Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 25

Red Squirrel (Bob MacInnes / Flikr)
Red Squirrel (Bob MacInnes / Flikr)

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            Summer has stepped up, though not with a vengeance, while I begin this week’s Gunflint scoop. Guess it’s about time as we’re headed into the last stanza of July.
            With the increased heat and bright sunshine walleyes are being driven into deeper, darker places so there’s likely to be some angler angst. Thus it’s “smallie” time, they’re fun too. In addition to whining from yours truly, the moose will also be headed into darker places too.  A little of this sultriness goes a long ways toward making one appreciate minus 40-something!
            Our rainy times have dwindled over the past seven with just a little over 1/2 inch claimed in the Wildersmith gauge. In fact, the last serious rain was just over 10 days ago.  That is, until the heavens were cracked open with some July fireworks early Tuesday morning.  Until then back country roads were starting to choke in dust, and green as things may be, the wilderness duff was getting crunchy in a hurry.
            The drier conditions of late have been a blessing to the construction crew, which is in the final stages of resurfacing a section of the Trail out this way. For those of us traversing this paradise pathway on regular basis, early trips on the new ribbon of blacktop are almost too much to believe. Thanks go out to the County Highway Department for administering and rapidly expediting a great improvement!
            As August creeps toward our horizon, summer seems right on cue. The perennial lupine crop is fading fast and is being replaced by a more favored native, fireweed. Meanwhile the bird’s foot trefoil has surged to front and center in place of hawkweeds and daisies to be next in line among non-native floral luminaries.
             I noticed the other day wild rose blooms along the Mile O Pine have grown into hips, although the fruit are far from mature. And, it is hard to fathom, but a few moose maples are already blushing with a faint tint of something other than green.
            All these natural happenings are signaling the coming of berry season. A couple ripe raspberries were plucked a few days ago with many in the final stages. A friend shared she got her first cup of early blues (berries) from her favorite patch, with oodles more just days away.  I can almost smell the aroma  of fruits of the forest pies wafting from cabin kitchens through the pines.
            Berry time will also favor a gang of north woods growlers who will be equally grateful. Bet those bears can hardly wait to get off their sunflower seeds and garbage compost menus of the past few months.
            I hesitate to get too enthused, but it seems as though the biting surge of insects has backed off somewhat. It could happen, that hearing of my opinion, a news release via the “moccasin telegraph” will summon a second or third generation of mosquitoes to prove me wrong.
            A bear paid another visit to our deck while the Smiths were away. Apparently, Pappa or Momma bear was miffed at there being no goodies. It took a swipe at my grilling ashes collection can and knocked the lid off.
            The woolly one must have got into the dusty stuff with both forefeet, and I suspect, also got a good snoot full before it tramped across the rain-soaked deck, leaving big gray footprints. The trail of paw reproductions led to the edge of the deck where the animal either fell off or managed an acrobatic dismount. Being a rather inconsiderate woodsman, it definitely left a trace.
            There’s three red squirrels who have adopted me as their guardian for the past couple months, in spite of my not stocking the usual feeders. In order to minimize inviting bears, I scatter three small patches of seed on the ground away from the house.
             These miniature rodents are so enthused each day when I come outside, I’m often met at the door and they run into my wood shop where the supply can is located, prancing around like kids at Christmas. They are worse than little puppies, under foot to the point where I have to almost boot them out the door to avoid stepping on one.
            The handouts allocated are quickly consumed, leaving no trace to bring in the bears. If any seed morsels are missed, their chipmunk cousins are soon on the scene, cleaning up any scraps.
            It would seem the squirrely creatures might be big as bears since the threesome are about to finish off a second 50-pound bag of sunflower seeds since the warm season commenced. It probably won’t be long before stashing for winter will get under way, if it hasn’t already.
            Paddling is a way of life in these parts. Last week the Gunflint Trail Canoes Races took center stage and this week it’s the Dragon Boat Festival down on the harbor. Come and enjoy the weekend festivities beginning on Friday evening with race competition starting Saturday morning. It’ll be a fun time, and will benefit three worthy county nonprofits: the North Shore Health Care Foundation, North House Folk School and “THE” community radio station.
            Keep on hangin’ on, and savor some time on the Gunflint!
 


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