West End News: March 21

North House instructor Peter Henrikson and Grindbygg-style timber frame - photo by Carah Thomas
North House instructor Peter Henrikson and Grindbygg-style timber frame - photo by Carah Thomas

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A beautiful new building is coming to Tofte early this summer.  The building has recently been built and will be moved to the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum in May or early June.  It will be used to protect one or more of the museum’s historic fishing skiffs.
 
But, here is the interesting part. The building is a replica of the 3,000-year-old Grindbygg style of timber framing, which is the oldest known style of building in Norway.  The old style of building is still commonly seen in western Norway, especially in utility buildings like barns and boathouses. 
 
The Grindbygg style of building is similar to modern timber frames, but there are no mortises or tenons.  The construction is a bit simpler, but was a practical solution for ancient people that didn’t have access to smooth, sawn timbers.  They built the buildings with axes, chisels, drills and handsaws.  The bracing is made from the naturally curved root knees from birch and tamarack trees.  It gives the building a very organic, natural look and makes a building durable enough to last for centuries.
 
The museum’s Grindbygg building was built by a North House Folk School class under the capable direction of Peter Henrikson.  Peter traveled to Norway this year to learn the technique, which is enjoying a popular revival there.  The completed frame is currently in the courtyard at North House, so if you are going to Grand Marais, stop by and look at it.  I would love to have a cabin built in the Grindbygg style.
 
I was disappointed to see a headline in the Duluth News Tribune recently that read “Wolves Taking Toll on Minnesota Moose.”  The story itself, written by reporter John Myers, was actually a pretty routine update on the ongoing DNR research project on the rapidly declining moose herd.  Myers is a veteran and experienced reporter, who does consistently excellent work. 
 
The gist of the story was that six of the monitored moose have died since they were collared last month.  Four of the moose died from the stress of being shot with a tranquilizer and collared.  Two of the moose had been eaten and presumably killed by wolves.  In all six cases, Myers reported that it is likely that the moose were already ill and weakened before the researchers and/or wolves killed them.
 
In my opinion, the headline, “Wolves Taking Toll on Minnesota Moose” has two problems. First, by misrepresenting the content of the story, it reinforces old and discredited myths about wolves.  Second, is it really news that wolves kill moose?  Haven’t wolves been killing and eating wolves since time immemorial?  Doesn’t everyone know by now that the predator/prey relationship actually strengthens the moose herd over the long run? 
 
Last fall, 82 moose were killed by human hunters, but a headline reading, “Hunters Taking Toll on Minnesota Moose” would have been wildly inappropriate.
 
The Birch Grove Foundation is hoping to offer the LOTS program at Birch Grove Community Center this summer.  LOTS stands for Learning Opportunities Through Stories.  It is a family/child literacy program where children from birth to 5 years old and their caregivers listen to stories and do related activities.
 
There will be time for playing outside too, and maybe even a family pizza night using the new outdoor wood-fired oven. It is a great way to meet other parents with young children. Older siblings are always welcome.
 
If you are interested, or know anyone who might be, please contact Patty Nordahl at Birch Grove. Her email is bgf, as in Birch Grove Foundation, @boreal.org.


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