Apr. 29. The next morning we woke up to a 13-degree temperature and heavy snow. The ice didn't go out for another two weeks that year.
Last year, on the day we left for vacation, we went for a long walk on the lake. When we returned from vacation, seven days later, the ice was gone.
So, although anything and everything is possible, statistics tell us that the ice should be out before opening day. It all depends on the weather.
Photo via Wikimedia.org. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.