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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - November 06

Wildersmith (375x500).jpg
Wildersmith (375x500).jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
November 6, 2020    
Our eleventh month slipped into the north woods as one might expect, on the heels of gale force NW winds and a night time snow squall. The new month kind of snuck up on us as October took on the November character over the past few weeks. Maybe we should be calling the recent months’ look-a-likes, Oct-ember?                                                                                              

Here we are with one week already in the books.  Daylight has now taken on new meaning with the loss of artificial time last Sunday morning.  Darkness closing in by about 4:30 in the afternoon is now reason for adjustment after all these months as daylight minutes dwindle away.                                                                                                                                                         

At air time this week, we are in a spell, where a big switcheroo has blown winter back across the border. The snow has melted away in most places and temps have become more like autumn, so icy conversations have turned to talk of the big Minnesota deer hunting season.               

Yep, it’s that time when venison seekers put on their post-Halloween bush or tree costumes in hope of catching an un-suspecting white tail by surprise. Successes throughout the upper Gunflint territory have been minimal for the past several years. However, there will likely be a few folks decked out in blaze trying their luck. It is a good bet hunters out this way will be modeling a hot orange fashion show, rather than actually loading meat for the freezer into their pick-ups.                                                                                                                                                                           

Over several years, between a couple of recent stressful deep snow winters, and wolves out doing rifle toting folks, the herd has been culled to near extinction around here.  What is interesting, by driving fifty miles or so back toward the village and up into the Lake Superior highlands, hunter fortunes are much more favorable.                                                                                         

Regardless of bagging a prize, fundamentally, hunters seek and find the calm of spiritual adventure during a renewal with nature. It’s an inner feeling, and like the “magnetic north”, the primeval flair for the hunt keeps drawing them back every year at this time. Hunters are wished safe and successful outings over the next couple weeks, wherever they are stalking.               
In the meantime, the rest of us should be donning our blaze colored gear for good measure when out and about in the woods. It is best to be seen, and not an accidental statistic.                                                                                                                                                              
As fall conditions have stepped back onto the wild land stage at the moment, a couple “getting ready for winter chores” at Wildersmith might get completed after all. I’d pretty much given up on them since winter took over month ten, thinking they would just have to wait ‘til spring. So windows will likely get washed and roof gutters will get cleaned, along with some late season Mile O Pine pot-hole filling before “old man winter” re-grips for the long haul.                             

With the opening of deck side feeding for area critters last week, dining is in turmoil twilight to twilight. The birds in particular, remind me of a bunch of hungry elementary students in the school cafeteria anxiously gorging lunch so they can get out to the playground as soon as possible. Talk about “eating on the fly.”                                                            

Meanwhile, my squirrely friends continue packing away winter supplies at a startling rate. Between the avian and red rodent population, I’m into 50 pound bag number two of sunflower seeds, with official winter over six weeks away. If there is any significance between these ravenous appetites and the potential severity of the season ahead, we Gunflinters could be in for a doozy.                                                                                                                                     

The area fox population is testament to adaptation. While in a time of rapidly warming atmospheric conditions, many species are struggling to acclimate easily.  Red ones are prolific, being observed readily by many Trail residents. Their gray cousins are not as common, but even less evident are Cross fox. However, one of those cross varieties is observed quite often up in the Sag Lake Trail neighborhood.                                                                                                                            

Meanwhile, a couple down the road report a gray one has been hanging around their place recently, perhaps even having adopted them as essential providers by being in regular attendance. Fox of any color, another Gunflint gift!                                                                                    

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is a treasure, “growing more precious, the more we embrace it.”