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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 19, 2019

Crystal Icicle_JLS Photography-Alaska.jpg
Crystal Icicle_JLS Photography-Alaska.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
April 19, 2019 
Month four is screaming by as we celebrate the “Maple Sugar Moon” in the north woods. While atmospheric conditions in April can be unpredictable, it looks as though things may have settled into a more tolerable state heading into this weekend.                                                                           

Following the near miss of that so called “bomb cyclone” along the Gunflint Trail, it is possible we’ve seen winters’ last gasp. Whereas the Village had a more intense experience with the snow and violent winds, we up at end of the Trail escaped the brunt with two to four snowy inches and minimal wind activity. I guess we should count ourselves blessed with not too much winter hysteria this time around.                                                                                                                                                                                     

At the same time, this neighborhood and others in the upper Trail territory enjoyed the beauty of white ecstasy for a couple days as “Mother Nature” put a band aid on springs’ naked unsightliness. Sadly, we are starting all over again with renewed melting. Just when there were a few dry spots taking over on back country roads, we are back into squishy going again.                                                  

Speaking of melting, as the area heads toward the month’s last segment, folks are talking of lake ice. During the warmth of March, it looked as though ice would not last too long. But with winter raising its hackles over the past three weeks, one cannot be too sure just when “Sky Blue Waters” will be dashing our shores. Here on Gunflint Lake, we’ve even made some ice a few mornings in the last two weeks.                                                                                                        

Some walleye anglers have expressed concern area lakes might remained locked up on opening day, May 10. It seems doubtful to yours truly, although remembering last year the ice went out on the Gunflint gal the morning of opener. So it does, and has happened before that fisher people are nudging ice out of the way to dip a line.                                                                           

While I have yet to hear of any ursine encounters out this way, one has to wonder if on the occasional sunny days, Bruno’s aren’t rubbing the sleep from their eyes. If they woke up over the past weekend however, and stuck their heads out to falling snow, perhaps they went back to bed. In any event, I’ve begun to curtail some of my seed distribution just for good measure, and urge neighbors to do the same                                                                                                                                                

As I mentioned our occasional warm sunny days, it seems buds on some of the Aspen and Birch are bulging with excitement, then on a day when we’ve held at or below freezing they don’t appear as puffy about the goings-on.                                                                                                                                           
 I did see some pussy willow buds along the Trail near the South Brule River Bridge last week. One might wonder if the gray pearls aren’t thankful the creator blessed them with warm fuzzy coats during our recent winter interlude.                                                                                                                    
I have yet to see any robins in this neighborhood, but folks in town mention they have arrived. On another avian note, recently I got a kick out of a quartet of visiting Crows, following the new snow. Talk about contrast, the scene was as stark black and white as nature could bring into being.                                                                                                                                                                     

A couple ebony beauties were rooting through the snow in search of sustenance remains. Plowing along the feed trough, they came up seemingly annoyed with globs of white stuck to their beaks. Apparently out of sorts with their white snoots, there was considerable shaking all about, and conversation from their brothers /sisters, perhaps teasing them.                                    

In closing, while the deciduous members of the northern forest are a ways from waving their green hellos, the coniferous family is rapidly turning their winter drab to brighter energizing summer shades. It’s more than noticeable on a day of sunshine.                                                   

And speaking of our forest sentinels, it’s pretty easy to take them for granted when there are uncounted zillions as far as the eye can see. I had the pleasure of reading an article in the spring periodical of the National Wildlife Federation on the critical things trees do for our eco-system. I have been aware of some, however, the author and researchers made several points I had never considered.  It is suggested reading, either online or in the library, and will provide evermore reverence to your future walks in the woods.                                                                                                                         

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, regardless of our worldly turmoil!