Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In search of elusive answers

First, let's follow up on yesterday's posting about the juneberry / serviceberry / shadbush suspects. The LeafSnap app finally tried to identify the leaf photo I sent. It came back with 4 options, none of which were Amelanchiers. I respectfully disagree with their selection. The Eloise Butler Wildflower web site lists 10 species of Amelanchier native to Minnesota. In a "Notes" section they made me feel lots better by acknowledging the difficulty of identification at the species level:
"Amelanchier spicata has been listed as indigenous to the Wildflower Garden but that is probably erroneous as the species, per the DNR surveys, has only been found in the 3 counties of the Minnesota Arrowhead region. It is more likely that a low growing, suckering Serviceberry in the area of Eloise Butler was A. humilis, the Low Juneberry, or A. interior, Inland Juneberry as both of those species are normally found in the Metro area."
Amelanchier leaf
Amelanchier leaf
Photo by J. Harrington

The Chisago County plant listing only contains five Amelanchier species:
Amelanchier arborea       downy serviceberry
Amelanchier humilis         low juneberry
Amelanchier interior         inland juneberry
Amelanchier laevis           smooth juneberry
Amelanchier sanguinea    round-leaved juneberry
I'll try to remember later this year to check back when the berries are growing and see id that helps. Maybe by then the local bear and coyote population will have "cleaned up" a pile of twenty or thirty carp bodies some idiot(s) dumped just off one of the parking areas near the bushes. As the recent story about the closure of 1.6 miles of Superior Hiking Trail establishes, it only takes a limited number of miscreants to screw something up for everybody. I wonder if the farmers have noticed that yet.

agricultural crop residue in Winter
Photo by J. Harrington

At the risk of hurting our editorial arm as we pat ourselves on the back, we note that today's Star Tribune Editorial Board echoes many of the points we've recently raised in My Minnesota about the need for agriculture to cease its "free riding" in clean water efforts. Even on a good day we're not grandiose enough to think this little blog is being read by or otherwise paid attention to by the Strib, but it is nice to see validation including these statements:
"Saying that agriculture needs to make a concrete contribution is a hard but necessary truth. Policymakers shouldn’t be soft-pedaling this. Nor should legislators be backpedaling on buffers or other water-quality protections. Unfortunately, there are a raft of bills this session aimed at undermining clean water. One would give lawmakers veto power over new water-quality standards. Minnesota waters are in crisis. Forward thinking, not more kowtowing to special interests, is needed to save them."
We'd be more than happy to chalk up to common sense solutions to the concerns we share with the Editorial Board, but common sense needs to be where the action is: in Minnesota legislative chambers, back rooms and in farmers' fields. What do you think are the odds?

The Farmer

By W.D. Ehrhart 

Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done.
Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray
till my bones ache and hands rub
blood-raw with honest labor—
all that grows is the slow
intransigent intensity of need.
I have sown my seed on soil
guaranteed by poverty to fail.
But I don’t complain—except
to passersby who ask me why
I work such barren earth.
They would not understand me
if I stooped to lift a rock
and hold it like a child, or laughed,
or told them it is their poverty
I labor to relieve. For them,
I complain. A farmer of dreams
knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams
knows what it means to be patient.
Each day I go into the fields. 

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Please be kind to each other while you can.