Wildersmith on the Gunflint: September 13

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The Gunflint corridor is at the halfway point of month nine.  That in mind, I pause at the thought of kicking off my 13th year of reflecting on weekly Trail happenings and commentary.

Who would have thought I’d carry on for a dozen years bearing the news about the Gunflint? Much less than I’d be treading in the footprints of that eloquent icon of this wilderness, Justine Kerfoot, who reported for decades.  Whew, my, how time flies, and what an honor it is being blessed with so many cordial readers and listeners.

The wilderness atmosphere has been reasonably mellow for the past seven segments. We cooled a bit and then warmed for a couple days before settling back into a typical mid-September north woods feel.

As I finalized this keyboard exercise for today’s release, the upper Trail received some much needed rain. Moisture deliveries had been almost nonexistent, and the territory’s earth had become crispy dry from the previous allotment until this past Monday’s dose.
It would appear that the natural fireworks set off during the thunderstorms of a weekend ago did not kindle any announced fire activity. Thank goodness!

As the neighborhood critters are getting serious about pre-winter chores, most of us year-round border country folks are into getting ready for our cold season too. Yours truly has already checked a couple things off my list with lingering thoughts of just how much longer I can wait to do some others.

Several of our snowbird friends and neighbors have put away the boat, pulled in the docks, battened cabin hatches and set their GPS gear for southerly latitudes. Meanwhile those of us hangers-on are sitting pat, anxiously waiting for the next adventure. Maybe we’ll get an early arrival of the great northern express.

Bear activity is edging nearer to the Wildersmith place as one “sleek monster of the Mile O Pine midway” was seen cruising down a neighbor’s driveway. A younger version also crossed the Smiths’ path during one of our down-the-road excursions.  

I was amused as it stood at the side of the road looking first one way and then the other before crossing. It kind of reminded me of youngsters heading off to into another school year, which also happened in these parts last week.

During one of several trips up to the Chik-Wauk Museum site over the past week, I had occasion to come across a dashing red fox. Although it appeared thin and lanky, I was impressed at the fullness of its coat and, more so, its fluffy white-tipped tail. We can only imagine how cuddly that’s going to feel wrapped around Mr./Ms. fox on a frozen silent night in the not-too-distant future.

The autumn color transition seems to have stalled out in the past few days. Perhaps that is because Mother Nature couldn’t seem to make up her mind on which way the weather should go. A few red fringes are beginning to tip our maple leaves, while only slight pigment changes are happening to the birch and aspen, and many are simply drying up and falling off. I’m still feeling that by the time this scoop reaches you, we’ll be seeing a big change as the daylight minutes are rapidly giving way to darkness heading into the due west sunset next week.

The last wild roses of summer are long gone, gone to hips every one. And only a smidgen of wild blossoms are hanging in there, that being goldenrod and those invasive tansies. There are, however, vivid patches of blue or lavender decorating back country road sides. I’m making reference to a great year for wild asters. These hardy blooms are twinkling as the last bastion of our wild flower season, and most are as deeply tinted as I’ve seen them in years.

About the only berries of color remaining are the striking fruit of the mountain ash trees. These stand out like the proverbial sore thumb… that is, if the bears in your neighborhood have not made a harvest visit.

A gal from up at the end of the Trail did however, report finding a swell patch of late blues last weekend. Guess her bucket was filled to the point of providing two late season fresh blueberry pies. How could the bears have missed these?

Keep on hangin’ on and savor northern blue skies shining on you!


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