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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: December 20

winter hunting
winter hunting

Wildersmith_20131220_finalcut.mp38.81 MB

            Border country has been living up to its true character since our last meeting at WTIP. It’s “Biboon” (winter) for sure in this marvelous unorganized territory. 
We passed the night of the “popping trees, little spirit” moon a few stanzas ago. In a matter of hours, we’re headed to our hemispheres shortest daylight exposure of the year marking tomorrow’s winter solstice. And, with only 10 days remaining, it seems unbelievable 2013 has wound down so quickly.
It’s an understatement if one was to say that it’s not been really cold. Well, just how cold has it been? Although mercury levels can vary much from place to place in these parts, when it’s as cold as it’s been, a few degrees either way makes little difference.
 It has been bone chilling! There’s been none of the minus 40 to 50 which might be ahead in about 30 days. Our current frigid experience has ranged from minus 18 to minus 25 most mornings, with 31 below being the coldest!
I can only speak for the thermometers at Wildersmith which have extended into the second straight week of not rising above zero. Yes, the big freeze-out went into effect during the night of Dec. 5. Since that time the best we have managed for a daytime high temp has been around 4 below. Doing the math, at the time of this scribing, adds to over 11 consecutive days (264 hours and still counting) of nothing but brrrr!
This place is especially not for the faint of heart. If one is of that timid persuasion, then this is why Arizona, Florida and Texas were created! For those of us that do endure and enjoy, it is what it is. You just layer up and get on with the frosty life.
Meanwhile our snow fall occurrences have been minimal compared to earlier in the month. These recent reps have freshened up our already heavy laden branches but not required any serious removal efforts at least in this neighborhood. However, it’s snowing as I finish this week’s news scoop, so scooping perspectives could change.
This splendid time of celebration was kicked off for the Smiths a couple Mondays ago with attendance at the annual Borealis Chorale and Orchestra holiday concert “Tidings of Joy.” Once again it was a classy performance!
 Several of our Gunflint Trail friends and neighbors joined in the cast of nearly 100 from around the county. Congrats and thanks to all for the glorious revue of this special birthday remembrance!
The trip back up the Trail after the concert event found the nearly 10-mile stretch between the south Brule River Bridge and east Bearskin Road to have been a place of conclave for our dwindling moose herd. Although we did not see any of the northern icons, it was heartening to observe there had been so much hoof traffic during this time of moose population instability.
During a subsequent trip to town later in the week, we came upon a cow and her calf trailside in the same area. Further, a friend has shared that she encountered three sets of three moose (yes, that’s nine) on a recent evening trek on the Trail.
It is advisable that any after-dusk travel in this moose zone should be approached with caution. There will no doubt be more of these roadway gatherings for “brine” tasting and we don’t need any moose ending up as vehicle hood ornaments.
It was pretty exciting a few days ago when I looked out and found one of the local bucks had dropped a part of his masculine symbol.  This half rack was barely visible sticking out of the deep snow along a path through the yard. It was conveniently not far from my back door.
The big guy has since come back void of the other side as well. I’m now challenged to do some snowshoe stomping over what must be a hundred different paths in search of the cartilaginous trophy.
A friend down on County Road #20 has discovered the first seasonal renewal of predator/prey drama on the new Gunflint Lake ice. It is intriguing how easily those deer/wolf confrontations play out on the muted winter landscape. This is in contrast with warm weather kills. Knowing that the canid lupis are hungry every day, we seldom hear any recognition of those fast food acts during our season of green.
The holiday season reaches its pinnacle in a few days with the Christian world celebrating the birthday of all birthdays. We at Wildersmith hope that you and yours have peaceful and enriching time together, sharing renewed love that seems often lacking in our busy commerce-driven world.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor this miraculous occasion!

{photo by Forest Wander via Wikimedia Commons}