Wildersmith March 8

Pine Marten (George Lamson/Flickr)
Pine Marten (George Lamson/Flickr)

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Whew, a week of March has come and gone already. Our semi-winter continues in the upper Gunflint. With spring peeking just over the southern cliffs, Old Man Winter paid the area another visit over the past few days.
 
Although he was only half hearted, his frigid offering sent us a reminder that there might still be a bit of vigor remaining before the season is relinquished. This neighborhood has had no new snow since the Feb. 23, but the past weekend experienced a couple wintery minus 20-something mornings.
 
This lack of moisture is beginning to wear on a few of us regulars. Reading that the long-range forecast is for more intense drought in the coming warm season, wildfire danger continues to hang in the back of our minds, as the meager snow pack is not growing and will soon be diminishing.
 
It is hoped that the regulating authorities are paying attention to making the tough call when burning bans become a necessity. In the meantime, it would be nice if the moisture gods would shower down on us with more regularity.
 
We humans sit back smugly most of the time thinking that we have it over the lower beings of the animal world with regard to reasoning power. Living in the woods and watching the happenings in the wild neighborhood, I’m not so sure that our superiority should be taken for granted.
 
Obviously, those of the wild kingdom spend the better part of their lives in survival mode as we do, only in more subtle ways. I marvel at the alert attention every critter of the woods pays toward not becoming the next meal for an adversary up the food ladder rung. Whether one is a marten, deer or chipmunk, each is always looking over its shoulder.
 
My point is made with regard to the wisdom of a pine marten hanging out around our deck-side feed trough recently. On this particular day the little gal/guy was intent on nutritional sustenance from the various sunflower seed stations.
 
As I observed, it was keen how a few bites were taken with regular time outs to peek here and look there making sure that some predator wasn’t lurking in the shadows. In this particular instance, it was suddenly spooked by something and scurried into a small roof-covered feeder.
 
Once secure, it would stick its head out from under the eves and apprise the situation. After a few moments of checking to make sure all was clear, it made its way out into the open for more munching. Another repetition of being alarmed soon occurred and back it went into seclusion. In a few moments, it was out in the sunshine once more.
 
I became intrigued about what was causing the marten’s concern.  At that moment, I caught a glimpse of an in-flight shadow on the pine canopy back drop.
 
An avian flying overhead, a fairly large one at that, could have been a raven or perhaps a raptor. Simultaneously I saw Piney with its head to the sky. In the blink of an eye, it was back under cover.
 
Putting two and two together, I reasoned that “big bird” was the nemesis for my furry visitor. Now, whether “big bird” was on reconnaissance for its next meal or not, I will never know. However, with three on-your-guard scampers by the marten, one would have to wonder if this wasn’t the case. For sure, the reasoning power of my marten friend was leaving nothing to chance, and we think we’re so smart!  
 
The annual trout fishing derby was held under splendid blue skies on Gunflint Lake last Sunday. A fine turnout occurred as over 90 anglers registered. In addition to the fisher people there looked to be at least a couple hundred more observers in families and friends. The short-term city on ice was a buzz of activity with every type of angling and travel rig one could imagine.
 
When yours truly was down on the ice near the end of the contest, there were 12 trout mounted on the board. The largest was a 6-pound 9-ounce whopper pulled through the hole by John Konig. It turned out that John’s catch caught him the $500 first prize. Congratulations to John and everyone that dipped a line. Thanks go to all the organizers for making this another fun event.
 
It’s not quite spring, and not everything is coming up roses just yet. However, everything will be coming up pink this weekend. The Mush for a Cure is now front and center on the wilderness stage. Preliminary events to Saturday’s big dog sled race kick off this evening (Friday) at Windigo. Hope to see everyone out in support of this worthy event!
 
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the hot pink weekend.

Airdate: March 8, 2013


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