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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 10

Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg
Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
July 10, 2020    

Gunflint summer has turned ugly during the first third of the month. Desert like temps and relentless drought have many of us woods residents reeling in discomfort.                                        
It’s surely not like the good old days when folks came to border country for natural AC. Our recent hot spell is dramatically confirming a much warmer trend during the past two decades of my residency. This is not to say temps haven’t experienced hot moments in the past but the duration and intensity seems to be expanding each year.                                                             
I do not have expertise in botany so I could be wrong but the growing season for some members of the plant neighborhood look to be changing in step with a warming climate. I’m already seeing some green things going to seed as if it was August and we’ve not yet reached the half-way point of July. Then again it might be just a quirk of nature for these emerald beings.                                                                                                                                                       

As I begin this report on Sunday after the Fourth of July hoe-down it looks as though Cook County escaped wildfire ignition. I see a number of areas around the country were not so fortunate even four spots of the western Superior National Forest dealt with small fires.      
Meanwhile with a million acres of tinder dry landscape around us it could take days to detect a wisp of smoke from a smoldering ember. Residents and caring visitors should be hoping …for two situations… to occur… firstly… big rain… needs to happen…and second, burning restrictions should remain in place. I’ve noticed aircraft overhead on recent occasions… so one has to think US Forest Service aerial fire surveillance is underway.                                                     
By the way this neighborhood did receive a minimal dose of precip in the past couple days for which we are thankful. In spite of the blessing it was a far cry from resolving our desperate need for more. The hot July sun gobbled this up in a few hours.                                             
Last weekend looked like a good share of urban Minnesota headed into the territory. Outfitter and resort parking facilities were packed to the gills. A report from one regular visitor to the BWCA indicated in all of his years he had never seen so many folks in the wilderness. Guess this un-organized land is the best way to social distance from COVID mayhem of suburbia.                                                                                                                                          

Since we last met a hatching announcement has come from the nesting platform in bay at Chik Wauk. One little puff ball cracked out on July 1st.                                                                          
Momma loon soon went back to the nest to nurture in a sibling to # one, but a couple days later, it was discovered # two did not survive its entrance into the world. There is no way of confirming what went wrong but excitement for the new arrival was dampened.                         
This loss is a natural world story in itself. Timing is everything for human observations in the woods. It happened the Museum director was checking things out on the loon cam a couple days after the first baby appeared and noticed some unrest on the nest.                                                                                  
Digital in hand, she captured some remorseful moments for the new mother as she examined her motionless chick. Then mother loon sadly removed the shell parts piece by piece dropping them into the lake water. All this time the lively first hatched was trying to keep up with her during the housekeeping chores.                                                                                                
This seldom, if ever seen chapter of life in the animal world can be viewed on the Chik Wauk Facebook page, just scroll down… click on the nested loon photo… and listen too.                          

In another more amusing “wild neighborhood” observation, I’ve been watching one of those little red rodents apparently doing some pre- winter preparations.                                                      
If you followed my winter time scribing you might remember reference to a squirrel cashing in on my daily seed distributions with trip after trip to a secret cache in a snow drift below my deck.                                                                                                                                             
I don’t know if this is the same one, but it sure could be. The little gal/guy is still on the run each day with seed after seed trip after trip, non-stop, scampering into a hollow, in the log rip-wrap, close to the winter time warehousing. There must be a zillion seeds down its’ burrow.  Each trip is near 100 feet round trip. Watching those stubby legs, makes me think how pooped the little one must be, by days’ end.                                                                                     
The Community Radio station of the northland is in the midst of its’ summer membership drive as this Gunflint scoop comes your way. The 2020 summer theme is “Honoring Volunteers” not only at WTIP which is Volunteer driven in so many ways, but all Volunteers.                                                                                                                                         

Not only is this Pandemic world changing for everyone, a “new normal” is evolving for the radio source, upon which, all of us rely. WTIP is counting on a contact from our listening audience to help see us through these unpredictable times.                                                    
With distancing the new norm, the drive organizers ask pledges to be made on-line at; (click on pledge now… for donating options) or mail in a support gift to PO Box 1005 Grand Marais 55604.                                                                                                                                      
The drive runs through noon on Monday, but don’t wait until the last minute. Show your support today!!!                                                                                                                                                    
 For WTIP this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail where every day is majestic among the towering pines!!!