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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 27

Photo by Phyllis Sherman
Photo by Phyllis Sherman

Wildersmith on the Gunflint by Fred Smith
September 27, 2019    
As I’ve been observing goings-on this time of year, I suddenly came to realize another anniversary of scribing Gunflint happenings has come and gone. It seems unimaginable I’m entering year eighteen of this weekly sharing of news and views, and it’s been a great run!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
This being said, I’m trekking on looking for more to share of upper Gunflint Trail happenings for this great community radio resource.                                                                                                                               

Its’ no surprise this autumnal adventure likens to the nickname of “fall.” Fall is an understatement, as I’ve watched the natural world in the Wildersmith neighborhood since we last met. Routines of September are literally “falling” in showery gusts, and we’re just days into the official season.                                                                                                                                                                                   
Leaves that were sparkling in varying hues, just seven days ago, are falling by my windows, as if they were flakes of December. In concert, yearling needles have disembarked from high in the white pines, blanketing the earth like the first skiff of snow, and scraggily fronds from the white cedar forest are stacking on roof top edges like February ice dams.                                                   

As this time of colorful excitement reigns over the woods, the medium of earthly texture is also one to behold. The next edition is layering up on thousands of previous applications. From a mixture of leafy roadside windrows to the velvet soft carpet of tawny coniferous needles, ground level has cushy allure that is easily over looked with all eyes focused in the tree tops. Oh how we love this time of year!                                                                                                                                                

Meanwhile, the weather outside has been less than frightful. A string of “Indian Summer” day’s cheered folks up after a series of endless, dank segments prevailed for weeks in August and earlier in our month nine. A couple days even turned sticky for the moose and me, but temps have cooled some along the Mile O Pine as we prepare to open October for business.                                                                              

An unusual critter happening was reported just days ago. Whereas housing is an ongoing concern for all beings of creation, one residential resource recently became a multiple use unit over on Hungry Jack Lake.                                                                                                                                     

It’s seems a Loon nesting platform which had been vacated by its intended inhabitants apparently drew the attention of an inquisitive rodent engineer. Lakeside residents were surprised last week to see a Beaver had climbed aboard this floating real estate and found it to meet requirements for a little R & R. The warm sun was quite inviting as the animal spent time re-arranging the digs so it could take a snooze. Guess it spent considerable time enjoying a stopover at this mini island resort. The flat tailed critter found this special place so nice, it made a return visit this past Tuesday.                                                                                                   

Confirmation of this event can be found on my website column at and scrolling down on the Community Voices menu.                                                                                                 

Another mysterious event took place right here at Wildersmith. The beginning of this north woods episode dates back to America’s birthday. Two small decorator flags were put out for the observance of July 4th. The flag sticks were stuck into flower planters where all was beautiful and patriotic for several days.                                                                                                                                                     
Little attention was paid the red, white and blue until a couple weeks’ later, when one flag came up missing. Living many miles off the beaten path this seemed odd, as there are seldom any human visitors down this way who might have had a hand in this larcenous incident, and why would the culprit take a flag? Several searches were conducted around the yard but to no avail and eventually called off.                                                                                                                                 

Then just a week or so ago, the tip of some colorful material was found to be peeking out from a needled patch down toward the lake. Close examination uncovered the missing banner. Except for being a bit faded, it was intact with the support stick. Happy days were here again, and it was replaced from where it had disappeared.                                                                                    

The oddity of this activity was soon to be repeated. Two days after being put back in place, it was gone again. The search resumed, and it did not take long before the missing was found, again.                                                                                                                                                                        
Now the mystery remains as to who is behind these events. Suspected repeat offenders include a squirrel, a crow, a raven or possibly a blue jay, all of whom have been hanging out at various times of late.                                                                                                                                      

Imagine the scene with anyone of my suspects taking off with “old Glory” in a beak, talons or teeth, seems crazy!  Perhaps a “critter cam” is likely to be the next step in closing this wilderness investigation.                                                                                                                                                  
One more note from the “wild neighborhood”, it’s blaze orange time. The quest for grouse and bear is in full swing. Be seen and be safe when trekking in the woods. And speaking of hunting bears, keep in mind bears are hunting too. They’re trying to pack on the pounds, so avoid possible conflicts by not tempting them through careless human behavior.                                                                                                 

In the meantime, For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, and mysterious things can happen!