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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - Dec 18

Wildersmith Let it Snow
Wildersmith Let it Snow

Wildersmith on the Gunflint    by     Fred Smith
December 18, 2020    

After tinkering with winter since October, the past few days have taken on more consistent character for the season. Although temps are nearing normal for December, another week has passed with but a skiff of white in this neighborhood.                                                                   

Maybe “old man winter” has just decided to finally turn things down a notch in anticipation of his ceremonial introduction with the “Solstice” this coming Monday. We snow season lovers would have liked more than his October tease during recent weeks, but we’ll gladly accept his full-time presence now to get things in order for the northland experience.           

Speaking of the Solstice, it will be a star gazers delight if skies are clear. Each night until then, Jupiter and Saturn will be gathering in closer proximity to each other rising to a crescendo in the Christmas Star.  It should be a splendid show under our northland dark skies.                        
At last the Gunflint Lake made hard water. Saturday night into Sunday morning found our first sub-zero reading in concert with calm air along Gunflint shores. The atmospheric combination put “old gal” into ice making mode.                                                                                                

So the official “ice on” date is declared for December 13th. With the warmth of the past five or six weeks, it is surprising this lake ended up freezing right around the average date of years past.                                                                                                                                               

Unless warmth and wind interfere again, there’ll be no more small talk ripples and ruffian rollers dashing the shoreline granite ‘til May. In the meantime, conversations will soon switch to grumpy growling and screeches as the icy coat makes alterations for a long winters’ fit.                                                                                                                                                              
Our annual Gunflint Lake ice making event brought out the master of hoar frost for the second consecutive weekend. “Old Jack” dipped his brush into the steamy cauldron and frescoed shores of our International border in crystal magic. How splendid was the lacy forest décor that hung on for a few days under his icy grip.                                                                            

One good thing can be said for our abnormally long warm spell. It saved several weeks’ worth of fire wood from consumption. However, for us residents of the “wild land, many of us romanticize the comfy ambiance of a fire in the wood stove or fireplace.                                                        

So for the time being, spirits at Wildersmith are being uplifted. As I key this weeks’ report while sitting next to warmth from my black stove wood burner, I’m consumed in cheery essence of the season at hand.                                                                                                   

Our neighborhood along the Mile O Pine is the usual calm and quiet. A few neighbors have arrived for the holidays, but they remain socially holed up and seldom seen. Except for chirps, chatter, tweets and an occasional pop from freezing tree bark, the only chitchat is blowing in the wind. The long stillness in the forest is a season frozen in time.                               

The Smith’s did have a little excitement along the outdoor cafeteria rail a couple days ago. A race for life erupted as a marten caught a squirrel off guard. Fortunately for the squirrel, it was the victor this time, escaping by a tails length leap to safety, up a nearby white pine. Apparently the marten favored chicken this time and aborted the blurring sprint.                                    

Time has flown by so quickly for some, during these COVID times, but has been distressingly agonizing for millions. It is hard to believe we are into Hanukkah and a week away from Christmas, while the last segment of a tragic year is in sight. This being recognized, I wish everyone health and happiness during what remains of 2020.                                                                      

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is fabled and mesmerizing,  in natural world mystery!  Happy Holidays!