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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - October 09

Covey of Eight_photo by F Smith.jpg
Covey of Eight_photo by F Smith.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
October 9, 2020
    
           
Autumn along the Gunflint has been a mixed bag in recent days. Some days have been sparkling and others clotted with leaden clouds. At the moment, early October doesn’t seem to know which way it’s headed.                                                                                                                               

Chilly temps brought on the scent of wood smoke from stoves and fireplaces last weekend, but since then things have moderated somewhat. Before this current mercury up-tick, parts of the territory got a brief preview of winter precipitation with flurries, snow squalls and a little sleet on a couple occasions. While white evidence did not last long on the warm earth, the volume was so minimal it did little to alleviate the continuing dry spell.                                                                     
 
Testimony to the on-going dryness is noted in streams and rivers. A trip up Round Lake Road toward Tuscarora finds the Cross River flowing barely a trickle. Further up the Trail, the mini waterfalls on Larch Creek above the Seagull Guard Station is bone dry, and Seagull Creek looks also to be only on an over the shoe level.                                                                                          

Most lakes are on the same low level list too. I recently noticed the bay of Saganaga Lake at the Chik Wauk Museum Campus is so shallow a small squadron of ducks was able to dive and collect morsels off the bottom without getting their tail feathers wet. This is all so sad, but what are you going to do? Prayers for wet relief are not being answered.                                

Meanwhile, the tinted spirits of fall have peaked. Along the Mile O Pine, there are now more leaves on the ground than on our trees. The final component of our color show, the Tamarak conifers, is into the final autumnal chapter. The delicate needles are taking on their usual October golden tone. This happening is so awesome as these trees have such contrast with the evergreen surroundings. And as winds have churned from all directions on the compass lately, coniferous cousins have pretty much released all old growth needles.                                                                                          

So “Mother Nature” has just about completed her “getting ready for winter” job. She will soon be turning over reigns to “Jack Frost” and that “old Man winter” for the freezing aspect of life in the north woods.                                                                                    

Speaking of “getting ready” yours truly is whittling away at my list. I can count on one hand the chores remaining which will include a snow blower check, mounting of the snow blade and polishing up the shovel.                                                                                                                      

A report came to me just days ago of an unusual game bird observation. The scene might happen often, but is seldom seen. A couple discovered a covey of grouse in a tree near their lakeshore. There were ten, of the seemingly simple minded birds, apparently harvesting munchies. I’m calling this gathering “a covey, in a birch tree” which could be substituted in the lyrics of a holiday song favorite. A digital is shared that can be found on the WTIP website with the Wildersmith Column under Community Voices drop down.                                    

Sadness hangs over the Gunflint Community like November clouds as another of our dear neighbors has passed from our midst. Word was received last Saturday on the death of Julie Henricksson. Julie and renowned/author husband John were mainstays on the south shore of Gunflint Lake for many years until difficult health issues forced a move away from their beloved wild land summer home, to assisted living in Lake Elmo, MN. Gunflint Community condolences are extended to John and her daughters, along with uncountable friends and neighbors.                                                                                                                                                        
A reminder to area residents, while the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic flu shots drive through at Gunflint Lodge had to be canceled last Tuesday, the process is to be re-scheduled for another date. Please keep an ear to the ground for the new time. Get those flu shots!                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as natural magic engulfs each day.
 

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