Friday, June 10, 2016

Kvetching with and without the "K" #phenology

Hairy vetch is adding a grape tint to fields and roadsides. Hoary alyssum blossoms speckle sandplain fields. (The neighbor across the road keeps horses so his fields are cleaner.) Both the vetch and alyssum are listed as "invasive" by the Minnesota DNR although "not a threat to healthy native prairies at this time, but can be a problem in prairie reconstructions and on disturbed sites." Because it's a hot, humid Friday in June, I'll spare you my rant about "when is an invasive not an invasive" or "will the real invasive species please stand up." I'm inclining more and more toward the view point that, if you don't want to declare something an invasive that must be controlled, please find another term. Are we xenophobic toward plants as well as people? That's so absurd in a nation largely populated by the immigrant descendants of one of the world's most invasive species.

a field with alyssum and vetch
a field with alyssum and vetch
Photo by J. Harrington

Early this morning, while putting out the bird feeders, I noticed our first June bug of the year, a beetle large enough to take on our border collie. Later, on the trunk of the overhanging oak tree, a red squirrel and a gray squirrel were playing what looked like a combination of tag and hide 'n seek. If I were judging the squirrel games, I'd declare this one a draw.

red squirrel on oak branch
red squirrel on oak branch
Photo by J. Harrington

After disappearing for more than a week, male rose-breasted grosbeaks are back at the feeders. I'm less sure of the females, since their drab, muted brown coloring makes them less noticeable when they're here and less conspicuous by their absence. They may be back but I'm not sure they were ever gone.

Much in Little

By Yvor Winters


Amid the iris and the rose,
The honeysuckle and the bay,
The wild earth for a moment goes
In dust or weed another way.

Small though its corner be, the weed
Will yet intrude its creeping beard;
The harsh blade and the hairy seed
Recall the brutal earth we feared.

And if no water touch the dust
In some far corner, and one dare
To breathe upon it, one may trust
The spectre on the summer air:

The risen dust alive with fire,
The fire made visible, a blur
Interrate, the pervasive ire
Of foxtail and of hoarhound burr.


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