Listen Now
Pledge Now


 
 

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - November 9, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
November 9, 2018             

It’s Sunday evening as I begin this weeks’ Gunflint scoop, and it appears my winter declaration is panning out sooner than later. It’s snowing.  Rooftops and the ground are turning white and the area is under a winter storm warning. What may happen in our up north atmosphere during the days leading into this second weekend of November remains to be seen.                                                                                                                                                                    
Regardless of the weather situation, we at Wildersmith are ready. Most of us live a life of lists. My 2018 edition has been a long slate of “do this and do that” in preparation for winters journey. Imagine my surprise when suddenly I looked up from all the “doings” and find there is nothing left to cross off. The plow blade is mounted, the snow blower tested positive on the first pull and the snow shovel is in the ready position by the back door. Guess I’ll retire to the workshop for some sawdust production.                                                                                                                                                                        

Meanwhile, with temps around here hanging in the thirties under mostly cloudy days, it has allowed the night time skimming of area ponds and smaller lakes to extend more than a few hours into the next day. Although the early crinkling of ice is far from safe, a few nights into the teens and twenties will soon lock them up for good.                                                                                      
 
And speaking of area water bodies, they are suddenly filled to the brim. Although precipitation over the last several weeks hasn’t seemed too prolific out this way, guess the persistency has played a role more than suspected.                                                                                                   
 
A specific example is a wetland along the upper Trail west of the USFS Seagull Guard station. This particular liquid location has taken on the look of a substantial lake. I’ve never observed this wetland area in such a condition before. One might suspect “Beaver and Beaver Construction Co.” may be responsible for work along Larch Creek, thus holding back the rushing water from the highlands, as primary the cause.                                                                                                                                                                             
Beyond our enthusiasm for the pending big snow adventure, excitement reigns boundless around the yard. Deciding bears are likely no longer a threat, I’ve opened our deck-side critter eatery.                                                                                                                                                              
 
The first morning after our return to standard time found me awake at daybreak and the avian folk in a feeding frenzy. One would have thought it was the morning of “Black Friday” as the mixed flock was seemingly out of control in its assault on the seed tray goodies. Of course, a gang of blue jays was trying to dominate. Thank goodness, a couple of red squirrel air traffic controllers were regulating arrivals and departures enabling the smaller winged beings to land for their share. Such “wild neighborhood “energy is as invigorating for us observers as the winged participants.                                                                                                                                                       
While the migrators continue coming and going, I’ve received a report of first upper Trail pine grosbeak arrivals. The spectacular rosy/pink, cold season, visitors have been seen in the mid-Trail area, and I spotted a few during a recent trek along the Trail.  
                                                                         
At the same time, I’m still observing robins. It would seem they should have been on their way south after the cold of late September and nearly all of October. I hope they don’t get caught with ice on their wing tips, but guess they know what they’re doing.                                                                                                                                                            
With nary a leaf left hanging out his way, the woods are left drab and brown, but one can now see deep into the forest. This being the case, the opportunity to observe things not seen in months is increased considerably.                                                                                                                   
 
Such was the case on our last trip into Grand Marais when we Smiths’ had the occasion to catch a wolf crossing our path, on its’ way into the woods. Whereas we always know this carnivore gang is out there, we hadn’t seen one in some time. So this sighting was exciting as always, and we’ll keep on watching.                                                                                                                           
 
While on the subject of wolves, especially as it concerns humans tinkering with the dynamics of natures’ balance, I came upon an insightful writing in a recent edition of the Sierra Magazine. This well-written document by Conor Mihell explores perspectives of re-introducing wolves onto the celebrated Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.                                                         

In substance, it chronicles two differing points of view regarding the attempt to restore balance to predator/prey management with a burgeoning moose population and only two, rather unhealthy, known wolves. Entitled, "A Reasonable Illusion", I would recommend it to all who cherish the wilderness world.
                                                                                                                                                                 
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint, where every day is great, as the “great spirit of the north” is gathering momentum!