Truly, east is east and west is west as old Sol kisses summer goodbye. “Fire & Ice” over the past week has been a prelude to our northland equinox.
Mother Nature snarled at places close by with the raging Pagami Creek wildfire. Then, not too uncharacteristically, gave us a brief preview of things to come with a day of snow showers, sleet and rain on our 14th day of month nine.
Added to the natural turmoil were a couple mornings of frosted rooftops as the morning temp at Wildersmith hit an early season low of 22. So with sudden abruptness, the garden-growing season has come to an end. Tender veggies got hit pretty hard unless covers were thrown over them.
Moisture accumulations have been minimal, but nevertheless welcomed by both worried property owners and fire fighters throughout the county. Gain in containment of the massive, 100,000-acre burn has been slow, but steady as of this writing last Monday evening.
Meanwhile winds in the fire storm calmed, and thankfully, have remained blowing mostly away from the upper end of the Trail. Let’s hope that it stays that way! After the fires in 2005, 2006, and 2007, Gunflinters feel nothing but sympathy for those folks to the south and west who are experiencing the terror that comes with flames, wind and smoke. Everyone is praying for a safe return to normalcy soon!
As the growing season ended, the intensity of migration has stepped up. The hummingbirds have departed border country for winter places and those flying wedges of Canadian honkers have been observed headed in a perpendicular direction to the jet stream.
Lake water temps have tumbled quickly with the first cold blast. At last temperature check from the Wildersmith dock, the mercury had slipped to 63. This is about 10 degrees down from the warmest point of the summer.
Added to water temps’ demise, our Gunflint Lake level on the DNR measuring gauge has dropped below where I can even get a reading. This attests to the seriousness of drought for this region. For a fact, the surface may be matching last year’s when it was lower than longtime residents had ever seen. It makes me wonder if this trend will ever be reversed, as it’s been a decade with such arid conditions at this end of the Trail.
Out of daybreak last Sunday, a regular wintertime visitor returned to the feed trough. One of those nomadic pine martens apparently remembered where it could get a good chicken dinner. It was thin as a rail indicating that a little poultry plate would be just the ticket. I can only wonder where it’s been all summer?
A night later, an unwanted visitor showed up. This appearance featured the biggest raccoon that I have ever seen. It was sniffing around the deck-side seed trays, but got little more than some smells. It looks like I’ll be trying my skills at live trapping the masked bandit for displacement to another locale.
The woods must seem a lonesome place at times to critters of the forest. Last Sunday, a trip down the Mile O Pine, in a cold drizzling rain, brought us upon a lone wolf.
Although looking quite healthy, it appeared to be rather forlorn as it stood looking toward this humming monster of a truck. After checking us out briefly, it ambled off into the trees. I suppose it was hungry and maybe looking for a comrade or the rest of the pack. At times life must be a struggle for those of the wild neighborhood.
Everyone along the Gunflint is probably torn, wishing for both great sunny days in which to celebrate the color show, and yet yearning so badly for a stint of rain and cool to set the fire danger on its ear. Hopefully, we’ll get a little bit of both.
Keep on hangin’ on and pray for wildfire containment!
Airdate: September 23, 2011
Photo courtesy of dbang via Flickr.