Monday, May 23, 2016

Does Minnesota have #phenology folklore?

The legislative session, such as it was, is over. The breezes are out of the South. Clouds are piling up. The temperature is in the mid-70s. It's (un)officially steamy and summery, even if not yet officially Summer. The number of dragonflies flying is increasing. More and more columbine flowers are blooming. Bees visit their down-hanging flowers. Swallowtail butterflies are checking out various plants. If it weren't for the aforementioned breezes, I'd be somewhere "standing in a river, waving a stick" as John Gierach writes, but 15 to 20 mph breezes make fly-fishing more annoying than fun.

bee in pansy
bee in pansy
Photo by J. Harrington

Meanwhile, I've discovered that watching the bees (not as large as bumblebees, but larger than honeybees) climb up into the columbine flowers is done more comfortably looking out from a downstairs window than looking up while lying prone in the garden. Probably another sign of old age and, maybe, some wisdom finally sinking in. The other thing I've learned from experience is that the breezes we're enjoying aren't conducive to getting in-focus photos of flowers while they're being blown about.

lilac leaves way larger than mouse's ear
lilac leaves way larger than mouse's ear
Photo by J. Harrington

Looking at the dates on past year's pictures of hoary puccoon and columbine, I can be certain that specimens of each have bloomed in May and June. It appears that they may often precede but overlap with beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus). At least that's the way my photos tell the story. On the other hand, I'm starting to suspect I'm being too rigid with this "what blooms before what sequencing." It's not like the 25 Days of Advent, is it? I remember from my Massachusetts' days it was time to look for striped bass in Cape Cod Bay when lilac leaves were the size of a mouse's ear, or something like that. (I learned that a year when I was living somewhere with no lilac bushes handy.) It probably would do me some good to do a little more research on phenology folklore for Minnesota.

Folklore


By Dean Young


You shouldn’t have a heart attack
in your 20s. 47 is the perfect time
for a heart attack. Feeding stray shadows
only attracts more shadows. Starve a fever,
shatter a glass house. People often mistake
thirst for hunger so first take a big slurp.
A motorboat is wasted on me even though
all summer the pool was, I didn’t
get in it once. Not in it, not in it
twice. A dollhouse certainly isn’t wasted
on a mouse both in terms of habitation
and rhyme. Always leave yourself time
to get lost. 50 cattle are enough
for a decent dowry but sometimes a larger
gesture is called for like shouting
across the Grand Canyon. Get used to
nothing answering back. Always remember
the great effects of the Tang poets,
the meagerness of their wine, meagerness
of writing supplies. Go ahead, drown
in the moon’s puddle. Contusions
are to be expected and a long wait
in ICU under the muted TVs advertising
miracle knives and spot removers.
How wonderful to be made entirely
of hammered steel! No one knows why
Lee chose to divert his troops to Gettysburg
but all agree it was the turning point
of the Civil War. Your turining point
may be lying crying on the floor.
Get up! The perfect age for being buried
alive in sand is 8 but jumping up 33, alluding
to the resurrection, a powerful motif
in Western art but then go look at the soup cans
and crumpled fenders in the modern wing:
what a relief. Nearly 80% of the denizens
of the deep can produce their own light
but up here, we make our own darkness.


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