Life in the cracks at Artists Point


Artists Point in Grand Marais is a wonderful North Shore destination. If you’re in Grand Marais and you’ve had your fill of t-shirt shops or microbrews, head out along the east, or left, side of the bay, through the big parking lot to the big old white house. Artists Point awaits.

Last year, our family was hanging in Grand Marais on the Fourth of July, escaping the bugs of the Sawbill Trail. We had a great visit to Artists Point. We went to the right, toward the lighthouse along cement retaining walls. A week or two ago, I went back to Artists Point, going left into the woods instead of right to the lighthouse.

At first glance, it’s a smooth surface of bedrock. The glaciers did a great job smoothing down billion-year-old basalt. Waves wash off Lake Superior and flood away most soil development. Gale-force winds of November storms strip off any tree or shrub that is not fully surrounded bu other trees.

But look in the cracks and you’ll find all sorts of life. In those cracks, there’s just enough shelter for a bit of lichen to form, a bit of soil to gather.

Lots of three-toothed cinquefoil was popping up in the cracks:

In an old crack in the narrow strip of woods, where deep soil had collected moisture and created a little micro-bog, I found this Labrador tea, in bloom:

In the picture on top, did you see the kids popping out of the cracks?

Artists Point. Life in the cracks.


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4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Loved your cinquefoil pix on a point I also love in memory. But you missed the most interesting little gem of a plant along the way to the lighthouse. It’ Butterwort–Pinquicula. It is low, greenish yellow, grows only on the lee side of the rocks near the spray. It’s one of only three insectivorous plants in the Arrowhead. Itis sticky leaves trap gnats and get nourishment–mostly nitrogen from them

  2. Andrew Slade says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Andrew Slade says:

    You know, I actually went out there looking for Butterwort, but didn’t know I would have to go to the Lighthouse direction. What a fascinating observation about the “lee side of the rocks near the spray”! I know there’s a bunch of butterwort out on the ledgerock at Temperance…maybe I’ll get up there this week to see if it’s in bloom.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Butterwort should have blue/purple blooms in July. Tell it hello from someone in the desert who misses her annual pilgrimage to it.

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