Wildersmith July 30

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The “full buck” moon has passed over our northern paradise, and month eight is but days away. Summer is zipping by at an alarming rate. And although we are only six weeks into the official season, there are subtle signs of fall already happening along back country roads.
 
A couple maple trees along the Mile O’ Pine have noticed the decline of daylight minutes and have commenced with chlorophyll reduction. In another location, a few moose maples are turning orange-red with seedpods of the most beautiful crimson. And lastly, wild rose hips are brilliant scarlet to a deep maroon as they wait on some frosty morning to set themselves for harvest.
 
Speaking of harvest, the green thumb of Loon Lake tells me that she is already harvesting ripe tomatoes and green beans are coming on. Guess that this should be expected with her expertise and the unusual early start to the northern growing season.
 
The atmospheric conditions along the Trail continue to be marvelous. Another weekly rain kept the forest lush and wildfire danger in a reduced state. But we woodsy folks are still waiting for enough rains to fill the watershed so that streams start running and lake levels are given an upward boost.
 
For the first time this summer, something has perturbed the mosquito population.
 
Without warning hordes of the hungry bloodsuckers erupted in the north woods last weekend. So in spite of the wonderful days, being outside at almost any time of day found folks either swatting furiously, slathered in bug dope or covered in netting. In my opinion, these little stingers are worse than the late spring onslaught of black flies.
 
Suddenly there is more than kinfolk competition at border country hummingbird oasis. Some folks over on Loon Lake report that bumblebees are swarming about their nectar bottles. Obviously more aggressive than those green hummers, the black and gold buzzers are making it difficult for the dainty birds to spend much time nourishing themselves.
 
At our Wildersmith drinking station, it has not been as intense from a bee standpoint. A few honey-type bees have been around, but this has not slowed what seems like a million arrivals every day.
 
I watched with interest recently, when one of the tiny birds dipped its beak 20 times for a slurp of sweet juice. One would wonder how it could avoid a slam to the deck below after gorging itself…but it soon made a mad dash back into the forest. 
 
Not long ago I was told a bear story that may be the topper of all time. It seems that a Gunflint Lake west end resident was having difficulty with a bear trashing bird feeders. Rather than succumb to the bear and just take the feeders down, a light came on with regard to rigging up a rope/pulley system from deck rail to a nearby tree where the feeder could be cranked out away from the bear’s reach. It must have been along the line of what a camper might do to store a food pack overhead between two trees.
 
The system was fabricated, thinking that Bruno was now outsmarted. It was not long however, that the resident looked out the window to see the bear perched on the deck railing. Believe it or not, here was the hungry black critter cranking in the feeder paw after paw.
 
One has to wonder if the bear was somewhere close, watching and learning as the human part of this equation operated his invention, or maybe Mr./Ms. Bear was operating on a higher level of engineering intelligence than we might give credit. And we thought the Hamm’s bear of yesteryear canoeing the Seagull-Sag Lake area was smart.
 
I’m told that a tap on the window startled the bear and it nearly fell off the deck, catching itself at the last moment by its mighty front claws. Pulling itself back up, a second knock on the window sent it scrambling away.
 
Another chapter is probably in the offing, as I’m guessing that it’s back to the drawing board in an attempt to prove man superior to beast…we’ll see. Stay tuned. Meanwhile the bear’s current fancy is probably focused on fruits of the forest.
 
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a forest experience.
 
Airdate: July 30, 2010

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