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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 4

Wildersmith_20140704.mp36.29 MB

More summer character crept into the upper Gunflint territory over the past week. The mercury, along with some nasty humidity, ascended to near 80 in places up the Trail.
However, the misery was short-lived with a front of thunder, lightning and brief heavy rain late in the past weekend.  I guess that Mother Nature’s fireworks might have been a prelude to our big birthday celebration of the next few days.
Our month of the “halfway moon,” as it’s noted in Ojibwe lore, finds this beautiful place on fire with floral blooms. A trek out the Trail is nearly blinding with an array of both native and non-native buttery yellow blossoms. Added to the blacktop’s golden edging are splashes of snowy daisies and orange hawkweed, an occasional clump of blushing wild roses and last, but not least, lupine spires of multiple purple shades, all of which will satisfy anyone’s rainbow cravings. One can’t help but gasp at this radiant spectacle!
Speaking of blossoms, those of the berry species are right on schedule in spite of their late start. Fruits of the forest are flowering abundantly in prelude to providing treats for the sweet tooths of the region, including the wild, and us not-so-wild, beings.
The wildlife throughout our surrounding forest often causes me to wonder what they might think about us two legged critters. Do they wonder about us, as we do them? I know that they see us when we don’t see them, but are their wheels a-turning like ours during the countless times we view them with wonder and amazement?
It’s unusual when some resident or visitor doesn’t mention an animal observation that has captured their fancy. A while back, a gal living over on Hungry Jack Lake shared a leisurely walk with a neighborhood fox. She spotted her soon-to-be furry companion at the side of the road just ahead. Stopping, it came trotting over to her, not showing any apparent concern. It was so close she could have touched it.
As she walked on Mr./Ms. Fox disappeared into the bushes, but the lady could hear it moving around as her stroll continued. Soon out it came and trotted in front of her up the lane. Nearing her cabin, the fox just sat down. As she neared where the red critter was sitting, it came back to her once again.
It became apparent that this animal had been habituated by one of us, and approached her thinking it could get a handout. With hunger pangs not being satisfied, it casually decided to move on and headed off, probably disappointed.
This wilderness occurrence is one of perhaps dozens where we happen into the uncharted realm of pseudo pet-hood with a wild neighborhood critter. Oftentimes in our exuberance over getting an up-close experience in the wild, we could be setting up these wonderful creatures for failure during tough times of their life. Although this lady enjoyed the experience during her walk, she was careful to let it go, not creating another unexplainable moment for the fox during its journey.
Another episode up toward the end of the Trail found a bear visiting a fellow’s deck one evening. Storming out with a tirade of loud and less than welcoming words, the uninvited visitor would not scram. After a brief eye to eye stare down, the cabin owner decided this wooly creature was apparently not uncomfortable with a human nearby.
In the end, the cabin owner retrieved his shotgun from inside. After a couple blasts into the air, Bruno came to understand that it was not wanted and left without incident.
This bear might never have grown comfortable with mankind were it not for someone’s either voluntary or involuntary actions. It’s sometimes easy to forget that the creatures were here first, and survived well for eons before our intrusion. Our willingness to be kind must be tempered into not creating a prospect of dependency for animals in the northern kingdom, particularly when they are bigger, run faster, climb higher and bite harder than us.
Celebrations of the summer season continue after a delightful open house /shrimp boil last Sunday for the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, put on by the Gunflint Trail Historical Society. A fantastic turnout enjoyed the simply great food along with much social interaction. Thanks go out to the organizers and all attendees.
Next week at this time, WTIP will be in the midst of its summer membership drive. The theme of this celebration is, it’s a “North Shore Experience.” Excitement commences next Thursday July 9, and all involved with this outstanding broadcasting venture encourage joining the family of listener-supporters as either a new or renewing member.
Then the following week finds attention focused on the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races. This long running event will be held Wednesday, July 16 on the waterfront at Gunflint Lodge. Food, fun, prize drawings and races will be running nonstop from 4 p.m. until the gunnel pump race near sundown. This is the granddaddy of summer celebrations on the Trail, with all proceeds going to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire and Rescue Departments.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor America’s birthday in Gunflint, adventure land!

(Photo by bzd1 on Flickr)