Otter Dreams

Three poets, Jeff Saslow, Rich Kessler, and Christina Gregory try to find light and balance during the darkness of winter and the stress of everyday life. Join them, as they express their connection to Nature through the written word.
                                                                                       Unless noted, all photos by Old Naturalist

River Otters
The river otter’s homes are the joy of open holes,
Usually a foot in diameter,
and dot snowy Minnehaha Creek
On a cold, February afternoon.
The dark icy water of blackness houses a secret under the white world beneath my feet.

The otters enter the abyss to fish,
But then use the snowy creek to slide along as a game and a ritual,
Much like us who walk, ski
and pull children’s sleds on the surface.

The dogs sniff around the half open holes,
Their nose in touch with an otter or two
That danced, slid and fished eight to twelve hours earlier.

Now there are no otters in sight.
No smells that we, of course, can decipher.
But the open holes, the icy slides,
The dog’s attention are a testament
To something much deeper and unknown on the Creek,
Inside our bodies and just inside the walls of our world.

  J. Saslow –  Feb. 2015



White blizzard
Low winter angle of sunlight
Brown grasses through white frosting
I ski through my cake
Past twilight into the night


 Blanketed hills
Tucked in dark woods
I push and slide
Toward marshmallow prairies
My insides are sucking on sweets
While my winded face meets my self again.

J. Saslow


IMG_1207Haikus – Rich Kessler

ice cracks underfoot

alone   silence broken
by my racing heart     


bare cold icy branch                        
closed buds huddle together
long for spring’s warm sun



 fullMoonRichI profess my love
midnight    new year’s eve
full moon steals the show







OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI live between two skis.
Across a snow white sheet.
On a sky-blue-pink March day.
The wind blows a mystery.

I fall asleep between seconds.
My body shudders
I’m on the upward side of time
I awake
Sliding on a frozen, glass creek
My heart is all that is warm.

J. Saslow       March ‘09




Spontaneous Combustion

In the mist of mystery
In the spheres of frozen longing
You are born
Quickened by the rise and fall of wind
The mystical design of old.

Pure vapor is the womb
Tossed about the riding tide of streaming air
Agitated, perplexed, driven to create and birth your wonder for our viewing.

You trick us into thinking you are unique
Yet you follow the manual; dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s
Always 6 branches
Always measured
Always following your crystal destiny.

Condensing cold upon the nascent flake
You grow tihe frenetic energy into branches, fern like and precious.
Colonized symmetrically
Randomized mathematically
Stretched beyond the imagination

And in the chemical bond you join to others like yourself
Lining up, marching as it were, into the form within your knowing
And deep within you assemble

Fresh baby snow

Christina Gregory, January 2015



River Otter Tracks

River Otter Tracks

Posted in Nature Poetry, Winter | 6 Comments

Hidden Secrets of the Minnehaha

I spend a lot of time on Minnehaha Creek. A sanctuary about a mile from my home. While skiing and hiking along the creek, I have seen and been part of some amazing things. If you have some memories of your time on the creek, share a comment and I’ll incorporate into the posting.

Early morning Ice Fog

Early morning Ice Fog

Long Shadows of Winter

Long Shadows of Winter

Fox Tracks crossing the creek.

Fox Tracks crossing the creek.

Mink on the bike path

Mink on the bike path


River Otter plunge hole and slide

River Otter plunge hole and slide

River Otter Tracks

River Otter Tracks

Reader Laura Arndt, shared the following comment: “Big Willow is my favorite place to be, no matter what season it is!!! “

Late afternoon Sundog

Late afternoon Sundog

Reader Dean Hansen shared this memory: “Ahh, Minnehaha Creek.  (Actually, it’s pronounced “crick”, but you know that, right?)  I grew up between Bloomington and Cedar avenues two houses south of 49th Street.  We spent countless hours playing near the crick and in the surrounding Minnehaha Park when we were kids.  There was a fine sliding hill just to the north of where 17th Avenue South hits 49th Street, and this hill was packed with kids in the winter.  Back when we had real winters (1945 to maybe 1957).  Somewhere in the attic are 16 mm color movies my dad took of us kids tobogganing on that famous hill. “

A crow landed leaving its wing and tail feathers in the snow.

A crow landed leaving its wing and tail feathers in the snow.


A crow flying close to the ground, but never touching.

A crow flying close to the ground, but never touching.

Lu Harland contributed the following memory: “I used to play down by the creek as well, but in Hopkins by Knollwood Plaza. I use to love catching crayfish under the rocks and tubing down the creek with our bumper tennis shoes on.”

Water Lily frozen in time

Water Lily frozen in time

Frozen pieces of art

Shapes created by nature

A rooster snowdrift

A rooster snowdrift

Eagles patrol the creek

Eagles patrol the creek



Sunset in January

Sunset in January



Posted in Connecting to Nature, Photography/Art, Seasons, Winter | 12 Comments

What is Life?

Our readers ponder, the age old question, “What is Life?”
Each person contributing a 3 line form that is unique and a blessing in its own way.

Thanks to all the contributors (in order): Kathleen Kahlil, Dewey Hassig, Allison Platter, Carol Wade,  Linda Hansen, Rich Kessler, Steve Casper, Judith Brook, Cathy Jordan, Lucia Harland, Dale Antonsen, Lyndra Hearn Antonson, Jennifer Parker, Paula Frakes


Photo by Old Naturalist

What is Life?
The aliveness in every cell
as the wind blows through
connecting, caressing, informing.


An oak tree
An acorn
A squirrel
Perpetual motion.




Photo by Mick Schulte


What is Life?
Fresh air, movement, and nature
Love, family and companionship
Growth, laughter and wisdom


The tiny fingers of a  newborn grasping yours
The joy in her parents faces
The wonder of all that is to come



What is Life?
Breathing in and out of fears and disappointments – letting go, leaning in, living on Inhaling hope in the sparkle of snowfall, exhaling angst, hurt & hurry,
A late day sun blanket, a swish of air when nature breathes too.

Linda Hansen

Photo by Linda Hansen


What is Life?
Sweet, cool, red chunks of watermelon quench my thirst
Crashing waves, salt air, hot sand and creosote boardwalks
Smell of old magazines, 60 years ago, in grandma’s attic.


“Stream stomping” with my two daughters
And sitting on the shore eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Watching dragonflies mate and lay their eggs on the duck weed right before our eyes

Photo by Mike Farrell

Photo by Mike Farrell


What is Life?
Damp fresh smell by the ocean that clears my lungs from city traffic and city streets.
Hearing bird songs and thundering waves that clear my head from too much chatter in my mind.
Feeling my soul while walking in the woods surrounded by breathtaking grandeur.

China Cove -Wade

China Cove – photo by Old Naturalist


                                                             What is Life?

It is the secrets of the forest,                                    The sound of wind in the summer leaves
buried below layers of pine needles                            The cold blue and white of winter
The babble of the brook teaming with life
The sway of the top-heavy grasses in the marsh



                                                         What is Life?
The Spark of the Creator                                                 Life is a gift from God 
Within the everlasting souls                                 A spiritual opportunity to learn
Of all who dwell in the sacred space                    How to give and receive divine love
Of this Garden we all share

Big Bay

Big Bay – Photo by Dale Antonson


What is Life?

It is the bent backs working steamy rice fields to feed families
The cacophony of colors reflecting the sunlight|
The innovation born in remote corners of our world to adapt and thrive

Jennifer Parker

Photo by Jennifer Parker


What is Life?
The brilliance of fresh newly fallen snow
Crisp air breathed in… warm breath breathed out
Another day … alive with purpose and hope.

Photo by L Wade

Photo by Old Naturalist

Posted in Connecting to Nature | 4 Comments

One Vacant Lot at a Time

Creating Life-Bearing Spaces
If you are interested in creating a life-bearing space in your neighborhood, download our booklet, One Vacant Lot at a Time, and learn more about our story, our management plan, and methods we have developed.

One Vacant Lot


“Seeing native wildflowers fills my heart.  So, being able to help take an empty strip of land and watch its hard, dry soil become looser, darker and richer after the very first wildflowers, was magical.”  Veronica Smith


Migrating Monarch feeding on Rough Blazingstar (Lawrence Wade)

“Creating a thriving prairie out of a wasteland has been a wonderful education in land transformation.  It’s also shown me a way to give back to the planet that does not bring immediate benefit to me, but provides a long term benefit for the health of the local environment.” Michael Smith

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (Sam Barczak)

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer
(Sam Barczak)

It was in 1993 that we first started working at our vacant lot. There was garbage littered everywhere and the land was hard-scrabble. We started small 30’ x 60 feet, and all of the work was done using pick-axes. The dominant plants were leafy spurge, Canada thistle, and ragweed, all indicators of extreme neglect of the land.



I did not know that the land would take on a life of its own, when it was given a caring human touch. Lawrence Wade

Goldfinch nest

Goldfinch nest (Lawrence Wade)


For 20 years we have been restoring this land that is sandwiched between a busy roadway in Minnetonka, Minnesota and a bike path. So people walking by can see what we are doing. Some people stare at us suspiciously or in disbelief when they see us working in such a “weedy” lot. The most classic comment ever made was on an evening when we were swatting mosquitoes and pulling Canada thistle. The passerby looked down at us and said, “What are you doing down there, do you know?”


Yellow-legged Grasshopper (Lawrence Wade)

Yellow-legged Grasshopper
(Lawrence Wade)


In time we expanded the scope of the prairie. Today it is about an acre in size and is a source of food for bees, birds, rabbits, dragonflies, butterflies, and small mammals. Ducks and deer have nested among the plants. Now it has reached a point of aliveness and vibrancy that still requires some tending and weeding, it has a life of its own and the beauty continues to amaze us.




 Friends of the Trail Photo Gallery

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 11.31.39 AM


Great Golden Digger Wasp (Lawrence Wade)

Great Golden Digger Wasp
(Lawrence Wade)

Green Darner (Lawrence Wade)

Green Darner
(Lawrence Wade)

Young Cottontail (Sam Barczak)

Young Cottontail
(Sam Barczak)







Posted in Connecting to Nature, Nature Guardians | 4 Comments

Autumn Winds

Poets at Gatewood School open their hearts to the changing season.
Photos contributed by Gatewood 5th graders.
This wonderful student opportunity was funded by the Gatewood PTO.



Rob Evers
The maple
A fallen friend.
Decaying slowly
Tree huggers crying
Rest In Peace





Daylily pod

Daylily pod

Emma Robinson
I smell the crisp autumn air
Hear the sweet chirps of the chickadees
The daylily pod rattles in the wind
The leaves crunch underfoot
The baby blue sky washes the clouds away
The sun is biting at my cheeks



leaves are masters of disguise
as the seasons get colder
they change their cloaks green to yellow yellow to orange orange to red
then down they go using themselves as parachutes gliding
to the cold snowy ground

i am the mist only coming when it rains
i am the beautiful leaves on the ground
i am the bur oak tree standing strong
i am the maple snag, there all alone
i am the red oak/ Lucky’s tree
i am the cottonwood looking above the others
i am the mouse in the bird house
i am the tall wet grass



I see a maple tree with a long shadow and bright spots of sunlight.
I smell nature’s fresh air
I feel the cold grass against my cheek
I hear leaves on a cottonwood tree crinkling and singing in the wind.
I touch the pine needles
Pointy like a porcupine and sticky like glue
I feel like a baby bird ready to spread my wings and fly.


Red star
Fallen from the heavens
Going back to Mother Earth




Flapping wings
Fly to Mexico

A leaf of life
I wonder if they are real?
Wings and flight



I see the blue sky
washing over the clouds
I hear the chickadee calling in the forest
I touch the orange and red maple leaves falling on the ground
I feel the sun warming my skin
I smell Mother Nature growing inside me



Colorful Birds
Beautiful colorful leaves on a small flying tree
like a bright airplane
in the sky
dazzling and joyful
shall always fly high
The bright feather leaves




Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.28.18 AMJustin Irseng
Little frog
Great little frog friend.
Found outside of school.
Resting on a hand.




In The Tiny Mist Droplets,
In The Bark Of A Maple Tree,
In The Roots Of A Bur Oak,
In The Fur Of A Field Mouse,
In The Heat Of The Sun,
In My Heart Beauty Lies.





Ramsha Isaaq
Road Kill
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABrown, White, Black, and Gray
Look’s like a stuffed eagle in display
It makes me feel sad that it is
Up hill , down hill, it was alive

But now it is  dead before its time
Who ever killed him
Must be ashamed
Today is the day
I don’t feel okay.


My shadow
Pitch black
Waiting there
Hiding from the sun
so fun.





Fall is colorful
Animals are migrating
Nature is alive




The sun
It’s amazing
light reflected off leaves
Feeling inspired



I have paws
The size of a baby’s palm
I am as fluffy
As a pillow
I am as fierce
As the wind


Blue Phoenix
It’s as blue
as blue fire
and it gives off
the heat of the fire
in the feather


 Celeste Moe
the sweet smell of crab apple
I hear
the thudding of a woodpecker
pecking on trees
I feel happy
when I see the red leaves of the maple tree
I touch
the bumpy rough surface of the dogwood
I see
A little helicopter spinning in the air as it is falling

Nature’s Kind
The crab apple tree springing from the soil,
The call of a blue jay coming home,
The helicopter that soars  through the mystic air,
The dogwood that is not hollow inside
Is  a beautiful tree,
The bumble bee getting pollen for the winter,
I feel the a flower sprouting out its beauty.


ButterflyweedMarriona Cameron
I see a small brown pillbug
I smell the flowers and they remind me of strawberries
I hear a blubird calling its mate from up high
I feel smooth red and juicy crab apples
I touch a red dogwood branch
it has a rough surface


Wooly Bear

Wooly Bear


Bahja Jama
feels fuzzy
lying on the ground
trying to climb something
making its way to life




I am somebody
I can’t do as well as others
I can’t write as well as others
I can’t pretend to be somebody
I am somebody
I am tall
I am bilingual
I am kind
I am somebody
I have dark skin
I have brown eyes
I have a bro and a sis
I am somebody
I don’t own pets
I do like pizza
I don’t like being bossed around
I am somebody
I must be the best that i can be
I must be loved
I must be respected, protected, and never rejected
I am somebody


Amber Hysjulien
Creative, special
Soft when wet
Beauty like an egg
Sleep softly little rock.





I  see the leaves falling
Cracking in the air
I hear leaves dancing
And singing in the wind
they crunch in my hand
I feel them comfort me
I smell the winter air coming
leaves falling.







Posted in Fall, Nature Poetry | 11 Comments

Hatchling Highway

Many thanks to Grace Sheely for sharing this wonderful story.

On the morning of September 2, 2014, I was thinking of all the students heading back to school and the excitement of their first day. My brooding thoughts were deeper as this morning was my first September day without any students of my own to send off on that yellow school bus, because I am now an empty nester.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI headed down the path of Purgatory Park enjoying the park’s beauty and my dog’s company when I stopped dead in my tracks. The rocks below my feet were moving. I suspected that I was losing my mind. I looked closer as I pondered whether I had had enough coffee prior to my 9 am dog walk. I studied the first rock and indeed it was moving. Upon closer inspection, I watched a 2 inch baby snapping turtle totally covered in sand move down the pathway; at his best, he was a moving sandy rock. His five sisters and brothers were all within 6 feet of him and all six were marching directly down the center path at Purgatory Park. I took the time to say hello to each little baby, to admire its soft shell, to pick each one up and carefully placed it closer to a grassy edge of the pathway.


Posted in Connecting to Nature, Fall, Nature Notes | Leave a comment

Rocky Mountain High

Flatlanders invade  mountain country and discover the beauty of nature and family.


Nic Platter

Nic Platter

Aaron Wade/Sarah Merline

Aaron Wade/Sarah Merline

Water Striders

Water Striders

Quaking Aspen

Quaking Aspen

Photo by Nic Platter

Nic Platter


Aaron Wade/Sarah Merline

Aaron Wade/Sarah Merline


Alli Wade Platter


Aaron Wade/Sarah Merline

Aaron Wade/Sarah Merline




Posted in Photography/Art, Seasons | 4 Comments

Minnehaha Muskie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter an hour of exploring the backwaters of the creek, I turned towards shore and  I saw a muskie following about 6 feet behind me. When I  turned toward it, the muskie did not move away. This 3 foot fish exuded a “presence”, and I wasn’t sure I was welcome in its domain. At one point it faced directly towards me, and I hoped that I didn’t have any resemblance to a large muskrat. For 3 days I could see those eyes staring back at me. They were the eyes of a living being completely wild and free – exuding the immenseness of nature.
As I swam away, I wondered if this was the same muskie that was stranded in the creek before freeze-up, and we returned it to Lake Minnetonka. It makes a good story, but it probably wasn’t…

Jed getting ready to transport the muskie back to Lake Minnetonka from the creek.

Jed getting ready to transport the muskie back to Lake Minnetonka from the creek.

Posted in Nature Notes, Photography/Art, Summer | 2 Comments

Buzzing for Change

How a small group of people stood tall for the lowly honey bee.

“Birds and nature, in general, provide me with such spiritual joy and a sense of connection that it was only natural to feel the urgency of this latest environmental issue. It is a problem we humans created; it is a problem that we can and are obligated to fix”. – Judy Chucker

Jeff Dinsmore, Judy Chucker, Patricia Houser, and Lu Harland.

Jeff Dinsmore, Judy Chucker, Patricia Houser, and Lu Harland.

“Working to help bees keeps me sane in an insane world.  It keeps me connected to others who care.  It saves me from isolation and despair.  It challenges me to grow and step out of my comfort zone.  It gives me hope.  And at this time in history I feel it is my moral duty to be hopeful and act on that hope.  I can’t do everything at once, but I can do “something” at once—my “something” is working with others who care, to help bees.  My heart is full and I am hopeful.”  ~Patricia Hauser

At the end of December 2013, a group of us who were concerned about the disturbing reports we had heard about honey bee die-offs began meeting. Our group formally became known as Humming for Bees and we met at local libraries. This is our story.    

We decided our focus would be to educate ourselves and others, bring change to one small city, and then expand to other cities. Since Patricia Houser and Jeff Dinsmore lived in Shorewood, MN, the group decided to target the town and try to pass an ordinance, banning the use of neonics. They went to countless meetings with city council members, the mayor, networking with people who were interested in helping. Patricia, Barbara Goodman-Fischtrom, Judy Chucker, Lu Harland, and Melissa Hochstetler spent countless hours “tabling” at special events and educating people about the problem. Jeff Dinsmore and others spent hours making “Bee Safe Yard” signs. The yellow signs have popped up in a number neighborhoods.

All of this work, has made a difference. Last month, on July 28, 2014, the Shorewood City Hall passed, “A Resolution Endorsing ‘bee-Safe’ Policies and Procedures”.

Below is an excerpt of an article that appeared in the Star Tribune:

In the growing movement to better protect honey bees, Shorewood has become the first city in Minnesota — and, leaders say, the third city in the nation — to pass a policy encouraging the planting of bee-friendly flowers and restricting certain pesticides.


Jeff Dinsmore tends some of his "bee friendly" plants

Jeff Dinsmore tends some of his “bee friendly” plants

Becoming a beekeeper, I realized more and more, the huge importance of bees and pollinators in our environment and food production. With the current, and dominant methods for pesticide use in agriculture and even less controlled use in our urban/suburban environments, there must be a shift in practices to ensure our health and the vibrancy of our environment.
Jeff Dinsmore


With all of the research we were doing on honey bees and pesticides, Jeff Dinsmore took on the task of creating a website that was a resource for like-minded people. The website includes “bee-safe” nurseries, good plants for pollinators, the latest information on pesticides and honey bees. (Go to: Probably the best resource we found was the TED talk by Marla Spivak, from the U of MN Bee Lab (go to:

Barbara Goodman Fischtrom getting ready to go door knocking with Bee Safe Yard signs!

Barbara Goodman Fischtrom getting ready to go door knocking with Bee Safe Yard signs!

Door-knocking kit with "Bee Safe Yard" signs.

Door-knocking kit with “Bee Safe Yard” signs.



“There is so much abuse going on environmentally and I’d ask myself, “Where do I begin? What can I do ? How can I make a difference??? The bees made it possible for me to simplify and focus on an issue of great importance, so I got involved”…Barbara Goodman Fischtrom

In the process of educating ourselves, we became aware of problems around systemic pesticides. Below are excerpts from an article that appeared in the League of Women Voters MN Newsletter by our leader, Patricia Houser:

…In the early 90’s a new family of insecticides, neonicotinoids, was registered with the EPA. Many people are now referring to them as “neonics.

Neonics” have become both ubiquitous and implicated as one of the key factors of CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder of honey bees world wide. They’ve also been linked to harming native bees, other beneficial insects and pollinators. In addition, there is growing concern for birds and aquatic life in relation to this family of insecticides.”

Melissa Hochstetler and Judy Chucker "tabling" at  the Mennonite Sustainability Fair

Melissa Hochstetler and Judy Chucker “tabling” at church event in Excelsior

One thing we learned is that most agricultural seeds, including corn, soybeans, and sunflowers are treated with neonics. Alternately, most bedding plants and perennials supplied from commercial nurseries are sprayed with neonics to survive shipment and assure good presentation at retailers. Neonics are a systemic pesticide. As the plant grows, its roots, stems, leaves, and flowers hold the insecticide and the plant remains toxic (for a long period of time) to any insect that uses the plant, pollinators included. So if you want to purchase a plant that pollinators would visit, there is a good chance that the plant was treated with a neonic. “Humming for Bees” decided to query retailers and nurseries, and express the need to purchase neonic-free plants.

Melissa's table where kids came & made Mason bee nests and got handout on Mason bees

Melissa’s table where kids came & made Mason bee nests and got a handout on Mason bees

Patricia’s article continues:
There are nurseries and garden centers that have either been pesticide free from the beginning or are now talking with their growers and suppliers about the history of the plants they are buying. This is not easy and in some cases impossible. It’s hardest to determine the history of bulbs and cutting-grown plants because they come from all over the world and often have gone through multiple distributors before arriving in the U.S.

 Some venders are refusing to buy plants (annuals and perennials) that have been treated with neonics. Some are planting their own organic seeds and refusing to use any neonics on them during the growing process. Many are still accepting and selling plants that have been treated with neonics and in some cases are still using neonics on their own plants. This is why you should “Ask B4 U buy”. Most nurseries are concerned about this serious issue.

Once I saw the seriousness of the situation it was obvious that something needed to be done and so Humming for Bees will be on my agenda for a while now. It’s been inspiring to see what can be done by ordinary citizens. Lucia Harland

Production of "Bee Safe Yard" signs

Production of “Bee Safe Yard” signs

Unfortunately, the “neonic” problem does not appear to have a fairytale ending. Monsanto and Bayer Corporation are probably readying for the roll-out of the next generation of pesticide. Judy Chucker, another “buzzer”, researched the “neonic” problem in relation to birds and other living things. Below is some of her material that appeared in a local Audubon publication  (

“The neonic problem is much bigger than the plight of the honey bee–a complex issue not limited to pesticides–upon which a third of our food depends. Historically, birds have not faired well with pesticides. This new class of pesticides is no different. Had any bird the size of a blue jay, grabbed just one neonic-coated kernel of corn, or scratched the dirt to uncover a kernel, that would have been its last supper. While smaller seeds such as wheat treated with the neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid , may also kill a bird. In addition,  it takes only 1/10th of a corn kernel to interfere with reproduction during the egg-laying season by any of the neonicotinoids.

Lu Harland holding down papers- During  Art on the Lake tabling

Lu Harland holding down papers- During Art on the Lake tabling

The risks posed to birds by neonicotinoids are not confined to consumption of coated seeds or the parts of the plant that grow from those seeds. Due to neonicotinoid persistence and mobility, the risks extend to aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and other wildlife: Neonicotinoids are killing the invertebrates upon which birds depend. Already, scientists such as University of Saskatchewan’s Assistant Professor Christy Morrissey, are discovering surface and

One of the tents collapsed due to wind at the Art on the Lake event.

One of the tents collapsed due to wind at the Art on the Lake event.

groundwater contamination worldwide at levels that exceed those necessary to kill many aquatic invertebrates. With a report due in 2016, Morrissey’s work, suggests that prairie wetlands surrounded by croplands such as corn and soybeans have higher concentrations of neonicotinoids. Mineau has suggested elsewhere that grassland birds are in decline more from pesticide use than from habitat loss.

For those of us who feed birds, an investigation into birdseed is still underway. My calls to a popular bird feed store (with 300 stores nationwide) alerted a concerned manager to the potential problem. Over several weeks she attempted to find the answer to this question, but in the end could only offer her confidence in the individual responsible for the company’s seed quality.”

Judy Chucker and Larry Wade

Judy Chucker and Larry Wade



For me, it wasn’t so much about “saving the bees”, as it was about changing our attitudes towards how we treat the Earth. I was continually inspired by the commitment of our bee group and thankful to be around people who worked so hard to make a difference.
Lawrence Wade

Posted in Birds, Insects, Nature Guardians | 3 Comments

Why did the Turtle Cross the Road?

Stories of guardianship and caring for the Land

A Snapping Turtle in a Bit of a Predicament

by Linnea Palmstrom. Linnea will be a Freshman at UCSB. Previously, she contributed another story about rescuing some turkey eggs from  flooded Nine Mile Creek. Go to:

The snapping turtle is wedged tightly in the drainage pipe grate.

The snapping turtle is wedged tightly in the drainage pipe grate.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 1.17.51 PM

The turtle sticks its front legs out to prevent me from pulling it out of the grate.

It was just another day going to Nine Mile Creek by Edina High School. I had enjoyed walking around the wetlands area by the lower fields and it was getting late, but I decided to make one last stop to a man-made pond to look for a mallard mother and her ducklings. When I got there, I discovered that a snapping turtle had gotten stuck in a grate covering the entrance to a drainage pipe. The poor turtle was hanging upside down with its bumpy shell wedged firmly between the bars of the grate. At first I wasn’t sure if it was alive. As I walked closer I saw its head move up out of the water, and I knew it could still be saved. I wanted to help it and went home to get some leather gloves to make sure that I had some protection. When I got back, the turtle hadn’t moved. I grabbed the back end of its shell to pull it up and out of the grate; however, the turtle didn’t want to help me. It kept sticking its front feet out to stop me from pulling it away from the bars. It would also kick my hands with its hind legs and threaten to bite me – thankfully its position and the bars of the grate stopped its long neck from reaching me. After a couple of minutes, I finally freed the turtle. I slid it next to the water and it quickly swam away. Though the snapping turtle was irritated at me for helping it out, in the end, I think it was happy that I did.

Why did the Snapper Cross the Road?
By Steve Casper, Eden Prairie, MN


Photo by Paul Vitko. To see more of his work go to:

The other night around midnight I was driving in Edina near Minnehaha Creek when I saw a car pulled over in a strange part of the road. As I drove by I could see in the headlights that a young man was trying to herd a big snapping turtle back to the creek. I pulled over and gave him a hand- it wasn’t easy. If you pick up a snapper  by the shell, it may not be able to bite, but it can still get you with its sharp claws!

Anyway as we got him back, the fellow said this was the second time that day he’s moved her. He said he’ll be driving down the same street again in the morning and he hoped not to see a dead turtle. I said I’d be coming by again the next morning, too. Well it’s been about 3 weeks now, and no dead turtles on that stretch of road- always glad to see that!

Blessed By My New Friend, A Silver Maple
By a teacher from the Hopkins School District

Janine Pung

On a particularly emotional day, I was sitting outside on my patio soaking up the sun and listening to the sounds of nature. After awhile, I focused my gaze on a silver maple tree that sits in my backyard. I was looking not directly at the tree, but beyond it. Suddenly, I could see the maple’s energy field, a yellow hue that outlined each branch. As soon as I started thinking about what I was seeing (rather than feeling it), the field would vanish. On and off for about an hour, I received this loving, accepting, and calming energy. My new friend, a maple, blessed me that afternoon. It said to me, “You are connected. You are not lost.” Before I went inside my home, I thanked my friend for the gift it gave me. Every day I go outside or see my friend from my window, I am filled with gratitude.

Eye to Eye with a Dragonfly
Amy Flatten, Project Get Outdoors

Widow Skimmer -LSWade

Widow Skimmer -SamBarzcak

About a month ago, I was offered the option to catch and identify dragonflies, by Juliane, a dragonfly enthusiast. In actuality, it was an offer to run around with a large bug net chasing dragonflies. They were zooming past with the utmost speed and were true aerial acrobats. It was remarkable to watch them!  Upon the first successful catch, Juliane demonstrated how to very carefully remove it from the net by grasping its wings. In doing this, we were able to get a closer look at the insect. I appreciated her care for such a small creature!  As I stared at it, the dragonfly unblinkingly stared right back.  How large the world must seem to such a small creature as this! But what a large predator it would be, if I were the size of a fly – yikes!  We proceeded to look at how close the eyes were to each other, any unique markings on its sides, tail and face. She would lead me to a picture in her key that would match.  Yes, I will remember my one-on-one time with an experienced dragonfly enthusiast, but I will also never forget carefully holding these wild insects and wonder what’s on their mind as they are happily released.

When was the last time you really looked at an insect? Maybe it’s time to have your own insect encounter and delve into the six-legged world!

I Saved A life Today!
Marian Eisner, Bloomington, MN.

MarianI was walking around Normandale Lake this afternoon when I got to the boat launch area, I saw this turtle trying to cross a two way road with a car exiting the boat launch onto the road.  I stopped traffic, and the turtle turned around and headed back toward the lake.  It was still slowly walking along the boat launch road, and I followed it.  I kept saying, “Come on turtle” and each time I did it started to walk faster.  When it got to the curb, I gave it a little nudge, and it climbed onto the curb and out to the lake.
I saved a life today -it feels great!



An amazing afternoon with a special little old kestrel at Richardson Nature Center.
Pauline Bold, Naturalist, Three Rivers Park District, Richardson Nature Center

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photo by Liz Stanley

March 12, 2013 – The kestrel and I sat in front of the windowed wall in our wildlife viewing room at the nature center for 45 minutes (his favorite place in the world). There were a lot of birds and squirrels to watch. A goofy turkey watched us with his beak right up against the window. The kestrel spent 15 minutes preening, making himself very beautiful. He spread his wings and tail, and “talked” a bit. Scratched his head and ended up with a rakish feather hanging over his eye – made me laugh. He was a happy little boy that day.

March 13, 2013 – End of story…yesterday I got to look into the eyes and soul of a special little bird. Today his soul has been set free. After 15 years of being an excellent ambassador for his species, and helping us to educate thousands upon thousands of people, our kestrel’s spirit is now free to soar. He will be greatly missed, but we were honored to share in his life.

Where Smart Birds Nest
Dewey Hassig – Dewey is a beekeeper in Minnetonka.

Cardinal nest on the seat of the underside of my canoe.

Cardinal nest on the seat of the underside of my canoe.

I won’t be canoeing this spring. My canoe is upside down on a rack on the back of my garage, and a Cardinal has made it’s nest on the seat. At least that Cardinal has a dry spot to nest.” (Editor Note. Dewey sent this to me in May and I saw him a month later and he said that the Cardinal abandoned the nest with one egg in it and re-nested on the opposite seat).





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