Wildersmith On The Gunflint Aug. 26, 2009

Cattails
Cattails

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The upper Gunflint territory got more welcome rain, and our brief sweaty summer session was broken. Several days of gray and wet gave way to a luscious next to last weekend in August.

For some, summer ends after the Fourth of July, while for yours truly, the beginning of September officially kicks off the fall season. And we all know that the calendar makes it official in just over three weeks. So about any way you cut it, the northern growing season is nearly history.
Flora of summer-fall is lush after the moisture addition, and I’ve noted the cat-tails that line the Trail in swamps and bogs are fully developed, dark and swaying rhythmically in the breezes.
The water temp at the Wildersmith dock has already tumbled to 66, down from 70 a week ago, just as I predicted. Although, the area received nearly 3 1/4 inches of rain in the past 10 days, the water level on the DNR gauge here on Gunflint Lake has remained pretty much unvarying, with out-flow equaling input.
Apparently the parched watershed soaked up most of what has fallen. Many rivers and creeks remain precariously low. However, the wonderful little falls that dumps into Larch Creek, just south of the Seagull guard station, is gushing once again.
If one is a regular in this part of the universe, you know that clear nights are starlit to the max. Over the cool past weekend, the cosmic lighting has been nothing short of miraculous. The Milky Way streamed on endlessly, and although there was no bonus from aurora borealis, twinkles decorated the heavens like it was the holiday season.
The glory of the nighttime sky is further enhanced as the noises in the black at earth level can add both calm and suspense to the northern aura. Such is the setting when you are in the right place at the right time.
A recent late-night silence was broken with loon calls from the darkness. The mournful wails echoed from shore to shore and sparked intrigue in regard to what might have prompted the wild communication. Was trouble imminent, was the mate away or did it just feel a need to vocalize? Whatever the reason, nothing in the late night is more enchanting. By the way, I wonder when these marvelous creatures sleep. I hear them at night and see them cruising for nourishment during the day. They must be exhausted.
Another natural wonderment is the amount of nectar that hummingbirds consume. Since they have returned from the nesting experience, their appetites seem insatiable. The sweet bottle hanging above the Smith deck gets emptied in two to three days. It makes you wonder how they can dart about when they perch and gulp from daylight to darkness.
At any gathering of folks this time of year, the conversation always gets around to berry-picking experiences. The stories and thrills from blueberry hills are never ending and often hilarious. From brags about collecting cups to buckets and whether fruit is plump or puny, discussion usually extends to that of sharing the blue with a bear or two.
A fellow that lives not far away told me that he was about to go into his favorite patch when suddenly there was a bear. With discretion being the better part of valor, he retreated and watched as the bear sat down. The crop was so prolific that the bear didn’t move other than to just twist around in its spot devouring only what it could reach.
The fellow returned later to find that the big teddy had eaten in a circle surrounding the place where it placed its posterior. That’s what I call easy pickins’.
Another report has come in that a mamma and her cubs were once again treated to a bear buffet. It occurred in a garage left open down on County Road 50. This is the same place where a bear or two consumed corn and sunflower seeds a few weeks ago. Like people, bears anxiously return when they find a fine eatery to their liking.
The untamed picnic was a no-harm, no-foul situation as the ursine family consumed to their liking, even posed for a photo op, and departed peacefully. The garage door was then closed.
A more domesticated picnic is scheduled for members and friends of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society this coming Monday. It will be held at the Chik Wauk Lodge beginning at noon. Food and drink will be provided, but chairs will not, so bring a lawn chair and plan to enjoy the magic of this special place. I’m told that bears have not been invited.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the thoughts of autumn!

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