Wildersmith on the Gunflint June 3

Heading up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais
Heading up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais

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June, the month of our full “strawberry moon” (Ode’imini Giizis”) is at hand. Chapter six of the year 2011 is steaming full speed ahead, no stopping it now.

Old Sol is arching through the universe to give the Gunflint Territory its longest daylight of the year in little over two weeks. With it, “Zigwan” (spring) turns the warm season over to “Neebing” (summer), and the light of day begins a slow trickle in the other direction once more.

Memorial Day weekend along the Trail was a cheery, busy place as the unofficial first day of summer saw throngs of snowbirds back at wilderness places, and vacationing warriors added to the mix as caravans of vehicles with canoes and fishing boats hummed through the forest to hundreds of destinations.

Except for a gray somewhat rainy Saturday (only three-tenths of an inch at Wildersmith), the weather was perfect for the kick-off of vacation season. The territory did experience a few frosty mornings in the days prior to the holiday segment. Frost/freeze advisories proved to be right on this time. Once again, these late May cold snaps confirmed what longtime residents have continually preached, “that June is the time for serious garden planting,” and there is no point in trying to out-guess Mother Nature with an early start.

I have to announce that the last chunk of ice hiding in the shadows of a white cedar canopy along the Mile O Pine has melted into history. The final observation of the winter artifact was May 26. How appropriate that we celebrate the beginning of the summer season the same week that the last remnant of cold succumbed.

The Wildersmith dock is in the lake thanks to the able assistance of a wonderful spouse and some swell neighbors. They did the grunt work of carrying the cumbersome moorage parts while I guided them from the cold Gunflint waters.

With water temps still hovering in the high 40s, the initial shock was tempered with one of those high-tech wetsuits. Only my hands experienced a sense of what spring water at 48 degrees north latitude is really like, still icy cold.

Our end of the Mile O Pine has been taunted by a nosey bear over the past few nights. It is a yearling that is either none too bright or is going to be a big obstinate nuisance in the not-too-distant future. Shots into the night darkness don’t seem to faze the young bruno as it just gives you a ‘ha-rumphh’ look before it waddles off.

Recently some new neighbors got firsthand experience with life in the woods. Two days in a row found the black fur ball initiating them. First, they found out that leaving birdseed out can offer a hungry critter an invitation back for another visit. On night two, the marauding adolescent came part way through a doggie door. Somehow, it got the inside door open and snatched the remaining bag of seeds.

So now brother bear is checking all of us out. Hope it gets the message soon that the welcome mat is not intended for grumpy north woods creatures. It’s getting nothing at this stop-off during nightly rounds.

The Smiths welcomed more cordial critters a few days ago. My wintertime gray jay friends have returned. After a several week hiatus to bring a new generation into the world, they came back, this time with two young’uns.

It didn’t take long for mom and pop to come to the hand for a cube of bread. Meanwhile, the young, that I would call juveniles at this stage, kept a safe distance. So far they haven’t learned the ropes in getting an easy snack at Wildersmith.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the sum, sum, summer time!


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