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Wildersmith April 1

Footprints on Sawbill Lake, photo courtesy of Sawbill Outfitters
Footprints on Sawbill Lake, photo courtesy of Sawbill Outfitters

The weather cooled some in the wilderness last week, though it would appear that we have had the last sub-zero temps for several months to come. The mercury slipped just below zero at Wildersmith late last week on a couple nights so the lake ice stiffened a bit.

But I’m guessing that will be the end of serious cold, as prognosticators have indicated that it could be in the 60s as you read or listen to Upper Gunflint news this week.

If such warmth materializes, it is a good bet that lake ice will depart the earliest in nearly three decades. My data only goes back as far as 1982 for ice out on Gunflint, and the earliest ice departure since that year has been April 18 in 1986.

With ice separating from northern shorelines in many places, I can’t see it lasting much longer. If by chance we would get any substantial rain, the time before departure will be reduced even more. 

March has left the higher Gunflint territory much the same as it entered, drier than a bone and far warmer than it should be. Those who favor such lamb-like conditions have had a swell month out in the woods.

Border country was dazzled by the full “egg moon” as month three went into the history books. It’s hard to believe that one quarter of 2010 has slipped by already.

Enter, April, a serious time of re-birth. Some early spring babies will soon be coming into the world, and the last of those that have been slumbering for the past few months are waking up.

I’ve heard that some folks have already observed those pesky chipmunks, although none have shown in this neighborhood, and the skunks have been out and about for a few weeks based on an occasional whiff wafting along the air currents.

Surely, in not too many days, the ursine species will be renewing their forest fellowship along with new fuzzy family additions. Better be bringing in the bird feeders and securing the garbage cans as bears are ravenously hungry following their long winter’s nap.

I have received two reports of fisher sightings during the past week. The seldom seen, larger pine marten cousins were observed in two different locations, one along the south shores of Gunflint Lake and the other over on Hungry Jack Lake.

It may be April, and the snow splotches few and far between, but the biological clock that tells snowshoe hares to put on their seasonal attire must be stuck on winter. I observed one along the Trail a few nights ago and it was still sparkling white, standing out like a sore thumb against the earthen roadside tones. Maybe the changing for this one is on hold until Easter deliveries are completed.

Engulfed in a barren forest right now, there is plenty of unsightliness, but help is on the way. A renewed brightness has arisen along the byway. Deciduous buds are beginning to bulge, and the coniferous wilderness has traded its drab winter flavor for a noticeable infusion of green that invigorates one’s spirits.

At Wildersmith, I have begun to free the young conifers from their winter deer net protection. When released from those bindings, it is like an awakening. One can almost see them stretching in search of sunbeams and warm air. It is energizing to know that the hiatus of growth skyward is about to resume.

On this weekend, when the Christian world once again embraces the ultimate renewal, let me wish everyone a Happy Easter!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a celebration of spring!