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Wildersmith on the Gunflint October 6

WTIP News     October 6, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint         by Fred Smith

The atmosphere in the upper Trail has been pretty seasonal since we last met on the radio, cool but not cold at night, and warm but not too hot under sunshine. Furthermore, enough moisture has dampened north-country to maintain low fire danger, and enhance the aroma of fall.                                                                                                                                                                      
In the midst of one of those recent precipitation droppings, we had a spectacular rainbow grace our northern heavens. While we in these parts expect color luminosity from the Aurora at night, fine rainbows are not unusual.   
The fact this one hovered over the north shore of Gunflint Lake in Canadian skies makes it somewhat atypical. Usually an east or west phenome, this celestial spectrum happened when rays of “old Sol” were piercing the drizzle laden cloud cover from the south around the noontime hour, creating a beautiful, but short lived prismatic episode. How about this, a tinted rendition of “Mother Nature” simultaneously on earth and in the skies!    

October has crept up on us so fast we have barely noticed its arrival. A week into the books finds it unimaginable the full “falling Leaves” moon has passed us by. Yes, it happened quietly on the fifth, if you hadn’t noticed. 

Our avian migration continues as we now add “snow birds” to the flocks, winging all directions south.  With seasonal neighbors taking off, those of us choosing to stay and hold down the fort, find the urgency of “getting ready for winter” in clear focus.

My good neighbor down the road and his grouse hunting buddies from metropolis came to my aid this past weekend. They provided big manpower in bringing the dock a shore; helping to motor the boat down the lake for its return to winter storage; and in closing up an exterior lake water system. What would we do without neighbors? These major chores checked off the list, the Wildersmith two are moving on to a sundry of less heavy duty items.

The color show of our upper Gunflint is waning as this scoop hits the air. With maple leaves down and birch tokens piling on, stage two finds a quaking golden hue of aspen at its peak. Looking out our window to the forest, the buttery tones are so bright it looks as though the sun is shining, even on a cloudy day. As the emerald plumage of summer succumbs to a colorful end and descends unto another layer of history, the spotlight is set for a final act of this autumnal drama, as we wait for those aurous tamarack needles to drop the season ending curtain.

Memorable animal tidbits have come my way recently. The first of which comes from the mid-Trail neighborhood. To preface this one, for many years, neighbors in that area of the Trail have offered sustenance to any number of fox. 
In this tale of the woods, a bear was observed dipping into the food cache intended for the fox, at an unnamed residence. While the bear was partaking, a fox came onto the scene. In a sudden fit of rage, the fox took after the startled bear and ran it off. The fox came back to feed after the chase.                                                                                                                                                                         
While eating the fox noticed the inquisitive bear returned, peeking around the corner of a building nearby. Apparently feeling the bear did not understand, Mr./Ms. Fox took out in hot pursuit once again. This time, in hope of putting a little more meaning into its grub rights, the fox gave chase and got close enough to give the unknowing Ursae a good bite on the rump. I have not heard of any further confrontation, so I’m assuming the fox got its point across. The scene kind of harkens back to those old “Uncle Remus” stories about “Braer Fox and Braer Bear” read when I was a kid.                                                                                                                                                                                       
I’m told the four bear cubs’ Mother, got into trouble by being aggressive with some gals down the road and has since been dispatched. This is sad, but not too un-expected, as the sloth had been interacting in people neighborhoods for much of the summer. It was bound to happen, but now there are four orphan cubs that definitely will be challenged with surviving the coming winter. Furthermore, should the little ones make it through the winter they too are in danger of gravitating to their mothers’ fate having been reared in human proximity?                                                                                                                                                   
In a more laughable, man/animal convergence, a couple was driving the Trail recently when a moose came up out of the ditch causing and immediate stoppage and stand-off as to who might have the right-of-way.  
It seemed the moose didn’t care to cross, but set off ambling along the shoulder. The couple proceeded slowly with the moose right beside the vehicle. Thinking the moose might be a problem, the driver increased speed to get around and move away from the big guy. However, as the vehicle sped up so did Mr. Moose. Soon the moose broke into a gallop staying alongside on the shoulder path.  
The moose, apparently running for gold, competed for some distance. In the end however, this iconic critter conceded to being just a sprinter and not a long distance runner, dropping off into the ditch and heading for the timber. Final race results indicated DNF, the moose did not finish.

Congratulations and thanks to Sarah Hamilton and her staff at Trail Center for entering the humanitarian relief effort for people of Puerto Rico. She is sending a first shipment of her mid-Trail produced “Camp Chow” (dry packaged meals) to help feed hungry people. For more details on this heartfelt endeavor or to maybe help out in some way, go to the website,      
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, in the land of cool, blue waters!