Sunday, June 28, 2015

River serendipity

I've been reading the updated second edition of the Minnesota Weather Almanac to see what the "new normal" portends. In a section on Earliest Observations [page 72], there's a brief mention that Henry Clay (the Younger) noted abundant "red deer," in addition to other big game, in northwestern Minnesota. That prompted me to go wandering off through the wilds of the internets to see if I could discover if, indeed, "red deer" were ever indigenous to Minnesota. Link after link failed to provide me with an answer, but, serendipitously, one link brought me to a thoroughly useful and well done but previously undiscovered Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on-line course on Healthy Rivers. Full disclosure: I'm probably biased because, some weeks ago, I was searching for a definition of "bank full" and couldn't find one. I'm not sure why Healthy Rivers explanation didn't show up then but it now provides what I had been searching for.

St Croix River bank full+
St Croix River: bank full+
Photo by J. Harrington

Did you know the National Park Service uses a completely different set of terms than flood, bank full or normal, but low, very low and unfloatable seem more self evident than good, high and very high, although good = normal, high = bank full and very high = flood (which could also mean unfloatable for a reason antithetical to too little water). It is entirely possible that I'm complaining because I find the information on each gauge reading page to be entirely too technical and lacking context. If I need to choose between learning how to interpret the technical data from the gauge pages or remember the subjective classifications, I'll go with the latter for now, you know, "go with the flow."

I Hear a River thro’ the Valley Wander

By Trumbull Stickney 

I hear a river thro’ the valley wander
Whose water runs, the song alone remaining.
A rainbow stands and summer passes under.