The celebration of autumn during week one of October has been splendid. Our borderland weather conditions just couldn’t be much better. Sunny daytime skies and a blitz of starry crystal nights have seen several segments of morning frost followed by warm pleasant afternoons in the 50 degree range.
Our world is in an ongoing never-ending tragedy of violent, self-serving man against man, but beauty and peace in the wilderness surrounding this little house enables a Utopian escape. This is especially true this time of year.
Unfortunately the pleasant atmosphere has left the area on the dry side. It’s going on two weeks since this neighborhood has had any rain. The lack of moisture seems to be taking a toll on the color show with many leaflets wilting in drought-like stress and falling off without maxing out their fall pageant. Should the rain gods not loosen up and substantially wet the forest down before ground freeze-up, conditions will not bade well for zillions of trees come next spring. Like a few years back, if the forest goes to bed bone dry, we might expect some serious evergreen winter burn if hard freezing comes after initial thaw commences.
Recent cold evenings have prompted the first fire in the wood-burning stove at Wildersmith. With the coziness of a warm fire, I caught up on some reading in a couple periodicals. Two informative articles in the fall edition of INTERNATIONAL WOLF provided additional insights into Canid Lupis management and another, on the moose decline in northeast Minnesota. If listeners are not subscribers to the wolf magazine, I suggest locating a copy at your local library -- interesting information. Then our own MINNESOTA CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER (September/October issue) had two scribings which are suggested reading, too. One features discussion of maladies and predation affecting our moose herd, while a second story entitled SPLENDID FLIERS addresses particulars of avian migration. Hope you can get hold of this great bimonthly DNR publication.
Word is out now from the County Highway Department in regard to some serious road issues in the curvy section of the Trail alongside Swamper Lake. We are told deteriorated (collapsing) culverts under the road surface merit immediate attention (before winter). We are therefore notified construction will begin before the end of this month, and to expect traveling delays as the fixes are made. Projections are for completion about two weeks after work commences.
Another Trail issue has come to travelers’ attention with the recent installation of directional signage for ATV (4-wheeler) usage. In compliance with recent County Commissioner action to allow usage of such vehicles on certain portions of the Trail (to connect with off-trail paths), there are signs, signs, everywhere, we’ve got signs.
Although these signals of information are well intended, numbers of such Byway regulatory intrusions are mind boggling. It would seem there’s a great deal of overkill, perhaps to the point of being confusing for a visiting ATV user, while local 4-wheel riders certainly are in the know as to where they can go to access their trail-riding system under the new policy. I believe it prudent to review the issue of continual proliferation of this state and national Byway treasure with unnatural emblems to supposedly protect humans from themselves. This being said, when segments of our society can’t read, don’t read or pay little attention to regulations anyway (thinking the rules are only for the other guy), couldn’t this signage issue be rethought? Amen, I step down from my soap box!
On a final note, long time Trail residents and fishing/hunting clients from Gunflint Lodge will remember Kevin Walsh. Kevin moved from the area several years ago to south-central Minnesota. As you may recall, he was a gardener extraordinaire, even here in the North Country’s short growing season. His skills at raising veggies have expanded now that he is located where they have real dirt. This past growing season he decided to work on one of those giant pumpkins. Remembering his skill at growing extreme zucchinis, one would expect he would have big success with a pumpkin. That he did! He recently entered his huge squash family member in a contest down in Ames, Iowa. The entry from Kevin’s garden weighed in at 1,293 pounds. Wow, that sounds enormous! Regrettably, his “fat Amy” as he called her, was out-done by six others with the winner coming in at over 2000 pounds. I wouldn’t look for Kevin to take this sitting down. I could see him being challenged to even bigger and better pie-making fruit next year.
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith. The technicolor Gunflint show is tumbling earthward, better get up here soon!