Saturday, January 30, 2016

The phenology of rivers

When I was a child, my mother used to read to me from a book called Paddle to the Sea. It is the story of a canoe journey through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. I don't remember why she chose it, but I'm glad she did. I think, at the moment, I know how Paddle-to-the-Sea felt, caught in a frozen land, waiting for waters to begin flowing in Spring.

Lake Superior, Summer
Lake Superior, Summer
Photo by J. Harrington

Fortunately, unlike Paddle, I have access to the Internet to help keep me from brooding about being frozen in place. I've been wondering, in anticipation of Minnesota's own Spring, what's already So far been written about the effects of global warming on aquatic insect hatches. I've found two really interesting resources. National Geographic published a story about a species of mayfly in the River Dove apparently going from a two-year to a one-year life span due to climate change. Additional poking about on Google's findings brought me to The River's Calendar and this introduction:
"Aquatic insect hatches are snapshots in time, telling the story of the river in its season. The Mother’s day caddis hatch that arrives - in a good year - just before spring runoff. With luck, salmon flies start emerging just as runoff subsides. The Hendrickson hatch, fished amidst the last snow squalls that spell the changing of the seasonal guard. A green drake spinner fall on a perfect spring evening, accompanied by lush verdant foliage and trilling of toads. The surprise of a large, solitary golden drake in the warmth of summer, taken quietly by a wary trout among the exposed rocks of a still pool. On those lucky days when we are witness to, and participant in the harmonious confluence of weather, water, fly and fish, we feel all is right with the world.

"But the times, and the climate, are a’ changing, and all might not be right."
Since this is the year when I intend to correct my drift away from rivers and fly-fishing, we'll do some more exploring of this topic and see if we can find a way to put it together with local wildflowers as they come into bloom. I'm pretty sure these explorations will turn out to be a pleasant way to pass some time and may even be interesting, satisfying and informative. I hope you enjoy them too.

At Least

I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did all night in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world—
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy—I have so much
to be thankful for already.
But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what’s going to happen.

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