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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 14

Pine Marten
Pine Marten

Wildersmith_20140314_finalcut2.mp35.56 MB

At the time this week's scoop commences, it appears that Old Man Winter might have slipped on the ice and lost his grip. Gunflint residents are smiling at the beaming sun and near to above freezing temps that graced the area last weekend.

However, it’s with tongue in cheek that we celebrate too much too soon. We are still but a week away from the vernal equinox and everyone can remember when late April 2013 brought the worst snow of the winter.  Some areas of the Gunflint territory got two feet or more.

Nevertheless, the relief from bitter cold is gratefully accepted as we honor the “crust on the snow moon” for March in a couple days.

The sudden warm-up couldn’t have come at a better time for the white tails in our neighborhood. They certainly must be under stress, and the few that come through our yard are taking on an emaciated look.

I have noticed that several of the more mature bucks are displaying swelling knots on their foreheads. Obviously, they are in the know as to spring character being on the way.

By the way, the deer have apparently missed the cue to turn their clocks ahead. It seems they are still on Central Standard Time as they are showing up around the yard an hour later than usual.  This is just one more example of humans screwing up another thing for some of the Wild Kingdom!

It’s been a tough winter for one pine marten, which came by our feed trough the other day. The beautiful fur coat had a ragged blemish where a large bite wound appeared on its right shoulder. Who knows how that might have happened? The big scar reminded me of many deer that come by with a bite out of their side or rump, or with chunks of an ear missing.

Speaking of pine martens, we had a first-time Wildersmith visit from a close cousin. A fisher, the larger version of the marten/weasel family, has made two nightly visits in the past week.

It looks to be a healthy critter although a bit scarier than its cuter relative. Due to its size and rather ferocious look, I wouldn’t want to meet up with a live one in a defensive circumstance.

I may have more to share if this guy/gal comes by scavenging again. I know one thing for sure, it makes a pretty good clunk when jumping down from feed tray rail to deck.

Another unusual animal sighting was reported to me just a few days ago. Two different residents observed a white wolf in the Gunflint/Loon Lake area.

Since white wolves are of the Arctic variety, this would seem unlikely, as we are a long ways from that territory.  However, these observers saw what they saw, but perhaps it was just one of our own gray wolf gang that was born with a silver/blond coat. A little research confirms that on occasion a gray wolf will turn up with a cream or even white coat.

The sighting looks to be a ghostly mystery. Hope this “white shadow” shows itself again for further confirmation.

Not only is the weather a tie that binds folks in these parts together, a sense of community is certainly another fusing element. I’m talking about volunteerism.

Two hugely successful endeavors were completed this past weekend. One was the eighth annual “Mush for a Cure.” This event benefitting National Breast Cancer Research once again was a splendid example of what a small village of people can do when they put their heads together.

Highly organized, the many planned activities went off without a hitch due to wonderful leadership and county-wide participation and cooperation. I’ve heard wonderful comments from both mushers and spectators.

Fund raising numbers are still being tallied at this writing, but it is estimated that somewhere in the neighborhood of $40, 000 will be contributed to this search for a cure. Thanks go to all who pitched in to make the happening a big success!

Special recognition is extended to all mushers and their handlers as well as the “bald, brave and beautiful” trio. You were all in the “Pink!”

The other event was our own community radio station’s spring membership drive. Talk about volunteers, how about the great WTIP staff, a fellowship of in-kind and in-house worker bees and our community of listeners, both local and nationwide. Many people stepped up to put this much needed funding process over the top once again.

We welcome 35 new pledging/contributing members to the WTIP family and salute our loyal renewing membership. Congratulations, and thanks to all for helping exceed the spring forward goal. Enjoy “THE” radio station of the north shore and north woods!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a bit of north woods heaven!

(Photo by SolidElectronics on Flickr)