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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 5, 2019

What's for Lunch photo by Per via Flickr.jpg
What's for Lunch photo by Per via Flickr.jpg

April 5, 2019     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith      April 5, 2019    
Week one of April in the Wildersmith neighborhood is nearly eclipsed, and it’s hard telling what our north woods atmosphere will be like when this report comes on the air. The last weekend of March found the advance of spring stymied along the Trail.                                                         

Folks up this way awoke Saturday morning to a surprise visit from “old man winter.”  Just when many were hoping his spring break would be extended, two inches of white had been delivered to freshen up the forest. A dose of cold kept the new blanket intact for a couple days where the sun couldn’t reach, and then more of the wet white stuff came through earlier this week.                                                                                                                                                                                       
It’s a good bet spring will regain a grip sooner rather than later. In the meantime, there is still a good foot or so of winter wonder left around this place in the woods.                                                         

While all this happens, Trail businesses for the most part, are taking a well-deserved break. It’s the “shoulder season” where catching their breath with a brief vacation helps them re-up for the onslaught of summer visitors.                                                                                                                                                              

The Smith’s confirmed another rite of the Vernal season a few days ago when we spotted a momma fox. It’s a little early for her kits to be out with her, but her sagging under side gave her away as being in a motherly state. On a related note, this foxy critter was not the one who has been visiting the Smith yard during the past fall and winter.                                           

While, the ground we navigate at this time of year is trying to rid itself of those frozen crystals, our blacktop moguls along the Trail are not showing much change. Maybe it’s a little early to expect them to level up, but folks traveling the By-way on a daily basis must be tiring of those jaw-jarring jolts. All have to be thankful the County Highway Dept. has flagged them as a warning. Nevertheless, even taking these dips at slow speed can bounce you pretty good, but this ritual will pass as does other ordeals of melting season.                                                         

Another passage of animal lore from forty-nine degrees north is shared from our deck side feeding trough. To give you a little background, over the years I’ve been saving grease drippings from the kitchen. They are drained into empty 14-ounce food cans until the unit is filled, then frozen for use during the winter.                                                                                                                        

I developed a method of attaching the can to the deck rail where it is available to any hungry visitor on a first come first serve basis. Every wild being from chickadees to fishers have enjoyed a little fat at one time or another, often when some “lardy” is needed during our sub-zero nights.                                                                                                                                                                                   
While this has gone on for some time now, in their wild exuberance, during the pecking, licking and pawing at the can they have warn the connecting rig. This happening allows the can to work loose occasionally resulting in pilfering of the whole can as it nears an empty level.              

In an effort to quell this larceny, I found wedging shims of wood around the can base works fairly well in securing things, most of the time. However, when the snow is finally gone, I sometimes find a few empties between the deck and the lake.                                                                                                                                                               
With all this background lead up, I put my last can of fatty delectable out about twilight time one day last week. Of course in a matter of moments, there were a few takers before sundown.  One of these visitors was a large crow. After watching this ebony beauty gulp a beak full and depart, the chapter ended, at least for the evening.                                                                             

Next morning, my first gaze out the window found the can gone from its mounting, nowhere to be seen. A trip outside later found no sign of the tin on the ground either. Obviously, some visitor figured out the shimming scheme, left shims on the deck, and absconded with the goodies container to parts unknown.                                                                                                                                                                              

My suspects point to the crow or perhaps one of the neighborhood pine martens. I’m guessing it would be quite a task for the crow to fly off with that can in its beak, or in the clutches of its’ feet, but who knows, they are pretty crafty. Seeing such take place would have been an entertaining observation.                                                                                                                               

Then again, I’ve observed martens a time or two with their heads down in one of those cans, often even struggling to get it back off over its ears, so maybe one of these is the guilty party.                                                                                                                                                                                      
Now, for a lack of evidence, investigation of this vittles disappearance is shelved, but I’m still scratching my head in amazement. Whatever the case whoever got the oily treat was likely blessed with happiness at least momentarily and/or even a belly ache, if it consumed the whole of the contents.                                                                                                                                                                         

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as the “tug of war” between winter and spring lingers on!