For some folks, “the weather outside is frightful,” but for the moose and me, “it’s just delightful.” What a gift we have in the out-of-doors from October to May!
Although this part of the world missed the big snows of last week, we did get a freshening up of three or four inches. So far, month 112 has been dry compared to the white November offering.
The big weather thing is that Mother Nature finally got the Zamboni going in earnest. Yes, ice making!
Many of the small lakes of the territory have been thickening for several weeks now, but the big stubborn ones have had trouble getting in the mood. That is, until this last weekend when a solid cold snap settled over the Arrowhead.
The temps went below zero late this past Friday night, continuing on through the weekend and into the first of this week. Shortly after sunrise last Sunday, the mercury at Wildersmith dipped to minus 22 and then minus 26 on Monday.
I remember the late Johnny Carson & Ed McMahon quips of “how cold was it.” Well, it was so cold that my whiskey jack friends came in for breakfast with frost on their eyebrows. And it was so cold that blue jay feathers were puffed up into fluffy down, and the whitetails had a frothy glaze on both foreheads and backs.
Cold as it was, this is just the beginning of what will likely seem warm by border country standards, as we head a few weeks down the road. I can remember days not too many winters ago, when minus 22 was a daytime high at this little port in the forest, so get ready!
The ice-over process on Gunflint Lake was nearly complete during this same time span, with just a sliver of open water remaining on the Canadian shore across from the Smits’s. Pending calm daylight hours on Sunday, I am declaring the old gal officially frozen December 12.
This date, by the way, is right on the average date for freezing up. An anecdote on the Gunflint ice making; she was already whining about the fit of her new coat by Sunday afternoon, and growling still Monday morning.
A couple of ice anglers have shared that the ice on their small lake of choice is about nine inches in depth, and it is likely growing thicker as we visit this week. The fellows also confirm that not only has the dense water fishing been fun, but the catching/spearing of some nice northern pike has been too.
Next week at this time the wilderness will have passed into official calendar recognition of “Biboon.” Hope clear skies will enable everyone to get out and celebrate Winter Solstice on the 21st, with its full moon and accompanying lunar eclipse. The evening should be spectacular over our deep crystal landscape.
A friend down the road raised an interesting question about why some kinds of birds congregate at her feeder and others seem noticeably absent this time of year. She tells of large congregations of pine grosbeaks, for instance, and of having no chickadees. At Wildersmith we have just the opposite, hordes of the little black-capped beings and only an occasional stopover for a few grosbeaks.
The scenario makes me wonder, as it is known that both varieties hang out in the Arrowhead all winter. Perhaps it’s the nasty jaybirds here that discourage the pink ones, or maybe they just prefer some other seeds to the sunflower variety. Whatever the reason, it is somewhat perplexing. Maybe one of our many Cook County birding experts has an answer.
And lastly, the Trail welcomes a new resident, as the Christiansons (Rachelle & Cory) brought a new baby girl into our wilderness world. Congratulations to the new family!
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the peace of the north woods.
Airdate: December 17, 2010