Signs of Spring 2014

January 15
On a below zero morning I heard my first sign of spring. Who was calling in the cold?

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cardinal and  “fee bee” call  of the chickadee

January 17
I was skiing and heard the drumming of a downy woodpecker in the distance.

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March 7th
I saw these tracks going right by my front door. A raccoon had left its den and was searching for a mate.
Raccoon1

March 11
First chipmunk scurrying around. My dog was very excited.

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

March 19th
I saw and heard three flocks of geese fly overhead and I could feel the winter chill loosening its grip.

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March 23rd
The sweet song of bluebird was a welcome sound.

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BlueBird

 

The cooing of a mourning dove (March 23rd)

MourningDove3

 

Vultures circling on their northerly migration (March 23).

A soaring turkey vulture (photo by Mike Farrell)

(photo by Mike Farrell)

(March 23rd).  first killdeer

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Killdeer
Pussy willow flowers are starting to open (March 23rd).
PussyWillow

March 24th – Vole tunnels in the grass as the snow recedes.
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March 26th
A great blue heron flew overhead.

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When I heard the first robin singing from the trees, it put a smile on my face (March 26th).

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Male robin

 

Male redwing blackbirds returned and were singing from the cattails (March 26th).

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RedWing1

April 4th
It was a short maple syrupping season, only a few days.

A box elder tree being tapped for sap.

A box elder tree being tapped for sap.

April 5
I saw my first wood ducks checking out the pond near my house.

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MFWoodDuckWade

April 7th  first 60° day
Mourning cloak butterfly. One of the few butterflies that over- winter.

Mourning cloak

Mourning cloak

April 12th

The chorus frogs started singing two days ago. If you listen to the recording, you will hear the chorus frogs and the “clucking” of the wood frog.

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A calling wood frog with inflated abdominal sacs.

A calling wood frog with inflated abdominal sacs.

 

April 13 – First Wild Leek – A blessing to see something green emerging from the earth.

1WildLeek

 

 

 

 

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Global Warming? – Not After This Winter!

We can not predict climate change (global warming)  by studying local weather patterns.

Thanks to  Dr. Lee Frelich, Director of the U. Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology for contributing the graphics and making editing suggestions.

Are you thinking what I am thinking? There is no global warming in Minnesota. After 50 days of sub-zero weather this winter, who wouldn’t be thinking this?

SubZeronTracker

In the graph below, the light blue area (labeled “Trough”) shows the Arctic cold temperatures that much of the Eastern United states experienced this winter (2013 and 2014), while the West had above average temperatures (labeled “Ridge”) and parts of California experienced record warm temperatures.

WinterTrough

The reddish areas in the graphic below shows where temperatures were warmer than average in January, 2014. While purple shows locations where temperatures were colder than average. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that there is a lot more red (warmer temps) than there is purple (colder temps) on the graphic below. In fact, world-wide, it was the 4th warmest January in 134 years of record. On January 6, 2014 the high temperature in the Twin Cities was -12° F. On Jan 27th the high temperature was -6°F in the Twin Cities while the high in Nome, Alaska climbed to 51° F. We can not predict climate change (Global Warming)  by studying local weather patterns. Climate change is a global phenomena and we need to look at the temperatures of the Earth as a whole.
WorldTempJan2014The graphic below shows temperature change over a 10,000 year period. For the last  5000 years the temperatures on the earth has been getting cooler. But roughly 50 years ago the temperatures began to spike (red line). The graph uses the term temperature anomaly which is the difference between the long term average temperature and the temperature of a given year. So if the temperature was colder than the long-term average, the trend line is below the zero point on the left axis, and if the warmer than the long-term average, the trend line is above the zero.

TempChange10,000years_edited-1Does anyone remember March 2012? The entire month was warm and the earliest 80°F temperature ever recorded was on March 17th. Was this a sign of global warming (trick question)? Answer: you can not predict global climate change based upon local weather.
In March of 2012, the jet stream was positioned so that there was record heat East of the Rockies and cold to the west of the Rockies (graphic on the right).

  Magnolia's blooming in March, St. Paul, MN, 2012.

Magnolia’s blooming in March, St. Paul, MN, 2012.
Photo by Jenna Williams

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Graphic by Dr. Frelich, U. MN

 

 

If nothing changes and global warming continues unabated, Dr. Frelich predicts that Minnesota’s summer climate will be more like Kansas and Nebraska by the end of the century. As a result, there could be a 300 mile northward range shifts of habitat (graphic below).

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Graphic by Dr. Frelich, U. Minnesota

 

If global warming goes unchecked, there will be winners and losers. Tree species in the Boreal community will disappear and moose and lynx will no longer be found in Minnesota.

Jack Pine Community

The boreal community will no longer exist.
Graphic by Dr. Frelich, U. Minnesota

New species of trees will take the boreal community’s place. There will be more deer, wolves, and bobcats.
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  This is not the kind of legacy that we want to leave our children and grandchildren. There is a lot that we can all do individually. If you are compelled to make a change in your life style and want to be part of the solution, go to the following links:

10 personal solutions to global warming:
http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/#Take_Personal_Action

10 solutions to climate change:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/10-solutions-for-climate-change/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Magic in Evergreen Park

Evergreen Park is a small 20 acre park in my town. It is not a destination that most people would be hungry to visit. Last week-end (March 22-23, 2014), I was able to walk in places I had never been because the snow was so compacted (All winter long, if I took one step off the trail, I’d be up to knees in snow).  It was a very freeing experience and I found a deep wildness off the trail that had a sense of magic.

Can you find the little critters in this ice that had melted and refroze.

Can you find the little critters in this ice that had melted and refroze?

 

redOakleaf

A red oak leaf frozen in time

Frozen Mouse Hole

Frozen Mouse Hole

A thawed and refrozen puddle.

A thawed and refrozen puddle.

Creatures moving through the fresh dusting of snow. Who are they?

a.

a.

b.

b.

 

 

c.

c.

 

 

a.squirrel  b. weasel  c. raccoon

The blessing of the morning sun

The blessing of the morning sun

The Twin Oaks on Skunk Hill photo Dale Antonsen

The Twin Oaks on Skunk Hill
photo Dale Antonsen

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Who are These People?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe issue here is not just about dog poop. It is more about caring for our wild spaces. When we are out for a walk, are we conscience of the land and the parks we value so much?

 Dog People love our dogs and some of us enjoy the freedom of walking our dogs on frozen lakes and creeks near our homes. “Who are these people?” That was the question I was asking last Saturday, when I picked up 30 pounds of dog poop on a stretch of frozen of creek. On Sunday, I picked up another 40 pounds in the park near my house. Also, I have talked to others who have told me that Lake Minnetonka is littered with poop piles. I wonder if those dog owners treat the land around their own homes in a similar manner. What seems to be missing in my suburban neighborhood is a land-ethic: having the same care and attention for our parks and wild spaces that we have for our homes.

Why be concerned about dog poop?

  • 1. Fecal coliform bacteria are common to the intestinal tracts of humans and animals.  These bacteria can enter water bodies from human and animal waste and may cause illness and disease if they do.
  • One gram of dog waste (the weight of a business card) contains 23 million fecal coliform bacteria (van der Wel, 1995), almost twice as much as human waste.  Keep in mind that the average dog excretes 0.75 pounds of waste per day (340 grams).  That equates to 7.82 billion fecal coliform bacteria per day! (For more information go to: www.clearchoicescleanwater.org)
  • Seeing dog poop along the trail is disrespectful to other users of the space.

The issue here is not just about dog poop. It is more about caring for our wild spaces. When we are out for a walk, are we conscience of the land and the parks we value so much? I think most Minnesotans are respectful of the land and don’t want to see it degraded. But the “straight poop” is: I had four bags filled with a total of 70 pounds of poop and we should not be treating the land with such disrespect.

Contributor Grace Sheely added the following valuable comments and ideas:
“I got 100 over pounds up in 3 hours at Purgatory Park…I felt that it was all headed for the creek last week.  I jotted down the responses of people watching me.  One indignant older man remarked that at least someone was picking up poop.  2 women happily helped carry my heavy collection bundles that littered the path to the trash.  One family with kids said that they would help if I left a bucket and a shovel/trowel.  I have been hand picking using plastic gloves when it is warmer and mushy.

I have tried to emphasize the creek protection to those that listen.  Most people seem to believe that the poop will degrade as fertilizer in the woods and that there is no need to pick it up.  The frozen ground and snow suggests otherwise to me but the education component is missing.

As you are aware, the negative message of “not doing your share of the clean up” is not going to do any good.  We cannot shame or blame others into submission.

Ideas to  create a new mindset
Poop as an Easter egg hunt?  My water group last night felt the best solution was to make it a competition with a scale and a photo/email posting site.  Prizes from the community for most poop by a person or group.  Or else plan a group event for set day and time.  Seeing all the poop is believing.  The quantity is amazing as you also noticed.  I can pick-up poop at rate of 30 lbs/ hour.  Two hours and my arms and back are sore (good workout).”

Posted in Connecting to Nature | 6 Comments

Español en Naturaleza

Como está su español naturaleza? Cuántos palabras español sabe de seres viventes en la naturaleza? Despuis, compa su repuestas con la clave a de abajo de la página. How is your “nature spanish”? How many Spanish words you know of living beings in nature? Then check your answers with the key at the bottom of the posting.

photos by Old Naturalist – unless noted
forest

1. forest

Oak Tree

2. Oak tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. _____________________________                 2. _______________________

acorn

3. acorn

Sugar Maple

4. Sugar Maple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3._____________________                                          4. ______________________

Red Squirrel (Paul Gagner)

5. Red Squirrel (Paul Gagner)

Deer  (Paul Gagner)

6. Deer (Paul Gagner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. _________________________                       6. _________________________

Red fox

7. Red fox

Rabbit

8. Rabbit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. _________________________                             8. __________________

raccoon www.nhptv.org/natureworks

9. raccoon
www.nhptv.org/natureworks

Beaver

10. Beaver

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. __________________________                           10. ____________________

 Duck

11. Wood Duck (Paul Gagner)

 Woodpecker

12. Woodpecker (Paul Gagner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. _______________________                     12. __________________________

Great Blue Heron (Paul Gagner)

13. Great Blue Heron
(Paul Gagner)

Owl

14. Owl (Paul Gagner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. _____________________________          14. ________________________

Grasshopper

15. Grasshopper

Spider

16. Spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15. _________________                                                    16. ____________________

 

18. Butterfly

17. butterfly

Migrating monarchs resting in the morning light

18. monarch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17. ________________________                18. __________________________

 

Honey bee

19. Honey bee

Dragonfly

20. Dragonfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19. _________________                                 20. _________________________

 

21. turtle

21. turtle

 frog

22. frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21. _____________________              22. ____________________________

 

Hummingbird

24. Hummingbird

Mink

23. Mink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23. ___________________                        24. ___________________________

 

 

Key

1. bosque   2. árbol de roble   3. bellota     4. arce dulce    5. ardilla rojo      6. venado             7. zorro rojo 8. conejo   9. mapache  10. castor  11. pato madero   12. carpintero                  13. gran garza azul  14. lechuza/buho 15. saltamonte  16. araña 17. mariposa                          18. monarca   19. abeja de la miel  20. libélula   21. tortuga  22. rana                                         23. visón     24. colibrí

 

 

Posted in Connecting to Nature | 1 Comment

Staying One Step Ahead of the Winter Blues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you been letting a negative attitude dominate your emotions this winter? It is easy to understand how that could happen with the sub-zero temperatures we have been experiencing; the lack of sunlight; the daily news; the destruction of our environment; etc.

 

Have I got an antidote for you!

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  • Bundle up (I have 3 layers on most of my body and a full head scarf) !
  •  Go to your nearest wild area/park at least once a day.
  • Power walking is okay because it keeps you warm. But “intentional nature hikes” can be more satisfying because you become connected to nature. You are able to feel more alive, and for a time step out of those things that were dragging you down.

What is an intentional nature hike?

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  • The first 10 minutes,  walk normally, let your body adjust to the temperature and
    to the place where you are walking.
  • The remainder of the time, focus your thoughts are focused on the present.
  • If you realize you are thinking about other things, stop walking for 10 seconds and re-focus.
  • Let nature show its hidden beauty – look for patterns, shadows, and animal tracks in the snow.

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  • A variation on this activity is to find new things that you’ve never seen. This morning I saw 7 new things (I wonder if they were really “new” or if my memory is really poor). Regardless, this type of activity will keep you focused and fresh.
  • Listening is another form of connecting to nature. Listening to the sounds of the morning birds: the spring call of a cardinal or the “fee-bee” call of a chickadee. Also listening when there is no sound at all.  Listening to the earth: an old oak; a glacial moraine; a grove of birch. You may not hear anything, but feel it on an energetic level.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJed Krauss explains “listening to silence” in this way:  “I feel the silence of nature more like a touch (like when a sound wave vibrates through my body). There are other times when I’m just too addicted to my own thoughts to listen. For me, listening to the silence is the most rewarding type of meditation. More than just quieting my mind, this is opening my self up to be touched by Creation, in whatever way it chooses.”

 

On your intentional nature hike, you may see or hear special things. Try to identify the following sights and sounds. Then check the key at the end of the post.
Sounds:

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1.

2.

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3.

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4.

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4a.

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5.

 

Raccoon1

6.

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8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

rabbit

7.

 

 

 

 

 

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9.

 

 

 

10.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.

11.

 

SunDog

12.

 

key: 1. Squirrel refrigerator 2. spring call of a nuthatch 3. spring call of chickadee
4. spring call of a cardinal 4a. Rustling of red oak leaves in the wind 5. squirrel tracks 6. raccoon tracks 7. rabbit tracks
8. mice tracks 9. deer tracks 10. fox tracks 11. Owl wing prints in the snow  12. Sun dog
Posted in Connecting to Nature, Nature Notes, Winter | 8 Comments

20 Below Zero – Seeking a Reason to Smile


 February 2nd is “Cross-Quarter Day” – half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. In early times, northern cultures celebrated this day with dancing and song. Here in the U.S., we call it “Groundhog Day”. There is hope for warmer days because we have almost 10 hours of sunlight; one hour and 15 minutes more sun than on the winter solstice. We are gaining one minute of sunlight each day. The sun angle is higher, and it feels warmer on our cheeks.

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Spring Birds Calling – Over the past week I have heard the spring calls of the cardinal, chickadee, nuthatch, and the drumming of a downy woodpecker.  These sounds are melting the dark places in my winter heart.

Listen:

Black-capped Chickadee (fee bee call)

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Downy Woodpecker (drumming – setting up its territory)

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Cardinal

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White Breasted Nuthatch

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To listen to other sounds of spring go to:www.oldnaturalist.com/the-sounds-of-spring/

It has been a little rough up here on the “frozen tundra” this winter. Most people I know haven’t taken off their long underwear since the Winter Solstice. I have been wearing the same pair of wool coveralls for a month and have been hoping that no one has noticed. I for one, suffer through the dark months of the year and need to be outside each day.

Rooster snow drift

Rooster snow drift

Getting outside every day can be a challenge. Add a sub-zero temperature and a north wind in your face and you are going to feel a spike going through your head. You might start wondering why you are out there, or if it is even safe. There has been a few days when I was walking with my dog and he ran back to the house when I wasn’t looking. Some people make their choices to be outside based upon windchill. I make my choice based upon my emotional stability.

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 Sometimes you have to look hard to find beauty on our stark white landscape. The natural patterns created by the wind and snow can be stunning.

Sunset Snowdrift

Sunset Snowdrift

A “Sundog” appears in the sky when the sun is rising or setting. Its looks like sideways rainbows on either side of the sun and is caused by the refraction of the sun through cirrus cloud ice crystals.

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The following note was submitted by Gretchen Alford:
I can totally relate to the part about your dog retreating to the house when you’re not looking.  Bravo does it too, as his paw pads get cold quickly.  We get out twice each day, NO MATTER WHAT!  There’s something about the air, the sounds, the lack of other sounds, the light, the snow laden branches, the critter tracks in the snow and the beckoning woods – it makes it all worthwhile for a farm girl at heart and her frisky British Lab.

 

                                                    Unexpected Surprises

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fox trail

fox trail

 

crow wing and body

crow wing and body

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Long Shadows of Winter

 

 

 

 

Mr. Mook

Mr. Mook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Nature Notes, Winter | 5 Comments

A Naturalist’s Shame – Lessons from Nature

Snowy Owl in the distance

Snowy Owl in the distance

The first event occurred in early January. Someone told me that a snowy owl had been seen near the Arbor Lakes Shopping center about 20 minutes from my house. I went online and got complete directions where the bird might be seen. I had not seen a snowy owl since 1975. They are rare Arctic owls that periodically migrate south into the United States. Last year, I spent two days in Duluth searching for snowy owls and never even got a sniff of one. So you can imagine that I was very excited about the opportunity to see a snowy so close to home.

It was about 0°F when I drove up there and the directions lead me to the edge of a construction site. It was weird getting directions to find a snowy owl and then driving up there, and actually seeing it. When I finally found the owl, it was like seeing a vision from another dimension.

The bird was perched at the edge of frozen lake, protected from the bitter wind. I wasn’t sure what its fright distance was, but I thought I remembered that I could approach the species pretty closely. I marched through the snowdrifts and at about 75 yards, I noticed the bird started to get agitated. Two more steps and the owl took off, moving further away from me. At that point I knew that I was not going to get close to the bird and should have packed up and headed back to the car. But I didn’t do that. I “needed” to get a photo of it.

1snowy copyI slogged back up on to the top of the ridge, so the owl would not see me, but I scared it again and this time it flew off, and landed close to my car. I hiked back around and got into my car and approached the owl within 30 feet. I was able to get that “treasured photo” which I plaster on my social media site. I was on “dopamine rush” as the number of hits on my website swelled 10 times beyond any other posting I’d made in three years. I decided to tell my story on a “rare bird  website”, thinking that readers would be very impressed. The first three comments all had the same tone: I was harassing the owl and it was probably in a survival state from hunger and its long migration south. The reader feedback was just what I needed. But it helped me realized that the entire experience had become “all about me” and that the magic of seeing such a beautiful creature was lost somewhere on Facebook. I wanted to take a snowy owl’s photo, but I forgot to “ask” the snowy owl whether he was okay with it. Judging by its fright distance response, I am pretty sure that its answer was “no”. The next time I see something special in the wild, I need to remember that nature is more important than me.

The second event was completely surreal. There is a dam at the headwaters of a creek near my house. During the spring run-off many large game fish from the lake, swim through the dam to spawn. Last summer, I snorkeled in the creek near the dam and was mesmerized by the beauty of the fish I saw there. I felt very blessed to have the experience.  Go to:  www.oldnaturalist.com/an-unexpected-experience-a-fish-tale/.

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Small pike among dead carp in 6 inches of water.

This story begins during last week of December and the creek was frozen solid. I was up at the dam and noticed some open water. I walked over to explore and was horrified to see hundreds of fish trying to get oxygen to survive in the shallow water. Most of them were bullhead and carp, but there were many game fish. There were some large pike, muskie, walleye and crappie. I decided to attempt a rescue and move the larger ones from the creek side of the dam back into the lake. I went home and got my waders, a net, and an ice auger. It took me about 45 minutes to drill through the ice on the lakeside with my rusty auger. A few times, I wished I had a gas powered auger that would take care of the job in about 30 seconds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It was an incredible experience grabbing a 3 foot muskie with my bare hands, in freezing water, and then running full speed over to the lake to release it. I have never held such a beautiful and powerful living thing in my hands before. I felt a deep connection with those fish, as they were released back into the lake. The fish were facing imminent death as the January cold snap descended upon Minnesota.

 After few hours of the rescue, I began to ask myself was this the right thing to be doing from the lake’s perspective? I was returning large predatory fish back into the lake. I doubt whether it was legal to do it. I feel bad that I might have broken the law, but in my heart I know it was the right thing to do.

Wildlife writer, Dick Alford shared the following story about his childhood:

Many people would say, “do not interfere, and let nature take its course”.   I don’t believe that those fish were unhealthy at all, they were just trapped.  If I had been with you, I would have done the same thing.  As a matter of fact, when I was a kid we found a spot that was off a creek in a backwater area that was full of spawning big black crappies.  We were fishing, and they weren’t biting very well, but we did catch a few.  Sometime later my friends and I decided to go see if they were still in that spot.  We found that there were even more, they were furiously hungry and they bit every time we cast.  We decided very quickly to take our minnow buckets, fill them with caught fish and have one of us run the bucket to the creek to release them.  We made several trips until buckets of crappies went back into the main creek.  We felt very good about pinching the hook barbs down making the fish easy to release.  That was 60 years ago, and I still feel good about it.  Thanks for jogging a boyhood memory.
Dick

Posted in Connecting to Nature, Nature Notes, Winter | 8 Comments

Natural Playgrounds

camillephoto

 

Special interest article by Camille Calderaro, founder of Fireflies Play Environments.

 

 

leeCreek1

 

I grew up a “free-range kid”, exploring and building forts in the arroyos of Arizona and the ravines of Northern California.   Natural playground elements are re-creations of those favorite, magical outdoor environments we treasured as children. They are those places that engaged our senses. We discovered special places to dream and gaze as clouds floated through turquoise skies. We had a relationship with the earth.     Natural playgrounds, whatever form they may take, are elemental to our children’s whole development into fully realized adults; there in lies the stewardship of our planet. “We are nature”. We want to encourage the un-plugging of our children’s lives by simply opening the door to explore the secret worlds in their own backyards.

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A large map of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District was installed as a ground plane mural.

One natural playground we designed was titled: “We are Water”. It is a pre-school environmental play yard created to engage the children, families, staff and community of Eisenhower Elementary, Hopkins MN,  in a “conversation” to promote understanding and stewardship of water in our lives. The design describes the flow of water over the site and its management on-site to its release into the Minnehaha Creek Watershed. Children can stand where they live and go to school and see that Lake Minnetonka flows into Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River into the oceans of the world. It prompts conversation about geography, natural history and being connected with the world by water.

Water pump and sand area.

Water pump and sand area.

The movement of water over the site is addressed along the blue river pathway, under a bridge, over land to the sand area and farm pump. As the children pump water it cascades down a rocky stream bed into a rain garden, rather than a storm water culvert. Alongside the rain garden a sign asks, “Where does water go?”

 

six legged frog

six legged frog

Frog Labyrinth

Frog Labyrinth designed by William Grace Frost. Volunteers were involved in the installation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Throughout the site a six-legged frog appears.The six legged frog is a reminder that our actions impact other creatures that share our water (Deformed frogs were first discovered in Minnesota in 1995). A frog labyrinth with the story of the frog in “hopping stones”, offers imaginative play as well as the healing gesture of labyrinths.

 

We are the Water (Teresa Cox  www.teresacox.com.)

We are the Water
(Teresa Cox www.teresacox.com.)

The 4’x 20’ “We are Water” wall mural gives visual identity to the site and reinforces the message. On the mural there is an image of a dinosaur, which reminds children that we drink the same recycled water the dinosaurs drank.

 

Elf house

Elf house

Design Considerations

  • Enhance the site opportunities with natural elements such as: water, sand, grassy hills, dirt mounds, round boulders, gardens, trees, shrub niches, wild life inhabitants, bird houses and feeders.
  • Pile snow from plowing in an accessible play location.
  • Play with scale, miniatures, troll and fairy houses.
  • Create digging mounds, add “relics” for archeological treasures.Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 11.49.37 AM
  • Create a fort or camping zone with tents and natural materials.
  • Add an unusual (safe) object or piece of art. My favorite was a 20’ tennis shoe dropped in the middle of a typical neighborhood park.
  • Finally and obviously, the absolute best play yard is a messy, wild looking environment that engages children in their natural play world.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 12.02.59 PMFor more information on Natural Playgrounds, go to:

                                                         www.firefliesplay.com                                                                         Camille Calderaro, MLA, ASLA, CPSI                                                                                           Bill Bleckwenn, RLA, Natural Resource Planner, LEED

 

Posted in Connecting to Nature, Photography/Art | 1 Comment

The Wolf Within – A Poet’s Heart

karenShragg(Editor’s note) Karen’s voice is one of guardianship and caring for the Earth. It is a voice that we all need to pay more attention to. When I finished reading her book, I felt awakened and emotionally shaken.

Karen Shragg is an author of children’s books, poet, naturalist and  an over-population activist. She has been the director of Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, MN since 1991.  Her most recent work, The Wolf Within, is a selection of poems that she says comes to her in the early morning hours. Karen’s book is available on Amazon, and she has graciously allowed me to select a few poems to share with the readers.

 

The Wolf Within

History repeats itself

When no one’s paying attention

cover photo by Stan Tekiela

cover photo by Stan Tekiela

They opened a season on your majesty

Barely recovered from the last time your absence

Encouraged the elk and deer to kill off the forests.

Now hunters drool to get a piece of your fur

On their mantles

Killing you as if there could ever be enough

of your packs of predatory prowess

of your tight knit families

of your nerves of steel

You are part of the balance

A part of our spirit

We all have a wolf within

A shared story of survival

Use your cunning to find

Reservations that will protect

You from the slaughter

Canis Lupus, friend of the wild

Keeper of the the Ojibwe spirit

Protector of the balance we once knew.

 

Fracking

soundofheart.org

soundofheart.org

Frack it

Crack it

Pump it

Dump it

Pollute it

Loot it

Pile up lies

Ignore the cries

Fuel the greed

Feed the need

Rape the land

To get the sand

I wish they’d never found

This poisoned goo under the ground

Fracking

 

Beyond

 I believe in things science cannot measure

Hepatica (Wade)

Hepatica (Wade)

Like the joy of laughter erupting between two friends

When lovers talk

Using only their hands

When beautiful melodies reach your ears

and dance in your soul

When art reaches your eyes and lifts

you off the ground

When the first blooms of spring

Make you feel like singing to strangers

Being open to embracing the immeasurable

Asks only that we leave dogma in the dust.

 

Loon Speak

If only I spoke Loon

Or Maybe Kingfisher

Or Egret, even Heron would do

Kingfisher www.northwestnaturalimagery.com

Kingfisher
www.northwestnaturalimagery.com

I would tell them all not to fly

To the Gulf this fall

Go somewhere

We haven’t yet destroyed

Skip over the oil-slicked waters

So you can return to us in the spring

But even if I could

Speak to the migrators

How would I explain

What happened to their home?

 

Remember Me With Laughter

Remember me with music

You’ll always sing my song

Tears pump through your veins

but don’t let them linger long.

Remember me with laughter

Now that my time is due

Death may be our journey

But I live on through you.

Remember me with moonlight

From full to when brand new

The moon will be my residence

So I can shine on you.

Remember me with summers

The times when we were clever

Memories savored one by one

Just know my love’s forever.

 

Posted in Nature Poetry | 3 Comments