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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - February 12

38 Below_photo by Fran Smth.jpg
38 Below_photo by Fran Smth.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint      by     Fred Smith
February 12, 2021    

While most of the upper Midwest has been under some version of a winter spell, for listeners outside of the Arrowhead, all Gunflint residents, man and beast, have been reeling in days of below nothing temps.                                                                                                               

As I cautioned last week, the February gal, can easily loose her sense of humor. She lost all control as last weeks’ report hit the air. Since that time, cold up this way has been spelled with a capital “C.” Things about us have become “clearly crystalized.”                                                                                                                                              

Since we last met on the radio, and were on the plus side of “naught” I’ve been counting the hours of sub-zero readings here at Wildersmith. Climbing out of the icebox may happen by this briadcast, but if not, we could be looking at nearly a couple hundred consecutive hours of below zero. Several years ago I remember counting one hundred seventy plus hours of bitterness, so that would be a new record at 325.                                                                                       

How cold has it been?  Well I had one early morning low of minus 38 while most around the area reported in the high twenties below. Regardless, a few degrees either way is attention grabbing and has been relentless.  Needless to say, the wood burning stove has been glowing on over time after having been a part-timer since last October.                                                  

It’s been so cold, my only out door trips have been daunting; to replenish the seed trough, run (drive) to the mail box and countless woodshed treks. As the sounds of the holiday season have faded from memory, sounds of a bitter cold spell take on an eerie and sometimes grizzly resonance of distinction.                                                                                                                                                                

During my recent out door treks, I hear bark of frozen trees cracking, lake ice shivering with adjustment screeches, the deck around the house popping and creaking, raspy crunching under foot with every step and the ever present wind in the pines, whistling a reminder not to stay outside too long. These are brittle winter reflections, amazing north-country realities seldom if ever heard in the hubbub of suburbia.                                                                               

Four legged critter activity around the place has slowed to almost nothing. Since the mercury took its dive, few tracks of night time visitors have pierced the last delivery of snow. My red rodent friends are the only furry critters to show of late. Often with frost coated eye lashes, they adapt well by spending most of their time munching with their backs to the wind or inside cozy lunch box feeders.                                                                                           

Meanwhile, tough avian regulars have not missed a meal, loading up on the elements to see them through the nighttime cold. Their daytime visits are quick and to the point. If there is any lingering, feathers are fluffed up as insulators, and often times, frost on their faces and beaks confirms what they are enduring. They show unbelievable grit during these moments of frozen time. Almost makes one shiver watching them through the window.                                     

Surely this long weekend of hearts and chocolates will at least revive shivering souls with warm romantic thoughts. Another opportunity to squelch the cold weather blues is to join in the fun of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society’s On-Line silent auction, “Sweethearts fun for “21. It runs through this weekend, ending mid-night on this coming Tuesday, the 16th. To join in, go to the Chik-Wauk Museum Facebook page for a review of the bidding array.                                      

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with all residents humbled and linked by the sudden power of “old man winter.”