Wildersmith October 15

Tamarack
Tamarack

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 After a pleasantly cool September most days of October have been considerably warmer than normal. In that vein, it has been so warm that those nasty bitin’ flies have been reborn. Hopefully, we are in for only a brief time of red welts and swatting--boy are they obnoxious!

 
Reflecting on last year at this time: We had measurable snow on the ground out this way. What a difference a year makes, or for that matter…a few days.
 
It’s tamarack time on the Gunflint. In a quick seven days the upper Trail has jumped to the final coloring phase of autumn.
 
 The departure of birch and aspen gold from them “thar hills” went way too fast as their buttery tokens dropped like rain.
 
All that remains is the aurous lace of Tamarack needles to accent our wilderness world. And beautiful they are, blooming like nighttime beacons against the drab lifeless background of a forest gone to rest.
 
Now a zillion wilderness skeletons are lurking in shorter day shadows, naked until next June. All we need in prelude to the coming Halloween season is some of those ghostly clouds to drift down to tree top level, and things will be set for a spooky next couple weeks.
 
A trip to the end of the Trail last Sunday found me in awe of what you presently observe at ground level. The brush is leafless for the most part, revealing some wonderful new growth patches of jack pine on land that has been left so forlorn after the Ham Lake fire in 2007.
 
It’s hard to believe that in three short years since that blistering tragedy Mother Nature has so hastily taken over, healing some of the scars with smiles of green. Some of those baby jacks already look to be one to two feet tall.
 
It would be nice though if the old natural gal would give her new babies a drink. Once again the territory has fallen under another spell with no precip. I hate to mention it, but Gunflinters still hanging out can’t help but be nervous with the summer green having turned to brown that is crunchy dry. It makes one wonder if this drought will ever end.
 
Forest conditions are somewhat nerve racking at this time, just as they are before green-up in the springtime. Of particular concern is that most wildfire sprinkler systems have been winterized, including those of yours truly and the close-by neighbors. Although my system could be reactivated quickly, it is hoped that some serious wet weather systems will soon answer the call.
 
Speaking of water and wildfire sprinklers, I was in the Gunflint Lake liquid this past Saturday to bring in system pump lines. I don’t have a thermometer in the water right now but man, was it chilling. Ice season is still a few weeks away for the Gunflint Gal, but the cold on my hands felt much the same as it does when the system is re-installed after ice out in the spring…brrrrr and ouuuch!
 
After a summer absence, my whiskey jacks have come home. I’m guessing that it’s the same couple, as they sure know the old routine: “Listen for the house door to open, make a mad flight for the woodshop door, and hang out until that old guy gets the feed bag out.” Then they’re on hand for a treat.
 
And another old friend has returned as well. One of those pine martens has re-appeared after pulling a disappearing act over the summer. It has made a couple visits in the past few days, so I guess it’s time to start putting out the poultry parts that have been taking up space in the deep freeze. Hummm…how do I do this without bringing in the bears? Very carefully!
 
So all is good here at Wildersmith…keep on hangin’ on and savor a dwindling autumn!

Airdate: October 15, 2010


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