North Shore Life: What’s it Really Like? | October

October has come and gone like a whirlwind, bringing some of the loveliest afternoons, brilliant gold colors, and crashing waves. It also took with it the last of the leaves and warm days, and sent us into chilly November as it should.

October is the last hurrah of the busy season on the North Shore. After the aspens drop their leaves, many of our shops and restaurants close. My job up the Gunflint is done, and my husband’s job in town has become suddenly slower. The whole world is beginning to hunker down for the calm before winter.

Remember when I shared that the North Shore area has two different climates? Well, the weather switched in October, and now our abode in the Gunflint region is notably chillier than along Lake Superior. We froze earlier and had our leaves drop earlier, and the far reaches of the Gunflint Trail even got early snow this month.

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Like much of Minnesota and Wisconsin, our October continued to be abnormally grey and rainy. The nonstop dreary weather dulled not only our spirits but some of the colors as well. Apparently trees produce the best colors when they get plenty of clear, chilly sun in the fall. Abundant sun certainly didn’t happen near the peak color season, but sometime mid-month we were delighted to have a few treasured and long-overdue sunny days.

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A note about trees: what’s odd about our forests is that we really only have two trees that change colors. The sugar maples change in mid-September, and the aspens (which comprise most of our deciduous trees up here) all turn yellow in October, along with the few paper birch that are still hanging in there. In a way I miss the variety of the fall colors that we had in Wisconsin, but the green-and-gold forests we get in October here are their own kind of lovely.

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October is also what I lovingly dub “tree falling season.” It seems that every autumn we endure wild winds that knock down large trees along our narrow road. Last October I almost considered keeping the chainsaw in my car because it seemed every day I left for work there was another tree down. This year, we had a monstrous windstorm that knocked down the power in the entire county. We were without power for two days at our house, and lost several lovely trees around our property. While it was mesmerizing to sit under the starry sky and listen to the gale force winds, it was a powerful reminder of just how strong nature can be and just how vulnerable our modern lives are to it.

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With the quieting of jobs and cooler, darker days, I’ve been working more on my writing and gaining inspiration from the moody sea, blustery air, and deep, chilly forests. And I’m welcoming the coming quiet months of winter.

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