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Wildersmith On The Gunflint Dec. 17, 2009

Wildersmith_20091218.mp39.01 MB

T’was the week before Christmas, and all through the forest, Winter has finally settled before us! 

Since the first of December, it’s as if someone just flipped a switch, and the fall season was gone. With a warmer-than-usual November spoiling us, the last lap of 2009 grabbed a hold and folks out this way have been shocked back to reality.

Last week, the north woods territory missed a big snowstorm as it passed to the south, blessing folks that really don’t give a hoot about it. Meanwhile, out in these Arrowhead hinterlands, where folks relish the stuff, we are always thankful for even the smallest of snow miracles. The half foot of white that covers the ground in border country remains as pristine as the days that it fell, and the mercury is assuredly keeping it that way.

Most recent days have been in the normal month-12 deep freeze. A few of them saw the thermometer hang out below the zero mark during daytime hours, and one morning, we saw minus 19 at Wildersmith along with a flaming cold sunrise sky.

Yes, the coldest day yet, and winter’s first day is still on the horizon. With Gunflint residents in the snowscape, we are trembling with excitement to get it on!

Jack Frost has expanded his brushwork on lakeside greenery along the south shore of Gunflint. Striking spears of frozen crystal have grown to such voluminous proportions that pine boughs are drooping under the weight. And on the leafless deciduous branches around the yard, frothy spikes have built up to as much as 1 inch in length.

With brisk winds keeping the big lakes in rolling turmoil, ice-making on them has been stifled for the time being. The Gunflint gal began to put on her coat last Saturday as the wind calmed a bit. But, by next morning, Old Man Winter was whistling in from the northwest once again, and the skim was buffeted away.

The ice on smaller lakes, however, is still in the thickening process. Some ice-covered bodies may be approaching the safe-to-walk-on stage, but caution is still advised for those hard-water fishing folks who have been waiting anxiously since the first of the month. 

A fisherman friend of mine reports that his favorite early-season spot was only frozen to 3+ inches as of last Sunday. Obviously the meager snow cover is insulating against the freezing process more than one would think, because the temps have been just right.

A couple old friends stopped by the yard last week. It was refreshing to see that they had not fallen prey to the hungry wolf pack or caught a hunter’s slug.

I awoke one morning to find a pair of old bucks lying in the yard where they’ve been coming for years to get their handout of maize. One of the two was already void of his pointed crown, while the other was in the process, carrying just a half rack. Since then, several others have moseyed through and glanced in the windows.

The frosty snow-covered balsam branches adjacent to our deck have acted in concert with the flashy pine grosbeaks and those ornery blue jays to provide a strikingly patriotic red, white and blue backdrop for winter viewing.

I’ve noticed that the winged folks of the neighborhood have seemed doubtful about dawn during the frigid lingering darkness these mornings. Guess they don’t like getting out of bed either on cold mornings. However, when they finally start flitting about from branch to branch, the colorful birds add a splendid accent to the pureness of our winter season.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a Solstice thought!