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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - March 12

Wildersmith Let it Snow
Wildersmith Let it Snow

Wildersmith on the Gunflint      by     Fred Smith
March 12, 2021      

It’s been a slow news week as March and spring are striding along the Trail hand in hand with the second week of month two, coming to an end. Winter, in the meantime, has withered away in border country after what has barely been a five-month appointment. At the moment, cold season 20-21 is about six weeks short of what we might normally expect.               

Winter beauty remains once one departs the grungy look of receding roadside snow mounds and crud in congregations of community living. It is so refreshing to turn onto the Mile O Pine or other backcountry roads and be greeted with the pristine of crystal, even knowing its future is pre-determined. The grace of living where few people tread is beyond memorable in many ways.                                                                                                                                               

While there is still snow on the ground and ice on the lakes along the International Border, temps this week and other characters of the seasonal transition tell a different story.         

Added to the drippy rooftop edges and spots of slushy snow, the roller coaster ride along our Scenic Byway is sporting dips that will rock your molars if hit at full speed. So earthly warming started around tree roots a week or more ago has extended to depths of roadside culverts as frost is starting to seek a way out.                                                                                          

Another item of vernal notice is the return of crows to Gunflint neighborhoods. A “murder” of the ebony beauties has been scrounging around the yard in recent days and carrying on yackety-yak conversation in the treetops.                                                              

Also in the winged world, a couple of those “Minnesota Chicken Birds” (grouse) have been hanging out up in the Mile O Pine tree tops nibbling on soon-to-be, birch, and aspen buds, as crusty snow is complicating nutritional gathering at ground level.                                                           

The third confirmation is not a component of “Mother Nature’s” doing but is decided by man-kind. Saturday night before bedding down, it’s time to “spring ahead” with our clocks. Guess this is man’s attempt to jump-start the season of re-birth in advance of the Equinox, although we all know, it’s a self-serving intention. Somehow, I wonder if we really ever recover the hour misplaced year after year when we “fall back.” Those hours seem to always get lost in the mayhem of our daily lives.                                                                                                     

This time of year can be identified as being hazardous to one’s health. The scene applies to both people on foot and humans behind the wheel. Our slow meltdown has backcountry roads, driveways, and walking paths in the mode for accidental falls and skids. Daytime melting and nighttime re-freezing can make for wicked glazing. Whereas we will be donning bug nets in a few weeks, right now is the time to slow down, watch your step and pull on those ice grippers if you live in the north woods. Be safe and remain upright!                                                                                   
Speaking of things that happen on snow, it would appear the days of power sledding dwindling fast. Sledding trails that can be viewed from the Gunflint blacktop look to be getting quite beat up from not only the traffic but also from the beaming rays of sunshine. Unless there is a late-season surge of white, those howling machines will soon go to off-season storage. Meanwhile, cross-country skier opportunities remain viable although the snow may be sticky in places where the sun pierces the shade.                                                                                

With a closing note, remember the voice of the northland has you covered “Night and Day.” Keeping WTIP alive and well depends heavily on listener/member support. The “Night and Day” spring membership renewal kicks off this coming Wednesday, March 17th, and runs through noontime on the 22nd.                                                                                                              

Be ready to “spring” into action with a call-in or on-line show of affection for this connection to the “Riviera of the north.” The little radio station that always thought it could, still can, with continuing efforts from our growing family of listeners.                                                   

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as life out here in the slow lane is extraordinary.