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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 31

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Wildersmith Sign Only

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
July 31, 2020    
“A” is for August, and the territory bids July adieu. We have cruised through July not paying much attention amidst Pandemic confusion.  “Where goes July, there goes summer” as the old saying goes. Sad to say, August will likely escape us as well, so we’d better not blink twice.                                                                                                                                                                                             

All kinds of memories linger about month eight. Autumn oozing in, Indian summer days, fewer mosquitoes and back to school are but a few. Whereas back to school as we remember is only a “maybe” under current circumstances, the onset of fall is more certain.                                                                                        

While late summer and early fall blooms are mutually converging with an array of colors, in the past days I have noted the first flora signs of things to come. Fire weed is fading and a few sprigs of dog bane and a scattering of ferns have turned from green to golden along back country roads,                                                                                                                        

Another weekend of hot and sticky kept moose in the bays and evergreen shade. It seems this area is stuck in a rut as border country had a third straight weekend of annoying perspiring. However, the “mom” looking over us, favored another reprieve with more normal coolness over the past few days. Thanks to “Mother N.”                                                                                                                           
Winged things have had my attention over the past week. The Monarch daycare at Chik Wauk Nature Center is excited to announce caterpillars are munching milkweed and chrysalis are emerging into the next generation of butterflies. Screened nurseries have about two dozen miracles in the waiting.                                                                                                                                                        

They should be due to break-out in just a few days, with this generation not too long from heading toward winter quarters. The question of the week is how fast can a Monarch fly? The Naturalist up there tells me, it is five miles per hour. That’s a lot of time in the air, and energy, to cover countless miles to their warm destination.                                                                                                                            
If listeners can’t go up to see this marvel of the natural world, keep track of the happening on Chik via Facebook.                                                                                                                                                                 

Meanwhile, hummingbird arrivals and departures at Smith’s international nectar bottle seem to have doubled since last weeks’ report. The hungry hummers are now consuming over two bottles per day (the equivalent of two plus cups). They must be near tipsy with a sugar high. It is obvious they must not have any dietary issues with the sweetness.                                        

The other day a couple of them pestered me as I re-filled the container while outdoors among them. They were close as a few inches from my hands trying to get a slurp ahead of their ravenous competitors while I finished the pour. What an amusing and interesting experience. I can’t think of a quicker being in creation.                                                                                                                                                                          

Over the past several days, “Woody” the chuck has paid us a visit. While I do not have a garden menu from which it could be pilfering, the plump rodent nestles right in with its squirrely cousins for a munch-along on seeds I’ve thrown out on the ground. Of interest, neither of them is bothered with each other’s presence, but will not allow chipmunks a place at their table.                                                                                                                                                   
If you might be thinking I’m asking for a bear visit, I’ve been doing it for several years and have had not a trace. Further, when this gang of seed crunchers finishes in a couple hours each morning, there is nothing but shells. So if a bear has happened by in darkness hours, there’s nary a crumb left.                                                                                                                                                                   

Folks who travel the Trail with any regularity should be smiling due to the speed with which the road re-construction is progressing. While the one-way traffic delays have been troublesome at times, they have not been overly long in my opinion. Visitors from Metropolis probably would disagree however.                                                                                                           

With the apparent first lift of asphalt laid in both lanes over the five mile stretch, it is already a vast improvement over the washboard we’ve been accustomed to for many years.                                             

Thanks to the project contractor and Cook County Highway Department for their diligence in moving this endeavor along.                                                                                                                                                          
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is an up-lifting exposure, to the wonders of creation!