Wildersmith: Savoring the Natural Sounds of the North

Photo by Crane Farm on Flickr
Photo by Crane Farm on Flickr

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FinalCut_Wildersmith_20110708.mp39.86 MB

Here we are, with one week of month seven behind us along the Gunflint Trail.
The past Independence Day holiday weekend was pretty much normal with a day of un-bearable humid heat and followed by two splendid cooler segments.
That really hot day led into an after dark thunder/lightning show at the upper end of the byway. Mother Nature’s booming and cracking proved to be a lot of bark, but not too much bite in terms of rainfall produced. Significant amounts of precip were spotty with only two-tenths of an inch at Wildersmith.
The electrical storm did little damage other than to separate the Trail residents from outside world telephone contact for the better part of three days. Once again, one of the contemporary conveniences that we so much take for granted caused considerable angst for those so dependent. As long as the inconvenience was, we are thankful for the technicians who spent their holiday working to get us back on line!
Folks who relish the subtropical had to be smiling with that first really hot day of the summer in these parts. The conditions were great for the growing forest flora, but for me and the moose, it was pure misery. One day is more than enough!
During my most recent stint of volunteer work at the Chik-Wauk Museum, I discovered what may be the first sampling of an autumn dream. While nosing around the grounds, I found some leaves on a small plant that have turned to fall red/orange already. And, the fruit on their stems was ripening to a bright scarlet.
It turns out, that after some research in a museum plant book, this little shrub proved to be a skunk currant. Regardless of our season being in the hot spectrum, the maturing red fruit and colorful leaves provided a cool outlook for things to come in a few short weeks.
The magnificent Gunflint is truly a sensory place. I’ve been proclaiming its beauty for several weeks through that of the human eye, but have not dwelled on the charm captured by our auditory receptors.
As I recuperate from surgery a couple weeks ago, my sedentary time has found me listening with a little more intensity. I’ve been hearing things that have always been here, but are often taken for granted.
For the most part, in this pristine place, silence is golden. Nevertheless, there is noise of Nature that can be as captivating as the visual.
For instance, how often do we pay attention to the whisper of air moving through a coniferous treetop? The rustle of quaking leaves in a zillion deciduous cousins offers a different shush through the landscape. At the other end of the air current continuum, a roaring eruption from the north/northwest can change a northern lullaby into a booming hard rock concert of waving and thrashing.
Of course there are more to audio offerings when it comes to the thousand-plus lakes in the territory. The extreme of sound bites over our sky-blue waters ranges from almost negligible at the time of a pre-dawn sunrise to deafening violence during one of the many big time blows.
From joyous ripples to crashing rollers, harmony is created in the collision between H20 and our granite shorelines. And, in echoing reverberation, gulps, burps and gurgling create a marvelous response as lake containment lines alter the tone of a symphony in northern waters.
At a time when both wind and water provide background music over the land, a listening ear can be charmed with both solo and choral episodes from forest fauna. We are treated to tweets, chirps, whistles, yodels, screeches and hoots to name but a few…all of which can entertain at any hour of the day or night.
To say that the area is a musical phenom is an understatement. The wilderness is a serine, rhythmic community unto itself and in performance mode continually.
So as more settled sections of America celebrated another birthday with various versions of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” we in unorganized territory had a concert of our own that is ongoing with new compositions ever more.
Hope you had a safe and happy Fourth of July! See you at the big Chik-Wauk shore lunch this coming Monday, 12 noon.
Keep on hangin’ on and savor some tunes of the north!


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