Friday, June 23, 2017

Ground truthing

I don't remember where or when I first encountered the saying "The map is not the territory." I do recall that I first heard it as "The map is not the place." I much prefer the latter. Today I experienced a classic example of the differences between maps, descriptions and places. I was trying to find an alleged trout stream in a Scientific and Natural Area not to farm from home. I"m still trying to reconcile what I saw and photographed with this description from the fisheries folks at the Department of Natural Resources:
This is a small stream with a good population of small brook trout. The stream enters the St. Croix just upstream of the railroad bridge below Cedar Bend. The fishable areas on this stream are located on private property. Anglers must gain permission from property owners before fishing this stream.
The good folks in the DNR's Scientific and Natural Areas section provide this description online:
Falls Creek is one of the most diverse natural areas remaining in Washington County. Folded and faulted rocks at this site show the largest displacement of any known Paleozoic rocks in Minnesota, revealing Decorah, Platteville, Glenwood, and St. Peter formations. Steep ravines line the intermittently active stream beds. Slopes face north or south primarily, with groundcover varied accordingly. Pine canopy openings on south slopes permit growth of many species native to bluff prairies. Oak forest occupies the drier ridge tops. The old fields on the site are undergoing reforestation with seedlings grown from acorns collected on the site. A deer exclosure protects the seedlings on one old field.
There's not a word about fishing, but there is a much better map than the fisheries folks give us.

part of MNDNR SNA map of Falls Creek SNA
part of MNDNR SNA map of Falls Creek SNA

I spent a fair amount of time today trying to find Falls Creek SNA. Neither parking area has a sign readily noticeable from the road. I believe I got a chance to examine parts of the southerly blue line but had neither the time nor the energy to do a thorough reconnoiter after I finally managed to actually locate both parking areas. Here's a few :ground truth" photos. I'm still searching for a fishable segment. More to explore some other day. This "living local" can often be more challenging that it seems at first. The reality and the idea, the place and the map, often require effort to reconcile. That can be fun, or tedious, or both.
try to see this sign from the road
try to see this sign from the road
Photo by J. Harrington

stream bed of intermittent stream
stream bed of intermittent stream
Photo by J. Harrington

"downstream?" of previous photo
"downstream?" of previous photo
Photo by J. Harrington

 There is no doubt in my mind that the only thing tougher than trying to fish this intermittent stream would be trying to live in it if you were a trout! Maybe the DNR fisheries folks were referring to the stream North of this one. That's a trip for another day. I should be a little easier next time.

Truth Serum


By Naomi Shihab Nye


We made it from the ground-up corn in the old back pasture.
Pinched a scent of night jasmine billowing off the fence,   
popped it right in.
That frog song wanting nothing but echo?   
We used that.
Stirred it widely. Noticed the clouds while stirring.
Called upon our ancient great aunts and their long slow eyes   
of summer. Dropped in their names.   
Added a mint leaf now and then   
to hearten the broth. Added a note of cheer and worry.   
Orange butterfly between the claps of thunder?   
Perfect. And once we had it,
had smelled and tasted the fragrant syrup,   
placing the pan on a back burner for keeping,   
the sorrow lifted in small ways.
We boiled down the lies in another pan till they disappeared.
We washed that pan.


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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Denying denial

It would seem that the North Country's counter to the Southwest's "Yes, but it's a dry heat," is going to be "Yes, but it's a damp coolness!" I don't think this is the way, in an age of global warming, Summer is supposed to work. Outside the walls where this is being written, it's pouring rain and the midday temperature is 67℉. The rain should help the plants that went into our sandy soils last Spring, but it won't take much more of this before local streams may rise again.

storm clouds
storm clouds
Photo by J. Harrington

Local streams, for now, with their rise and fall, may have more resilience than either of our political parties. Republicans are busy trying to destroy health care and safety nets to fund tax breaks for some of the richest people in the world, while the Democrats' internal strife may result in self destruction, as leadership of both parties ignores many of the needs of rank and file Americans.

One of my favorite crystal ball gazers, David Orr, wrote about our current situation back in 2012:
"Further, governments and our political discourse must transcend the old right-left dichotomy characteristic of industrial age politics. The challenge ahead will be to creatively join conservatism and liberalism in search of a livable future. Interestingly, the necessary changes would blend the thinking of Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, with that of Thomas Jefferson, associated with modern radicalism. In different ways, each argued for the protection of future generations from “intergenerational tyranny.” The prospect of political change, however, is complicated and difficult, and there is no assurance that governments that are effective in the face of rapid climate destabilization will also be democratic.7 It is easier and perhaps more plausible to imagine a future of hyper-efficient, solar-powered, sustainable, and authoritarian societies than reformed and effective democracies."
... 
"The scientific evidence suggests that we are entering a “long emergency” for which there will be no quick fixes or painless solutions. Any worthy vision must hold out solid hope of the millennial kind. It must include rights for future generations.9 It must create a more inclusive framework for justice, fairness, decency, sustainability, and human rights (e.g., the Earth Charter).10 It must preserve a stock of irreplaceable knowledge11 while protecting and extending the hard-won gains of civilization, but over time spans and conditions that we can barely fathom."
no storm, no rainbow
no storm, no rainbow
Photo by J. Harrington

Orr's reference to a "long emergency" echoes the title of James Howard Kunstler's distressingly prescient eponymous book. Perhaps, as we view current events in Washington, D.C., or our local state capitals, as well as around the world, we might try to view current events through lenses suggested by both David Orr and many of our founding fathers. It is my firm belief that we, that's all of us, rich and poor, have gotten ourselves into a situation in which Ben Franklin's observation, that "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." [-In the Continental Congress just before signing the Declaration of Independence, 1776] may well be an understatement. Remember, "Denial is not just a river in Egypt."

First Storm and Thereafter


By Scott Cairns


What I notice first within
          this rough scene fixed
in memory is the rare
          quality of its lightning, as if
those bolts were clipped
          from a comic book, pasted
on low cloud, or fashioned
          with cardboard, daubed
with gilt then hung overhead
          on wire and fine hooks.
What I hear most clearly
          within that thunder now
is its grief—a moan, a long
          lament echoing, an ache.
And the rain? Raucous enough,
          pounding, but oddly
musical, and, well,
          eager to entertain, solicitous.

No storm since has been framed
          with such matter-of-fact
artifice, nor to such comic
          effect. No, the thousand-plus
storms since then have turned
          increasingly artless,
arbitrary, bearing—every
          one of them—a numbing burst.

And today, from the west a gust
          and a filling pressure
pulsing in the throat—offering
          little or nothing to make light of.


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