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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 7

Wildersmith Sign Only
Wildersmith Sign Only

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 7, 2021    

The Smith’s are back in the woods once again. A swell visit to Iowa found us re-uniting with kids after sixteen months of COVID caused separation. While Zooming is an alternative, there is nothing like the presence of real hugs and face to face conversation.                                           

Here we are a week into month five, and winter is but a memory, except for counting five piles of snow holding out along the Mile O Pine. Ice is history on the Gunflint having made its official exit on April 24.                                                                                                            
Being out of the territory, I do not have reports from the other big lakes, but I presume they became fully liquid near the same date as Gunflint. It’s all about “cool, clear waters” lapping at the granite shore lines during the next six months for folks in this neck of the woods         

Absence of precipitation is haunting the upper Trail again. While away from this neighborhood, a mere one tenth of an inch was the only accumulation in the Wildersmith gauge. And there has been little more than a snippet in this neighborhood, since I commenced with this weeks’ scoop last Sunday evening.                                                                                                    

This being said, danger for forest ignition is at a serious level for a second time since March. We surpassed the fourteenth anniversary of the Ham Lake tragedy a couple days ago, and the nightmares still linger when it gets crunchy dry under foot. Residents and business owners are keeping fingers crossed for both a blessing from the heavens and no unnecessary or careless use of fire by humans.                                                                                                              

In the meantime, everyday has spring becoming more assertive. While the area is still a few weeks away from being fully verdant, progress is being made. I see green tip buds on birch and aspen around the house, chives and rhubarb are discernable and some unknown blue flowers are blooming up next to the house.                                                                                                           

Elsewhere in the wild land, I see hares, with exception of their white socks, have put on their summer camo and squirrels are molting in preparation for sultry days ahead.  It’s also a good bet fox kits, wolf pups and moose calves are coming into the world, and bear cubs are exploring new outdoor surroundings after several weeks of feeling their way around in a dark den.                                                                                                                                                     

Aside from avian, little things that fly are starting to buzz about. Common flies, moths, butterflies, and yes, mosquitos are beginning to occupy air space. On a related note, the loons have returned to their nesting site around the bay at the Chik Wauk Museum Campus.                        

I had one of those reconnaissance “skeeters” annoying me just a few days ago. Further, with creeks still gushing from rains of a several weeks ago, the annual black fly bloodletting spree is soon to be in the offing. So this rite of spring has me scrambling to find the bug dupe and head nets as I hang up the snow scoop and pick-up blown down remnants from the winds of winter.                                                                                                                                                                   
Oh, and on a final wild critter note, plenty of Arachnids have emerged. Spiders are busy at spinning their north woods fiber network, as I discovered while catching some of the silken stuff across the face while out in the yard a couple days ago.                                                                       

A reminder to area lake/ property owner associations and less organized neighborhoods, the annual Trail clean-up takes place this month. The County Highway Department will be picking up collection bags along the Trail on the afternoon of Thursday, May 27th.                                                                                                                                                    

If you haven’t picked a spot and want to help spruce up (no pun intended) the Trail, contact the GT Scenic Byway Committee at 388-2275 to learn of an organizer in your neighborhood/area. Remember, littering begets more littering, so at your convenience, let’s get to picking, up.                                                                                                                               
Wishing all Moms’ a huge thanks and a splendid weekend, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where the nurturing of “Mother Nature’s” is celebrated every day!