Early Snows

Methinks that October fell off the calendar this year. Could it really have been October when it often looked like November instead? Around the tenth of the month, just in time for a planned trip to Duluth, the prediction for our first snow "event", as they called it, came over the wires. Not only was it the first snowstorm, it was also possibly going to drop eight to eleven inches on us! Way too early for that, and certainly not what I want to hear as I am about to drive for three hours. Despite the dismal weather outlook, we proceeded to the big city, and plowed our way through several hours of errands and appointments. We left for home early the next morning, while snow flakes swirled around us. Fortunately, the driving was fine, with mostly wet pavement. On the way, we took a photo of the North Brule River, as it was looking so serene in the early snows.

It continued to snow for the next three days. How odd it seemed to me to see this much snow falling so early in the fall. I believe that if the ground had been cold enough, we would have ended up with between six and eight inches. But most of it melted, with only about three inches to show for it. Since then, we have had many days of flurries, and some warmer days. As a result, there are only patches of snow left here and there. Until yesterday, that is, when the afternoon was filled with large white flakes drifting down, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. At times, we couldn't see Canada, and that is a sure sign that it is snowing hard. The wind has been blowing strong for about two days now, and the lake is cooling off, too. My guess is that we are in for an early winter, but what do I know! I hope that we are, and that we don't have a November thaw that takes us in the opposite direction.

Sharlene had some excitement at her bird feeder a week ago. She spotted a cardinal helping himself to some of the black sunflower seeds. She called us to let us know, but he didn't fly this way until about two days later. Some of the neighbors saw him at their feeders as well. Sharlene called our local birding experts, Ken and Molly Hoffman, to see if anyone else had reported a cardinal this far north. Ken told her that she was the first to confirm a sighting up here on the Gunflint Trail. For a few years, the cardinals have been coming to Grand Marais, and recently they have begun nesting there. But until this sighting, no one had officially reported cardinals up here. While it was exciting to see this, it is a bit disheartening, too. We all were in agreement that it is another sign of our warming climate that these birds can now be a part of our neighborhood.

On our trips to town in recent weeks, we have been seeing deer activity on the Trail. They are in more places than ever seen before. We had one the other night that seemed determined to run right in to the car, but fortunately we were spared. The widespread sightings lead us to believe that the deer population is not only thriving, but increasing. The bad side of this is that we don't see as many moose now. The two can't co-exist very well, so as the deer become more prevalent, the moose find other areas to inhabit. The months that we spot the most moose are now beginning---November and December traditionally are the times when I frequently encounter them all over the road. We'll see as these weeks progress how many we come upon---and we will keep our fingers crossed that they move steadily and quickly out of the road!

We have a resident fox in the neighborhood lately, too. Yesterday, Paul and I were outside and we saw him at the base of the cedar tree near the workshop, looking up. High above him, a squirrel was certainly vocal in expressing his disapproval. If that fox could climb trees the way the squirrels can, I think that we would have seen quite a chase. Greg and I had seen the fox two days earlier, sitting near another tree, hoping the squirrel would come back down. And someone told me over the weekend that they saw the fox with a squirrel in its mouth---they have to eat, too. You win some, you lose some.

Speaking of squirrels, in September, some of our guests got to see an albino squirrel----too cool! He regularly came up to the porch railing at White Pine cabin to feed. Janelle was kind enough to share some pictures with me. Here is a view of the little guy--