Appropriately, the last segment of 2009 serves up a double-cheese whammy of northern lunar brilliance. As this column heads off into cyberspace, the universe celebrates the coming of the full cold moon.
Then as ’09 expires 28 days later, the full cold sphere honors December with a blue moon delight. Let’s hope that the skies are clear and the landscape is white for a twofold reflection of border country ambiance.
This is a month of special birthdays and anniversaries. Noteworthy is the one that falls on the 25th. Along with this magnificent occasion, yours truly not only celebrates advancing one year but, with this column, also completes the first year of being part of the WTIP radio team.
It’s been a blast! I am so grateful to WTIP for picking up my abandoned newspaper column, and to the listening community for many kind words of support. Hopefully I can continue to serve you with snippets of life from out here in the Gunflint woods for years to come.
More seasonal weather eased back into the territory last weekend, and the lake freeze-up began anew. The last few daybreaks have seen temps in the high teens and 20s which appears to have finally done in the liquid undulations. The big lakes remain rolling, in anticipation of some calm, minus-something nights.
As frequent users of the scenic byway know, a trip down or back up always provides some new adventure or previously unseen moment of beauty. Such was the case on the day after Black Friday last week, when the Smiths made their weekly supply run and gift shopping excursion to Grand Marais.
Our initial observation was no doubt the first trek across the ice of Little Iron Lake by either man or beast. Barely frozen, we could see that an adventurer had made a crossing in some type of floating craft, just after the first solidarity had formed. Left in its wake was a path of splayed chards and an almost immediate skim-over. I don’t know whether the trek was going or coming, but the return trip just might have to wait for a different mode.
As we cruised on by that path through the ice, it became evident Mother Nature had started putting out her initial holiday decorations. Jack Frost did the legwork for Mom by coming through the forest like a Rhinestone Cowboy.
The lacing of every needle and twig with minute diamonds was not as frothy as some that I’ve seen, but with the sun gaining stature in the early morning sky, it was clear that the frosty artist has not lost his touch. Every foot of advancement down the blacktop provided a blinding of twinkling lights in all hues of the rainbow.
Human celebration at this time of year dishes up some splendid decorative displays, but the glittering, natural lighting workmanship, on a clear cold morning along this peaceful ribbon of highway, cannot be matched by anything that mankind can conjure up. No snow yet, but the spirit of the season is coming alive.
Moose sighting reports have been non-existent since their hunting season commenced, but a family traveling up to their cabin for a Thanksgiving retreat brought word to me that there are still some out there. A cow and her calf were spotted in the burned-out timber near where the Ham Lake fire jumped the Trail a couple years ago.
It would seem that the monsters of the byway might just need a little encouragement. I’ll bet we’ll see them when snow-covered roads cause an opening of the world’s longest salt lick. Come on, Old Man Winter, we’re waiting…
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the coming season!