The overture toward winter stalled out since we last met on the radio, and those in the upper Gunflint that have been in despair about the gray skies of the past weeks are smiling once again.
Beginning last weekend, Trail folks have experienced some glorious days. The cheery sunshine has allowed the few of us still here to be outdoors puttering with some last minute chores. For me it has been tree/shrub pruning (to assist the deer) and putting up some additional firewood for the cold season of 2010 and 2011.
With temps in the 40s to near 50 in some parts, the skim of ice on ponds along the Trail has relinquished their delicate crinkles. So that process will have to begin anew. When Old Man Winter decides to finally put the clamps on us, that should not take too long, as the waters are already quite cold.
I feel confident that the warmth of last weekend made conditions for deer hunters less than ideal. There was probably a lot of sweating with all those layers of orange and camouflage. The deer must have been widely scattered, they too enjoying the unseasonable weather.
This wilderness paradise is always fairly quiet, but right now the decibel reading is pretty much zero. Noises in the neighborhood currently consist of an occasional gust of wind, some avian chirping or an ornery squirrel chattering “what for” to a nosey pine marten. Oh yes, we might also here the crack of a hunter’s rifle. Silence is admittedly deafening.
There’s a buzz of activity though down at Gunflint Lodge, as workers have been busy cleaning up the charred cabin remains. It would appear that it won’t be too long until reconstruction gets underway. Other than that, doings of mankind are barely noticeable.
With little news to report on the people front, observations of natural changes about the forest are ongoing. Many fundamental happenings are so gradual that we don’t even notice them, yet, an eye to the sky or an ear to the ground often provides one with wonderful insights about things easily missed during our busy lives.
Watchful gazing by yours truly during the last several days has brought to mind memories of seasons past that were buried deep in my database. One example of such is the ominous retreat of Sol into the southern hemisphere that suddenly has sunrises and sunsets spotlighting northern lakeshores. Concurrently, a trip along the Trail or down any back country road displays many shadowed places where sunshine will no longer be gracing them for the next few months.
In further scrutiny of the north woods, the color palette of just a few short weeks ago has muted into various tones of beige to brown. The only vivid colors noticeable are clumps of crimson berries on denuded mountain ash trees and, at ground level, the deep blue of juniper berries and an occasional scarlet wintergreen fruit.
If one has an artistic awareness for textures, the forest floor is now a myriad of tawny needles to contemplate. Year-old skewers of white, red and jack pine, eclectic white cedar fronds, spruce and balsam leaflets and a final top dressing of tamarack quills mark the end of another coniferous growing season. The newly re-carpeted landscape leaves me a bit overwhelmed, being witness to such a plush accumulation that has been occurring for thousands of years. You just have to step on it to fully appreciate!
So if you’re thinking that northern nature is pretty somber right now, the eyes of this beholder find samples of beauty in even the simplest of creations. In fact, as the lyric of an old song goes, “everything is beautiful…in its own way,” validation is given to all elements of life in border country woods at this time. And soon, another season of white will be spreading its delight!
In a final note, this WTIP volunteer wants to offer my thanks to all listeners, web readers and streamers for supporting the fundraising effort of this past weekend. It goes without saying that we are all very proud of the enthusiastic community connection that this tiny radio station has inspired both locally and worldwide in its first 10 years. Let us all work to keep it going for decades to come!
Keep on hangin on, and savor a precious wilderness moment at any time!