Monday, October 16, 2017

No jobs on a dead planet!

The New York Times magazine recently published an article that touched on one of our (many) hot buttons: In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness. Today, the Star Tribune published Enbridge pipeline replacement divides DFL. We live in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District, home to the Iron Range and the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area. Once upon a time, back when we also believed in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, we believed the Democratic party was a leading supporter of both labor (good jobs) and environmental protection (clean water to drink and swim in, clean air to breathe). Not so much anymore.

Our Congressman, Rick Nolan, has introduced legislation that would undermine environmental protections and current governmental process to expedite mine development of a new type, primarily for copper. It's what we would have expected from a Republican, such as Congressman Emmer, who is aiding and abetting Nolan's effort to exempt some mine proposals from full governmental review and approval.

Two environmental organizations, [full disclosure: we have contributed funds to each] have seen fit to respond to the Times' publication as follows:

MCEA on Two Economies

WaterLegacy on Two Economies

It seems to us that a large part of our current problems derive directly from the extent to which we are a nation of laws, not men. Years ago we tried working with representatives of the US Army Corps of Engineers, at a time when their strategy on projects seemed to be to "Design, Announce, Defend." Finding middle ground when each side feels it needs the "best advocate" to defend its interests is a sometimes impossible challenge.

There is, or at least could be, a different way. The Nation has published some suggestions on how to bring labor and the environment together. Today's Daily Yonder has comparable thoughts on how the Democrats can  better reach out to rural voters (most of Minnesota's CD-8 is rural). We've mentioned before how much we've been taken by the stories in Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman and the outstanding job some predominantly rural folks are doing in maintaining and creating jobs while conserving the environment. We bet if you stop back here from time to time, you'll see more references to efforts such as those touched on today, because, as much as we believe anything, we believe there are no jobs on a dead planet. We may even drag in the old "Bert & I" joke about which way to Millenocket? to see if we can find a way together to get there from here.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blue-joint grass? #phenology

In various locations and mixtures on our property we have both big and little bluestem grasses. Little bluestem predominates. We also have a variety of other grasses and sedges and maybe some reeds. This autumn, one sunny mid-afternoon, some grasses glowed golden.

blue-joint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis)
blue-joint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis)
Photo by J. Harrington

At first we thought they were little bluestem, but then we looked more closely and decided they're not. That's when the trouble started. We've been through each of our field guides and online guides several times, trying to determine what we had photographed. The seeds align in the wrong direction on the stem to be side-oats gamma. It's fairly easy to skim through the grasses sections and decide lots of "it's nots." The greater challenge is to conclude, with at least a modicum of certainty, "it is."

blue-joint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis) seed heads
blue-joint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis) seed heads
Photo by J. Harrington

As usual, if any reader believes the identification is incorrect, please feel free to let us know your preferred identification. Meanwhile, we're proceeding with the idea that we have Calamagrostis canadensis identified. (The photo on the USDA web page threw us for awhile.) We're using the description and photos in Prairie Plants of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum and this photo as our basis.

                     Grasses



So still at heart,
They respond like water
To the slightest breeze,
Rippling as one body,

And, as one mind,
Bend continually
To listen:
The perfect confidants,

They keep to themselves,
A web of trails and nests,
Burrows and hidden entrances—
Do not reveal

Those camouflaged in stillness
From the circling hawks,
Or crouched and breathless
At the passing of the fox.



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Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.