Please Release Me

"...let me go." I could almost hear the little pine trees singing on Saturday, as we gathered for the third annual Gunflint Green Up. Great, to have that song swirling through my head! This year our work in the woods was to "release" seedlings that had been planted in previous years. We received instruction from Amy of the U.S. Forest Service. Basically, we needed to trim a three foot diameter circle around each little tree, removing small trees and brush that would grow faster. Aspen tree shoots, honeysuckle, and raspberries were the most prevalent in this area. By cutting these away, the trees would get the much-needed sunshine. Armed with my long-handled loppers and Greg's nifty little pocket boy saw, I got to work in the Iron Lake Campground.

As in previous years, the work was relatively easy. The hardest part seems to be watching my footing to make sure that I am not going to trip. The plot I was working in was a mix of brush, downed and burned logs, and rocks. But it was easy enough to spot the little pines nestled in their spots in the ground, and so I clipped and clipped and clipped some more. My friends Gerri and Jim were there, too, and we had great chatter going on throughout.

We started at the periphery of the campground, bounded by County Road 92. By mid-afternoon, we were at the shore of Iron Lake. I enjoyed seeing the progress in spring growth in that short distance, roughly one-quarter mile. Near the road, the honeysuckle was just showing shoots of leaves, but near the shore, the flowers had already bloomed and were beginning to wither. Interesting that such a short distance can yield that much difference. Both areas seemed to receive a similar amount of sunshine, so the other variable I could think of was the proximity to the lake. Here on Gunflint Lake, the large body of water can sometimes keep the shore areas warmer than the uplands behind us. My friend Liz pointed out a few nodding trillium plants that were just ginning up to bloom. The pin cherry bushes were also starting to sport a lovely coat of delicate fresh flowers.

Despite the cool and snowy weather in the early part of the day, overall it warmed up in to the low fifties. We released many trees, and we had a great time. Spring really is happening in these parts, and it sure is fun to see. I watch it unfold every year, and I never get tired of it. Summer can't be too far behind.