Sunday, March 6, 2016

Phenomonal phenology

[UPDATE: Back from the skunk cabbage search. None found, but first tick of the season hitched a ride on the yellow lab. Temps above 40F ticks become active!

Heading south on I-35E through Forest Lake yesterday afternoon, we saw several small flocks of Canada geese over the farm fields we passed. Swans were still hanging around north of County Road 36 in Carlos Avery where the Sunrise River is making more and more open water. Flocks of purple finches have returned to the feeders. We've been able to identify both a male and a female pileated woodpecker at the suet. So far the genders have fed at separate times. Most of Friday's snow has melted. It'll be gone with today's 50F temperatures. Time to go look for emergent skunk cabbage again. According to Minnesota Wildflowers, we shouldn't expect to see any plants in bloom this month. Entomologists and fly-fishers can look for hatches of midges, Baetis and Paraleptophlebia adoptiva in southeast Minnesota waters. Hummingbirds have started their northern migration, as have monarch butterflies.

early arrivals along the Sunrise River
early arrivals along the Sunrise River
Photo by J. Harrington

There's a rule of thumb that claims Spring moves north around 15 miles a day. That means it takes almost 4 weeks to traverse Minnesota from south to north. I've read that global warming is making for milder, shorter Winters. I haven't yet seen anything about whether climate change will accelerate Spring's northward trek. It's not so much that I'm trying to rush the season as that, over the year's I've discovered that Spring is much like Christmas. A lot of the pleasure is in the anticipation. Right now I'm anticipating the pleasures of a series of unseasonably warm (under the "old Normal") Spring days forecast for the next week, and the arrival of more waterfowl as the local waters open.

To the Thawing Wind

Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.


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