Our Literary Outdoorsâ€¦â€¨literature ofÂ the Sportsmanâ€™s Guide lifestyle.
If you love Lake Superior, North Country, or natural history in general, check outÂ The University of Minnesota Press’sÂ North Shore: Minnesota’s Superior CoastÂ by Chel Andersen and Adelheid Fischer.
The book is over 600 pages and reads part like a coffee table book, part like a classroom textbook.Â Its sections are divided into the five interconnected areas of the North Shore watershed: Headwaters, Highlands, Nearshore, Lake Superior and Islands. Â From chorus frogs to butterworts to pitcher plants to black bears and (trust me) everything in between, the book is a beautiful look at the past, present and future of the region from its glacial development to the impact of tourism.
Continuing to profile 10 facts from each section, here they are from the last sectionâ€¦Islands:
- In early accounts of the islands, people portrayed them as floating islands that would blow in the wind, or rumored to be of pure copper that would ring if a rock struck it.
- Physical distance makes animal habitation a challenge, unless they can REALLY swim or cross on an ice bridge. And breeding depends on arriving with a partner or the difficult task of finding one on the island. Therefore, the conditions for sustainability are “formidable”. For example, only 18 species of animals are found on the 210 square-mile Isle Royale.
- The moose, a symbol of the region’s rugged wilderness, is thought to be present on Isle Royale due to human interventionâ€¦perhaps placed as a plot to attract tourists in the early 20th century.
- Radiocarbon analysis of prehistoric copper artifacts dates human activity on Isle Royale to as early as 4,500 years ago.
- The chorus frog can survive temperatures as low as -22ÂşF. They burrow inland within a layer of needles and leaf litter. They “overwinter” by converting glycogen into blood glucose, essentially functioning as an antifreeze. Even still, 65% of their bodies can freeze!
- The Mishebeshu (Great Lynx) was an Ojibwe mythological figure. He was blamed for creating the sudden storms that made crossing the lakes perilous, if not fatal.
- A dragonfly nymph can draw water through its anus, into its abdomen, and over its internal gills. By pressurizing the water inside, the nymph can thrust an underlip into prey or propel itself away from predators at a speed of 19.5 inches per second.
- The beak of the herring gull can snatch herring from a lake as easily as a french dry from a dumpster. It can pierce a fish’s scales as easily as dig into stale bread. The herring gull is a rather successful omnivore.
- The interconnectedness of the region is continually on display. After the Welland Canal’s completion, alewives invaded Superior, leading to an explosion in the gull population. Plus, waste disposal by humans (i.e. dumpsters, food left after picnics) provides further food sources thus factoring into the bird’s thriving population.
- Preserving native habitats and conservation corridors are key to plant and animal survival, especially in the face of rising global temperatures (Epilogue).
I hope you enjoyed this overview, learning more not only about the region but also nature in general. ClickÂ here for the Amazon linkÂ orÂ here for the University of Minnesota Press‘s link to the book to see more.