Saturday, September 19, 2015

North to South

I've visited Minnesota's North Shore a number of times since moving here from Massachusetts. Lake Superior is as close to an ocean as I get these days. The more I've spent time revisiting Highway 61 (couldn't resist), the more questions I've come away with; questions about what am I seeing and how did it get this way and has it always been like this? This Winter I should be able to answer some of those questions thanks to a new book by Chel Anderson and Adelheid Fischer, North Shore:  A Natural History of Minnesota's Superior Coast. I plan to save (and savor) reading the book for when it's too cold and/or snowy to enjoy being outside but, knowing me, I'll probably cheat and start some evening soon. With more than 600 pages to read, I'll be at it for awhile, although many of those pages are full of beautiful pictures of the area.
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cover of book "North Shore"
click photo to learn more

The thought of changing seasons reminds me that I haven't seen any hummingbirds for several days now. Their migration peak looks to have shifted south, toward the Twin Cities, according to the folks who track those things. As of yesterday, however, trumpeter swans were still relaxing on local waters. I don't know if these are among the ones who Winter along the St. Croix or not. So many things I (we?) don't know about our neighbors and what's going on in our own back yards.

trumpeter swans on Carlos Avery WMA pool
trumpeter swans on Carlos Avery WMA pool
Photo by J. Harrington

trumpeter swans on Carlos Avery WMA pool
trumpeter swans on Carlos Avery WMA pool
Photo by J. Harrington

The late year

By Marge Piercy 

I like Rosh Hashonah late,
when the leaves are half burnt
umber and scarlet, when sunset
marks the horizon with slow fire
and the black silhouettes
of migrating birds perch
on the wires davening.
I like Rosh Hashonah late
when all living are counting
their days toward death
or sleep or the putting by
of what will sustain them—
when the cold whose tendrils
translucent as a jellyfish
and with a hidden sting
just brush our faces
at twilight. The threat
of frost, a premonition
a warning, a whisper
whose words we cannot
yet decipher but will.
I repent better in the waning
season when the blood
runs swiftly and all creatures
look keenly about them
for quickening danger.
Then I study the rockface
of my life, its granite pitted
and pocked and pickaxed
eroded, discolored by sun
and wind and rain—
my rock emerging
from the veil of greenery
to be mapped, to be
examined, to be judged.


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