WTIP file photo
Wildersmith on the Gunflint

Wildersmith – Winter Reflections – 2022

Winter in my Iowa location is a far cry from the memories of those in Gunflint Territory. Those “good old days” in the winter woods along the Mile O Pine are not forgotten, and what Iowa calls winter, makes me laugh now, as it did for my first fifty-seven years until the move north in 1999.

Here in Central Iowa there have been only three snow occurrences to date worthy of shoveling, and of the three, two melted away before the third arrived. While winter conditions can yo-yo up and down any place, the yo-yo around the new Smith place is more pronounced than I had been accustomed to over twenty-two years on the Gunflint.

Like in the North Country, dramatics of media weather forecasting has the “sky falling” with nearly every cloud in the sky or dip in the mercury. One day it can be a little below zero and the next it is plus forty. Scare tactics of “wind chill: are buzz words right now with actual temps hardly being mentioned. When I was a kid in Iowa, I knew when it was bitter cold once could just figure it out. Now Meteorology has to constantly tell people when it is dangerously cold, guess subsequent generations just cannot get it on their own, oh the theatrics!

Confirmation winter is meek in this neighborhood was noted on February 1st when two robins appeared in the back yard!

Meanwhile, memories of winter days in Gunflint territory linger. To say I miss the solitude of life at this time of the year along the Mile O Pine is an understatement. While many might consider me to be a little off kilter in regard to my passion for the season of cold and snow, living in the woods for twenty-two years under those conditions did not alter feelings about the wonders of this crystal, pristine place. In fact such time enhanced my Gunflint love affair by being far removed from the toxicity of our now less than civilized country (talk about being out of kilter).

With the meteorological mid-point of winter now past, I relish the thoughts of deep border country snow which has been piling up. In my mind’s eye I picture with envy, the high windrows of snow along back country roads, brisk Northwesterly winds slithering snow down the Trail black top and hoar frost beauty coating every component of the wilderness. Such splendor is forever cherished.

And how cold was it? It was so cold nostrils froze about every other inhalation! I will always recall the 13 day stretch in February 2021 when the mercury never climbed above the zero point at Wildersmith.

I often contemplate all of the “wild neighborhood” visitors who would be frequenting the feed trough on the Wildersmith deck right now. They offered such entertainment and adventure in their quest for survival. I will never forget some of those bitter cold mornings when both rodents and avian would arrive with frost around their noses/ beaks and eyelashes. Nor do I slight the memory of pine marten devotion to getting a daily poultry ration, and a fox that would follow me around seeking a similar treat.

The adventure and intrigue of tracks in a fresh dose of snow is forever part of my wild land experience. With animal prints going in uncountable directions, what were those critters up too?  Along with the awe of making lake ice, its’ ensuing thunderous howls of discomfort in making the new winter coat fit, white pines cracking as their juices of life become solids and night time silence being pierced by the Gunflint/Loon lake pack of wolves, “these are just a few of my favorite things!” 

Sights, sounds and crisp aroma of the Gunflint, oh how lucky were the Smith’s to have spent a chapter of our lives in the Gunflint territory. Hope all in the North woods are staying safe and healthy! Enjoy the rest of this special season.

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, always a Gunflinter, keep on hangin’ on, and Look forward to another visit come “mud season.”