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Wildersmith October 14

There's a crackling crunch under foot this week up the Gunflint
There's a crackling crunch under foot this week up the Gunflint

FinalCut_Wildersmith_20111014.mp38.73 MB

Back at Wildersmith once more! Again my thanks go out to Rosey’s dad for covering me while I made a quick run to Iowa for a grandson’s visit. How about that swell moose calf rescue story that he shared?

Just days ago, the northland celebrated the full “falling leaves” moon, and the Ojibwe tribal ancestors surely put the right handle on it. That’s exactly what’s happening throughout the upper Trail territory.

The usual cool winds of October have been blowing hot and dry of late. So the usual autumn aroma of damp decaying leaves is absent from the scene, and instead there’s crackly crunch under foot.

Those warm southerly winds have put a sudden stop to the color show, and our forest blush is giving way to scraggly skeletons of denuded aspen, birch and maple. Along with the layering of deciduous tokens, Mother Nature has textured the forest floor with those tawny white pine needles and rusty fronds of white cedar in her annual fall blanketing event.

A trip up or down the Trail now finds that dancing leaves have taken center stage. Leaflets are being wisped about. As traffic passes by they are caught up in scurrying excitement like little kids at holiday time. More wilderness magic!

Meanwhile, we are about to experience the last of our seasonal tree transitions. Those marvelous tamaracks are in the midst of doing their illumination thing too. This coniferous affair is one of the nicest of all pigmentation incidents. Sadly, all too soon those delicate golden needles will also be added to the final calling of harvest time, and it will be time for a covering of another color.

Those of us that are still hanging out in border country remain on pins and needles (no pun intended) with regard to wild fire danger. After a terribly dry month nine, October has not offered much help in the way of precipitation. At this writing, the Wildersmith rain gauge has barely been dampened with a puny 12/100ths of an inch.

I have even washed my vehicle, which always seems to generate some rain and ensuing mud on the road, but that has been to no avail. A dance for the rain gods is surely in order, but since I’m no dancer that is not an option. It would seem that something has to happen soon to give us a break in this severe desert-like atmosphere.

It’s comforting to know that we have wildfire sprinkler systems in the neighborhood. I’ve cranked them up a few times to dampen things down, adding an umbrella of humidity around the place. I hope other area residents are doing the same.

Winter preparation chores continue along the Trail and around the Smith place too. Young conifers are being netted for protection from hungry whitetails and summer plants have been relegated to the compost pile.

The boat has been brought to land and winterized, while a great neighbor and his buddies lent a lot of muscle to bringing in the dock for cold season storage. By the way, the Gunflint Lake water temps were in the mid-50s when this was going on.

With only a couple home winterizing jobs remaining and a bit of necessary snow removal equipment tuning at hand, guess Old Man Winter can probably bring it on.

Ghost and goblin time being a little over two weeks away brings back memories to longtime Trail residents of the notorious Halloween storm that buried some of the area in over 3 1/2 feet of snow. I probably needn’t remind anyone that it was exactly two decades ago for that historical weather happening. Do you suppose a repeat could be in the cards for the 20th anniversary? Let’s keep our fingers crossed, for moisture of any variety is most welcome, and will help in squelching that persistent Pagami Creek fire.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor fall in the wilderness!

Airdate: October 14, 2011

Photo courtesy of life is good (pete) via Flickr.