Sunday, April 26, 2015

April fooling with fire

Early this morning, after sunrise but before brightlight, I was sitting in the living room, reading Jane Hirshfield's absolutely fantastic Ten Windows : How Great Poems Transform the World, which I got a couple of weeks ago from Sue Zumberge at Subtext Books [see if she still has a copy, get it and read it, you'll thank me if you enjoy poetry]. As I put the book down to reach for my coffee cup, I noticed through one of our shiny, clear, new windows a wild turkey hen perched on the deck railing. She modestly refused to pose for a photo, as did the male red-winged blackbird that's shown up at the feeder several times this past week. Although unusual, a blackbird has visited us in years past. Never before has a turkey been seen on the deck unless it was nested in the Weber. Wildflowers are often more of a challenge to find than rare visitors at the feeders, but at least they hold still for pictures once you've found them. Now we move from unusual birds to unusual weather, or is it?

The following three pictures were each taken in mid-April of 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. In case you can't read the ruler in the bottom photo, it's 13 inches of snow. What's "normal" for a Minnesota Spring? Do we base it on 2 out of 3 years? This year the pear tree is just leafing out but there's no notable snow. That makes it 50/50 for a four year period.

mid-April 2012 pear tree blooming
mid-April 2012
Photo by J. Harrington

mid-April 2012 pear tree snow covered
mid-April 2013
Photo by J. Harrington

mid-April 2014 13 inches of snow
mid-April 2014
Photo by J. Harrington

The lack of snow this Spring  made it easy several weeks ago for Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources to conduct a prescribed burn around the entrance and at the east side of Highway 95 through William O'Brien State Park. The post-burn ground was, naturally, blackened. As of this past Friday, the grass in the burned areas was greener than anything I'v seen in quite awhile. I have, in the past, seen photos of wildfire recovery in some of our western national parks and forests. It took several seasons for regrowth to show the recovery I saw this past week. I suppose that's one of the major differences between prescribed burns and wildfires. I'm not sure how troublesome the rest of our "usual" Spring grassfire season will be this year.

National Poetry Month

As When Drought Imagines Fire

By David Roderick 

Loot my point of view,
                                               hove my heart
                free from its hived booth
though I know your smoke,
                                            its black blossom,
is a substance I’ll never become:
              of plaster and grass I’ve prepped
flawlessly, rivers I’ve whittled thin.

It’s a personal matter to me, the wind.
But let it be our cathedral feeling:
                                                              a sculpture
of ash
                               dragging its robe over
the hills because of us,
                                             because of me.
Yellow is hurried,
                              but red moves like a swarm
               through toothpick homes,
               pans over roofs,
                             where the ethos we child
                                             from the ground
will blacken to ruin.
                                                           Let’s glory
              this roughened nap
of landscape,
                           this parched Arcadia,
with one nude-struck match and a breeze.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.