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<p>4/28/16 - It's official, the ice is

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 4:02pm

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.

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‘What the Health?!’ Event Re-cap

Moving Matters - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 3:11pm

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.

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Minnesota Water Facts

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:57am

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.

Lakes, rivers, and wetlands facts General

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):

  1. Red Lake (both “Upper” and “Lower”) – 288,800 acres
  2. Mille Lacs Lake – 132,516 acres
  3. Leech Lake – 111,527 acres
  4. Lake Winnibigoshish – 58,544 acres
  5. Lake Vermilion – 40,557 acres
  6. Lake Kabetogama – 25,760 acres
  7. Mud Lake (Marshall County) – 23,700 acres
  8. Cass Lake – 15,596
  9. Lake Minnetonka – 14,004 acres
  10. 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)

Longest shoreline:
Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County (290 miles of shoreline)

Minnesota River length:
370 miles

Mississippi River length in Minnesota:
680 miles

State and national Wild and Scenic Rivers:
589 miles

Total Area Covered by Lakes and Rivers (deep water):
2,560,299 acres

Total surface water area including wetlands:
13,136,357 acres

(Reviewed 2013)

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Energizing April–Lake Superior Leads the Way

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 3:18am


Christian Dalbec took this great photo at Tettegouche earlier this week during the storm. Enjoy!

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.

Joshua Lindstrom of Fika Coffee will talk about growing coffee in Guatemala at the library on Saturday morning.

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.

The Beaver House will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday.

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.

“Stack on Balance” by Peter Juhl.

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.

Painting by Marianne Nicholson.

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.

Artist’s Opportunity:

 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


 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.

Dragonfly by Nancy Seaton.

Tara Block has new pottery at Joy & Co.

Pottery by Tara Block.


Betsy Bowen visited Spain in March and made pen and ink drawings while she was there.

One of the works in “Sketches of Spain” by Betsy Bowen.

“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.

Tiles by Melissa Wickwire.


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.

Conversation I by Dan and Lee Ross.

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.

“Raven–Midnight”  by handmade tile Motawi Tiles.

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:

First, moose.

Photo by Nace Hagemann.


Moose twins & mom.  This photo was posted on Facebook by Bob Bagley. He said it was compliments of a UPS driver up the Gunflint trail area.

And here’s a great Grand Marais Lighthouse shot.

“Moon Got Stuck for Awhile in the Lighthouse Frame” by David Johnso


And here are some wonderful bird photos:

Tundra Swans by Michael Furtman.


Male American Kestrel by Nace Hagemann.


Flight of the Eastern Phoebe by John Heino.


And a few beautiful landscapes …

Photo by Bryan Hansel.


“Beach Sunrise” by Jan Swart.


“Garden Path 4-25-16″ by Tom Fiero.

And a tribute to Prince:

“Purple” by Maryl Skinner.

The big news was the high winds on Lake Superior which kicked up a big surf. Here are some images.

“Noon Wave Action” by Kirk Schliefe.


Wisconsin Point Lighthouse by Steve Forslund.


Photo by David Johnson


But like all storms, eventually it was over.

“Working Superior — Harley Tofte and the Dockside Fish Market crew tending nets as the Cason J. Callaway passes in the distance outside the Grand Marais Harbor” by Thomas Spence.

Have a good weekend, everyone!



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<p>4/27/16 - It appears the sun is

Sawbill Newsletter - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 9:06pm

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

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Volunteer to Monitor Minnesota Lakes

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 8:56pm

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

To become a volunteer or learn more about the program, visit the program’s website at, or call 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota).

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The STP Syndrome

Unorganized Territory - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 10:53pm

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.

Albert Schweitzer

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Ice Out, Already?

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 10:00pm

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!


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Sneak Peak

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 11:59am

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 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.

Chik-Wauk Nature Center has hired Jacqueline Mallinson to be the Nature Center Program Director.

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.



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Snowing and Blowing

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 8:41pm

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.

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New doors being installed in Care Center

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.

New doors

A lot of piping and duct work goes above a ceiling grid

Demo and new construction

Floor demo

Mezzanine progres

Concrete forms for next addition

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<p>4/25/16 - Paddling season is so

Sawbill Newsletter - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 2:12pm

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.

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Going, going . . . .

Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters News - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 1:13pm

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.

Round Lake

Gunflint Lake near the Cross River

Seagull Lake Blankenburg Landing

Saganaga Lake Corridor, Tow Boat Dock

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Open Water Seaason

Gunflint Lodge - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 11:09am

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.
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Spring Safety Reminder

Arrowhead Electric - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 9:45am

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:

Call GSOC at 811 or 1-800-252-1166 or visit the website at least 48 hours before you dig. It’s the law!

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Kindness overcomes mud

Unorganized Territory - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 10:41pm

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

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Singing and Drumming on the Gunflint Trail

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 9:45pm

Spring is such a special time on the Gunflint Trail, especially when the mud has dried up. I look forward to listening to the frogs and loons sing and the grouse as they drum in the woods.  We invite you to come visit us at Voyageur soon so you too can hear the music of the Gunflint Trail.

From the Minnesota DNR-

Wood Frogs – Always some of the earliest frogs to start calling in the spring, this frog species congregates in shallow ponds and pools near woods, even while there is still ice on the pond. Their call is similar to a duck quack, and a large chorus sounds rather like a bunch of feeding mallards. This frog is special because it freezes solid in the winter. Tucked under bark or leaves, the frog stops breathing, its heart stops and it remains frozen solid until spring.

Boreal Chorus Frogs – These are some of the most commonly heard frogs in Minnesota in the spring. They are a tiny (thumbnail sized) frog with several dark stripes. Their tiny size is often surprising to those who have only heard them because their call is LOUD. The call is best described as a finger running down the length of a comb. This frog can even be heard calling in large groups in city storm water ponds.

Spring Peepers – Another tiny frog with a very loud voice. As their name suggests, they make loud, high pitched “peeping” noises as their call. These are slightly less common than Boreal chorus frogs, but people on the outskirts of towns, where there are woods, have a good chance of hearing this species.

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<p>4/24/16 - Grey skies and light rain

Sawbill Newsletter - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 4:54pm

4/24/16 - Grey skies and light rain is the name of the game at Sawbill today. While the rest of us retreated to focus on inside jobs, intrepid crew member Brian headed out to check the ice. -Clare

Looking North from the canoe landing, ice is measuring at 9". Open water is creeping in from the South though, and quacking ducks can be heard urging it along.

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Silly but Simple

Unorganized Territory - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 11:13pm

In my efforts to get ahead, to write the imaginary column-in-the-can I talked about in Unorganized Territory a few weeks ago, I have Post-It notes stuck all over my desk, on my laptop, and on the dash of my car. The Post-It notes have phrases intended to give me an idea for a column later. Unfortunately these cryptic notes don’t always help.

At the time that I write them, the notes apparently make perfect sense. However, later if I can decipher my own scribbled handwriting, I can’t for the life of me remember why I wrote “Nellie Bly” or “Canadian spelling” or “gloves in pocket.” These were topics worthy of a column. But unfortunately I frequently don’t leave myself a good enough clue to know what I was thinking.

Over time I’ve become more careful about writing notes to myself. I try to jot something that will joggle my memory later. So I was delighted this week when I discovered a Post-It note in my purse that made sense. The crumpled sticky note reminded me to share some thoughts on the simple things in life.

First, a question. Well actually, first a small complaint— who developed these weird rectangle laundry jugs that stand on a shelf with a spigot? Are there that many people on the planet that have a shelf designed for a big jug of laundry detergent?

I am not one of those people. I do not have shelves in my laundry room at all, let alone one designed to accommodate a pouring spout on a laundry jug.

I bought laundry soap in these convoluted jugs several times before I realized what a hassle they were to use. In my little laundry area, the soap jug sits on the floor. So to use this new-fangled soap container, I have to lift up the big jug, balance it precariously on the edge of my washing machine, remove the cap that serves as a cup, fill it from the little slow-pouring spigot, set the cup down on top of the washer, put the jug back down on the floor, open the washer, pour in the laundry soap, close the washer, rinse the cap so it won’t drip all over the awkward jug and the floor, and finally replace the cap.

New is not always better!

How is this easier than the good old-fashioned jug that only requires opening, pouring into the cap, dumping into the washer and replacing the cap?


After fighting with the unnecessarily elaborate laundry jug, I started shopping not for the type of soap I preferred, but for the type of container. It has been tough. These goofy rectangle containers are on all the store shelves. There is only a tiny section of old-fashioned bottles of laundry soap. But I take the extra time to find them.

I don’t care if the rectangle jugs with the pour spouts are a bargain. Unless I’m getting the laundry soap free, I’m going to buy the detergent that comes in a simple jug with a handle and a twist-off cap.

I know this is an incredibly silly grievance. The point I want to make—the reason I scribbled “weird laundry jugs—who needs them?” on my pink Post-It note—is that I need to not let myself be bothered by little things like this, but instead to appreciate the little things.

There are much more important things in the world to be concerned about, so it doesn’t make sense to be upset about an uncooperative laundry soap dispenser. Instead I will just not buy the complicated new style of laundry jugs and I will stick with my simple, traditional bottle of laundry soap that works perfectly well.

Laundry is easier now. It’s a simple thing, but it makes me smile every time I fill the washing machine.

Now if an enterprising inventor could figure out how to keep socks from going missing in the wash, life would be truly wonderful!


Here’s to the moments when you realize the simple things are wonderful and enough.

Jill Badonsky

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Where are We in April?

Unorganized Territory - Sat, 04/23/2016 - 10:26pm

Cook County News-Herald staffers love to get out and about the county. So we decided, while we are traveling the highway and bushwhacking through the forest, to take pictures to see if our readers can guess WHERE ARE WE?

Everyone who guessed in the March WHERE ARE WE? was correct. The photo was taken of the historic stone footpath bridges at the Tofte Town Park. We especially enjoyed the note from Beverly Johnson of Schroeder who wrote, “where I played when I was young.” Drawn from the correct entries was Mike Nelson of Tofte. Mike wins a free subscription to the Cook County News-Herald.

Try your luck! Take a look at the April photo. If you think you know where this photo was taken, send us your answer. You don’t have to be the first to reply. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers. 

Whoever is drawn from the correct entries receives a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $32 value). Good luck!

Answer to the April WHERE ARE WE? must be received by May 17, 2016.

Send your entry to:

Cook County News-Herald
PO Box 757
Grand Marais MN 55604

Drop it by our office at:

15 First Avenue West
Fax: 218-387-9500
Questions? 218-387-9100

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