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October got back on track in the upper Gunflint this past week. After wandering aimlessly for the first couple stanzas while holding hands with late summer, month ten kicked up her heels with a little winter preview.
A couple frosty mornings found gauzy fog hanging over the warmer Gunflint Lake waters. Then clouds globed together late in the night of our full “falling leaves” moon, and by morning of last Saturday snow was flying.
The mid-trail area received a pretty good dose while I was down in those parts for a rummage sale. The white stuff was sticking to everything and in not too many minutes the Trail was coated for my first stab at winter driving conditions. This impromptu winter wonderland made our beautiful autumn quickly fade into a distant memory.
Here at Wildersmith our snow was not quite as intense, nevertheless it provided us with the first coating of the season. By afternoon a few peeks of sun and a still-warm ground made it all disappear in spite of temps hanging out in the low to mid-30s.
With the temperature not getting above the freezing mark this past Monday and snow whipping about most all day, I’m invoking my self-imposed criteria that it ‘s now winter in these parts. You may recall from years past that a daytime high temp below the freezing mark at this time of the season gives me license to make such a bold proclamation.
Speaking of the Gunflint Gal, I ran a check of her water temp and found “warmer” to be only relative with the column of mercury diminished into the high 40s, brrrr! On another note regarding the lake, several rains late this summer and into the fall have brought the lake level up to the highest I’ve seen at this time of year in over a decade.
This in mind, the area must be finally coming out of the drought that has plagued us for too many years to count. It was a great summer for growing things, and thank goodness, the trees are going into winter with fairly wet feet. Now if only Old Man Winter remembers to pile on the snow!
Back country roads twist and turn as we head through October. I find it uniquely artistic the way in which, with only minimal traffic, our fallen leaves are churned up and then banked in neatly windrowed roadside borders. It’s almost as if they are plowed into formation to act as cushion for the layers that will be piled upon them in the months to come.
The times of daylight are noticeably shorter even with that nonsensical daylight savings gaffe. Darkness is now closing in on us by late afternoon, and it’s barely twilight at seven in the morning. So our limitless bright sky of a few short weeks ago is now consumed by ever lengthening darkness. Nevertheless, our extended evening time grips us with crisp soft air and the reverent smell of wood smoke. It’s a time of peace, perhaps the quiet before the storm.
All critters in our northern universe are busy securing places to hole up for the cold times ahead. Over the years, we at Wildersmith have been spared the influx of those tiny rodents seeking a warm spot (knock on wood). However, tight as the place seems to be, those creepy spiders are finding ways to slither inside. I know I’m probably not winning the battle against the wriggling arachnids, but if they show themselves they’re mine.
All avian feeders have been reinstalled on our deck-side cafeteria. However, I’m still using caution in regard to going full bore on serving the winged critters for fear of inviting a hungry Bruno. Further, since the brown earth is still providing morsel opportunities, and with the cost of seeds, it won’t hurt too much to wait a while longer for the excitement of a feeding frenzy to commence.
We do have several airborne visitors coming by on a daily basis to check things out. Besides our feathered friends, another reunion of sorts is announced with the return of our furry old friend Piney, the marten. Mr./Ms. Marten has been in absentia since last spring, but apparently remembers a nice piece of chicken will be available in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, it has been munching on some sparse daytime-issued sunflower seeds that keep the chattering squirrels off my back.
The “All Welcome” WTIP fall membership drive is in full swing as we visit this week. We need your continued support! So give us a telephone buzz or internet click to keep this northern marvel going and growing, and thank you very much!
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the coming of the “great northern express”, there’s a light comin’ round the mountain.