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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - December 31

Wildersmith Let it Snow
Wildersmith Let it Snow

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
January 1, 2021    


We have quietl  opened a new volume  of life  in the north woods and all over the planet for that matter. Turning the page to chapter one finds us hitching our hopes to an abundance… of new directions along happy trails.  May 2021 become a bold new year with courage… to re-kindle love and respect for all earthly beings.                                                                                    

As we passed the holiday blitz last week those dreaming of a white Christmas in this territory had dreams come true in a big way. To the delight of those in snow business “the great spirit of the north” dished up a long awaited, batch of fluff.                                      

Amounts may have varied in different locales of border country but it seems the base line was a foot. As the storm tapered the usual northwest gales kicked in making for blizzard conditions and bitter subzero temps for a couple nights.                                                                            

At Wildersmith and likely other places along southern shorelines a goodly amount of snow on lake ice ended up on land, and in my case, in the yard. So drifting around the house and buildings was cause for removal concern.                                                                                             

Clearing the two to four foot windblown hard pack fifty feet from house to the woodshop took well over an hour. But then again, being of time-honored years, I neither hurried nor strained. The same strategy was maintained cleaning the driveway which took two days with shovel plow blade and snow blower.                                                                                     

January can be a brute, but activities that go along with snow are now full speed ahead. Cross country ski trails are being blitzed with swoosh enthusiasts. The snow base is deep enough to really snow shoe and the howl of snow mobiles will soon whine through the forest trail system. In fact, I just heard the first snowmobile scream up the lake as I’m keying this report.                                                                                                                                                   

Due to the recent snowy insulator application, lake ice has become messy with slush. It will not be suitable for some forms of vehicular travel, and no doubt the quality ice for skating has taken a hit, but foot traffic should be OK with cautions.  With the trout opener a couple weeks away, we need some long term serious cold to firm things back up.                                       

While the Trail residents I know remain strict followers of COVID safe living recommendations, we have many opportunities to observe daily routines of our “wild neighborhood” folk.                                                                                                                                        

A mysterious happening occurred down the road a few days ago. A hovering air bourn critter appeared on a trail cam over a critter feeding table. The being did not fly like a bird, but landed and departed vertically like a drone. At first guess it was thought to have been a bat, but that is yet to be confirmed, thinking bats must be in hibernation. The residents are trying to find expertise who might confirm what they were seeing.                                                            

Like many other holed up Gunflinters, I have plenty of time for contemplation these days. I find critter watching of considerable intrigue. I wonder sometimes what some of these wild beings might be thinking as they perch on a tree branch, fly by the window, scramble around  the deck, zip across the yard or meander down the road.                                                                      

While we humans have self-appointed our species as the supreme beings of creation with ability to think and reason, research concludes the populous of the animal world also have innate abilities to resolve issues critical to their daily existence t. Animal cognition for some species may not be as complex as the human species, but nevertheless is the basis for ecological meaning and survival of all living beings.                                                                                                 

I’m often curious as to what the little red breasted nuthatch is thinking while perched, waiting for an opportunity at the seed terminal; or a grouse browsing along a border country path; or what a red squirrel is thinking  when its cousin is about to contest a position at the table; or the pine marten when it’s spooked by an overhead raptor; or a lone wolf as it trots down the lake ice; or a moose when it wanders down the trail ahead of my vehicle, refusing to yield half the road.                                                                                                                                                       

Further wonderment arises as to what they may be thinking as we gawk at them. Do you suppose they might wonder about some of the decisions we make? There are no dumb animals as we might speculate. “In fact, they are not that different than we humans.” “Animal-kind have families and feelings too” (Nguyen).                                                                            

Like we humans, some members of the “wild neighborhood” are gifted more than others. It seems we ought to be giving our best efforts to show greater respect for the sustenance of their existence. Well, I was just thinking!                                                                                 

For WTIP, this Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is beautiful in the great white North!