I’m back in the woods once more, great to be back at home sweet home. Thanks are extended to Rosey, that nosey pup, and her dad from over on Hungry Jack Lake for keeping you in tune with the Gunflint scoop during my absence.
The departure on my annual southern trek for a stint as a referee at the Drake Relays in Des Moines was a struggle at best following the big April 19 snow. What a turnaround, though, upon our return. The one-lane drive to get up and out of the Mile O Pine tunnel of white on April 20 was found to be back to brown earthy mud just eight days later. Finally, Old Man Winter seems to have lost his grip on this part of the world.
Since that time, a few days of pleasurable sunshine has the wilderness back on track toward real spring. There is plenty of snow yet to be melted, but the forest has taken on the look of a zillion Dalmatians, spots of winter and spring throughout, so there is growing optimism!
Nighttime temps are still dropping below the freezing mark as of this writing, so progress is slow with regard to our lake ice making its usual solid to liquid transition. It’s better than likely that the fishing opener this weekend will be a non-issue on most border country lakes. The time will come eventually, but it is anyone’s guess as to just when dipping a line from your boat in these parts might happen.
Meanwhile, the rites of our vernal season are starting to explode around us. Pussy willows have popped their husks, deciduous buds are swelling with pregnant expectations and the coniferous forest has perked up from its drab army green to sparkling emerald.
The rage of the woods, however, are torrents of water tumbling from mountains on high. The spirit of crystal clear liquid oozing from shrinking drifts and building into tumbling tunes, while rushing toward our inland seas, is harmony to the ears. We forest dwellers know full well that this means the beginning of replenishment for our drought depleted lake levels. Now all wishes are for the gods of precipitation not to forsake this territory in 2013.
Members of the wild neighborhood are experiencing their rituals of the season as well. In spite of the extended cold, I’ve observed several critters shedding winter garb. I saw a motley moose recently with only part of its shaggy coat remaining, and the same has been happening to the red rodents that frequent our feeding trough. Speaking further of furry folks, the snowshoe hares in our neighborhood have a bit of that Dalmatian look too, while one of those poultry-poaching pine martens came by with a molting masked-bandit look on its face.
A couple of seasonal sleepers have awakened too. Chipmunks have been skittering about the yard. Also observed is evidence that our black brunos have returned, ravenous as ever, with several overturned garbage cans down around the Gunflint Pines Resort. So I’ve judged myself to be smarter than the average bear and put my many winter critter feeding facilities into storage.
If all these routines aren’t enough, above the roar of gushing creeks and rivers, I hear the cheer of robins returned; happy tweeting from dozens of their avian cousins and the drumming of a hopeful grouse boy looking for a mate is but a prelude to our warm season concert series.
The buzzing season is also but a few warm days away. The first of our north woods airborne biting squadron found a landing place on my hand just a couple days ago. However, this skeeter’s reconnaissance flight fell short of any extended mission with my first swat of the New Year. Wildersmith one, biting savages nothing!
In spite of my fondness for winter, the best is yet to come knowing that with a better late than never sprouting of spring, rebirth of bounty in our natural world is unfolding before our eyes. Hip, hip hurrah!
On a closing note, hats off to organizers and dozens of Gunflint community volunteers who pulled off another splendid Ham Run Half Marathon/5K last Sunday morning. The sixth edition of the event went smooth as silk on a cold, mostly cloudy morning. Thanks go out to all the dedicated runners, too, for blessing the event with their presence.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the bloomin’ season ahead!
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