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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - November 15

Horses photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash
Horses photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
November 15, 2019    
My how the days fly by! The “freezing over” moon is waning now as the northland reaches the half-way point of month eleven

Conditions were a little crisp around the edges with temps hanging out near the zero mark as the “big cheese” rose over Gunflint territory last Monday evening. The full moon arisin’ was another lunar spectacle while dancing in and out of the clouds above Wildersmith

Added to the charm of the moons’ big November night, squalls of snowflakes twinkled down through the lunar bar of light, as if heaven spilled a bag of stardust. This scene brought back memories of a sleigh ride with friends several years ago over at Okontoe with the late Mark Patton at the reins. Those flakes were falling in like fashion, with nary an adjective doing justice to the romance of the moment.

It’s truly quiet in the Wildersmith neighborhood. Not only are there few folks moving about, with not many deer left in the upper Gunflint, the opening day of the firearms season saw little to no blaze orange hanging out in tree stands or crouching like a bush.

While the long expedition of winter is ahead, the usual November gales have yet to disturb the stillness of the forest. Cold air continues to grip these parts as the ice making business is flourishing, but the big lakes are still rockin’ and a rollin’

Meanwhile little winter precipitation has been added to the white landscape for over a week. Several days with a dusting here or there has accumulated to maybe an inch at best around the Smith place, and a broom easily moved it aside

The puny accumulations have been just enough to cover critter tracks from the previous day. In some ways, regardless of fresh snow amounts, it’s always an adventure each morning to check out tracks of night time visitors

Tracing the mystery of an animals’ mission can pretty much be boiled down to either eating or escaping being eaten and this can lead to uncountable passage prowlings. Always makes me wonder how and where each ended up, in triumph or tragedy

I am intrigued by the serpentine path of fox tracks in the snow as they meander from one side of the Mile O Pine to the other during its’ nightly jaunt. Whereas, it’s distant Canine cousin, the wolf, pretty much strides straight arrow on its’ mission of seeking an edible. This was the case just a couple days ago as I followed tracks of each down the road on my daily mail run

While most days of Novembers first two weeks have been clogged with clouds, a couple days recently have seen bits of sunshine.  Such has perked up even more avian activity at the seed trough. The gang of blue jays has grown to annoying numbers and I’m excited their “whiskey jack” relatives have found their way back.

In spite of Thanksgiving being a couple weeks away for us two legged beings, the days of cold season feasting are well underway for the “wild neighborhood” folks around Wildersmith. I’ve increased my menu selections to include homemade peanut butter cakes, canned frozen
bacon grease and days’ old bread cubes. These items have sure excited all attendees.

I watched the other day as a couple “whiskey jacks” took turns with their beaks buried in the fat can for hours on end, nearly consuming one-half the fourteen ounce container. There’s no way they shouldn’t have been sick for days, but they were back to finish it off the next morning.

Most hibernators have become inconspicuous, but a friend recently reported one such rooting through the snow in a roadside ditch. Apparently it isn’t quite nap time for this stinky black and white striped varmint.

I’m sorry to report the loss of a Gunflint neighbor. Word has been received on the passing of Joan Elbers on November 4th, in Houston, Texas. Joan and her family (the Swenson’s) first came to the North Shore in the 1930’s. In 1959, the Swenson’s established cabin residence in the summer home group on Gunflint Lake. Since 1990, Joan and husband Gerald had a cabin on Gunflint Narrows. The Gunflint lake Property Owners and the Gunflint Community extend sincere condolences to Gerald, her family and friends

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as the image of winter comes more into focus each day!