The north woods survived January, and we are off into the month of Namebini Giizis (the “sucker moon” as the Ojibwe call it). February has answered the call for another 28-day run in 2011.
It is our time of hearts and chocolates, and although love is the theme, growls of winter will remain the order of business with snow to drop, winds to howl and ice to make.
January up the Trail ended with a repeat of last weekend, another dose of fluff and cold. However, the temps were not as bitter, in spite of still hanging around and below the nothing mark much of the time.
The snow accumulation tally at Wildersmith passed the 70-inch mark with Old Man Winter’s last repetition, and now stands at 74. With shoveled banks stacked high along residential driveways, each successive removal is more difficult. Meanwhile, plowed windrows along back country roads are reaching a point of obscuring vision for those surprising deer that often come bounding out of the woods.
Speaking of deep snow, I became concerned with depth on my roof. So I took to raking it off last week. Due to wind accumulations layering more on one side than the other, I had to spend time in four separate daily segments clearing it off.
In some spots the crusted white was at least three feet thick and stubborn to get loose. As one might expect, the most recent dose has started the build up once more, so I’ll most likely be at it again, depending on the intentions of Mother Nature during the next few months.
This next story is not to be interpreted as X-rated because in reality, it was a natural wild critter love encounter. I’ll call it better late than never in the case of Nature’s way of continuing the species.
We have many deer that hang out in the calm of our lakeside balsam stand during the cold season, and you never know what they might be up to at various times of day or night. This white tail event occurred just after morning broke one day last week.
I happened to glance out the window to our east and noticed two deer nuzzling each other. This is not too uncommon, as I often see does and fawns exchanging mother and child touches about the head and neck. Further observation, however, determined that it was not a family affair but an anxious buck and an interested but teasing doe that must have been in abnormal mid-winter estrus.
The strange part of the entire encounter is that this ritual should have been over and done with in the first weeks of November last fall. Obviously, this must have been a quirk of nature, as the amorous pair frolicked about for several minutes until the act of mating was eventually consummated.
I suppose that this act of sustaining the herd may have been seen many times as hunters sit in their tree stands each fall. But for me to see this fundamental wilderness event, just 10 feet away from my window, is not only surprising, but also an occurrence that will be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
So if anyone happens to see a newborn fawn just getting about, along the Mile O Pine or the south shore of Gunflint Lake, late next August instead of the usual birthing time of late May/early June, you’ll know that it was the result of an “affair to remember” in the last week of January at Wildersmith in the woods.
Keep on hangin, on and savor a wild woods experience!
Photo courtesy of plantsforpermaculture via Flickr.
Airdate: February 4, 2011