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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 20, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       April 20.2018   
Starting this weeks’ Gunflint scoop, one would think “old man winter” must have forgotten to turn-out the lights and/or left the door ajar as he departed for his spring/summer vacation.  As I’m keying this weeks’ news, the “grizzly geezer” made an about turn and returned to take care of matters.       
He has resurfaced with a blustery vengeance, although not hitting the Gunflint with the same snow maker fury as places farther south of border country. Nevertheless, howling winds and horizontal snow brings back memories of January.    
In spite of the late season madness, there’s still something magic about falling flakes. Once again the Smiths’ were captured in beautiful white fantasia while returning from the village last Sunday afternoon. At almost the same moment, both of us spoke to the romance of driving through our pine halls as boughs were being re-decked, even knowing it’s likely just for a short time. Call us a little nutty but “ya can’t help but love it!”    
During my daily runs down the Mile O Pine, and prior to the latest dropping, I appraised the Mile O Pine landscape as perhaps reflecting a “tale of two seasons.” Such is perceived as the rays of sunlight have been beaming at the southern exposure of windrowed snow along the north side of the road, providing a declaration of spring. Day after day since March, those white mounds have been gnawed away to almost nothing a good distance back into the woods.  
Whereas looking one hundred eighty degrees in the opposite direction, one finds the plowed banks in the coniferous shade, protected from “Sols’ power, still pure white and frozen waist high and more. 

Some might proclaim my appraisal as a bit of a stretch, but “a tale of two seasons” is a natural reality in this time of our struggling weather transition. It is snow today gone tomorrow just wait twenty-four hours.

Reports of “wild neighborhood” critters moving about come from several sources over the past few days. Three species of the canid variety have made impromptu arrivals in the Gunflint Lake area. A wolf darted in front of my vehicle one evening, while a coyote or coyotes have been making any number of visits along the south shore.  

Meanwhile, a fox was digitally captured by the lady of the Wildersmith house in the beautiful woods to our east. The scene was recorded following a successful predator/prey episode with one of the neighborhood squirrels. She didn’t actually observe the stalk/chase and catch, just the aftermath, as the fox stood over its’ late day snack. Foxy eventually carried the prize off into the woods.   
Obviously, the rodent didn’t realize hunting season for its species is open year around. See the fox and its catch alongside my Wildersmith website posting on, scrolling down on the Community Voices column.   

Over the past several days, I’ve seen several of those “Minnesota Chicken birds” officially known as Grouse. Guess the winter and predators have not ravaged all of them.   
On a closing note from animal kingdom around Wildersmith, the Smiths’ were delighted on a recent afternoon with an extended visit from a pine marten. The roan fur ball dined at the feeder, then succumbed to some warm sunshine and curled up on the threshold of its’ dining quarters for what turned out to be a long nap. This is highly unusual as their skittish nature has them spooked by even the slightest wilderness commotion.    
After snoozing and lounging around for the better part of a couple hours, even allowing a couple photo ops, it headed off into the treetops. Our furry friend returned later for a poultry dinner treat as the sun settled in the west. Every day can dish up an un-expected “wild woods treat”, one just has to be in the right place at the right time.                                                                                                                                                                      
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as we close out the first month of our winter/spring theatrics.