Listen Now
Pledge Now


Wildersmith on the Gunflint - December 7, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       
December 7, 2018    

Back at the keyboard again, I’m contemplating a week into month twelve with the lights of year 2018 beginning to dim. It seems we’ve rounded the corner into December way too soon. In spite of the year heading off into oblivion, the Gunflint Trail has a radiance extending our “Biboon” (winter) landscape brightly toward the New Year.                                                                                          

A couple of light snow droppings over the past week have magnified spirits for us lovers of wintertime. The forest is decked out in its’ seasonal best, so incredibly beautiful, it’s a gift beyond words.                                                                                                                                                                               

The accumulation of snow, to date, is not heaped too deep but is just enough to encourage area cross country ski operations. I’m told most all ski trails in the Gunflint system are packed and even a couple have done a little tracking where the base allows. Another six to twelve inches will have things in prime swooshing condition.                                                                                 

As of this scribing, my early season snow measurements for this neighborhood total sixteen inches, although some of the total has come and gone while “old man winter” was getting his cold act together over the last couple weeks.                                                                                                      

Meanwhile, temps early last week gave our Gunflint Lake gal the idea she might get under her winter cover. It looked as though we might have an early ice on. Winds were calm and the old gal skimmed about a third of a mile across.                                                                          
Then, as things often happen, the “great spirit of the north” exhaled with a huffy bluster, and a day or so later the first crinkling of hard water disappeared. So our icy waters are dashing shores once again.                                                                                                                                                                              

From what I can find out, Gunflint Lake and Saganaga are the only lakes with open water at the moment. All others are locked up for the next several months. However, it should be expected, safe ice is still in question.                                                                                                                                

I’m hearing a few gripes about the gloomy skies of the last couple of months. In fact, I overheard one longtime local say he was getting out of the wilderness to see if he could find sunshine somewhere.                                                                                                                                                                     

Then another fellow mentioned he’s never seen it so dark, seems like he’s driving off into a dark hole at night. Guess we folks at forty-eight degrees north take for granted our dark sky nights when all those heavenly bodies are beaming down upon us. They’ve been pretty much undercover since about October.                                                                                                                                          

It is interesting here at Wildersmith, with our location below the north side of a high elevation, on these cloudy days, when the sun does appear, it takes until about ten am to shine down on us. Then in the afternoon, old “Sol” begins fading below our horizon between two-thirty and three o’clock, so daylight is scant for now. Soon to be changing though, the Solstice will be turning things around once again in two weeks.                                                                                                    

A bonus happening pairs with the Solstice this year, as the Ojibwe, “little spirit full moon” fulfills its last yearly cycle just hours after, so there will be a real enlightening of the north woods just before the “biggest of birthdays.”                                                                                                                                                        

In the meantime, night travelers headed out this way will need to look for twinkling enjoyment from our annual sentinel of lights along Birch Lake. Yes, once again our good Trail neighbors on the Birch have enhanced our holiday spirit by lighting that big spruce along the byway. It may not be like the one in Rockefeller Center or at the White House, but its significance to light the way is nonetheless, magnificent.  Thanks to the Birch Lake crew that makes this happen.                                                                                                                                                                                             

In closing, I hear of a new trend coming in Christmas trees. Apparently, among millennials and urban “yuppies,” “black” is now in, for holiday trees of the future. This seems alarmingly artificial when we live amongst uncountable trillions of trees that are forever green, and symbolic of life itself, on the planet. It seems as though the purveyors of this somber notion are missing something.                                                                                                                                                                   

Giving this trendy idea a little deeper thought, I believe this ebony inclination is really nothing new. Our marvelous north woods territory has had black trees in the forest since the beginning of everything. We see them recurring every day, and we call it night time!                                                                                                                                           

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with life warm and simple and not too complicated. “Black” Christmas trees, really, “humbug”, what is the world coming to?