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Wildersmith on the Gunflint October 27

WTIP News     October 27, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
October splendor has been shining down on the Gunflint territory over the past seven days. Temperatures have been bouncing around between cold and moderately warm for this time of year. Our only glitch in the atmosphere comes in regard to being left on the dry side of the moisture ledger for more than two weeks along the Mile O Pine. 

 With less than two tenths here at Wildersmith during this time, it makes one a little nervous concerning fire danger since protection systems have been put to bed for the coming winter. 
Since we last met on WTIP, the upper Gunflint landscape has edged ever closer to winter. Few leaves are left hanging while Tamarack needles have had their day of glory, and are tarnished into the dusting off stage.                                                                                                                             
I’m always amazed at the seemingly un-countable shades of brown summoned by “Mother Nature” as summer dries up through the autumn season. With hues from buff to coffee bean brown, we’ve got them all, along this magnificent scenic by-way.                                                             
So the Gunflint color show continues with now toasted embellishments, still beautiful in such a distinct way. It’s surely worth another trek out this way, to soak it all in, before the next act takes our border country stage.                                                                                                                                                             
These times in the wildland are exclusively unique. Quiet rules supreme as summer/fall hubbub has almost ground to a halt. There are few snippets of hullabaloo pollution disturbing the tranquility of nature doing its thing. Sounds of late October are minimal except for those of natural creation.  
Winds in the pines whisper sweet nothings of warm day remembrances, while waiting to turn on a warning roar from the great “spirit of the north.” Added accompaniment comes from white caps dashing the granite shores. All the while, those in our ‘wild neighborhood’ chirp, chatter, squawk and snipe at each other, as they go about their daily survival routines. 
We who stay to endure the cold and white can peacefully reflect on these cherished wilderness blessings right outside our back doors. It’s a time when cool evenings deliver the romantic aroma of smoke from a wood burning stove, favoring thoughts of a warm cozy doze in the recliner. It’s a time when tree sap starts thickening down to the roots. It’s a time when snowshoe hares pull up their white socks to belly wader heights while other fur bearers are changing to heavy duty camo apparel and some burrow in to cold season quarters.  It’s a time to relish! 
Although winter-like conditions are only in the long range planning stages, I’ve noticed the cold season “welcome wagon” out along trail sides over the last few days. Those neighborly snow buntings seem to be getting an early start on gathering seed fare from roadside shoulders, and are erupting with skyward flare at the approach of an on-coming vehicle. To see the perky little avian confirms a sign of things to come. 
In the meantime, on recent days when the sun shines warm, hordes of obnoxious summer time bugs have been re-invigorated. Black flies, mosquitos and pesky gnat like critters are re-enforcing cries from us humans for cold and to stay cold! I’ve even seen a few folks outdoors doing pre-winter chores wearing their bug nets. Buggy conditions like we’ve been enduring of late are usually un-heard of as trick or treat night nears. 
Speaking of Halloween night in the offing, the first quarter of the “freezing over” Ojibwe moon, is on high right now.  We could do well to have a little of its “cold spirit” to send the swarming nasties a packing.                                                                                                                                                           
Until this happens, Gunflinters can think back to the blizzard of flakes that stopped ghosts and goblins activity deep in its tracks in 1991. There were no bugs then, but up to forty plus inches of snow. Those were truly, the “good old days.”  
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, regardless of what might be causing those bites and itches!