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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 02

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Wildersmith Sign Only

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
April 2, 2021    

Back to the beautiful Gunflint woods after a first visit out of state in fifteen months. Following a couple winter like acts of the past week, it’s now April, no “fooling.”                                               

While I don’t know if this has any meaning, as to this time of the year, while shoveling from the weekend snow, a dark brown item appeared as my scoop passed by. I thought it must be a bit of lint off my apparel, but closer examination found it to be wooly caterpillar. Laying a finger close to the fuzzy critter, I nudged it, finding life as it coiled in reaction, no “April Fool” here. An anomaly  yes?                                                                                                             

The “wow” of the north woods was once again highlighted with a spectacular full, Ojibwe, “crust on the snow” moon, last weekend. The past few full lunar happenings in this neighborhood have occurred behind clouded skies. With clear skies this time, and on the “breast of new fallen snow” the “big cheese” cast near daylight, after dark, on objects below. If listeners weren’t up to see the late night landscape, you missed another Gunflint delight!                   

As winter sputters to an end, it has been mixed with enough spring teasing to open up occasions of mud. With the warmth of the past few days and April at hand, I would declare “mud” season is now official. Such is most noticed along back country roads and on vehicles traveling them. I will just concede to driving the dirt colored vehicle until green-up commences.       

On our trips south toward the village, we are always on the look-out for an experience having never before observed, and it usually happens. This trek was no exception.                                

Our attention was suddenly captured as we approached the Trail intersection with Birch Lake Road. For those not familiar, this is near the location of the Christmas season sentinel cared for by the good folks on Birch Lake.                                                                                                    

For some reason the magnificent, lonesome pine was lit up, twinkling like it was December. Wondering as we neared, what could be going on, had the lighting crew slipped a belt?                                                                                                                                                              
It was soon discovered “old Sol” had risen into an exact position, sending rays into the crystal luminaries, and giving off the appearance, of their being energized by man.                            

While the symbols of light to the world are beautiful after the dark, they seemed more awe-inspiring with enabling from the sun. Sparkling like pearls of dew or rain drops after a morning shower, the solitary scene was akin to a starlit heaven only here on earth. What a refreshing encounter on a bright cheery morning!                                                                                               

Having been out of the territory for a week, our return out the Byway was equally exciting although there was nothing physically observable. As we trekked through the pines, along still snow covered ditches, it was just a “hard to explain,” spirit of the Trail that seemed to reach out with a welcome. So magical and reverent!                                                                                

It was not until we pulled into the driveway and stepped out of the vehicle when we were greeted by a Mile O Pine reality, welcome wagon. I don’t have an official descriptor for a group of squirrels, but there was an excited gang on hand.                                                                        

While the little rodent folk can be annoying at times, it kind of warms one’s heart even though you know they are not really interested in your return, so much as they know, you will be opening the feed bin.                                                                                                                           

Nevertheless, the quiet of the forest was interrupted with excited chatter as they scampered madly about, and into the wood shop where the goodies are kept. I had a devil of a time shooing them out, until I grabbed a handful of seeds to lure them back into the out of doors. Boy, am I well trained!                                                                                                                       

In closing, the border territory is now playing the April waiting game. Waiting for snow to melt, ice to go out, rain to fall, mud to dry, green to come, flowers to sprout, animal babies to be born and the annual re-birth of Gunflint adventures.                                                                          

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every North woods day has a unique splendor!