The month of the racing steeds is heading into the home stretch. And yep, here we are in May’s home stretch with the Memorial Day weekend. And yep, we still have splotches of snow and ice hanging on.
Our upper Trail weather is on the upswing in spite of a couple mornings where we made ice and also had a day of flurries. The good news is our days are actually getting warmer regard- less of the above glitches, maybe not normal but better than last week.
There’s even better news too, as the area had been void of any moisture for a number of the recent diurnal segments, but an overnight dropping last Monday night into Tuesday morning quenched the bone-dry ground cover and forest brush. Wildersmith received just shy of an inch.
Many of us residents had been nervous as to the growing wildfire potential. One would think there ought to be an annual automatic burning ban invoked this time of year. Thinking back as a reminder, if such a ban had been in effect in 2007, when it was dry as it has been of late, the 75,000 acre Ham Lake tragedy would likely not have changed lives and scarred the forest for generations to come. The dousing has at least tempered our nervousness for the time being.
As I began keying this week’s commentary (May 18), many lakes had shed the winter cover. However, the views across Gunflint, Loon and several other area bodies remained clogged with ice.
Then in the blink of an overnight’s time, the Gunflint decided enough was enough and Loon was close to the same. By daybreak Monday (May 19) only a couple mini Gunflint icebergs were left, slowly advancing toward the east end sandy beach. And by mid-afternoon even they had been swallowed up by the lapping waters.
Needless to say, yours truly is thankful my lake water line didn’t catch one of the big cakes for an unwanted trip as it did last year. As I monitored the long ice dispersal happening and its relationship with my vulnerable water supply, I was nevertheless charmed by the beauty of this ice ending break-up.
Unless one is present in the land of sky blue waters at the right time, you can’t fathom the remarkable shapes and sparkling clarity of these crystal chards. There’s a dab of magic in knowing they started as serene wrinkles on a quiet surface last Dec. 8 and have evolved into monster masses capable of moving huge boulders and crunching anything in their path. No pun intended, but this coming and going of the congealing process is really cool!
Fishing activity is growing with the opening of more area bodies. Of the big three or four out this way, Seagull Lake has opened first and is seeing several anglers and canoeists. The folks at Tuscarora Lodge share that early season back country enthusiasts are eagerly skimming out over the freshly opened water.
There are birds, birds everywhere. Some have just returned home (first hummingbirds have been spotted) while others continue passing through. Also have a report of a Baltimore Oriole sighting over on Loon Lake.
The Smiths had an uncommon visit from a pair of male rose-breasted grosbeaks last weekend. The twosome spent the better part of two days hanging out around here. They were interesting in the fact each found our windows inviting, and did not slam into them as do the local blue jays. Each flew up to the sill, hovered and then perched within an inch of the glass for minutes at a time.
I’ve got to think they were infatuated with seeing themselves up close. Their heads turned and twisted in all possible directions, examining every angle. Reminded me of the female gender getting dolled up in front of a mirror for a night out on the town!
With the Memorial Day Holiday at hand, I remind readers and listeners that the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is opening for year five this weekend. Daily hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. through mid-October.
I got a recent sneak preview of the 2014 visiting exhibit. This year’s exhibit subject is about some beautiful, but maybe over looked, winged critters from our natural neighborhood. It features a stunning display of butterflies, skippers and moths found in Gunflint territory.
If you can’t make it this weekend, you still won’t want to miss this onetime featured exhibit along with many other activities and ever-growing history of the Gunflint Trail. Make plans to visit sometime during the summer season ahead.
Another rite of our north woods Memorial Day weekend celebration is noted over on West Bearskin Lake at YMCA Camp Menogyn. The staff is once again serving up their pancake and sausage breakfast fund raiser. Serving runs from 9 a.m. until noon on Sunday morning.
Organizers are keeping fingers crossed that the West Bearskin ice will be out by Sunday morning. Plan to meet at the camp dock for a great pontoon ride to breakfast while renewing many Gunflint acquaintances.
Keep on hangin’ on and savor the Gunflint’s time of rebirth!