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Wildersmith: February 1

"During the Arctic spell, the area has been a place of soul-soothing silence..." (Mr.OutdoorGuy/Flickr)

Finalcut_Wildersmith_20130201.mp34.58 MB

Along with the rest of the universe, the upper Trail heads off into 2013 chapter two, February’s a calling! Wow, what an ending to January.
Although as of this keyboard exercise, the territory has warmed somewhat, we Gunflinters have endured serious cold conditions. Here at Wildersmith the thermometer did not ascend above the zero mark from Saturday afternoon the 19th, through about the same time on Saturday the 26th.
That calculates into nearly 170 consecutive hours, brrrrr! When the mercury did climb above the nothing point, it seemed like we should be getting out the Speedos. It is amazing how warm zero to 15 above can feel after such a stretch.
During the Arctic spell, the area has been a place of soul-soothing silence. With exception of the wind whirring through the pines, the only sounds of consequence were the creaking of the house, the deck contracting/expanding against the bitter onslaught and occasional popping of the frozen sap from one of our forest sentinels. I didn’t hear even one complaining groan from the lake ice to our north. 
Cuddling in the confines of homey warmth, about the only venture outside was for a sling of firewood twice a day and a frigid run to the mailbox. The ritual of feeding the neighborhood critters was even subdued. Visits from all the wild regulars seemed less frequent and their business at the trough was serious, with little chatter and bantering with each other.
The mystique of living through crispy segments like we’ve just experienced is captured in simple things that are often just overlooked. An example would be the frost around the eyes of the local jaybirds and, believe it or not, seeing the tiny puffs of expiration coming from the nostrils of our red squirrel varmints. Now that’s cold confirmation.
More nostalgia on life in the cold is watching the fleeting artistry of gray shadows being cast on the snow-covered ground from a puffing wood-burning stove. Ascending through midday sunshine, these remnants of warming combustion are but another sight that might never be paid attention if one wasn’t house bound.
Cold magic can also be captured if one is fortunate enough to be outside and catch a whiff of wood smoke during one of those wood shed runs. It kind of sends a spirit of border country warmth to the soul.
As the cold snap became more subdued, the neighborhood got a new delivery of snow. It was not a big dropping. The new four or so inches, coupled with the one from the week before, makes it look a lot like Christmas should have been. The quiet place where I do my snow measuring is now approaching about a foot and a half.
With the combination of new snow and more reasonable temps, winter activities are sure to pick back up…although I did see a few ice angling crazies that were not thwarted by the cold. Going by here at 25 to 50 miles per hour on a snowmobile en route to the old ice fishing shack is a scary/dangerous example of manmade wind chill!
Cross-country ski trails having been regroomed and tracked, and look to be in fantastic shape, and plein air artists and snow sculptors have been out capturing our winter outdoor world over this past week. By the way, Winter Tracks activities get underway around the county this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Gunflint woods will be howling with more than wolves, as power sleds will be roaring through the forest tomorrow (Saturday). The fourth annual snowmobile club “Fun/poker run” will scream off mid-morning.
The big slide will cover some one 100 miles from Devil Track Lake out to Gunflint Lake and back. As many as 150 sledders are expected to take part. Lots of fun activities are planned in concert with the happening. Hope for a safe and sane day!
Keep on hangin’ on and savor winter as we have it now! Come out and enjoy!

Airdate: February 1, 2013