Monday, January 22, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is...

We don't really believe we're writing these words, but we think we've been missing snow storms. After all, this is Minnesota. It is Winter. We had been suffering a "snow drought." The snowfall we've been getting has been of the inch or two variety. No more, perhaps, although we're on the northern fringe of the storm, not in the heaviest snow band area. At least the last time we checked that's where we are relative to the storm's path. So far, accumulations have been minimal but the dogs join us in enjoying being warm and dry inside.

snowfall enhances the beauty of Winter woods
snowfall enhances the beauty of Winter woods
Photo by J. Harrington

We walked those same dogs a little early today, before any accumulation we get amounts to much. Dogs don't much care about snow and wind if there's interesting smells to check out. Dog walkers have a very different perspective. The birds seemed to appreciate that the feeders were full. Six blue jays were visible near the front feeder at one time this morning. The most we've seen together this Winter before now was three. Add in a bright red male cardinal feeding on the white snow cover and we have an unseasonal fourth of July palette in January.

a blue jay agains the snow
a blue jay agains the snow
Photo by J. Harrington

Some of what's falling now should melt in a day or two. Temperatures are forecast to get back above freezing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Although we're not huge fans of snow, getting an occasional storm between melting periods seems like a better deal than the flatlined, cold, gray weather pattern we've been stuck in. Longer days, more light, bring it on, right after it stops snowing!

The Snow Storm

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 - 1882

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

   Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

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

Sunday, January 21, 2018

How safe from pollution are Northern Minnesota's "community values?"

As Minnesota processes draft permits for the proposed PolyMet mine, Canada and Mexico are, no doubt, following up on their recently negotiated bilateral mining Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). Meanwhile, the federal government in the US is "shut down," as the current administration dithers and dawdles about what to do to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The "MOU on the sustainable development of mineral resources"... focuses on "the development of clean mining technology, more direct engagement with indigenous communities, corporate social responsibility, and issues pertaining to broader competitiveness in global markets."

are clean air and clean water "community values?"
are clean air and clean water "community values?"
Photo by J. Harrington

Since Canada and Mexico have already moved ahead to make development of mineral resources in their countries more sustainable, while the current administration in Washington appears to be doing everything possible to minimize environmental protection required of mining activities, it becomes easier to understand the potential attractiveness to foreign owners and investors of proposed projects such as PolyMet's NorthMet and the Twin Metals' mine. Concerns about diminished environmental protections are enhanced when NAFTA outcomes, such as a recent tribunal decision that overturned a Canadian government decision to reject a mining proposal based on the findings of an environmental assessment, are taken into account.

Does Minnesota need to revise its out-dated mining laws to keep from ending up in a position similar to Canada's on the Bilcon project? "Externalities," such as NAFTA, lead us to believe our environmental regulatory and protection system is insufficient for today's business. No amount of financial assurance will be able to restore the effects of a tailings dam failure. Some messes are better prevented than cleaned up.


Money changed hands. It’s how we came to be
Came to be planted here in the mortar
In the miniature cash forest
Aster greenwood ficus hemlock
Taproot stipe calyx anther in the
Mortal hereafter
Hearing hands making money change.

Speak up. I can’t hear you.
There’s something wrong with your voice.
You’re speaking too fast. Slow up.
Speak into the currency.
It wants to bone you. It wants to receive
Your warmth in its coffers.
Listen up. I’ve a fee to see to
A toll-man a drawbridge. Open up.
Close up. You have a cross bite
In your crown, palate-ax.
Bite down. Bite my ball
Bearing interest.

I’m a businessman. I own a plant.
I bid for it, bought it, soiled it, drowned it
Tilled it, scolded it, heaved into it, stole from it
Wept unto it
A token in its behalf, suffered a stem

                                 To rise in it
                                 To market, to market
                                 In my dirty jumpsuit

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