Sunday, June 12, 2016

Holy cow, parsnips #phenology

cow parsnips near creek
cow parsnips near creek
Photo by J. Harrington

Last week along Hay Creek in Goodhue County, we noticed quite a few "giant somethings" growing along the banks. This morning we saw more of the same plant in Osceola, WI., along a tributary to the St. Croix River. Today we remembered to take pictures and dig out a field guide when we got home. Cow parsnips can grow to eight feet tall. That fits my definition of "giant something" and that's what we were seeing.

snapping turtle on road
snapping turtle on road
Photo by J. Harrington

According to Jim Gilbert's Nature Notebook, now is egg-laying time for snapping turtles in Minnesota. Some local snappers will probably stand a better chance of success with tomorrow's closure of County Road 36 at the Sunrise River "bridge." Last year we noticed at least one carcass that had been run over (run down?) while crossing the road. Maybe it was night and the driver didn't see her?

Painted Turtle


By Gretchen Marquette


Summer road the ring around the lake, we drove mostly in silence.

Why aren’t I your wife?

You swerved around a turtle sunning itself.

I wanted to go back. To hold the hot disc of it and place it in the grass.

We were late for dinner.

One twentieth of a mile an hour, I said. Claws in tar. You turned the car around.

Traffic from the direction of the turtle, and you saw before I did, the fifty bones of the carapace,

crushed roman dome, the surprise of red blood.

I couldn’t help crying, couldn’t keep anything from harm.

I’m sorry, you said, and let it hurt.

The relief, always, of you in the seat beside me, you’ll never know.

Driving that road next winter, you remembered that place in the road. Your turtle.

During hibernation, a turtle’s heart beats once for every ten minutes.

It cannot voluntarily open its eyes.



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