Wildersmith On The Gunflint July 29, 2009

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Ruby Throated Hummingbird

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As history books end the chapter on July, the drought gods have loosened their stranglehold on area precipitation allowances. It took the better part of seven days, but the Wildersmith neighborhood finally amassed nearly an inch and a half of liquid in the rain gauge. Other places in the territory got copious amounts, so dry creek beds are beginning to trickle again.

Unless a big change occurs before this coming weekend, the records will close on a month where the temperatures were quite cool and comfortable. This is a far cry from what memory serves about the past few years of July. So the moose and I are quite satisfied. Hope August follows suit!
Excitement has returned to the international nectar bottle hanging over my deck. Following the yearly disappearance act to continue the species, hummingbirds have returned. With empty tanks, they have been zipping about the white pine heavens anxiously awaiting their turn on a fill ‘er up perch. Seems hard to believe that in a few short weeks, they will be tuning up their GPS for the trip back to winter homes.
Blueberry pickers are beginning to explore their usual spots. I’m told that the berries are there, but first round selections have been somewhat skimpy. This latest allotment of rain will surely improve the chances for plumper pickin’ in a couple weeks.
As the nation celebrated the 40th anniversary of landing on the moon, we recently had a spectacular ‘looner’ landing of our own, right off the dock. It happened on one of those almost totally gray evenings.
A solitary loon had spent a good share of the skimpy sundown time cruising back and forth, diving occasionally for a school of finny on which to dine. Suddenly out of the eastern clouds came a wailing quartet of cousins. Winging like lightning to the western horizon, they were out of sight in no time at all.
The loner made no call to its airborne mates as they passed over, just continued paddling about. Minutes later, without the slightest warning, another loon swooped down from the ashen heavens.
Landing as gracefully as a 747, it taxied right up to the quiet drifter. Before settling in alongside of what must have been a soulmate, it stood up on its haunches and flexed those powerful wings as if to announce, ‘I’m back.’ The dapper couple was last seen steaming up the lake, diving in unison for what must have been a late-night supper. That was a real up-close ‘looner’ splashdown.
I don’t know how many generations of mosquitoes are hatched each season, but the last batch is the meanest, hungriest I’ve ever been exposed too. They don’t seem to be a big as some, leaving me to believe they are juveniles, and definitely have gang characteristics, coming at you in swarms any time of day or night. A good hard freeze can’t come soon enough to cool their blood-sucking heels.
The untamed menagerie in this special place continues to intrigue. The quick brown fox is ever bounding about the yard, bear sightings have picked up and a trip down the Mile O’ Pine a few days ago found tracks from both a wolf and a moose. With these critters all about, how can life be any wilder?
Concluding this week, it seems appropriate to end with the romance of another sundown. On a late day return from a Grand Marais excursion last weekend, we traveled along this Trail of enchantment to the tune of parting clouds and falling sun.
The walls of our forest tunnel were black as coal. Simultaneously, the glow from a kaleidoscopic sunset splattered through and around voluminous thunderheads to light up our ribbon of highway.
With Vegas-like neon edges around the billowing cloud masses, our way was illuminated in alluring excitement, fantasy and fascination. Another end to one more splendid day in the great northern forest!
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the coming of the blueberry moon.

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