Wildersmith on the Gunflint Sept. 30, 2009

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Historic September is done! Yes, the month that rescued summer, the warmest on record, said its good byes with a little October gray and November gales. The dismal last weekend of number nine wasn’t all bad either, as the appeal for rain in the upper parts of the Trail was finally answered. What fell as I keyed this column wasn’t too heavy, but was sure welcome, and it settled the dusty issues on back country roads.
Winds of September, in a southerly rut for weeks, finally turned to a more prevailing northwest and ushered in showers of two varieties, one moisture-laden and the other, showers of tawny white pine needles. So the rush to recarpet the forest floor is under way as tree tops are being cleansed.
Full harvest moonlight captures the northland after we have barely opened October’s doors. If skies should be clear this coming weekend, there is nothing like the big orange sphere of month 10, when it clears the eastern hills of the territory.
With fall but a week old, pre-cold preparations have intensified around the Gunflint community. The attitude up this way seems to have always been about community and helping each other when a need arises. Whether home repair parts or manpower is needed, folks up this way just get it done.
Such was the case this past week as I was subdued by some surgery at a time when being laid up is not convenient. Good people came to the front. The boat got pulled in from the lake, and winterized. Then, a “magnificent seven” from down the road, via Twin Cities suburbia (Coon Rapids), muscled the dock onto dry land. Boy, am I grateful!
The gathering season continues for the small furry beings around here, and ‘intense’ has to be their watchword. It’s all business now.
I saw a fox the other day that had a tail fluffier than the girth of its body. With the fox tail being the body insulator during cold times, I’m wondering if the lushness of this one’s tassel might be an indication of the weather to come.
On the other hand, I’ve observed only a couple of those fuzzy caterpillars so far and their dark thick coats seem to be lacking. Maybe it is too early for them to be in full coat as the winter severity myth goes, or their winter-predicting appearance is reflecting something different than the fox tail.
The limitless skies were a backdrop for some fall eagle acrobatics over Wildersmith this past week. A couple and their young’un soared and squawked through the blue for a couple days, providing some great aerial viewing of this spectacular creature. It is hard to envision the wingspan being so vast when you see them scrolled tightly, high on a big pine perch.
Duck numbers in our neighborhood have been declining greatly over the past decade, so when a raft happens by, conversation turns to simulated quacks of joy in welcoming the feathery folk.
Just before our dock was brought ashore, we had a day when a mallard mamma and five adolescent children came by for a visit. The corn can came out and there was considerable joy in ducking for corn off the shore-side lake bottom.
Later on, something spooked mom and she sought out of sight shelter under the dock, spending the balance of the afternoon in its shadows. By evening, danger had apparently passed and they had departed.
Our return to the dock for the sunset caught their attention once again, and here they came, cruising in to spend the rest of the daylight in our company.
It was a step back in time for us and the friendly flock as we renewed acquaintances, if even for a brief visit. Now the dock is gone and their ducky thoughts will surely be turning to their winter vacation journey.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor autumnal days!

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