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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 22

Canada geese - Shaun Whiteman via Flickr
Canada geese - Shaun Whiteman via Flickr

The Smiths are back from a run to Iowa for a visit with family. Quick as the trip was, I barely missed a beat during our flight from northland autumn. The mosaic of color has stepped up, and looks to be at a mixed bag stage as the Gunflint news hits the air waves, plenty of color and diminishing green.

I was happy with a return to an over flowing Wildersmith rain gauge. The Mile O Pine neighborhood was getting a little crunchy when I departed. Apparently some wind accompanied the moisture delivery as lawn chairs on the deck were blown about, but luckily no major trees were downed, at least around this place. So, with nearly an inch and one-half recorded, folks in these parts can be a little less worried about wildfire danger, for the time being.   
This time of year is so intriguing. Clouds hanging heavy and cool fall dampness give off an eerie feeling of winter. Summer is gone! Little more than twenty-four hours ago, our universe passed true east is east, and west is west with the Equinox. I am so captured by watching the sun set at due west on this special day. To me, the Equinox just seems to set the planet right every six months. Hopefully this astronomical happening might cause a calming in the raging atmosphere of our hemisphere, over the past few weeks.        
Rituals of our season continue to unfold. Fall is a time of un-dress in the forest. The 2017 generation of deciduous foliage is falling like winter flakes, accumulating to form the next decaying layer in a thousand year pilgrimage to build an inch of “mother earth.”  On a related note, during my brief time away from the home place, the white and red pine congregation initiated their annual needle shedding. Although this undertaking is not yet complete, the forest landscape is being re-carpeted with trillions of delicate terra-cotta toned stylus. Meanwhile, waiting in the tree tops, white cedar fronds are hanging out to add more texture as a finishing touch to this yearly, earthen floor covering event.  

I don’t know if the next subject is symbolic of early things to come, but those Canadian honkers have been flying for several weeks now. Until just last week, in our years living along Gunflint Lake, a flying wedge has not been seen setting down for R & R here in the mid-lake area. That being said, a large gaggle sto-over was not only unusual, but noisy as well. The stay was short lived however, as the flight director was disturbed by a passing watercraft and the airborne tour was quickly resumed.   

Watching the red rodents (squirrels) around the yard, I’ve observed they are expanding their winter menu cache. Not so exuberant about toting off sunflower seeds right now, they are harvesting coniferous cones. At almost every turn, I find a pile of white and/or red pine cone, remains. From the remains piled here and there, it would seem the portion they are storing away would be a bitter, sticky mess. Obviously these gnawing critters know something I don’t by including pine seeds as part of their diet fare, along with my ration of sunflower seeds from the winter seed trough.  

A reminder once more is given for the special program at Chik-Wauk Nature Center Saturday (the 23rd). Professor Evan Larson, from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville will be on the CW campus to talk of his research concerning the historic log exhibit at the museum which he discovered in an island forest on Lake Saganaga. The presentation will begin at 2:00pm.  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, among the wonders of “Mother Nature.”