Wildersmith On The Gunflint Sept. 2, 2009

Maple tree
Maple tree

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October-like conditions send August a-packing. After an end-of-the-month drenching, the territory got some of that marvelous “see your breath” cold. In fact I got one report of the mercury hitting the 32-degree mark at a place along the Gunflint Lake shore this past Sunday, Aug. 30. The atmosphere surely warned us of things to come.

So here we are…off into the month of the full corn moon, the autumnal equinox and the color extravaganza. Suddenly we border country residents have come to the full realization that winter preparations can no longer be put on hold.

I have been amazed that one rather adult maple along the Mile O’ Pine has already reached its scarlet pinnacle. There are often many young maples that make the color exchange early, but this is a first for the larger specimens in our neighborhood.
Since the color transition is pretty much dependent upon declining amounts of sunshine time, I hope that the crimson beauty is not sick. Perhaps it has a kinship with yours truly, hoping to just get on with things and into the most beautiful season of all in the northland, white time.
Spider time in the woods is providing some intricate fiber art on clear dewy mornings. Arachnid spinners have woven miraculous silk-like networks throughout the forest east of the Wildersmith place. They are spinning in everyone else’s neighborhood too, and some of the design work might have been seen with frost on them if Jack paid a visit to other places in the territory. Wouldn’t that have been a thing of beauty!
Hearts go out to Tony and Carol Feiock, the folks on Seagull River that suffered another flaming tragedy to their place in the wilderness. They lost their wilderness home in the mayhem of the Ham Lake fire in 2007 and seeing it rise from those ashes must have been thrilling. But their dreams were dashed again on the night of Aug. 24. It is incomprehensible to think that such misfortune could strike in the same place twice. Prayers for strength go out to them in this time of devastation.
We at Wildersmith are enjoying a reunion with a gang of Whiskey Jacks (Canadian Jays). They have suddenly returned to the feed trough after taking a sabbatical from their usual wintertime hang-out. They have not lost their appetites for the finer nutritional elements such as pizza, leftovers from the great prime rib (fries included) at Trail Center and polish sausages.
Their eating frenzy each morning has even attracted one of those winged French fry-eating rats (a seagull). So I have been called upon several times to send this un-invited scarfer a flappin’ back to the lake.
The Gunflint Lake Property Owners Association held their annual meeting and picnic Aug. 21. It may not seem like any big deal, but for the sake of trivia buffs, it marked the organizations 40th birthday. Yes, that’s four decades! If there are any other lake or property groups along the Gunflint Trail that have been organized for a long time, I’d appreciate hearing about them.
With this edition of Wildersmith on the Gunflint, I too am celebrating an anniversary. It was seven years ago that penning this column began. Most of those years were with the local newspaper, but since the new owners sent me packing, I am thrilled to be a part of programming for our great community radio station. Thanks to all of you readers and listeners for putting up with me. So off we go into year eight, welcome aboard!
The fourth annual Gunflint Trail Historical Society picnic went off without a hitch this past Monday. On an absolutely magnificent northwoods day, 150 border country friends and neighbors gathered for an old-fashioned hot dog roast with all the trimmings.
The beautifully restored ChikWauk Lodge was stuffed to overflowing as people got their final look at the museum facility before artifacts and displays are brought in after snow melt next spring. Then the famous lodge will be packed with history of this fabled northwoods corridor.
As this first weekend of September rolls around, you are reminded that next Saturday (Sept. 12), the second annual “Taste of the Gunflint” hits the Trail.
So mark your calendar for that afternoon’s tour of the featured lodges: Rockwood, Loon Lake, and ChikWauk). Plenty of goodies can be expected as local culinarians present recipes from the past, all coming from the “Taste of the Gunflint” cookbook.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the whims of fall.

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