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Wildersmith on the Gunflint September 29

Bear Cub by Wayne Kelso via Flickr
Bear Cub by Wayne Kelso via Flickr

WTIP News     September 29, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith

The Equinox of last week says its fall, but summer managed what yours truly hopes is one last gasp as I hit the key board last Sunday evening.  In spite of it being quite warm and sticky over the past weekend, conditions weren’t as intolerable as they have been in places not too far south. Around the upper Gunflint, maybe the moose were the only ones suffering heat issues.
                                                                                                                                                              
Speaking of moose, one made a trek down the Mile O Pine in recent days. It was sighted by one neighbor, but my only official confirmation came in the form of hoof prints. Over the years they are seldom seen out this way. In fact only one observation was noted last year, so maybe this is it for the season. By the way, I’m told this iconic visitor was a young bull.     

Although summer took a swipe at us wildland folk, our autumn décor is un-shaken. On top of this “leaf peepers’ delight, the sweet essence of the season has captured us. This bouquet of cedar, pine, and spruce mixed with the scent of damp earth and dying leaves summons an incomparable nasal sensation, the likes of which cannot be put in a bottle. Ah, fall, how treasured thou art!       
 
 If the smell of the season isn’t enough satisfaction, my visual senses were up lifted at sunset on the evening of the Equinox. Hoping to get a glimpse of “old Sol” as it settled over the due west horizon, I headed toward the Wildersmith dock. Upon my arrival, I was disappointed to find a bank of clouds looming in the western sky.   Settling in anyway, I soon detected a sliver of clearing encouragement just at the boundary between granite and the heavens. My perseverance was soon rewarded as the cloud cover separated on its’ eastward trip, creating open space where the now “red, molten steel” day-star appeared in totality.                                                                                                                                               
With a solar hot iron bar reflecting down the rippling Gunflint water, I was immersed in this celestial happening. It was as if something super-natural fashioned the moment allowing me to watch the sun melt away into the final leg of its annual trip south. At this particular spot in the universe, by 6:55 pm central daylight time, our daily solar disappearing act was all over, and autumn is now leading us toward winter.                                                                                                                                                   

The “gang of five” bears continue appearing here and there along the south shore of Gunflint Lake. There’s been concerned conversation on whether the four cubs might be able to survive winter. With four tummies to fill over the summer, it doesn’t appear they grew as much as a normal twosome might. They remain relatively small and surely have been weaned from momma. While she is bulking up, it would appear the little ones might not add enough body mass before denning time, to sustain them during the winter slumber. And mom, in her long winters’ nap, surely won’t be providing.                                                                                                                 

It’s another wonder of nature. Guess we’ll have to cross our fingers and hope the little “Teddies” make it to spring.    
 As flashes of aspen gold blur the granite hillsides, the highlands are echoing the noise of more air traffic headed south, as Canadian geese continue honking their “V” formations overhead. Meanwhile, adult loons appear to have taken flight and there are no humming birds around here anymore. But the chickadees, nuthatches, “whiskey jacks” and blue jays are energized while juvenile loons gather for their first excursion to the gulf.

In the meantime, on land, there still has not been a turtle hatching at Chik-Wauk.  Another surface report came my way telling of a half dozen geese landing on the byway black-top in the upper end of the Trail. While probably unusual to land in such a hard surface locale, it seems their feeling of entitlement to take one-half from the middle of the road might parallel that to which moose often subscribe. The six-some had little regard for blocking traffic and took their sweet time before waddling out of the way. For some vehicle operators, the scene might have inspired a decision to have goose for dinner.                                                                                                                      

One additional “growing things” note comes to mind, here it is a day or so from October and the Wildersmith two are finally watching as tomatoes have commenced ripening. While I guessed some time ago, either fried green or pickling would be the standard for this season, “better late than never” patience, pays off.                                                                                                                                                         

It’s with sadness I report the passing of an upper Gunflint Trail neighbor. Word has been received on the death of Cornelia Einsweiler. She and husband Bob have been summer residents in the Seagull Lake area for decades, dating back to the days of Chik-Wauk Resort operations. Cornelia died in Austin, Texas to where she and Bob had been evacuated from their Florida home during the rage of Hurricane Irma. Gunflint Community comfort and condolences are extended to her surviving family and friends.                                                                                                                                                  
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, as daytime minutes dwindle, and talk of winter is being whispered.
 

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