The visitors and residents along the North Shore and across northern Minnesota are relishing the fantastic weather that has finally caught up with us in September. As across most of the region the spring and summer of 2009 has been very cool and now with autumn on our doorstep we are seeing some of the best weather of the year. Today at the lighthouse it is calm, sunny and in the mid-seventies and it appears that that pattern will continue for the next couple of weeks.
At mid-day today a parade of about 30 vintage airplanes passed in procession past the lighthouse heading up the shore towards Canada. The visitors at the lighthouse watched as these planes flew past, some of them uncomfortably close to the cliff.
The next three weeks will be prime for fall colors. For those tracking the progress of the color transition southward the leaves along the shore are only about 10-15% changed. Over the first ridge and back from Lake Superior the maples and other trees are about 30-40% changed.
The trees that get the most attention, and the ones most visitors ask most about, are the mountain ash. They are now loaded with bright red berries and are attracting cedar waxwings and other migratory birds that feed on the berries. As the berries ripen they tend to ferment on the branch. When overripe, and the grouse and other birds eat them, they tend to fly a little erratically from the buzz they get from the berries. That is when we need to be concerned about loosing windows to the grouse….and grouse to the windows.
With one month remaining before we button up the lighthouse for winter the staff are enjoying a little lighter visitation and the opportunity to spend more time chatting with visitors and finding out where they are from. Now that kids are back in school we are seeing more retired people from all over the country. In fact, the day before yesterday a retired couple said that they have visited 760 lighthouse around the country and this was their third trip to Split Rock Lighthouse!