From the time of our first history lesson in kindergarten or preschool, we know the term “Mayflower.” But despite the fact that one of the most famous -if not the most famous – ship in North American history was called the Mayflower, I just sort of assumed the name referred to any old flower that bloomed in May and left it at that. And I kind of doubt the Pilgrims put a whole lot of thought into the flower either. They probably didn’t care what their ship was named, let alone what flower it was named after, as long as it put an ocean between themselves and the religious persecution of King James I.
Occasionally I’d run into a Mayflower moving truck and that would make me think about mayflowers for about .2 seconds, but generally, mayflowers were out of mind more often than not.
But when I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time as a teenager, I ran into mayflowers yet again.
“‘I’m so sorry for people who live in lands where there are no Mayflowers,’ said Anne. ‘Diana says perhaps they have something better, but there couldn’t be anything better than Mayflowers, could there, Marilla? And Diana says if they don’t know what they are like they don’t miss them. But I think that is the saddest thing of all. I think it would be tragic, Marilla, not to know what Mayflowers are like and not to miss them. Do you know what I think Mayflowers are, Marilla? I think they must be the souls of the flowers that died last summer and this is their heaven.'”
In fact, mayflowers must have been very significant to Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, because she makes mention of them in at least of three of her eight books that deal directly with the life of Anne Shirley Blythe, aka Anne of Green Gables. In later books, Anne’s son, Jem, makes a habit of collecting bouquets of mayflowers each spring for his mother. This becomes particularly poignant in Rilla of Ingleside when Jem enlists in the Canadian Army at the start of World War I and is unable to bring Anne her mayflowers during the first spring of the Great War.
Despite reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series all the way through at least three or four times, I never really knew what these mayflowers looked like. At one point Anne’s daughter, Rilla, makes mention of wanting to gather armloads of mayflowers, so I always assumed the mayflower was a bigger wildflower like a daisy or black-eyed Susan.
At long last, I decided to consult the font of all knowledge, Google, to figure out what these mayflowers actually look like.
And low and behold I came up with a photo of this, a wildflower we know very well on the Gunflint Trail:
We call it “false lily of the valley,” but in other parts of North American it’s referred to by the English translation of its scientific name Maianthemum canadense: Canada Mayflower.
But despite having photographic proof of what a Canada mayflower looks like, I had a hunch that I hadn’t quite cracked “the mayflower mystery.” For one thing, how Rilla planned to gather armloads of these, I wasn’t quite sure, since the flower stalks average only about 4.5″ in height. At best, a “bouquet” of these mayflowers would really be more of a “nosegay.” For another thing, context clues in Anne of Green Gables told me that on Prince Edward Island where the books are set mayflowers bloom before violets. Here in Minnesota, false lily of the valley blooms decidedly after the violets.
It turns out that in the Maritime provinces where L.M. Montgomery lived, the wildflower known as trailing arbutus is often referred to as a mayflower. Never mind that in the Maritimes, trailing arbutus blooms in April. The reason for this Canadian misnomer for trailing arbutus brings us right back to those pilgrims and refers to the fact “that it was the first flower to cheer the hearts of the Pilgrim Fathers after the rigors of their first New England winter.” The whole “bouquet” thing that L.M. Montgomery mentions to is still confusing, because again, trailing arbutus only grows to 4-6″ tall so good luck finding a vase to accommodate that bouquet, but there you have it.
I’ve been thinking about L.M. Montgomery a lot lately, because the mother of two dear friends passed away unexpectedly at the end of last month. She was a noted L.M. Montgomery researcher, deeply involved with the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society, who visited Prince Edward Island many times, although never at the time when mayflowers were blooming, I don’t think. Because it’s springtime, I keep thinking of little Jem, scrambling down the hillside in Rainbow Valley to gather mayflowers for his mother.
So I’ve been watching carefully for our version of mayflowers this spring. They’re not out quite yet, but their large (at least in comparison with their flower) heart-shaped leaves are spreading across the forest floor. It wasn’t until I was leafing through my Anne books looking for mayflower references last night, that I rediscovered her quote about mayflowers being “the souls of wildflowers.” I thought about the tiny star-shaped flowers along a stem of false lily of the valley and was impressed by how apt that description seemed for the mayflower I know and the mayflower Anne knew.
Regardless of which mayflower you see this spring, I hope they’re a peaceful patch of beauty, with just a hint of mystic.
I think it is really odd a USFS spokesperson would say, “Part of the area burning was scheduled to undergo a prescribed burn anyway.” I wonder if the costs to fight a wildfire are the same as the costs associated with a controlled burn? Or what the people that have been called away from their “normal” life to go to fight the wildfire think about that statement? I also wonder if that’s what the USFS thought about the Pagami Creek Fire they started.
That statement makes me angry. Just because no lives or structures have been lost doesn’t make it “OK” to let a fire get out of control. It isn’t a good excuse for starting a wildfire during a very dry and dangerous time of the year.
The person who started the Ham Lake Fire by accident was held responsible for all costs associated with fighting the wildfire. Will the USFS person who signed off on the prescribed burn be held to the same standards? Or because “part” of the over 1000 acres was scheduled to be burned does that make it fine and dandy to torch the rest of the area?
We all make mistakes and most of us are held accountable for them. Will they be?Fire crews make gains in BWCA May 23, 2016 — 9:36pm The Foss Lake wildfire on the southeastern edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness continued to burn Monday, but fire officials said “It was a good day,” and the fire is 45 percent contained.
Although virtually all of the fire is in the BWCA, and the Crab Lake entry point is closed, officials said all other entry points are open and vacationers are going in regularly.
Part of the area burning was scheduled to undergo a prescribed burn anyway, said Rebecca Manlove, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.
The fire is burning over 1,008 acres, she said. About 279 firefighters are working on the burn, although that number is expected to drop Tuesday, as two volunteer departments are no longer needed, she said.
Be careful with fire, it’s dry out there.
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Be safe with campfires
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to be safe with campfires this Memorial Day weekend and into the summer.
“Spending time with family and friends around a campfire is a popular Minnesota tradition,” said Linda Gormanson, DNR wildfire prevention supervisor. “You can take simple measures to make your campfire safe.”
Gormanson recommends all campfires should be:
Clear of any burnable material 5 feet in all directions around the fire.
Built within a designated fire ring 3 feet or less in diameter.
Kept to 3 feet or less in height.
Legal—check if to see if local municipality requires a permit.
For people who don’t have a campsite with a designated fire ring, select a safe place for the campfire. Choose a level area away from dry grass, shrubs or logs that is free of overhanging branches. Then scoop out a depression in the center of the area and put a ring of rocks around it.
An adult should attend the fire at all times – even a light breeze can cause the fire to spread. Always have a shovel and water available at the campfire to extinguish it. Stir the embers repeatedly with water or dirt until every ember is out cold.
Discover more by visiting Smokey Bear’s campfire safety website at www.smokeybear.com/campfire-safety.asp.
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?
Although News-Herald Editor Rhonda Silence thought the April WHERE ARE WE? would be really easy, we only received a few correct entries. Drawn from the correct entries was Bonnie Kabe of St. Joseph, Minnesota, who knew that the bench in the photo is at the Grand Marais Recreation Park. The bench sits at the top of the steps near the Arrowhead Animal Rescue building. It overlooks the rocky shoreline west of the Grand Marais harbor.
Bonnie wins a free subscription to the Cook County News-Herald.
Try your luck! Take a look at the May 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 May WHERE ARE WE? must be received by June 13, 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
We all know how awesome it is to spend time in the Boundary Waters but I’m not sure everyone knows how fun it is getting to the BWCA from the Gunflint Trail. When you choose an entry point off of the Gunflint Trail(all of which Voyageur outfits to) you get to see the most amazing scenery in the state of Minnesota.
The North Shore of Lake Superior is gorgeous even if you don’t get out of your vehicle to look around. You can take the Scenic Highway from Duluth to Two Harbors for even better views of the lake. If you do want to stop but not hike there are some places to see that offer beautiful vistas. Palisade Head, the Baptism River Falls in Beaver Bay or the Cross River Falls in Schroeder are just a few of these places where no effort is required.
Hiking to amazing scenery is an option to. From a quick 5 minute walk to a strenuous longer hike you have options galore to choose from. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunities to see wonderful sites along the way and visit us this summer on the Gunflint Trail.
A wildfire is burning near Burntside Lake outside of Ely, Minnesota. It began as a prescribed burn conducted by the USFS that turned into a wildfire because it jumped the lines. Dry conditions, warm weather, wind and low humidity have been factors working against the USFS in the effort to suppress the prescribed burn/wildfire they started.Incident Overview
Foss Lake Fire Update Saturday, May 21, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident CommanderFire Information Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#
Phone: 218-208-4544 Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.
Size: 1008 acres Containment: 30 percent Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016
Resources: 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 2 engines, 1 water tender, 180 total personnel
There was little growth on the fire today. Accurate mapping resulted in the large increase in acreage. Crews on the southern half of the fire walked the perimeter with handheld GPS units and aircraft flew the northern half. Crews working north along the east side of the fire installed fire hose along a quarter mile of saw line. Crews on the west side of the fire continued saw-line construction from the wilderness boundary on the south to Clark Lake on the north. Aircraft dropped water on three distinct areas of heat within the fire perimeter on the northeast side and assisted ground crews elsewhere on the fire. Two crews will camp overnight in the wilderness on Crab Lake, eliminating a long morning commute and getting to the fireline early in the morning. Local firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department continued assessing residences on the west end of Burntside Lake.
Weather and Fire Behavior: Today’s red flag warning expired at 8:00 p.m., but conditions tomorrow will also be hot, dry, and windy. Winds will be from the south and southwest: sustained 10–15 mph, gusts to 25 mph. These high winds will start early and will continue overnight. Fire-behavior analysts say there is potential for significant fire activity tomorrow (for example, single-tree or group-tree torching and some quick fire spread). Smoke might be visible. However, smoke does not necessarily mean the fire is growing larger: smoldering “islands” of unburned fuel within the fire perimeter could burn more actively.
Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened. Fire managers are planning for Sunday’s strong winds. Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions.
Closures: Currently, just one BWCAW entry point—Crab Lake entry point #4—is closed; all other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:
- portage Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
- portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
- lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
- Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
- portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake
Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#.
The Forest Service does not currently recommend BWCAW travel
south of Big Moose, Big Rice, and Bootleg Lakes.
Basic Information Current as of 5/21/2016, 5:54:27 PM Incident Type Wildfire Cause Human Date of Origin Thursday May 19th, 2016 approx. 11:00 PM Location Near Foss Lake; ~10 miles SW Ely, MN Incident Commander Brian Pisarek Incident Description Escaped Prescribed Burn Current Situation Total Personnel 180 Size 1,008 Acres Percent of Perimeter Contained 30% Estimated Containment Date Wednesday June 01st, 2016 approx. 12:00 AM Fuels Involved Timber (Grass and Understory) Outlook Planned Actions Secure, anchor, and continue to secure flanks, using aircraft to cool ahead of crews. Projected Incident Activity When rH and wind activity increases, fire activity will increase in /wilderness. Next 24 hours, Potential for run to the ENE with predicted winds. Current Weather Weather Concerns Red Flag warnings today, similar weather conditions forecast tomorrow with a significant shift in wind direction
Have you ever seen Noctilucent Clouds? If you are like me with most things you probably have heard of them but can’t remember what they are. They are the clouds that shine at night and that is why they are called Noctilucent. Sometimes we get the chance to see these this time of the year at the end of the Gunflint Trail.
Jörgen Norrland Andersson
According to Earth Sky, “Noctilucent clouds form in the highest reaches of the atmosphere – the mesosphere – as much as 50 miles (80 km) above the Earth’s surface. They’re are thought to be made of ice crystals that form on fine dust particles from meteors. They can only form when temperatures are incredibly low and when there’s water available to form ice crystals.
Why do these clouds – which require such cold temperatures – form in the summer? It’s because of the dynamics of the atmosphere. You actually get the coldest temperatures of the year near the poles in summer at that height in the mesosphere.
Here’s how it works: during summer, air close to the ground gets heated and rises. Since atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude, the rising air expands. When the air expands, it also cools down. This, along with other processes in the upper atmosphere, drives the air even higher causing it to cool even more. As a result, temperatures in the mesosphere can plunge to as low as -210°F (-134°C).
In the Northern Hemisphere, the mesosphere often reaches these temperatures by mid-May, in most years.”
The challenge with viewing these clouds is you have to stay up late. They don’t appear until the sun is below the horizon so 1-2 hours after sunset or before sunrise. You can recognize the clouds by not only the time of the day but also where they are located. If you see a clear sky except for cirrus like clouds low in the north then you can probably assume you are seeing night shining clouds. You’ll want to start looking now because they usually only appear from May through August.
Diagram from Astro Bob Blog
If you’ve ever driven up the North Shore then you know what an awesome place it is. All of the State Parks, hiking trails, scenic vistas and of course waterfalls that line the road make it a spectacular trip. This time of year is especially amazing because of all of the water rushing towards Lake Superior.
The rivers & creeks are swollen with water and the waterfalls are majestic. Some of these masterpieces are right next to the road and require very little hiking if any. Others require a small trek but most are quite accessible and easy to reach. It’s worth taking a drive up the North Shore even if you can only spend a night. You can easily stop at a hand full of them in the same day and then hit more on the way home if you want.
Yesterday I made a trip down to Silver Bay, MN and much to my surprise I saw a moose! I have only seen 1 other moose on Highway 61 in the 20 plus years I’ve lived up here. It caught me by surprise and I found myself pulling over to get my camera out. It is much more common to see other wildlife like deer, bald eagles, wolves and the occasional bear.
There’s lots to see on the North Shore and don’t forget about all of the great shops and restaurants. And if you’re up in this neck of the woods, make the trip to see us at Voyageur too.
A potpourri of fun events are scheduled for this weekend, a fitting precede to next weekend when the Art Along the Lake extravaganza in galleries and shops is set to play throughout the county.
This weekend, look for two stellar concerts, a great talk entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask,” the Beaver House Family Fishing Festival and a demonstration by a sculpture artist who loves to create houses in clay.
Here are the details.
First up is “Treble Time.”
Three groups, the Cook County High School Choir, the Sutton Family Trio and Lake Effect, will perform at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Thursday at 7 p.m.
It should be quite a concert. It will offer a broad spectrum of songs, including folk, Americana and jazz, with lots of beautiful women’s voices and spot-on harmony.
A free-will donation at the door will be accepted.
Then on Friday, Dr. Anton Treuer, director of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University, will present “Everything you wanted to know about Indians but were afraid to ask” at the Grand Marais Public Libary at 6 p.m.
Treuer, an author and Ojibwe scholar, will give a frank, funny, and sometimes personal tour of what’s up with Indians, anyway. The event is open to the public and is free.
Also on Friday, the Heck Yeah Holler String Band will be featured on WTIP Community Radio’s “Scenic Route,” at 4 p.m. And Phil Heywood, who will be in concert at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts on Saturday night, will be on WTIP’s The Roadhouse at 6:15 p.m. or so to talk about his music and play a few songs.
Saturday events include the Family Fishing Festival and Grand Re-Opening at the Beaver House with activities for kids, like minnow races and other games and prizes, and a scavenger hunt for all. There’s also a walleye fishing contest, which started May 14 and continues through Saturday. The family festivities get underway at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
Also on Saturday, the Grand Marais Art Colony will host a clay demo at 10 a.m. with clay sculpture artist, Korla Luckeroth Molitor. Molitor creates whimsical, three-dimensional landscapes, farmsteads, houses, and people in clay and will demonstrate some of her techniques in the Art Colony’s ceramic studio.
Molitor, a fifth-generation Minnesotan, teaches Art History and Ceramics at Concordia University in Saint Paul. She received her BFA in Ceramics and Art History at the Kansas City Art Institute and her Masters of Fine Art from the University of Minnesota. $10 suggested donation. The public is invited.
On Saturday night, look to the Arrowhead Center for the Arts for a stellar concert with award-winning fingerstyle guitarists Phil Heywood and Tim Sparks.
Heywood’s performance encompasses an array of styles, from the down-home rhythmic groove of a Mississippi John Hurt and Leadbelly, to the sheer fluidity and melodic flair of such contemporaries as Leo Kottke.
Guitar Player Magazine describes Sparks’ music as “fresh, exotic, and totally cool.” The musicians share the bill, and will perform some songs together. Tickets are general admission: $20 adults, $5 youth, and can be purchased at the door.
And, next Wednesday, the String Quartet from the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra will play at the Grand Marais Library at noon. The program will include Dvorak’s “American Quartet,” Haydn’s “Lark Quartet,” and Piazzolla’s “Four for Tango.” The public is invited. Free.
Art Along the Lake: May 27-29 — Savor the Art on the North Shore. Galleries and shops in Cook County celebrate the beginning of summer with exhibits, receptions, demonstrations, meet-the-artists events, workshops and more.
Here’s a taste: The Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder opens for the season on May 27 with a new exhibit, “Boomtown” as well as an exhibition of work by local painter Bruce Palmer and photographers Tom Spence and David Degree.
The Heritage Center has also scheduled craft and art demonstrations throughout the day, including Ukranian egg painting and German woodcarving. To find out more, click here.
But that’s just the beginning. Betsy Bowen will open exhibit of the studies she did in Spain this winter entitled, “Sketches of Spain.”
Kathy Rice will be at Drury Lane Books for a Salon at 5 p.m. May 28 to read from her latest book, “Secrets of the Pie Place Café: Recipes & Stories Through the Seasons.”
Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery will host silver jewelry making demos and there will be a bronze pour at Last Chance Gallery at 4 p.m. May 28. David Gilsvik will do painting demonstration sat Sivertson Gallery when his exhibit “Meandering Through Birches” opens.
Stay tuned for more details next week. For a preview of all the activities, click here.
In other art news, Ann Mershon’s new book, “You Must Only To Love Them: Lessons Learned in Turkey” is out.
Mershon said the book is “part travelogue, part romance and part adventure, though mostly a heartfelt account of the seven years I spent teaching in Istanbul.” Copies are available at Birchbark Books & Gifts as well as on-line.
There are lots of new classes and instructors at the Grand Marais Art Colony this summer. In the literary arts, for example, William Durbin is teaching a class in fiction, Marlais Brand is teaching a class in history writing. In the glass studio, Helen Otterson, Northern Clay Center’s 2016 McKnight Artist in Residence, will teach a class in combining clay and cast glass in artwork. David Gilsvik is teaching a class in Autumn Painting in the fall. There are a number of classes offering in printmaking, photograph and the book arts, including a class by Amanda Dagener and Becky and Tedd McDonah will teach a jewelry making class in June. For details about these and other classes, click here.
By the way, Marlais Brand’s book, “The Hungry Coast” with illustrations by Noah Prinsen, just won the Midwest Book Award in the short story/anthology category.
The awards were given by the Midwest Independent Publishing Association, North Star Press published the book, which is available in local shops.
The Upper Shop at the Blue Moose Gallery has been redesigned with lots of new artwork, including stained glass pieces by Shelly Bouquet.
David Steckelberg has brought in new cards to Joy and Company.
Upstate MN has just received new watercolor paintings by Kate Oberreich.
Kah-Nee Tah Gallery is featuring leather and tila wrap bracelets by Deb Levens.
Betsy Bowen has completed a new hand-printed woodcut.
And last, but not least, Sivertson Gallery re-designed its front windows and includes the new Trapper’s Daughter print by Rick Allen entitled: “The Trappers Daughter Runs A Mid-Summer Race.”
Here’s the music schedule for this week:
Thursday, May 19:
- Joe Paulik, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
- Gordon Thorne with Chris Gillis & Mike Roth, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 20:
- Gypsy Lumberjacks, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 21:
- Jim & Michelle Miller, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
- Gordon Thorne, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
- Heck Yeah Holler String Band, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
- Phil Heywood and Tim Sparks, Arowhead Center for the Arts, 7:30 p.m.
- Gypsy Lumberjacks, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 22:
- Jazz with Briand Morrison, Gun Flint Tavern, 3 p.m.
- Timmy Haus, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, May 23:
- Joe Paulik, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.
Again we found some great photographs this week. Here’s a sampling:
Let’s start with the youngsters.
No youngsters yet, but soon, maybe. Paul Sundberg caught this endearing shot.
Here is another type of “youngster.”
Not a youngster, but having as much fun. This is Kjersti Vick.
And here’s a playful aurora– a laser beam instead of cascading light.
And finally, sweet, peaceful Lake Superior.
Enjoy your weekend!
It’s not much yet, but a small sampling of siding was installed this past week and gives a glimpse into what the new exterior will look like. The concrete crews were busy pouring the footings for the hospital addition and the ironworkers have been setting steel for the new entryway. Crews continue to put in ceiling tiles in the hallways and resident rooms, the resident’s bathroom’s got their mirrors, and the mezzanine now has its’ permanent lighting. It’s always amazing to see how much low voltage cabling goes into a healthcare facility; nurse call, computers, media, fire alarms, wonder guards, etc.
The ice out at the end of last month signaled time to kick things into high gear at Tuscarora to prepare for the busy paddling season ahead. (If you were counting on your fingers, we were just one day shy of five full months of ice on Round Lake, since the lake froze over on November 26, 2015 last fall. Not a record by any stretch of the imagination, but not exactly the non-winter we were predicting in early December either.) Over the last few weeks, we’ve been putting docks in, deep cleaning cabins, pulling canoes out of their winter slumber lands (aka, the dining hall), training in staff, stocking the gift shop, and juggling all the other miscellaneous tasks that come with getting a canoe outfitters ready to roll for summer.
But we haven’t been keeping our noses so closely to the grindstone that we haven’t noticed the natural world slowly waking up around us.
Tuscarora is suddenly overrun with grouse and snowshoe hares. Hares haven’t fully switched out of their winter coats yet (and given the below freezing, windy, snowy fishing opener we had last weekend, neither have we!) and are running around with white “socks” on. The flower bulbs we planted last spring are blooming beside the outfitting building. The loon pair has returned to Round Lake and will hopefully start sitting on their nest soon. In the woods, you might stumble upon the early spring wildflowers of violets and wood anemones as the trees and scrubs continue to leaf out. Baby mammals (moose, wolves, fox, et. al) are taking their first tentative steps along forest paths. And in the full circle of life, the bugs – including some of the winged, biting kind – are making themselves known as well.
Andy snuck off yesterday with his buddy, Quinn, to do a day paddle up through Brant Lake towards Faye and Bingshick. They had such a good time catching up that they forgot to take much in the way of photos. No doubt, they were busy plotting ways to make the second annual Boundary Waters Canoe Expo – of which Quinn is the main mover and shaker – even better than last year’s. This photo of Quinn from yesterday does show that the weather has improved significantly since last weekend. We’ve been enjoying t-shirt weather with highs in the mid 60s.
The guys did a loop from Flying to Faye to Glee to Bingshick, back to Flying. It’s remote, rugged country, seldom traveled as many people with Brant Lake entry point permits often put their heads down and truck past this country on their way to Bat and Gillis. The Bingshick area really scorched in the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006, so the lake shores are covered with patches of waist-high to 10 ft. tall young jack pines, alder, and birch trees. Because the fire burned so hot through the dense Blowdown debris that covered the forest floor in 2006, the area is recovering at a slower rate than the forest affected by the much larger and destructive Ham Lake Fire that burned Gunflint Trail forest mostly outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in May 2007. You might remember from last spring that this area is also known for the elusive Arethusa Bulbosa Orchid.
The area Andy and Quinn paddled was filled with gullies and crags and Andy said it was easy to imagine that the topography they encountered was once underwater structure as part of a large lake that stretched up to Seagull Lake and beyond. Although renderings of the Great Lake Agassiz often don’t show the lake’s southeast shore reaching as far into the Minnesota Arrowhead region as we are, some geologists hypothesize that Agassiz certainly did cover much of today’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It’s fascinating to watch the woods transition from season to season and even more interesting to think of the major transitions this land has gone through over the millennium to create this wilderness area.
I probably say this every year but 20 plus years ago when we first moved up to the end of the Gunflint Trail we never saw wood ticks. Ten years ago we started to see them and now they are pretty common. That isn’t good news because where there are regular ticks there are also the black-legged ticks or deer ticks that cause Lyme Disease.
Climate change is to blame for a number of things and could be the reason for the expansion of ticks. It could also be due to the fires over recent years because they say new growth is better for ticks. They like to live in ground level shrubs and there are usually more mice and deer in the area for them to feed on.
As with other insects protecting yourself from giving a tick a ride is important. It is especially important if it is a disease causing tick. Our county has a low risk compared with elsewhere but there is still a risk so when heading out into the woods take precautions.
Here’s some good information to read about ticks.
Ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body. Ticks are “programmed” to try and attach around your head or ears. On their normal hosts, ticks also usually crawl up; they want to blood feed around the head, neck, and ears of their host, where the skin is thinner and hosts have more trouble grooming.9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium and large sizes
Ticks hatch from eggs and develop through three active (and blood-feeding) stages: larvae (small-the size of sand grains); nymphs (medium-the size of poppy seeds); adults (large-the size of apple seeds). If you see them bigger, they’re probably partially-full or full of blood.8. Ticks can be active even in the winter
That’s right! Adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the first frost. They’re not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. This surprises people, especially during a January thaw or early spring day.7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes
Tick-transmitted infections are more common these days than in past decades. With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western U.S., the trend is for increasing abundance and geographic spread of deer ticks and Lone Star ticks; and scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria. Back in the day, tick bites were more of an annoyance but now a bite is much more likely to make you sick.6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria
The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its “cousins” found around the world. Deer ticks also are known as blacklegged ticks in the U.S., sheep ticks in Europe, or Taiga ticks in Asia. Dog ticks, Lone star ticks and other types of ticks just don’t seem to be able to transmit Lyme disease. While that’s good news, it makes saving any tick that you find biting more important so you can identify it. Doing so may save a lot of unnecessary doctor visits and treatments.5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection
Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. You’ll probably want to check even more carefully if you know you’ve likely been exposed. Many of the disease-causing microbes transmitted by ticks need a “re-activation” period in the tick once it begins to feed. The germs eventually make their way into the tick’s salivary glands and the tick spits them into you while feeding. Some infections, especially viruses, move into the tick salivary glands faster than others. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick’s saliva.4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin
And with about 1 out of 4 nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-western U.S., it’s important to know what you’re really looking for. They’re easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up (under clothing) and biting in hard-to-see places.3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer
Think of a tick as a little germ-filled balloon. Squeeze it too hard on its back end, and all the germs get pushed to the front end, which by the way, is attached to you by the tick’s straw-like mouthpart. Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter. Don’t worry if the mouthpart stays in your skin as long as you’ve got the rest of the tick by its head. Other tick removal methods, like a hot match, Vaseline, dish soap and cotton, or various little key-like devices don’t work as consistently as pointy tweezers on all types of ticks. Remember to save the tick and try to identify it (see # 6).2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bites
An easy way to avoid tick bites and disease is to wear clothing (shoes, socks, shorts or pants, and shirt) with permethrin tick repellent built-in. This strategy can be especially effective for protecting children. Dressing kids in tick repellent clothes everyday is a safe and easy way to keep ticks from biting and transmitting disease. Commercially-treated tick repellent clothes last through at least 70 washes, while using kits or sprays to treat your current outdoor wardrobe can last through 6 washes. Tick repellent on clothing, not skin is something everyone needs to know about to stay safe outdoors.1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable
There’s really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that’s from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard where you spend a lot of time, wearing tick repellent clothing everyday, treating pets every month with tick repellent spot-on products, getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan for attached poppy-seed sized or larger ticks, and pulling ticks off quickly and safely are all great actions for preventing tick bites. These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life! Remember these 10 things and you’ll stay safer.
I don’t know how many years the eagle’s nest at Trail’s End Campground sat in the treetop but it is no longer there. A friend told me he had visited the campground loop earlier this spring and didn’t see the nest. I thought he was just looking in the wrong place but I had to go see for myself.
I walked to the campground and couldn’t see it from the road. I walked up onto the ridge behind the tree to look and I couldn’t see it from there. I stood at a distance from every angle looking at every branch and still could not see the nest. I was shocked. Where could a nest that size go? According to the web, a typical eagle’s nest is 5-6 feet in diameter and 3 feet tall.
As I got closer to the tree the nest had been in I found the answer to my question. Scattered all over the forest floor were large sticks and branches that had obviously been a part of the nest. The nest was no longer in the tree.
This made me super sad. For years we’ve watched eagles raise eaglets in the tree. For a few years the campsite loop was closed early in the season to protect the privacy of the nesting eagles but they didn’t need privacy. They did just fine with the campsites being open.
I’m not sure what caused the nest to fall from the tree. There is some damage from the Ham Lake Fire in the trees nearby and possibly this allowed wind to get at the nest or maybe some of the lower limbs were compromised. It doesn’t seem possible a nest that size could just fall on its own but I don’t have another explanation, do you?
The other night while out for a walk I watched as the sun dipped deeper and deeper. I saw the tops of the trees on the distant shore as the sun cast the last light of the day onto them. I’ve never seen a green flash on an ocean although I have watched the sunset there many times. I didn’t see the green flash on this night either but I did see a beautiful sight. The sky around the sun changed from orange to red and farther away the clouds turned purple and blue. It was truly beautiful.
It’s easy to see a gorgeous sunset on the Gunflint Trail, not quite as easy to see a green flash. If you’re interested in how to see a green flash you can visit this website, but here’s the quick and simple version.
“You can see green flashes with the eye, when sky conditions are just right, if you are looking toward a very clear and very distant horizon. That’s why those who see green flashes most often see them over a sea horizon. You also must be looking just at sunset, at the last moment before the sun disappears below the horizon. And you have to be careful not to look too soon. Wait until just the thinnest rim of the sun appears above the horizon. If you look too soon, the light of the sunset will dazzle (or damage) your eyes, and you’ll miss your green flash chance that day.”
A nice flash taken from Torrey Pines, CA (about 100m above the sea). This is a classical form seen from seaside cliffs, associated with the “Mock Mirage.”
Wow everything is bustling around Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center these past few weeks.
Split Rock studios came up and did the installation of the new displays in the Nature Center, Bob & Sharon Baker were up putting the second coat of stain on both of the new buildings (when the weather was warm enough). Mjolnir Construction crew have been up putting some finishing touches on the Nature Center, the heating & cooling person was installing the units, along with the electricians finishing up some odds and ends, whew!
The Nature Center and the Administrative Building are getting closer to being completed for the opening on May 28.
The beginning of May we had a great group of students come from Appleton, Wisconsin. Travis Charlow, who is a sophomore at Lawrence University works in his universities volunteer center on environmental issues gathered a group of 5 other students to come up for the weekend and help out at Chik-Wauk. Earlier in the week Bob Baker had the work crew at the Seagull Guard Station come over and cut down the necessary trees to make the space for the 1950 circa style cabin that will be constructed during this season. The wonderful volunteers from Lawrence University carried all those downed trees from up past the Museum all the way down to the main parking lot for Dave Tuttle to clear them away with his excavating equipment. These students worked from 9 am to 2 pm they were so energetic and had such a great attitude. After they were done clearing all the trees they then went on a 2 mile hike to the top of Blueberry Hill. Thank you Travis and the rest of your group!!
More exciting news the nesting pair of loons has returned for another year. Kathy Lande noticed they were sitting on their nest full time starting on May 8; incubation period is roughly around 28 days. The loon camera should be up and running by the end of this week.
Even though the Museum is still not open until May 28 you can still come up and see the progress that has been going on this past year or take a nice hike on one of our many trails we have on property.
When I look around Voyageur Canoe Outfitters I see energy drains everywhere; ceiling fans, computers, cash registers, plugged in appliances, lights left on and more. Sometimes I need to be reminded that it is good to save energy, not just for planet earth but for my pocket book too.
Here’s a reminder from the Minnesota Department of Commerce with links for some great resources too.
There are many basic no- and low-cost measures you can take to reduce energy use, cutting your utility bill and putting more money in your pocket. Here are a few energy- and money-saving opportunities:
Use a programmable thermostat to reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.
Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips and turn the strips off when equipment is not in use.
Turn off lights and fans when nobody’s in the room.
Close your fireplace damper when not in use.
Take short showers and use low-flow showerheads.
Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees F.
Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes, and air dry both when possible.
Replace incandescent lights with much more efficient lighting such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing new appliances, lighting, and electronics.
Have a home energy assessment to identify ways to make your home more energy efficient (weather-strip doors and windows, seal air leaks, add insulation and more).
Go to work via carpool, use public transportation, or telecommute.
Simple behavior changes such as turning off lights, air drying clothes, and setting your hot water heater at 120 degrees don’t cost you anything. But, taken together, they can shrink your utility bills and grow your bank account over time.
Long-term savings can be achieved when, for instance, you replace an old refrigerator with a new high-efficiency model. The new refrigerator will likely pay for itself in 7-8 years via energy savings, and you will enjoy additional energy savings for the life of your appliance. Likewise, a properly installed and operated programmable thermostat will pay for itself in as little as one year with energy savings.
For more energy-saving tips, check out the Minnesota Department of Commerce Home Energy Guide (pdf) or the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website.
A cold wind blew mainly from the North today. It made Saganaga Lake a bit choppy and a lot chilly. The sun didn’t want to come out and the temperature only made it up to 36 degrees today. In spite of the cold, anglers bravely went out to cast their lines and were rewarded with walleye, northern and even smallmouth bass. Dressed more like a day of winter ice fishing enabled folks to endure the elements, barely.
Signs of summer exist everywhere at the end of the Gunflint Trail. Marsh marigolds, blueberries and strawberry plants are blooming and there are sizeable green buds on the trees. The water is rushing at the falls at Trail’s End Campground and there are folks camping there too. People are heading out for canoe trips into the wilderness and even some summer cabin owners have returned.
The forecast for tomorrow looks a little better with warmer temperatures on the way. It might even get up to 50 degrees and if the sun comes out and the wind goes down it will be a real treat to be out on the lake fishing.
For every beer there is a season. This is the season where the pulse quickens, the tempo of our little town picks up, and every one of us who has endured the long winter is ready to throw off winter clothing and feel the sun. Tough buds appear on branches, creeks and waterfalls flow more swiftly with melted snow, and there is of course, lots of mud. Wipe off your dog again, don’t bother washing your car, be like the kids in this town who put on their muddy boots and revel in it.
We are celebrating the final minutes of 10,000 Minutes of Craft Beer in Grand Marais with the debut of our exciting toasty Maibok Muddy Boots. We’re having a release party at Voyageur Brewing Company this Sunday and if you post a photo of yourself on our Facebook page wearing your muddy boots, we’ll enter your name in a drawing to win a $10 Voyageur Brewing Company gift certificate.
Embrace the mud!
Opening of fishing 2016... 'nuff said. - Bill
It’s chilly on the Gunflint Trail and there were snow flurries throughout the day. The forecast calls for a rain snow mix this weekend and cold temperatures with a high of 43 degrees tomorrow. It will be a cold opener but hopefully the fish won’t mind. Best of luck to all anglers and most importantly be safe and wear your life vest!