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North Shore Weekend

  • 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:
Photo by Martha Marnocha

North Woods Naturalist: Fall Colors & Fungi

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

In this edition of North Woods Naturalist, Chel describes the confetti of leaf colors that are beginning to appear as well as her latest observations as we head into fall.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Scott Oeth-photo by Mike Patterson

Pack & Paddle

"Pack & Paddle" with Scott Oeth
September 20, 2021

In this edition Scott talks about the many uses of cattails - from nutritional and medical, to kindling and insulation.

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Autumn has arrived...! (Photo by Bryan Hansel)

North Woods Naturalist: Advancing Autumn

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

In this edition of North Woods Naturalist, Chel describes her recent observations that tell us autumn is on the way.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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StarMap Sept 2021.jpg

Northern Sky Aug 28 - Sep 10

Northern Sky 
By Deane Morrison

With daylight slipping away, September’s skies make an excellent background for watching stars and planets.
     
Venus shines briefly above the western horizon after sunset. On the 9th, a young crescent moon joins the planet. As both sink, the brilliant star Arcturus, in Bootes, the herdsman, comes out above them. 
     
At nightfall, the Teapot of Sagittarius hangs low in the south. Its spout tips downward, as if pouring the tea onto the tail of Scorpius. A little further west of the Teapot glows Antares, the scorpion’s red heart.
     
East of the Teapot, Saturn and brilliant Jupiter dot the darkness. Moving east again, the Great Square of Pegasus is gaining altitude. 
     
Above Saturn and Jupiter, the Milky Way courses through the large Summer Triangle of bright stars. If you haven’t seen the Triangle stars and constellations yet, September is the best month to check them out. Turn your binoculars on the brightest of the three stars: Vega, in Lyra, the lyre. Enjoy its brilliance and the almost perfect parallelogram of stars right below it. Those stars represent the lyre of the mythical Greek musician Orpheus. Also look for the Northern Cross, which extends from Deneb—the least bright star in the Triangle—and outlines the body of Cygnus, the swan. 
     
A waxing moon shines above Antares on the 12th, below Saturn on the 16th, and below Jupiter on the 17th. The moon becomes full at 6:55 p.m. on Monday, the 20th. It rises shortly afterward, so it will be very round as it climbs into the pale but rapidly darkening sky. Because this is the closest full moon to the fall equinox, it’s also the harvest moon. The harvest moon got its name because at this time of year, the moon moves rapidly northward as it waxes to fullness and begins to wane. As a result, the moon rises relatively earlier from night to night, cutting the time farmers have to wait for a source of light for harvesting their crops.      
     
The fall equinox arrives at 2:21 p.m. on the 22nd. At that moment the sun crosses the equator on its way south and Earth will be lighted from pole to pole. 
 

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SmokePlume_PhotoByMarciaRoepke.jpg

Trail Time - Notes and observations from the Gunflint Trail

Trail Time
8-27-2021
By Marcia Roepke
 
As I write this, it’s Wednesday, August 25, 2021 and the upper part of the Gunflint Trail has been in pre-evacuation mode for almost two days. It was just past 8 pm on Sunday when I read an email marked “urgent” from the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department (GTVFD) requesting that residents from End of the Trail to the south side of Loon Lake prepare to evacuate. The email  linked to a video where Mike Valentini explained how to get ready. Stressing that this was NOT an evacuation, and NOT a time to panic, he calmly and clearly said that “ready mode” means homeowners should turn on sprinklers, pack medications, gather pets and pack up valuables. 
     
Well, that certainly got my attention. I forwarded the message to neighbors and then my husband Lars and I got busy: He to print out wildfire evacuation checklists, and I to start packing my “Go Bag.” These lists helped us prioritize our actions, and while I wouldn’t say I felt totally calm on the inside, I didn’t feel panicky, just very focused and alert. We’ve been very fire-aware this summer. The air has been smoky for months around here due to the Quetico and Ontario fires. There was the Delta Fire earlier then the fire at Greenwood Lake and now the John Ek was the one heading our way. Minnesota has had one of the driest summers in recorded history. In truth, we had been preparing for this wildfire scenario for years. With the John Ek fire moving closer, Monday night felt like the pointy end of a graph showing a spread of tasks over time leading to this one last job: packing to get ready to go. So that night, after clothing, valuables, medications, and dog food were stowed in backpacks and totes, cell phones were plugged in and charging, we headed outside to complete some of the other chores on our list.
         
With the sprinklers spraying water pumped from the lake, we moved the two cedar canoes and our tractor into the garage, which is within our spriklers’ perimeter. We moved the gasoline can to a safe area, moved wooden deck furniture and doormats off the deck and made sure both garden hoses were hooked up and had nozzles attached. We checked that the standby generator was gassed up and we filled potable water containers in case we lost electricity. There were many more items on the checklist, but you get the picture. We worked hard and went to bed late that night, keeping company with a beautiful blue moon. I didn’t sleep very well. 
         
We have been cutting brush and dead trees for years, following a program of wildfire fuel reduction called Firewise. We had created a thirty-foot zone around our cabin with no conifers and, among other things, we had protected the area underneath our wood deck with metal, guarding against blowing embers. But each year there is always more brush to cut and more dead balsam firs to cut down. Firs are the best fuel for wildfire and so they’re the worst thing to have near your home. They grow like weeds.  
     
The morning after the pre-evacuation notice, Lars set off with Duffer Don to help cut and haul brush to the local brush pile. After they left, I didn’t know what to do with myself. We had done a good job the night before — we were packed and ready to go, but I just couldn’t sit around being ready. I checked our refrigerator and saw the chicken and ribs I had thawed for this week’s meals. I wondered if I should re-freeze it, but instead I decided to start cooking everything I could. So I baked cookies, then roasted chicken wings and after that put the ribs in the oven for a long slow bake. I’m so glad the cooler weather had arrived! Since the campfire ban, I didn’t want to cook outside, not even with a grill. I kept myself busy all day with various chores inside and out, and I had to force myself to not check constantly for email updates and status reports from the Superior National Forest. We knew that we would be informed by someone coming to our house should we need to evacuate.  
     
We had attended a jam-packed town hall meeting Sunday night to get an update on the John Ek fire and I had been impressed with the professionalism and clarity of each speaker. They stressed many times that fire is unpredictable and they could not tell us with any certainty what would develop in the immediate future. I sat there feeling very grateful for the forest rangers, our emergency preparedness system in Cook County and for our own Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. We really felt – and still do – that we have excellent people doing their jobs very well to help protect us, our homes and care for the forest. I also thought to myself that nearly two years of Covid has taught me a lot about living with unpredictability and quickly-changing situations. Both fire and pandemic have certainly improved my prayer life.
         
We live in a boreal forest that requires fire to sustain it. We knew this when we moved here. We accepted the risk and have done our best to prepare for the worst-case scenario. You can’t live up here and be in denial about fire.
         
Our minds are strange places when we’re anxious, though. The day after that meeting at Schaap Community Center, we headed to town for groceries. We were feeling much more at ease about the wildfire situation. When we had woken up that morning, we did not see or smell smoke. The wind had shifted during the night and the morning sky was clear. The fire felt much farther away than it had the day before. After shopping, we headed back up the Trail. We were on our way to Voyageurs Outfitters to fill some propane tanks when we saw a strangely-colored plume of smoke in the sky. There it was, right in front of us, the smoke from the John Ek fire rising in the distance, stretching south across the western horizon. Suddenly the fire felt closer. Then, as the Trail curved to the northeast, the plume of smoke disappeared from our view, as did that momentary rising of fear I had felt when I first saw it. Like a light switch turning on and off, as the curve of the road changed so did my mental and emotional state. It was a very strange experience. It made me feel more like an animal, but not in a beastly way. I mean like in the way an animal fears fire when it is present, but gives it no thought in its absence.
 

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Photo by Martha Marnocha

North Woods Naturalist: Spruce Bud Worm

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Photo by Martha Marnocha

North Woods Naturalist: Beetles

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Marcia Roepke - photo by Des Sikowiski Nelson

Trail Time

Trail Time 8-13-2021
By Marcia Roepke
 
Rain!
Rain has finally come to the Gunflint Trail and with it some cooler temperatures. It’s been flannel shirt weather for drinking morning coffee on the porch, looking out at the lake, listening to the loons. We’ve had several foggy mornings and the fog added to the rain and cooler temps means that the fire danger warning has been lowered to moderate. It will likely bounce back up to high or very high again unless we get more rain, but for right now, I can’t decide which gives me more relief: the rain, the cool weather or the lower fire danger. All three make for better sleeping weather and less anxiety about wildfire. The Ham Lake Fire of 2007 lives on in our psyches, even for those of us who watched from a distance. I’ve heard the stories and read the reports from the excellent collection at Chik Wauk Museum, and I have good friends that were evacuated several times from their home. I still can’t imagine what it was like to live through a fire of that magnitude. I never want to know. We all need to continue to be extremely careful with fire and follow the restrictions.
 

The birds are quieter this time of year, now that mating time has passed and the nestlings have fledged. I’ve been hearing more loons singing together in chorus instead of solo. The chickadees and nuthatches are making their joyous and bossy little sounds again. I don’t know if they travel farther north in summer to raise their young, or stick around here but become quieter. I just know I see less – and hear less -- of them during the warmest part of summer. The jays are also making their usual racket. We had a beautiful sighting of an eagle soaring up, up on the thermals one hot day and an osprey gliding by at the same time at a lower altitude.
 
 
We’ve seen a few healthy-looking moose in the last few weeks. I love it when you see those giant ears sticking up from a marshy area. We spotted a calf with its mama standing in a beaver pond. Other people have seen calves as well: there are hand-painted signs near Poplar Lake urging drivers to “drive slow” by a baby moose area.
 
 
Duffer Don saw a good-sized wolf near the Trail recently. I’ve only seen wolves in the winter but I’ve heard them year around. One summer (a much wetter one than this) Lars and I were sitting around a campfire and heard a pack howling. The sound kept changing --- it seemed they were on the move and the howling got closer and closer and then started to fade until we couldn’t hear them. It was such a unique moment. I felt awed and scared and happy all at once. I know the literature about wolves not attacking humans but when the woods are deep and dark and you hear the howling, the literature is far away and the wolves are close! 
 
 
August on the Trail means — oh happy joy!! — summer swimming. I’ll dip in and out during other months but there is nothing like August for a good long swim. Our deep lake is finally warm enough so I can enter the water and retain feeling in my limbs, which I consider a plus. Sometimes the deer flies are so pestiferous that I wear a hat in the water, but they’re not too bad now. I had a great swim on Gunflint Lake – a swim in the smoke with my friend Sue. The far shore was such a milky smoky blue due to the still-burning Ontario fires. It was one of those quietly wonderful days when all troubles seem far away; where I felt so simply blessed to be in the clean clear beautiful water with a good friend, swimming and lounging on the dock; our dogs with us, one dog forever retrieving the Frisbee, the other dog with a big smile and a bottomless fascination for the mallard family serenely floating by. It was one of those afternoons that you know will never be repeated in exactly that form.
 
 
Our summers are so fleeting, and I think the knowledge that summer will end soon makes it so poignant when we remember what makes up a summer: those perfect days of swimming, camping, canoeing or fishing. Or that imperfect day that was made perfect – redeemed – by a few minutes spent watching the dragonflies or fireflies or listening to the crickets. Add up a multitude of moments like that, and you’ve got yourself a summer. I know for me, in memory those moments grow and deepen and I can call them up when I need them: after the summer birds have fled, when the snow is deep, and the fish, frogs and turtles slumber beneath the thick ice.
 
This is Marcia Roepke from the Gunflint Trail

 
 

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Photo by Martha Marnocha

North Woods Naturalist: Coots

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Photo by Martha Marnocha

North Woods Naturalist: Butterflies & Fireweed

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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