Wildersmith March 4

Red Squirrel in the Snow
Red Squirrel in the Snow

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Enter March, what happened to February? As the territory heads into month three, the atmospheric conditions have been less than lamb-like.

The last days of month two did show winter with on-going gusto as the mercury skidded to well below zero for a few nights. The coldest at Wildersmith was minus 31, with minus 29 at a place down the road and minus 27 at the Seagull Guard station last Saturday shortly after daybreak.

Snowfall over the past 28 days measured a piddling 11 inches at the end of Mile O Pine. We probably had a net loss in what’s on the ground, with the usual gravitational effects and our week three meltdown, yet the landscape remains quite winter-like in appearance. We are entering the month of our “crust on the snow moon” (Onaabani Giizis) with a seasonal accumulation to date of 85 inches at the Smith place.

All in all, winter in these parts has been pretty good when paired with last year’s effort. In spite of the calendar showing spring a couple weeks away, there is potential for a few more opportunities to experience the cold season. And there are several Gunflint folks who are still awaiting a really big winter storm, like those hitting everywhere else in the good old U.S. of A. Blizzard hopes “spring” eternal, for the hardy out this way!

I continue to marvel at the ingenious ways of many wild critters. Yet I observe one species that surely displays varying levels of “intelligencia”, just like we that watch them. At the same time, I suppose every group in the wild creation has varying degrees brain power.

For some reason, winter has become unusually popular for a large number of those pesky red squirrels that frequent our lakeside deck. You may remember the ones that ate into the HVAC system of my truck a few years back, smarter than me obviously, costing a mere $1,600 dollars in repairs.

While laid up with the north woods crud last week, I watched as about half dozen of the little red seed crunchers scurried here and there, jockeying for seating at the deck rail cafeteria. Along the outdoor buffet, several styles of feeding stations offer what might be considered access challenges.

Obviously, I am easily amused. It’s a kick to watch as many of the mini-rodents have easily figured out the entry process, while some of their brethren come back to the same unit time after time, seemingly never gaining insight from the previous visit, or watching how their kin did it just ahead of them.

In one instance, getting an easy sunflower morsel requires pushing up a feeder lid while in another location a short jump from deck rail to a hanging metal platform is all it takes. Some just don’t get it. One can almost imagine the “wheels a-turning in their tiny minds” as they investigate every which way but the right one. Guess they are probably the ones that get eaten, instead of getting something to eat.

And on another wild note, I recently heard about a hair-raising scream in the wilderness, resonating like that of a human in distress. Searchers gathered around the Round Lake/Tuscarora Lodge area but found nothing leading to some kind of human involvement. Later descriptions and Internet investigation led to the belief that it must have been a fox. They have been known to make almost human-like sounds at times, and with the mating season in full swing this could easily be attributed to a true call of the wild.

Keep on hangin on, and savor some of the wild times!

Airdate: March 4, 2011

Photo courtesy of Varanos via Flickr.


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