Local Features

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

This is the story of a special coat that currently resides in the Northwoods.  

It’s a long burgundy, double-breasted coat once worn by both John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.  It’s now owned by Rhinelander resident Ray Quicksilver.

WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski sat down with Quicksilver to hear how Hendrix came to give him the coat.  It all started when Quicksilver’s father sent him to live with a relative in California…which landed him right in the middle of the countercultural movement of the 1960s.    

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Maple syrup production in northern Wisconsin is wrapping up for the season.  For small producers a fickle weather pattern meant it wasn’t a great season in terms of syrup quantity.  But for larger producers who use more high-tech systems, it was still an above average year.  And the reasons behind these sap dynamics are still somewhat of a mystery. 

The day I visit Maple Hollow Farm near Merrill Wisconsin is muddy and cool – a typical backdrop for a process that takes place only in spring, when the sap is running. 

NASA / https://flic.kr/p/jXLDrB

Maggie Turnbull lives in Antigo and works as a freelance astrobiologist.  

  It’s the study of the origin and future of life in the universe.  Turnbull has gained international recognition for her work cataloging star systems that could support life, and is now working with NASA on a telescope to better look at those systems.  WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski spoke with Turnbull over the phone.  

She says the problem is that stars give out so much light, it’s hard to even see the planets that orbit them. 

Wisconsin Historical Society

It’s May and we’re still waiting for the ice to melt on most lakes in the Northwoods.  Lake Superior is still about halfway iced over.  But even when it’s thoroughly covered with ice, conditions can be treacherous.

In today’s History Afield essay, we hear the story of Vern Frechette’s memorable trip out on the ice…one morning in March 1933.

    

A Rose for Shakespeare

Apr 29, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve attended high school, chances are good that you’ve read at least one Shakespeare play—and perhaps some of his sonnets, too. 

Minocqua poet Andree Graveley has a special connection to the Bard’s poetry. A few years ago, she decided to pay homage to Shakespeare by bringing him a rose. As part of this month’s Poets on Poetry series, Graveley tells of the surprising coincidences that led her to the very feet of the poet himself.

Poets on Poetry: Revision

Apr 22, 2014
Jeff Eaton

April is National Poetry Month.  As part of our month-long series Poets on Poetry, Nicolet College Instructor Jeff Eaton reflects on the value of revision.

Writing “the best words in their best order,” according to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, defines poetry. Easily said, but not so easily achieved. Invention, the calling up of images, at some point must give over to revision – the “seeing again” that becomes the core work of composing poetry.

My Year in Haiku: Learning to Write Poetry Again

Apr 15, 2014
Seabamirum / https://flic.kr/p/dQawfu

Rhinelander poet Brent Goodman once vowed he’d never write a haiku.  So why has he been writing nothing but haiku for the past 10 months?  As part this month’s Poets on Poetry series, Goodman tells how it all began with a course by Haiku Master Lee Gurga.

It’s April again, which for me means participating in a daily challenge called “NaPoWriMo,” or National Poetry Writing Month. It’s an annual project in which poets attempt to write a poem a day for the entire month of April.

Emily Bright

When Emily Bright decided to get her Masters of Fine Arts degree in poetry, she expected that it would prepare her for a career of teaching and writing. What she didn’t expect was that being a poet would teach her how to be a good parent.  Today in the first of our series “Poets on Poetry,” Bright tells us the story.  

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

With the Final Four coming up this weekend, many people's eyes will be glued to the basketball courts.  But have you ever thought about where those court floors come from? Most of the country’s wooden gym floors are made here in northern Wisconsin and upper Michigan. 

Here in the small town of Mercer, Wisconsin, a gym floor starts with unloading a pallet of maple planks delivered from a sawmill.

Wisconsin Historical Society

When the stock market crashed in late 1929, ushering in the Great Depression, the prosperity of the 1920’s screeched to a halt.  As factories and mills closed their doors, millions of Americans found themselves unemployed.  

In today’s History Afield, WXPR Contributor Bob Willging tells the story of one man who left Chicago during the Depression to make his mark in the Northwoods.

Matthew Rethaber

A group of middle school students gathered last month in Lac du Flambeau to learn outdoor winter skills.  Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission organized the weekend camp.  As WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski reports, it’s as much about cultural preservation as it is getting outdoors. 

At Deep Snow Camp, most of the activities are focused on survival skills like building a snow shelter or ice fishing with simple materials.  But a lot of the sessions focus on another type of survival: the cultural kind. 

Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

With winter still holding the Northwoods in its icy grip, most of us try to avoid going out in the cold for longer than we have to.  So you might be surprised to find that one commuter relies on his bicycle to get to work all winter long, even refusing offers of car rides and choosing instead to brave the icy streets of Stevens Point.

It’s 7 a.m. on a clear morning in March, and 20 degrees below zero outside.  Rich Sweet is in his kitchen, in the process of what he calls “gearing up.”

Emily Bright / WXPR News

For many people, dogs are a source of comfort and friendship.  Nancy Diepenbrock believed so strongly in the power of a dog’s presence, she helped start a therapy dog program here in the Northwoods.  

"Everybody knows Quincy," said Diepenbrock. "They can’t remember my name. As a matter of fact last week one of the kids called me Mrs. Quincy."

Wendy Robinson

The resort industry in Northern Wisconsin goes back over 100 years to when tourists were first lured to the lake country on the heels of the lumberjacks.  Small family owned resorts with cottages lining lake shores catered to fisherman in the early days. 

 In the midst of Mom and Pop operations one man had a vision to build a Northwoods resort like no other.  In today’s History Afield Bob Willging tells the story of the rise and fall of the Northernaire, the Waldorf of the Wilderness.

Emily Bright / WXPR News

Eagle River is on the front end of a trend that’s becoming more popular across Wisconsin: winter farmers markets.  The new effort could make local food available all year round, even in a cold Northwoods climate.

When Al Pittelko, executive director of the Eagle River Revitalization Program, was approached about holding a winter farmers’ market, he hesitated.

“I said how can we when we don’t have any farmers’ stuff," he said, "but they do.”

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