February’s end is in sight, and with it, the weather has yo-yoed since we last met. The thaw that we missed in January caught up with folks in the northland during week three.
The catch up was a doozy with the mercury climbing to the low 40s in the shade to near 60 out in the bright sunshine. The warmest day of the meltdown siege was a real slammer to winter activities, as it seems that we melted about a foot of snow. Mother Nature giveth and then she taketh away!
Lake surface snow melted into puddles above the ice as ski trails oozed with wet sticky snow, a real bummer. And back country roads succumbed to a miserable state of slushy ruts and even a bit of mud where they had been kept closely scraped by winter plowing.
By week’s end, the territory returned to winter normalcy around Wildersmith. The mercury was back below zero and Old Man Winter even coughed up four or five inches of replacement snow last Saturday night. However, once again we were snubbed by a real snowstorm.
The problem now is that the re-freeze has left the snow pack a frozen chunk while roads, driveways and walking paths are an icy glazed nightmare. This makes getting about a hazard for both man and beast.
The white frozen ground cover is no doubt making it difficult for many of the critters in the wild neighborhood to scratch and find nourishment. The bird landings seem to have intensified, as if the border country airwaves weren’t already a mad rush from dawn to dusk.
One of the young ’uns from last year’s whiskey Jack hatch is the only one coming in for breakfast these days, as mom and dad have departed to start another family.
With the less bitter temps of late, I have been offering the gray adolescent treats from my bare hand. I’m intrigued at the cold I feel from the bird’s feet while it perches to load up with bread cubes. They seem as cold as a piece of steel left out on a sub-zero night. What a special chemistry for survival they possess.
A surprising trait recently caught my attention. Often these gray jay folk take just one cube at a time and fly off to a nearby branch to partake. When choosing to collect a morsel in this way, they always pin the treat to a twig with their left toes while nibbling away. I have not seen one that doesn’t appear to be of the southpaw persuasion. I’d be interested if others might have observed this in their whiskey John visitors, or am I seeing things?
There are a couple bright spots in the return to colder times. First, the melted insulating snow on area lakes has refrozen. This will enable easier traveling by all modes across lakes to those prize lake trout holes, as hidden slush pockets had been plaguing anglers since opener back in January.
And the second is for cross-country ski folks. The technology and art of grooming has brought area ski trails right back to prime condition, so ski on!
In any event, conditions need to stay in the frigid season mode, for at least another couple weeks, as preparations are ongoing for the “pink” weekend of March 11 and 12. Several dog-sled mushers have pledge sign-up sheets and collection jars out at area businesses seeking support of their teams in the fundraising race for national breast cancer research. It should be a splashing, “hot pink” time on the shores of Gunflint Pines Resort for the fifth annual Mush for a Cure. Plan to be there for the spectacular! See their website for a schedule of all the weekend’s events.
Keep on hangin on, and savor some north woods splendor!
Airdate: February 25, 2011
Photo courtesy of Ricelife via Flickr.