Thursday, October 23, 2014

Enjoy what we can, prevent as we can, mitigate where we can, adapt when we must

The sky is overcast and the air full of mist. The driveway is full of leaves, mostly oak, its North side lined with orange pumpkins and maroon, copper and yellow chrysanthemums. There are increasing numbers of coot (mud hens) on the water at Carlos Avery. Halloween is a week away. The Cornell Ornithology Lab has a cool download of owl sounds available at no charge, plus a page of typical owls. Owls are one of my favorite creatures and I have a sweet tooth and a strong preference for Autumn over Winter, I'm enjoying this time of transition.

the driveways Autumnal glory
Photo by J. Harrington

Over the next few weeks, I'm looking forward to taking some trips through Chisago and Pine Counties to get a sense of the upper St. Croix area when its not hidden by leaves. One thing I'm curious to see is if the impact of the storm-downed trees in St. Croix State Park from the wind storms several years ago is more or less stark without a backdrop of leaves. I also want to take a look at Jay Cook and see how the recovery from the 2012 flood is coming.

St. Croix State Park wind storm survivors
Photo by J. Harrington

As I recall a long ago Summer trip through Yellowstone National Park, where I got stuck in a traffic jam as bad as anything at rush hour along 494 or 694 around the Twin Cities, and look at our more popular state parks, I start to wonder at what point outdoor recreation becomes an extractive use of the land. The Congress for a New Urbanism has an interesting and helpful transect of rural to urban land uses. As part of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources adaptation to climate change planning, it would be helpful to consider how the transect approach can be applied to parks. If Minnesota still had a state planning agency that might be more readily achievable.

Kathryn Simmonds nicely captures the ephemeral quality of the joys of this time of year in the woods. Some of the changes coming to fields and forests in My Minnesota will be sudden, others more gradual. Will we learn to move toward prevention, mitigation and adaptation as climate changes where and how we enjoy life here?

In the Woods

By Kathryn Simmonds 

The baby sleeps.
Sunlight plays upon my lap, through doily leaves a black lab comes,
a scotty goes, the day wears on, the baby wakes.

The good birds sing,
invisible or seldom seen, in hidden kingdoms, grateful for the in-
between. The baby sleeps. Elsewhere the Queen rolls by

on gusts of cheer — 
ladies wave and bless her reign. The baby frets. The baby feeds.
The end of lunch, a daytime moon. The leaves

are lightly tinkered with.
It’s spring? No, autumn? Afternoon? We’ve sat so long, we’ve walked
so far. The woods in shade, the woods in sun, the singing birds,

the noble trees.
The child is grown. The child is gone. The black lab comes,
his circuit done. His mistress coils his scarlet lead.


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