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Wildersmith January 14

Canada Lynx (by Michael Zahra on wikimedia)
Canada Lynx (by Michael Zahra on wikimedia)

Finalcut_Wildersmith_20100114.mp34.04 MB

Winter has set down with the usual January cold, and has offered up a couple days of meager snow accumulations since we last met on the radio and/or web. I can’t say that the cold has been bitter as we might know it, but the temps have hung out at zero and below for much of the time. The coldest temp at Wildersmith during the past seven days was minus 20.

A couple days of blustery north-northwest winds had the area under one of those NWS wind chill advisories. However, for most of us it was just more regular winter segments in the wilderness, where you layer up and go on about your business. It is noticeable, though, how warm plain old zero feels when bullish breaths from Old Man Winter are stifled.

I’m told by some snowmobile riders that there are slush issues on the ice of many lakes. This indicates difficulties for not only power sledders, and dogsledders, but also for the ice drillers that will be coming on the scene for trout fishing in a week or so. There’s nothing like having to stand in the freezing slop. In this case, some bitter cold (minus 30 and lower) might be just the ticket.

Although our holiday decoration paraphernalia has been packed away, the Smiths are still coddling the holiday tree. The striking little black spruce, cut from the yard several weeks ago, has taken a liking to the warmth of its place in our dining room. It likes the conditions so well that it has budded out.

Yes, it has been fooled into thinking spring. Tiny light green tassels are popping out of the bud sheaths. We are so dazzled by the tree’s will to live that we have no desire to toss her out in the cold. Guess she’ll have a warm place in the corner until waking up to the reality that I cut off her natural life line. Almost makes me feel like a Grinch when I think about it, but having anything artificial in this wonderful place seems as out of place as Speedos in the January sun.

I now have four of those whiskey Jacks coming in for breakfast each morning. The bashfulness that a couple displayed a few weeks back has given way to a mad swoop at getting in line for a stop off on my palm.

I’m often in wonder about what is going through their little minds as they take a cube of bread or two, and then just perch there for a few moments looking at me while curiously cocking their heads. They are such unique and intelligent wild critters.

For folks that live in areas that the dashing birds do not inhabit, and want to know more about these camp food pilferers, I suggest a great commentary about them in the most recent issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine.

A local blogger tells of folks along the south Gunflint Lake shore having observed a Canadian Lynx recently. It’s well known that the potential for appearances of this species of feline cycles with growing bunny populations. So to hear of the sightings is not surprising, what with all the snowshoe hares hanging out along the Gunflint Lake south shore over the past year. So far, the cat has not made it into the Wildersmith neighborhood.

And last but not least, wolves are still brazenly making unannounced appearances throughout the territory. My son and grandson had the thrill of a lifetime when they came upon four of the local pack while snowmobiling during their Christmas visit to the north woods. What an adventurous treat for having never seen a pack in the wild before.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the Biboon (Ojibwe for winter) wonders of the woods.

Airdate: January 14, 2011