Friday, March 7, 2014

Masked marvels in Minnesota

Yesterday, there was a really useful "Community Voices" column in MinnPost, pointing out that a column by Marshall Helmberger, originally published in the Timberjay on February 26, 2014, notes that almost all of the mining job growth modeled by Jim Skurla, UMN-Duluth, comes from taconite, not copper-nickel, mining. I find it really heartening that some in the media know how to do more than reprint corporate press releases. From what I can see, the fourth estate is almost as beholden to corporate interests as are many (most?) of our politicians. I'm not sure what the opposite of a tea-bagger is, not anti, but opposite. Whatever they're called (I'm pretty sure democrats isn't it), I'm one. I don't mind paying taxes, but I hate having to pay taxes only to have government fail to do its job and protect the public interest. I have no desire to have Minnesota become a bastion of employment like West Virginia, Kentucky or any of those other states (Texas?) where politicians kowtow to corporate desires. With quality work such as the Timberjay publishes, I think there's less chance our leaders will "help us succeed" like any of those trailing-indicator locales.

You might also find it worthwhile to look to the right of this page and click on the "Protect Our Manoomin, Treaty Rights" link. The linked PowerPoint presentation raises some fascinating, at least to me, questions about whether the Anishinaabe people, all be themselves (so to speak), in their sovereign tribal rights, could require enforcement of the current wild rice water quality standard, regardless of MPCA's follow through on their recent report. That would certainly warm my black Irish heart.

Minnesota's Sawtooth Mountains     © harrington
Minnesota's Sawtooth Mountains     © harrington

Speaking of potential bandits. I can confirm that the neighborhood raccoons now seem to think our deck and bird feeders are safe foraging locations. Last night, I opened the walkout to the deck and SiSi almost got a mouthful of raccoon hindquarter before the masked critter managed to haul itself up the oak tree beside the house. SiSi enjoyed the chase. I can't speak for the 'coon. Time to check the Hav-a-hart sizes again.

SiSi, raccoon chaser extraordinaire
SiSi, raccoon chaser extraordinaire   © harrington

Next visit, I'm assuming there will be one, I'll try to remember to grab my camera before I open the walkout. Meanwhile, Nikki Giovanni nicely captures many of the challenges of living with our wildlife relatives.

Possum Crossing

  by Nikki Giovanni 

Backing out the driveway
the car lights cast an eerie glow
in the morning fog centering
on movement in the rain slick street

Hitting brakes I anticipate a squirrel or a cat or sometimes
a little raccoon
I once braked for a blind little mole who try though he did
could not escape the cat toying with his life
Mother-to-be possum occasionally lopes home . . . being
naturally . . . slow her condition makes her even more ginger

We need a sign POSSUM CROSSING to warn coffee-gurgling neighbors:
we share the streets with more than trucks and vans and
railroad crossings

All birds being the living kin of dinosaurs
think themselves invincible and pay no heed
to the rolling wheels while they dine
on an unlucky rabbit

I hit brakes for the flutter of the lights hoping it's not a deer
or a skunk or a groundhog
coffee splashes over the cup which I quickly put away from me
and into the empty passenger seat
I look . . .
relieved and exasperated ...
to discover I have just missed a big wet leaf
struggling . . . to lift itself into the wind
and live
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