Once more, the Smiths are back in border country. It’s great to be home after a swell 10-day break visiting with grandsons in Iowa.
Again many thanks go out to the “nosey pup” from over on Hungry Jack Lake for subbing in my absence. I was back in time to catch her last week’s commentary. It sure was great to hear her hearty voice bringing you up to speed on the Gunflint Scoop.
The transformation to our season of rebirth got under way in both a premature and earnest way this past week. Who would have thought we’d be out of the “w” season so quickly? Guess I won’t have to be mentioning the white time of year for several months now.
In fact, with the meager snowfall of the season past, our next north woods season, that of “mud,” is not going to be too extensive and obnoxious. Looks like the northland might be in for a long hot summer if the past week is any indicator, yuck!
The early advance of May in March has the pussy willow buds just a-purring in the powerful sun and crows have returned in raucous cacophony. Also observed our first robin tweeting about Wildersmith, and I don’t mean on the cyber screen.
After dark, the beams of manmade light are already reflecting off several moth species in their aerial acrobatics. I suppose we could be in for an early arrival for those black fly terrorists if the streak of hot humid continues. This dictates a double yuck, yuck!
Noticeably absent from the avian cafeteria are the hundreds of red polls and dozens of pine grosbeaks, all of which have headed north to summer destinations. Meanwhile, the busy whitetail crew that has been pruning around the neighborhood all winter has all but disappeared. They’ve headed to greener munching, and preparation for maternal happenings, on southern exposures far, far away.
The gurgling sound of creeks and rivers rushing toward depleted lakes is music to our ears. However, these natural melodies will only be temporary until the snow melt ends, unless of course, much needed rain comes soon.
Speaking of our lakes, a trip to the Chik-Wauk Museum recently, for a regular security check, found me in awe of the low water level in the bay. I’ve never seen it that low in my short time around here. It looked as though the USFS’ floating dock moored there, could well have been sitting on the bottom, and huge rocks are showing above water in new places not seen before.
Obviously, Saganaga as well as Gunflint and any number of other lakes in the upper Trail territory are experiencing terribly depleted water levels. These seemingly unending drought conditions, going on now for what seems like several years, just have to get turned around.
Our sudden turn to summer-like warmth is taking its toll on the lake ice as well. Fisher folks are still traversing to their favorite fishing holes, mostly on four wheelers, but have to stand in considerable watery slush above the ice.
As of late last week, I’m told there is still some 14 to 18 inches of ice on the Gunflint. I’m thinking that can’t last too much longer as the surface has taken on that darkening gray color. Gunflint ice out might easily happen before April. This would be an all-time record over the past three decades, for which I have records.
Needless to say, with the increasingly dry conditions, many of us in the area are nervous about increasing wild fire danger. The forest is a combustible accident waiting to happen. It’s hoped that governing agencies will act soon to invoke TOTAL burning bans instead of having to react after a tragedy ignites.
Common sense would indicate that NO manmade wilderness fires should be allowed in border country until the area gets a whole lot wetter. Sadly, it must be realized that “common sense” is not so common anymore, so a ban seems an absolute necessity.
Keep on hangin’ on, savor this place and do a little rain dancing!
Airdate: March 23, 2012
Photo courtesy of Zixii via Flickr.