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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - October 4

Grouse Photo by Andy Ellena
Grouse Photo by Andy Ellena

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
October 4, 2019

Enter October! Autumn is full speed ahead. The month of the Ojibwe, “falling leaves” moon is right on track with sights and scents of this marvelous time in border country. There are not enough descriptors to fully illustrate the grace of all natural goings-on about us.                                      

An example of such was the case during a recent, out the window observation on a dismal morning. I couldn’t help but notice the profound beauty in the gold and green leaves still attached in the distant tree tops. While “old Sol” was totally redacted, the brightness of the leafy array still glistened as if the sun was beaming through the forest. What a natural means of chasing the gloom away!                                                                                                                                                                     

Aside from colorful tokens taking an earthly position on the landscape, the Wildersmith neighborhood tinkered with freezing temps a few days ago. Daytimes have since cooled, making a compelling case for heat from the wood burning stove. It’s hard to argue, but there is nothing like the warmth from a flickering fire, in an iron box, to warm the soul.                                                               

Hence the seasonal character of wood smoke wafting from chimneys along back country roads harkens with nostalgia and romance of days long ago.                                                                                                                                                                             

Add to this aromatic essence, the charm of a walk in the woods, or going about one’s pre-winter chores and you have a recipe which would be magic if it could be sealed in a bottle. I for one am captured by the scent of “Dagwagin” (fall in Ojibwe). Damp earth and decaying flora mingle to wake up the senses, issuing the call of Nature’s final warm season chapter.                                                                                         
This natural issuance of colder tidings to come was further confirmed last weekend.  My good neighbor and his buddies from metropolis came over to help bring the boat and dock ashore to its winter resting place. I didn’t check the lake water temp, but even in my wet suit, the Gunflint liquid got my attention. Thanks to these steadfast fellows, I can check this item off the “getting ready” list.                                                                                                                                                                                

The same crew spent some time in the territory, searching for our Minnesota “chicken birds.” While the companionship of hunting in this great outdoors was great, the actual shooting was not so good. Only one grouse was taken for all their stomping around.                                                                                      
They did find there is at least one more grouse out there, as a digital shot was taken of one in an unlikely place, where it was dangerous to shoot. See their proof of such in my website column, under the community voices menu at                                                                                                                                                           

However, their time was well spent in another aspect as they spotted a few moose, two of which were bulls in full head dress. How appropriate with county wide “Moose Madness” just weeks away. So the energy and excitement of hunting was not a total loss.                                                                                                                                                               

Engaging things are still happening at Chik-Wauk. Though the season is winding down toward closing on October 20th, there is plenty to learn and observe with indoor exhibits and especially, out of doors along the hiking trails.                                                                                                                                                                                      

Folks should mark their calendars for Saturday October 19th as a special event is scheduled in the Nature Center on MEA weekend.                                                                                                                 

Travis Novitsky will be there to share “Images and Stories of Adventures under the Night Sky.” Travis is a life-long resident of the north shore of Lake Superior and a citizen of the Grand Portage Anishinabe Nation. A self-taught nature and wildlife photographer, his favorite subject is the night sky. For over twenty years, he’s recorded starry nights. I’m sure, “The sight of stars make him dream”, as the glittering universe did for Vincent-vanGogh.                                                                                                                               

The program will commence at 2:00 pm, under the panoramic starlit dome provided by the University of Minnesota Duluth, with professional commentary and assistance from GTHS volunteer Joel Halvorson. This is another Chik-Wauk program you won’t want to miss!                                   

On one more note from the North Country, and it’s kind of a “believe it, or not” revelation. A neighbor gal down the road reports she found, and picked some blueberries last Sunday. Yes, heading into October, fresh blue gems! How could they have been missed by hungry bears?                                                                                                                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with uncountable natural bounty!