Almost everyone who visits Bearskin has high hopes of observing three specific northwoods animals. The number one goal is always to spot a moose, then glimpse a bear (but only the rear end, as it runs away), and maybe, with luck, see or hear a wolf.
So you might be surprised to know that none of those creatures are the animal that the most Bearskin guests talk about during their stay. Foxes are actually the critters that make our guests extra happy. Hundreds of photos of posing and preening foxes are snapped every summer around the Main Lodge. We sell dozens of fox stuffed animals, foxy kids’ purses, fox books, and fox cards.
Bearskin has a long history of having fairly tame red foxes living on the grounds of the resort. When we first arrived at Bearskin almost a decade ago, our employee Adde regularly made meals for a ridiculously tame fox, and even allowed the fox into her apartment occasionally. Foxes have been known to get in canoes, and supposedly a fox can untie a boat from the dock. They peek in windows, pose on deck railings, and occasionally run off with meat intended for the grill. The Shoe Stealing Fox (AKA Imelda) , was perhaps the most famous Bearskin fox, covertly sneaking flip flops, hiking boots, and tennis shoes off the deck and steps of Cabin 7. Many a family combed the woods behind cabin 7, desperately trying to find a missing sneaker so a kid wouldn’t spend the remainder of their vacation limping around with only one shoe.
So here is a story to add to the fox legends: About a week ago, when the ice was still solid, Kate and Quinn observed a fox crossing the bay with something in her mouth. At first they assumed the fox was carrying a rabbit or squirrel, killed for dinner. But as they looked more closely, they realized she was carrying a baby fox kit all the way across the lake. Then she came back for another. And another, and another. By the time she was done ferrying her whole litter across the lake, the fox looked exhausted. It was no small task to move her family. This was curious behavior. Quinn and Kate wondered why she would go to that much trouble.
For a few days Quinn and Bob had been rebuilding the steps to cabin 7. When they pulled the old steps off, they found chewed boards, broken styrofoam, and multiple signs that animals had been tunneling under Cabin 7 for years. So, of course, Quinn and Bob did a top-notch job of resealing every crack and hole, nailing up new boards and filling every possible animal entry point with spray foam. No creature would be getting back under that cabin!
Quinn thought about the fox mother for a few days and then started to wonder if her grueling move might be connected in some way to the rebuilding of the cabin 7 steps. Yesterday Quinn and Bob went back to Cabin 7 and pulled off a few of the new boards, attempting to see under the steps.
It was a surprise to see a sizeable fresh tunnel under the steps, impossibly circumventing their repairs. At that point it became apparent what must have happened: Bob and Quinn had accidentally entombed the litter of baby foxes. For two days they had worked on the steps, sawing and pounding and probably terrorizing a little fox family. When the job was over and the foxes’ fear subsided, that mother fox dug an incredibly difficult new tunnel, removed all her babies, and stoically carried all of them as far away from that dreadful Cabin 7 as she possibly could.
We were left with two thoughts:
First, that is an extraordinarily heroic fox mother.
And secondly, deep under cabin 7 there are probably several years’ worth of missing shoes.
Fox photo by Jane Kolarich
When’s the last time you planted a tree? It’s been a full year for me but I’m ready to plan some more this spring. If you’re planning to plant then here’s some helpful information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Seedlings should be planted as soon as possible. If you need to store them, keep them in a cool and dark location to protect them from damage. And, be sure to keep the roots moist—but not wet. This will prevent seedlings from drying out.
Plan and prep your planting site so you can move quickly on planting day to minimize touching and exposing seedlings. First, figure out how many seedlings you want per acre and the space you need between seedlings to meet your goal. For example, if you spaced seedlings 8 feet apart you would end up planting 538 seedlings per acre. Remember to prep your site to expose soil and remove competing vegetation before you start planting. No need to take the seedlings out of the bag and have the roots drying out while you take time to prep the soil.
Follow these steps when planting your seedlings:
Keep seedlings covered, in the shade, and out of direct sunlight.
Handle seedlings carefully and as little as possible.
Use a planting bar when planting several acres.
Clear away debris from planting site.
Create a hole big enough for the roots to be fully extended.
Place seedling in hole so first/top root is slightly below soil surface.
Distribute roots evenly and prevent the roots from forming a “j” in the hole.
Pack or heel-in soil firmly around roots to remove any air pockets.
Water seedling after planting.
Follow this illustrated planting guide or check out this pocket-sized planting card.
To improve survival of your seedlings after they have been planted, provide seedlings with a good soak of water at least once a week. Also keep surrounding vegetation from competing with seedlings. Finally, consider fencing, cages, or using planting tubes to keep your seedlings safe from animal damage.
For more information, check out our tree planting and care page.
Yesterday was Arbor Day and May is Arbor Month. I hope you will celebrate by getting outside to enjoy trees and maybe even plant a few.
2016 Arbor Month celebrates the health benefits of trees
Trees help reduce skin cancer. They reduce stressful noises and keep the air clean. These are just a few of the many ways trees help people stay healthy. During Arbor Month, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges everyone to get their daily dose of trees.
“Trees are amazingly important to our health,” explains Jennifer Teegarden, DNR forestry outreach specialist. “Did you know childhood asthma rates are lower in urban neighborhoods that have more trees?”
This year’s Arbor Month theme, “Get your daily dose of trees for a healthy you and me,” focuses on the mental and physical health benefits of trees. An infographic poster produced by the DNR and endorsed by the Minnesota Department of Health showcases the many ways trees contribute to a healthy environment:
Reducing exposure to UV rays, the primary cause of skin cancer.
Reducing stressful noises by 50 percent.
Decreasing mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind.
Reducing heat stroke and heat exhaustion by decreasing summer temperatures by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Promoting healing by helping patients refocus their attention and increase their pain threshold.
A new two-minute video will help viewers young and old, understand the connections between trees and their health. Watch the video at the DNR Arbor Month website at www.mndnr.gov/arbormonth.
In May, the DNR is partnering with University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) to present a series of talks on the health benefits of trees and nature during the UMR Connects lecture series. A different topic is scheduled every Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in room 417 of University Square in Rochester. The lectures will also be broadcast live at http://tinyurl.com/je6zjkt. UMR Connects is free and open to the public.
Visit the DNR Arbor Month website www.mndnr.gov/arbormonth for more information on the health benefits of trees, to download a copy of the poster and watch the video.
Every year the DNR celebrates Arbor Day, the last Friday in April (April 29 this year) and Arbor Month, the entire month of May.
Arbor Day celebrations began in Nebraska in 1872. Nebraska, along with other Great Plains states, had almost no trees. Still, the region grew flourishing agricultural crops and the climate was suitable for growing trees. J. Sterling Morton believed Nebraska needed more trees. He sponsored a campaign for tree planting in Nebraska, setting aside April 10 for just that purpose. In 1876, Minnesota became the fourth state to adopt the tradition of celebrating Arbor Day. Today all 50 states observe Arbor Day on various dates. Minnesota celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April.
Since 1978, May has been Arbor Month in Minnesota. The warmer weather in May allows newly planted trees to get off to a good start. Plus celebrating the importance of trees is extended for an entire month.
It didn’t feel like spring yesterday at Abby’s ballgame as the wind howled and I shivered bundled in blankets and wearing my winter coat, hat and gloves. But the Superior National Forest says it’s so!
SPRINGS COMES TO SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST
April 30, 2016, Duluth, MN – Signs of spring can be seen across the Superior National Forest. Snow is gone from most of the west and central parts of the Forest and disappearing quickly in the east. Lakes and streams are breaking free of winter’s icy clutch. Tree buds are swelling and fringes of green are rapidly expanding in grassy openings. Other sure signs of spring include the re-opening of campgrounds and the beginning of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) quota permit season.
Campground Openings – Superior National Forest (SNF) staff and concessionaires are busy opening campgrounds that were closed for winter. The plan is to have all campgrounds open by May 15. Boat docks will be installed as the ice clears and crews are able to access lakes. If you are wondering about conditions at a specific site, you may call the District Office that manages the area. You can view a listing of the many camping options available, maps, detailed descriptions, and a slide show on our website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/superior/recreation/camping-cabins
BWCAW Bound – A permit is required for entry into the BWCAW all year. Between May 1 and September 30, overnight entry permits are issued under a quota system for a fee. All overnight visitors and day-use motor visitors must obtain a quota permit. Self-issued permits continue to be required for day use. The best place to begin planning a visit to the BWCAW is with a review of the Trip Planning Guide, available in hard copy at any of our SNF Forest offices and on the Wilderness section of the Forest website: See: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3799760.pdf
Off-highway Vehicle Use – Please be aware that, to prevent severe rutting and other damage, some trails may be closed during spring break-up. Vehicle operators have the responsibility to ensure they operate only on open routes. Motorized vehicle use maps are available at all SNF offices. The maps identify Forest roads and trails open for motorized vehicles and seasonal restrictions. Maps are also available on the Forest web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/superior/recreation/ohv
Calling All Fourth-graders – It’s not too late for fourth grade students to participate in the Every Kid In a Park program and earn a free pass to visit participating federal lands. This national program kicked-off in 2015 with the purpose of encouraging youth engagement in the outdoors. Learn more at: https://www.everykidinapark.gov/
Visitor Surveys – Through the end of this year, you may see Forest Service employees wearing uniforms and bright orange vests in developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service Roads within the Superior National Forest. They will be near a sign that says “Traffic Survey Ahead”. These folks are well-trained interviewers who want to know about your visit to the Superior National Forest. The information they are collecting through the National Visitor Use Monitoring program helps the Forest Service understand visitor use on national forests. Past reports and details are available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum/
Keep it Safe – With everyone eagerly anticipating all of the summer recreation opportunities on the Superior National Forest, this is a perfect time for some reminders to help ensure a fun and safe time outdoors.
Lakes and streams that recently thawed out still have water temperatures that are barely above freezing. Any remaining ice should not be trusted for driving or walking. There is a higher than usual potential for hypothermia if you fall in.
You are not the only creature coming out of winter hibernation. Our local bears are waking-up. They are especially hungry and looking for easy meals so be especially careful to keep food and garbage secured where bear cannot access them. Check the SNF Forest web site for bear safety tips.
At this time of year, the Forest is transitioning from winter to spring conditions. This means that until trees leaf out, fine fuels like dead grass and leaves will dry quickly on warm, windy days, creating potential for fires to start and spread easily. Be especially careful with outdoor fires and follow fire restrictions. Cautions and campfire restrictions affecting the Superior National Forest will be posted on the Forest website. Fire restrictions outside of the Superior National Forest are posted on the MN Department of Natural Resources website.
For more information about outdoor recreation opportunities on the Forest, visit: www.fs.usda.gov/superior or stop at any of our SNF offices. You may also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. On-line campsite and wilderness reservations can be obtained through www.recreation.gov.
The National Forests and Grasslands provide the greatest diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities in the world, connecting you with nature in an unmatched variety of settings and activities. You can hike, bike, ride horses and drive off-highway vehicles. You can picnic, camp, hunt, fish, and navigate waterways. You can view wildlife and scenery, and explore historic places. You can glide though powder at world class alpine resorts and challenge yourselves on primitive cross-country ski or snowmobile routes. It’s all yours! http://itsallyours.us/
4/28/16 - It's official, the ice is out on Sawbill Lake! One small holdout sheet of ice is being blown around the south end of the lake, but it's not big enough to impede travel. There's still some snow in the campground but paddling season is upon us.
Cindy and Dan jump for joy after seeing the first loon on Sawbill this afternoon.
On March 23rd, over 120 community members gathered in Grand Marais, Minnesota for “What the Health?! How do we plan for community vitality?”, an evening to explore the relationships between health and community planning. The event kicked off with dinner and discussion about the question: “What makes a community healthy?”
Attendees wrote down their responses and ideas to “What makes a community healthy?” on the tabletops during dinner and discussion. The word cloud above is of the shared ideas or you can read the full list here.
Dinner and discussion were followed by improv comedy with The Theater of Public Policy, and Q&A local panelists: Dr. Paul Terrill, County and Zoning specialist David Demmer, and Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux. A video of the show is available below.
Takeaways from the night were many, but this is just the start of a larger community conversation. As the City of Grand Marais and other local entities work on community planning and visioning, our community will have many opportunities to share their input and shape the future health of our communities. Sign-up for the Moving Matters Newsletter to keep up to date on new opportunities to be involved.Subscribe to our mailing list
Here’s some interesting information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Did you know? Minnesota fishing facts
There are about 1.4 million licensed anglers in Minnesota.
About 500,000 people are expected to fish on Minnesota’s opening day of the walleye and northern pike season, Saturday, May 14.
Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 5,400 of which are considered fishing lakes. There are over 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, including 3,800 miles of trout streams.
Minnesota’s waters flow outward in three directions:
North to Hudson Bay in Canada
East to the Atlantic Ocean
South to the Gulf of Mexico
Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is the largest water-based park in the National Park System.By the numbers
Counties with no natural lakes:
Mower, Olmsted, Pipestone, Rock
Number of lakes:
11,842 (10+ acres)
Number of natural rivers and streams:
6,564 (69,200 miles)
Wetlands acreage present in 1850:
18.6 million acres
Wetlands acreage present in 2008:
10.6 million acres
Ten most common lake names:
Mud, Long, Rice, Bass, Round, Horseshoe, Twin, Island, Johnson, Spring
Deepest inland lake:
Portsmouth Mine Pit near Crosby (450 feet and rising)
Deepest natural lake:
Lake Saganaga, Cook County (240 feet deep)
Depths of other lakes:Name County Maximum Depth Lake Superior — 1,290 feet Ten Mile Cass 209 feet Lower LaSalle Hubbard 204 feet Loon Lake Cook 202 feet Rainy St. Louis 161 feet Leech Cass 150 feet Cass Beltrami / Cass 120 feet Otter Tail Otter Tail 120 feet Minnetonka Hennepin 113 feet Vermillion St. Louis 76 feet Winnibigoshish Cass 70 feet Mille Lacs Mille Lacs 42 feet Upper Red Beltrami 18 feet
Size and Length
Ten largest lakes (entire lake within borders of Minnesota):
- Red Lake (both “Upper” and “Lower”) – 288,800 acres
- Mille Lacs Lake – 132,516 acres
- Leech Lake – 111,527 acres
- Lake Winnibigoshish – 58,544 acres
- Lake Vermilion – 40,557 acres
- Lake Kabetogama – 25,760 acres
- Mud Lake (Marshall County) – 23,700 acres
- Cass Lake – 15,596
- Lake Minnetonka – 14,004 acres
- Otter Tail Lake – 13,725 acres
Largest border lakes:
Lake Superior (20,364,800 acres total with 962,700 acres in Minnesota)
Lake of the Woods (950,400 acres total with 307,010 acres in Minnesota)
Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County (290 miles of shoreline)
Minnesota River length:
Mississippi River length in Minnesota:
State and national Wild and Scenic Rivers:
Total Area Covered by Lakes and Rivers (deep water):
Total surface water area including wetlands:
The last weekend in April is a good time to take a deep breath, get energized and prepare for the summer season that’s just around the corner.
The Grand Marais Art Colony tuned into this and will offer two all-day workshops on Saturday which focus on re-energizing the spirit through creativity. The day-long workshops are: “Personalized Journal Making” with Bevie LaBrie and “Creative Play and Emotional Resilience” with Kelly O. Finnerty. To find out more and to register, click here.
A great cup of coffee in the morning is also the perfect energizer, and Grand Marais coffee roaster Joshua Lindstrom will talk about buying coffee in Guatemala at the Grand Marais Public Library at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Lindstrom, who owns Fika Coffee, will share pictures of his trip there, tell stories of the farmers he met, and discuss how coffee is processed there. And, of course, Fika coffee will be served! All welcome.
And early this week, on Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the newly restored Beaver House will hold an Open House. First established in 1964, the Beaver House underwent a major facelift this winter, thanks to the dedication of many volunteers, including Sarah and Anna Hamilton, who have been working with owner Tyson Cronberg to refurbish the shop. Check out the Beaver House Facebook page to get a preview. To hear a great interview with Tyson Cronberg on WTIP, click here.
For balance, check out Peter Juhl’s wonderful photography exhibit in the Cook County Courthouse. Juhl is a master of balancing rocks, and this exhibit features photographs of his stunning work on the shores of Lake Superior and local rivers.
The exhibit is the first in a series of art exhibits planned for the lobby in the Courthouse this year.
In Duluth, Monday marks the beginning of the 17th annual Duluth Homegrown Music Festival, a live, week-long music frenzy with more than 200 musical acts performing at venues throughout Duluth and Superior, Wis. The festival showcases local musicians working in the Twin Ports. Homegrown doesn’t focus on a particular genre of music, either. The offerings include everything from country to rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass to funk. The festival also features films/videos, art shows and more. Click here to see the complete schedule.
Many of the special exhibits organized for the Art for Earth Day Gallery Hop in Duluth last weekend continue, including Siiviis Gallery’s “Waters Deep & Bright,” a show featuring the gallery’s artists working in a 12-inch by 12-inch format.
Also in Duluth, two exhibits, “Hat Trick” and “Team Spirit” continue at the Duluth Art Institute.
In Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery opened an exhibit entitled “Storytellers: The Art from the Northwest” this month.
The exhibit examines the visual stories by Indigenous artists from nations and communities such as Haida Gwaii, Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Nuu-chah-nulth. The works are from the gallery’s permanent collection. The exhibit continues through May 22.
Art ‘Round Town is sponsoring a competition to create banners for the light posts in downtown Grand Marais. The banners will feature designs which reflect the artistic nature of Cook County and promote local activities and/or features of our area. Plans are to print at least two designs on 20 banners each. The group is hoping to raise additional funds to have four seasons of fresh banners downtown.
Artists are invited to submit designs that are seasonal, appropriate to the area, and reproducible as one-or two-color screen prints, 24” by 36.” The artists whose work is selected will receive a $500 stipend and retain rights to the designs.
The images submitted for the banners will be featured at a show at Betsy Bowen’s Studio June 10-12 so the public can see the submissions and vote on their favorites. The A’RT committee will choose the final designs. The deadline to submit images (at Betsy Bowen’s Studio) is June 1. For more information, contact Mary Beams at 218-370-8682 or email PieLight@hotmail.com.
Elizabeth Erickson, a founding member of the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota and the co-director of the Women’s Art Institute, will give an Artist Talk at the Grand Marais Art Colony Friday, May 6 at 4:30 p.m.
Kah Nee Tah Gallery will host “Painting With Mom,” an oil painting class taught by Lutsen artist, Kathy Fox-Weinberg, from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7. $30 per person includes professional instruction, supplies, snacks and refreshments. For reservations, call (218) 387-2585.
The St Croix Valley Pottery Studio Tour is Mother’s Day Weekend, May 6-8. To find out more, click here.
There’s lots happening in Grand Marais over the Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29. Art Along the Lake will feature special events at studios, galleries and museums in Cook County when they open their doors to launch the summer season. Stay tuned for details. Click here for a preview of events.
In other art news, Great Gifts of Lutsen is featuring cards by local artists including Terri Nelson DeNatale, Betsy Bowen, Anna Hess and Nancy Seaton as well as photographs by Earl Orf.
Tara Block has new pottery at Joy & Co.
Betsy Bowen visited Spain in March and made pen and ink drawings while she was there.
“Sketches of Spain” is the theme for this year’s season opener at her studio on May 27, from 6-8 p.m.
Upstairs, Melissa Wickwire of Wickwire Clay Works has been working on a variety of new tiles that will be exhibited during the Memorial Day opener.
Dan & Lee Ross will open a show at the Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis with a reception from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 30. Entitled “Ancient Materials–Modern Designs,” the show will feature their sculpture and prints.
The exhibit continues through June 4. The gallery is located at 250 Groveland Terrace in Minneapolis.
Sivertson Gallery has just received a series of handmade tiles by Motawi Tiles of Ann Arbor, Mich.
Here’s the music schedule for this weekend:
Thursday, April 28:
- Timmy Haus, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
- Billy Johnson, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, April 29:
- Plucked Up String Band, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4:30 p.m.
- Pete K Group, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 30:
- .Plucked Up String Band, Rosie’s Deck, Lutsen Mountains, 2 p.m.
- Pushing Chain, Lutsen Resort Lobby, 7 p.m.
- Pete K Group, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 1:
- Sunday Afternoon Jazz with Briand Morrison, Gun Flint Tavern, 3 p.m.
- Timmy Haus, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 3:
- Eric Frost, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
We found some wonderful photographs this week. Here’s a selection:
And here’s a great Grand Marais Lighthouse shot.
And here are some wonderful bird photos:
And a few beautiful landscapes …
And a tribute to Prince:
The big news was the high winds on Lake Superior which kicked up a big surf. Here are some images.
But like all storms, eventually it was over.
Have a good weekend, everyone!
4/27/16 - It appears the sun is finally setting on another winter season here at Sawbill. Sawbill Lake, as you can see below, is nearly free of ice. I expect we'll be able to make it official sometime tomorrow. We also stopped in at Homer Lake today, which is ice free. Brule, on the other hand, is still covered but shouldn't be more than a couple days behind. The ducks are back in full force, and we heard the first loon of the season on Homer. -Clare
Looking for something to do? You can monitor lakes for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency!
Contact: Pamela McCurdy, 651-757-2559
Get hooked on volunteering and help Minnesota’s waters
St. Paul, Minn. – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking volunteers for its Citizen Stream and Citizen Lake Monitoring Programs. Program volunteers track water clarity, which helps the MPCA learn more about a lake or stream’s water quality.
“Thirty years ago, when I started monitoring Long Lost Lake, I thought it would be an interesting thing to do for a summer. Little did I know that I would still be at it three decades later. I guess you could say I’m hooked,” says Jim Svobodny, volunteer. The MPCA uses data collected by Jim and other volunteers to determine whether water quality is improving or declining in specific water bodies or watersheds. Identifying these trends is one of the first steps in protecting or improving water quality throughout the state.
More than 1,300 Minnesotans participate in the Citizen Monitoring Programs, but in order to reach all water bodies across Minnesota, more volunteers are needed. “69,000 miles of rivers and over 12,000 lakes is a lot of water to cover,” says Laurie Sovell, coordinator of the MPCA’s Citizen Stream Monitoring Program. “We are looking for people curious about local water bodies and passionate about protecting our state’s water resources.”
As part of the program, volunteers are asked to perform a short and simple water clarity test at their favorite lake or stream, once per week throughout the summer. Equipment and training are provided by the MPCA and no prior experience is necessary. For some lakes and streams, volunteer-collected data is the only data available, making citizen involvement critical to ensuring the lasting health of Minnesota’s waters.
Find out if your favorite lake or stream needs monitoring by using the MPCA’s interactive map at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/d4awwwd.
To become a volunteer or learn more about the program, visit the program’s website at www.pca.state.mn.us/cmp, or call 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota).
I’m gobsmacked at how a word or phrase that seems unique on first hearing can become commonplace so quickly. Gobsmack is a perfect example.
I don’t remember exactly what I was reading when I first encountered gobsmack. But it wasn’t that long ago. I was reading something and a person described himself as gobsmacked over something. Although I had a feeling the person meant he was surprised, I had to go look up the word. I found that it means “utterly astonished; astounded; flabbergasted” and that it originated in Britain.
I thought it was interesting and swore to remember this unusual word to use in a column or article at some point. But then a few days later I was half-listening to some morning TV program and I heard the word. Some actor declared that he was gobsmacked at the public’s reaction to his movie. Maybe the word wasn’t so unique.
It turns out it isn’t. I’ve read and heard it about a dozen times since then.
The same thing has happened recently with a phrase—“the STP Syndrome.” The first time I heard the phrase was in a statewide meeting at which someone was bemoaning the difficulty in finding volunteers for a project. The speaker said it was a case of the “STP Syndrome,” and explained that STP does not stand for the fuel additive, but is an acronym for “Same 10 People.”
The speaker went on to explain that so often in an organization it is the same 10 people who show up at meetings, that serve on committees, that do all the work. Just about everyone at the meeting nodded. We had all experienced STP Syndrome.
I thought it was an incredibly clever acronym, but I also had a somewhat negative thought. I’ve been involved on some committees that would be delighted to have 10 people involved. Sadly, STP can also stand for “Same 2 People.”
After hearing the phrase, I thought I’d tuck it away to be used in a future meeting to try to encourage people to get involved, to be part of the STP. Once again though, within a few days I heard the phrase again. As I read about the March 2014 West End visioning meeting at Birch Grove, there it was.
The facilitator of that meeting encouraged the West End leaders to make sure all citizens had a voice. He said community planning is not successful if it is impacted by the STP Syndrome—if only the same 10 people show up at meetings. A good message, but I was disappointed that my great new phrase was already in common use.
Not too disappointed though. Although it sometimes seems like STP Syndrome is rampant, if you take a look around Cook County, you’ll see that voluntarism is alive and well. There are a few boards and committees that are stretched thin, but it’s because there are so many amazing opportunities to give back to our North Shore community.
There are many, many community members who wear multiple hats, serving on an arts or service organization board while also helping out with a trail association or a local church. There are people who act or build sets at the playhouse and people who offer classes at community education or higher education. There are boat builders at North House and interpreters at one of our community’s historical museums. There are people who read to children and people who monitor water conditions in our lakes and rivers. People serve on the PTA and are Girl Scout and Boy Scout and 4-H leaders. Volunteers are there for those who need help at the Violence Prevention Center and for those who need a friend at the Care Center. There are volunteers who rescue animals and volunteers who fight fires and serve as First Responders.
When I stop to think about it, our community is blessed with an abundance of volunteers. We don’t really suffer from the “Same 2 People” or “Same 10 People” syndrome. No, if you take all the folks that volunteer on the myriad boards and committees and organizations in Cook County, we probably have a thousand volunteers or more.
April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week 2016, so it’s a good time to thank these thousand-plus volunteers. Thanks to you for being the “Same 1,000 people.” When I think of all you do, I’m gobsmacked!
The interior joy we feel when we have done a good deed is the nourishment
the soul requires.
CRAZY! That’s what I say. The report of ice out on Gunflint Lake yesterday is true. And the ice is out on Seagull Lake and pretty much all of Saganaga Lake. Mid-trail is a different story with ice still hanging in there.
It’s very strange the ice at the end of the Trail has gone out before the other lakes. I can’t remember any time that has happened in the past. It’s very odd. But it’s good news. The paddling season in the BWCA can begin! Call us to book your trip, we can’t wait to see you!
Split Rock Studios has done it again for Chik-Wauk. Here is a sneak peak of the interior of the new Nature Center. Inside the Nature Center there will be 6 different stations that visitors can participate in hands-on activities to learn about nature. The goal of the Nature Center is to get visitors – especially younger visitors – comfortable with exploring nature, getting dirty, and having fun. The building ties into the existing Gunflint Trail Explorers activities. Visitors will now go on “adventures” and “expeditions” using the backpacks and bins available at the center. The 6 different learning stations are birds, mammals, water, weather, plants, and insects (I think this is Kathy Lande’s favorite station). Each station will have a Murphy style table that can fold up during presentations or placed down with benches during normal hours.
You will find in the center a book nook where visitors can grab a guide to identify a species of bird, mammal, plant, or that creepy crawly insect. You can also write down your fantastic find on the bulletin board wall.
The Nature Center will also be a nice comfortable place to come in out of the weather to listen to the special presentations that will be happening during the summer months. No more sitting out on the Chik-Wauk Museum porch on those cold rainy days. You can find the list of events that will be taking place in the Nature Center on the Chik-Wauk website at http://www.chikwauk.com/event.php. You will also be able to now print out the calendar to remind everyone coming to visit what programs will be taking place during that month. We are still doing the fabulous “Kids’ Day” programs on Tuesdays during the summer months.
There is still plenty to complete before the opening on May 28. A huge thank you needs to go out to Kathy Lande, Suzanne Weber and Sue Kerfoot for all the time and energy they have put into this project.
You will also see a new smiling face in the Nature Center.
The Nature Center will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. When you walk into the Nature Center don’t forget to look up.
I look forward to seeing you this season at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center! We will be open every day from May 28 to October 23.
It’s been cold and windy the past few days and today it snowed. Thankfully it didn’t stick to the ground but it was depressing just the same. The rain we received along with the wind made some of the ice shift on the lakes and rumor has it a big chunk left Gunflint Lake today. This is not confirmed and it would be quite surprising but it certainly could be. When there is a little bit of open water like there is where the Cross River flows into Gunflint Lake all it takes is some big wave action and the ice can crumble.
We’ll have to take a look out on Saganaga but the last time Matt checked he wasn’t able to get past the mouth of the narrows. It was socked in and it didn’t look like it was going anywhere real soon. Time will tell.
Most of the lakes to the south of us and some to the west of us have opened up. Fall Lake and White Iron Lake near Ely, Minnesota are ice free. You can check the status of ice of lakes in Minnesota on the DNR website.
I see some doors are starting to be hung in the Care Center. Inside work continues on the two new additions, mezzanine and crews are jack hammering out parts of the old concrete floor in the transition are between the old Care Center and new areas.
4/25/16 - Paddling season is so close you can almost smell it. That's what Huckleberry tells me anyway. The ice technicians are reporting that there are 8 inches of ice on Sawbill, but that it is better described as "8 inches of mush." It is so deteriorated it won't hold a person anymore and they have resorted to measuring from a canoe. -Clare
Huck anxiously awaits the opening of the Sawbill Beach Club.
Ironically, it took the sky raining ice for the lake ice to finally dissolve on the Gunflint Trail. We’re still not ice free yet, but it’s going fast.
Here are the latest ice out photos from this morning, April 25, 2016.
Bruce just called home. We are now into open water season! Traditionally we follow the stages noticed by our long time mailman Don Brazell in the 1950’s and 60’s. Don drove the Trail delivering mail for many years. He noticed that if the North Brule River was flowing freely on a given day then one week later the smaller lakes went out. In another week the larger lakes like Gunflint went out.
According to that plan, the ice should have gone out on Gunflint around the first of May. Yesterday the ice on Gunflint Lake was really black but there was no wind to blow the ice out. This morning we had a strong east wind storm. Rain was coming down steadily and the temperature was sitting right around 30 degrees.
It’s almost 11:00 a.m. now. It’s still raining and the east wind is strong. Ice is starting to accumulate on the branches of trees. Usually it takes a northwest wind to move the ice out. Well everything is different this year. That east wind just blew the ice out. Bruce said it just flew out in a matter of hours.
So start planning your fishing trip cause the ice is gone. The walleye season opens in Minnesota on May 14th. I can already taste those fish frying in our frying pan. Lake Trout will also be open in Minnesota. We like to grill trout fillets. There is nothing better than freshly caught fish for dinner.
Of course, there are many other signs of spring around. My bird feeders are emptied as soon as I fill them. Spring birds are back like red-wing black birds, ravens, crows, purple finches, etc. Everyone is hungry.
Also the last couple of days I have walked to the Trail (2 miles round trip), I have heard partridge drumming their mating song. They have been on the road. The other night Bruce and I drove home. There was a partridge right in front of us on the Tucker Lake Road. He fly off but not very far. We backed up a couple of feet and there was the partridge on a branch looking in our car window!
Ducks are also around. Many of them keep going north but the mallards are here to raise their broods. By the beginning of June we will have lots of little ones on the beach at the lodge.
When I was in town on Thursday, there was a loon in the bay at Grand Marais. I imagine that loon will be flying up here pretty soon. There is nothing nicer than to lie in bed at night and hear the loons calling. It is when I know we are really at home.
So you can go to bed tonight and imagine the waves splashing up on the shore of Gunflint Lake. It’s a bonus that those of who live on a lake get every spring.
Spring weather really is on it’s way! Have you got yard and garden projects that involve digging? Remember to Call Before You Dig.
If you’re planning to dig a hole more than a foot deep, it is YOUR responsibility to call Gopher State One Call (GSOC) at least 48 hours before you dig. GSOC will notify utilities in your area. Utilities will then locate their facilities.
If you have private facilities on your property, such as electric lines from your meter to your house, propane lines, invisible fencing, or sprinklers, you will need to hire someone to locate those. Gopher State One Call has an industry directory of locators for your assistance.
For lots of helpful information about safe digging, visit Gopher State One Call’s website.
You can also request and view the status of your location online: www.gopherstateonecall.org
Call GSOC at 811 or 1-800-252-1166 or visit the website at least 48 hours before you dig. It’s the law!
I love living in Cook County. I like being here in the bitter cold, in the humidity of summer. I like it when the lakes are frozen and we have to fish through the ice and when we get sunburned fishing from a boat. I can endure mosquitos and biting flies. But mud season tries my patience.
Every year around this time, I start thinking about a vacation. When I look at my mud-covered car or as I wipe up muddy dog prints for the umpteenth time, I dream of heading out of the county, of going someplace warm—someplace dry!
That was the case once again this year, but the annual Community Easter Egg Hunt gave me a different perspective. The Community Center and Kids Plus crew always does a great job. There are always fun activities for kids— tossing games, fishing for prizes, Easter crafts and cookie decorating, a cake walk, a delicious brunch and a friendly Easter Bunny. This year the “bunny” went above and beyond. The big bunny not only welcomed little ones to come sit on his lap; he walked around and high-fived kids. And then he joined the kids who were enjoying the ice left behind by the Cook County Curling Club.
It was amusing to see the bunny skating circles around unsteady skaters using chairs for support, giving them thumbs up or racing up and down the rink with talented little skaters. Kudos, Easter Bunny, you made my day—and that of many happy kids.
And this year, for the first time in many years, it didn’t rain. It has rained on the day of the Easter Egg Hunt for so many years that organizers have come to expect it. Umbrellas and Easter egg hunting just go together in Cook County.
But this year we were blessed with a fresh dusting of snow. It was only about an inch and it melted away quickly, but for the 10 minutes it takes for excited kids to collect the hundreds of bright colored, candy-filled plastic eggs, there was beautiful, fresh, white snow on the ground.
That made me happy to be here, despite the fact that the snow melted and once again made a mess of my driveway and much of my yard.
What really made the day special though was something that happened at the end of the Easter Egg Hunt.
The Egg Hunt was over and most of the happy families had made their way back inside the Community Center to open the plastic eggs to “ooh and ahh” over all the candy collected. As the last few people headed in, there was a family standing off to the side with two small boys. One little boy was in tears; the other looked sadly on at all the kids with overflowing Easter baskets. It was clear they had arrived too late for the egg hunting adventure. Their parents looked almost as sad, obviously disappointed that their children had missed the fun.
But then something wonderful happened. Other parents noticed. They stopped their excited children and bent down to whisper something to them. Kids with candy-filled eggs looked at the kids without. With barely any encouragement from their parents, kids went up to the dejected young boys and handed over eggs. Despair turned to delight as the late arrivals filled their pockets with eggs.
I saw the family inside a little bit later, all smiles as the kids took part in the Easter activities. I said to Mom, “Wasn’t that neat that kids shared their Easter eggs?”
She nodded and said, “It was wonderful! It was almost better that way.”
That is so true. It was sweet to see sadness turn to happiness because of the kindness of others. It was touching to see little kids showing empathy, setting an example for all of us. It was a wonderful Easter moment.
And it was just what I needed to find good cheer in the midst of mud season.
There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act make large the world.
Mary Anne Radmacher