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News & Information

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:

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News February 6, 2019

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News with Makayla and Grete.
February 6, 2019


Easter Princess by Charity via Flickr.jpg

In the Spirit of Medicine - Dr. Arne Vainio "What Do You Want to Be?"

In the Spirit of Medicine – Dr. Arne Vainio

“What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up”
Dr. Arne Vainio is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a family practice doctor on the Fond Du Lac reservation in Cloquet. His essays on life, work, medicine and spirit are published in "News From Indian Country”. 


Frost crack

North Woods Naturalist: Frost cracks

WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about what causes frost cracks in trees.


-30 photo  by espie.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - February 1, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith      February 1, 2019    

Beginning this weeks’ Gunflint report, life in this part of the universe has become frozen in time. Residents are settled into survival mode, concerned most about keeping living quarters warm and hoping the vehicle will start if needed.                                                                                                 

Border country heads into yet another week of bitter cold temperatures. If anything or anybody could be blamed, perhaps it’s yours truly. After bragging a couple weeks ago about this territory not having experienced its annual January polar blast, I must have offended the “great spirit of the north.”                                                                                                                                    

The scribing back then had barely gone out over WTIP radio waves when “Biboon” the “wintertime guy” obviously took serious offense and decided it was time. This in mind, he must have been thinking, “just a moment you old codger”, “I’m not dead, and in fact, I’m very much alive and well, and in charge.”                                                                                                                                                             

Since then, frigidity has brought activity to a near standstill. I haven’t observed an ice anglers’ rig headed up the lake in over a week. And on another note, I’ve heard no recent moaning from the lake ice. Then again I haven’t been outside much to listen.                                                                                                       

On this first day of month two, it is hard to predict what conditions will be like as this scoop comes your way. A good bet is, it might still be on the lower side of zero. If such is the case, the Wildersmith neighborhood will have been below the nothing mark for all but two days during the past two weeks. That’s a lot of frosty hours and countless chunks of firewood!                                            

There is no apparent logic to this next tidbit, but its sure funny the Wildersmith thermometer has been at its lowest reading each of the last two Sunday mornings. Last weekend saw our coldest low so far as the column of mercury was within three degrees of not being observable, at minus 42. It’s likely some of our neighbors up toward the end of the Trail were even colder.                                                                                                                                                                                       

It seems several folks in the territory have been under the weather, and yes we have, in a couple of ways. Not only have we been under this icy outdoor spell, many have been fighting a north woods crud indoors. Not to be excluded, the Smiths’ have been dealing with the annoying cough, congestion and throat conditions too.                                                                                                                                      
Perhaps being self-quarantined by this siege of cold will slow the spread of the yucky stuff as folks haven’t been getting around much. February comes from the Latin word “februa”  which means to cleanse. So the arrival of this second 2019 segment enters at a time when healing from these sick nasties is in big demand.                                                                                                  

Then again, as January ended with no sense of humor, February might share the same character. Whatever happens, the consolation is, after this weekend, there are only 25 days left until things will start getting better and symptoms of “cabin fever” will begin fading away.                                                                                                                                              

The Beargrease Sled dog race came through to the mid-Trail stopover last Monday. Although conditions did not favor mankind, they were great for the canine stars of the event. Without a doubt, there was likely no overheating during the three hundred mile journey as temps hovered in the teens below zero and lower. For results of this historic travel re-enactment, check the Beargrease website. Warming congrats to all that endured!                                                                                                   

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where even days below zero are great, really cool man!


Photo credit Vicki Biggs Anderson

Magnetic North by Vicki Biggs-Anderson January 30, 2019

Magnetic North 1/24/19

A Message from Inside the Great White…
Welcome back to Magnetic North, which makes me think of how the view from inside the mouth of a Great White Shark must look, all those long, sharp icicles lining my roofline and practically touching the deck railing. Ugh!
Icicles are good examples of what poet Thomas Gray meant when he wrote, ”Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”
When I was a kid, I loved icicles. Hey, free popsicles! Tasteless, true, but free and also useful for poking friends in the back. 
Now that I am grown, icicles represent only a poke in my budget; Heat loss through the ceiling and extra expense when my electric bill comes. Not to mention creating ice dams and the resultant leaks and stains on my beautiful cathedral ceilings.
But, with luck and additional outlay of cash for insulation, I will get that problem solved....someday.
The arrival of The Great White, as I call this winter of 2018-19, has already wreaked havoc on one of the many structures on this 116-year-old farmstead. The chicken run is now missing its wire cover and crossbeams. Viewed from the driveway, it does appear as if some giant creature had just touched down long enough to bring a 10 by 10-foot section down. That first load of cement-like snow we got right before the first of the year.
When first I saw the mess, I just stared at the damage, resenting the ruined work of my Paul and his friend, the late Jack Halvorson back in 1991. Together they made a gorgeous run of stout cedar posts and well stitched together wire, with barbed wire dug in all around so those burrowing predators would be stymied. 
It’s rotten to lose something made by those you love and have also lost. But then I realized that perhaps The Great White had done me a good turn. I let the hens out to free range in good weather anyway, so why not just turn the run into a big veggie and flower garden? The sides are already there. I know Paul would agree. As for old Jack, well, he’d probably give me one of his dubious stares and say, “It’s your time and sweat.” 
So far no damage has been done to my body by The Great White....but then there are still a few more months to go before I can be sure of that. The first time out of the shed with my little red electric snowblower was a near miss, though. Pushing and pushing that contraption through that wet, heavy snow was nigh impossible. I grunted, I strained, I panted like a dog, and I swore like a sailor. Frankly, I used muscles not engaged since I gave birth to my darling daughter.
And so I did the wise thing. I retired the blower and called for help. Now my paths are smooth and chiseled things of beauty that are just wide enough for me to ride around on my Norwegian kicksled with buckets of grain on the seat.  Happiness in chore doing restored.
I will admit that I take doing chores in double-digit below zero weather quite seriously. I always have my phone and when the weather report is particularly alarming, the critters get double rations just in case going out the next day proves to be foolhardy. But who is to say what and when is foolhardy?
That thought occurred to me while kick sledding to the chicken coop last week in below zero weather. I was remembering an old colleague of mine at the News-Herald, back when Steve Fernlund owned the newspaper. Duane Honsowetz was his name and he was an old-school journalist AND woodsman...Crusty, principled and feigning a fed-up with life attitude - mostly a cover I think.  We got along just fine. I thought of Duane last week because he died in weather such as this on his trap line, somewhere off in the woods - certainly not a foolhardy thing to do, as he had done it hundreds of times before.
The story was that Duane had suffered a stroke while checking his traps in the deep winter woods.  And although I wished he had not been alone out there, I couldn’t help but be grateful that my old comrade didn’t breathe his last covering a county board or city council meeting, I hoped he was at peace, under the sky lit with stars, instead of the glare of fluorescent lights.
Morbid? Not a bit. For a kid whose favorite book of poetry was Robert Service’s Spell of the Yukon, the white landscape of the far north was a brilliant backdrop where the shadow of death danced and teased those prospectors and vagabonds wanderers who dared to venture inside her lair… Here’s a stanza I committed to memory long, long ago, I find it quite appropriate as we once again face below zero temps in the coming days.
From Service’s poem The Spell of the Yukon, from the book of the same name,
“The winter! The brightness that blinds you!
The white land locked tight as a drum/
The cold fear that follows and finds you/
The silence that bludgeons you dumb/
The snows that are older than history/
The woods where the weird shadow slant/
The stillness, the moonlight/the mystery/
I’ve bade ‘em goodbye......but I can’t.”
I whispered this stanza on my way back from the chickens that night last week, breathing each word in frosty vapors into the night. And while there was no prospectors gold ore in my basket, there were riches. My hens gave me seven big brown eggs and one greenish blue, beauty. 

Mercury and Venus blazed in the clear Eastern sky over the old White Pine and Duane’s spirit and Service’s poetry rode the sled with me, good companions that night and throughout this winter of The Great White. She is a ferocious, yet mysteriously seductive mistress known well by both men.  And by me as well; blissfully ignorant, but ever so grateful.
For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North


Bobcat Resting in the Snow

North Woods Naturalist: Bobcats

There's been an increase in reports of bobcats along the North Shore recently.  WTIP's CJ Heithoff checks in with Chel Anderson to find out more about the feline animal in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - January 25, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith     January 25, 2019    

Last weeks’ report had barely hit the airwaves when my mention of the usual north woods January cold spell being AWOL surrendered to a big turn-around. Folks living in the territory know of what I’m talking, while others in WTIP range, who may be wondering what it’s like on the Gunflint, can be assured it has been seriously cold.                                                                

How cold was it? Temps have remained below zero here in border country for most days since a week ago today (Friday). While temperatures vary considerably from place to place, at Wildersmith, thirty below zero and lower was common for a number of mornings with a brisk minus 40 recorded last Sunday morning.                                                                                                                                                       

These are actual thermometer readings, not the hokey wind chill sensationalism from the weather media. If one lives out this way, you don’t have to be told its dangerously cold when even the slightest the wind is blowing as such is done in Urbania for oblivious younger generations                                                                                                                                                    

Needless to say, outdoor activities around here have been curtailed except for critter feeding time, runs to the mailbox and many trips to the woodshed. The Smith’s have just hunkered down and enjoyed the warmth around a crackling wood burner. The romance of cozying up on a still, bitterly cold night in the north woods can’t be matched, especially when one doesn’t have to get out in the morning for a trek to work.                                                                                                              

Meanwhile, miracles of life below zero go on un-interrupted amongst our “wild neighborhood” critters. How those pert little chickadees and nuthatches survive is incredible. And as if frost on the windows wasn’t enough evidence of bitter cold, jay birds and pine grosbeaks were fluffed up like puff balls as they wait for time at the feed tray. While pine martens and squirrels, with frosted whiskers and nary a shiver, seem undaunted in their daily morsel search.                                                                                                                                                             
During our last trip to the Village, we came upon a moose trio in the middle of the Trail near Little Iron Lake. It was a momma and her twin adolescents. Getting to see them in multiples is always a treat.                                                                                                                                                                                     

They were blocking traffic, of course, so we slowed to a stop. Momma readily departed into the ditch. However, it was a different story for her kids as they struggled to remain upright on the icy surface. After some slip-sliding about, the gawky juveniles made it to the safety of the snowy roadside and disappeared into the forest.                                                                                          

Visiting with a friend a few hours later, it was disclosed she came upon a trio in the same location just moments after we had passed. Guess the salt on the road must have been a tasty attraction in that locale and lured them back onto the ice-covered blacktop.                                                                                                                    

The storied John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon heads north from Duluth to Grand Portage, starting on Sunday. While the 2019 course has been shortened to three hundred miles, it will nevertheless be heading up the Gunflint Trail to Trail Center Monday, with early leaders expected around 10:00 am. After a mandatory layover, all should be departed by around 10:00 in the evening on their way to the Grand Portage finish.                                                                                                                         

The best means of catching a glimpse of the mushers as they come up this way would be to check the Beargrease website or to be in the mid-trail area during the day. Of course, there will be plenty of canine energy, excitement and color as usual out here, and at Grand Portage, which is not that far away. Come on out and give these teams a Gunflint Community welcome.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where life below zero is great, even though a bit unforgiving for the faint of heart!



Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News January 24, 2019

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News with Adam and Lute.
January 24, 2019


Dr Arne Vainio

In the Spirit of Medicine - Dr. Arne Vainio

In the Spirit of Medicine

"What's in a Name"

Dr. Arne Vainio is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a family practice doctor on the Fond Du Lac reservation in Cloquet. His essays on life, work, medicine and spirit are published in "News From Indian Country”. 



Birch Grove Elementary - School News - January 23, 2019

Birch Grove Elementary School News with Niranjan, Nataliya and Dayne.
January 23, 2019