Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tickled pink by pinkletinks #phenology

Local Trout Unlimited chapters have been doing some conservation work that I find really creative. In the Driftless Area of southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin, they've expanded the scope of cold water stream conservation work to include non-trout creatures. This highly beneficial approach is laid out in a Nongame Wildlife Habitat Guide. That's where I discovered the phenology calendar shown below.

Once again I've been confronted with an "unknown unknown" conundrum. I knew that frogs bred in late March, but didn't know it continued for some species until mid-August. More specifically, I thought all frogs finished breeding before the beginning of Summer. My "known knowns" were incorrect in part, or, perhaps, incompletely correct if I want to make it sound more positive. For years and years (and years ...) I've enjoyed the chorus of Spring Peepers, plus leopard and pickerel frogs, coming from vernal pools and surrounding meadows and wetlands in March and April. Frank Woolner, an outdoor writer from Massachusetts, wrote in one of his essays in My New England,  that H.G. Tapply refers to peepers as "pinkletinks," a name that may have begun on Martha's Vineyard, one of New England's unique treasures.

Trout fishing, in particular fly-fishing for trout, is one of the most fun ways I know of to engage with phenology. Different insects on which trout feed hatch at different times of the seasons, basic phenology, although some hatch year round. Working to conserve our cold water resources, so trout, and insects, have the habitat they need to thrive, brings us into the lives of frogs and snakes and turtles and wildflowers and .... It also brings us together with farmers and foresters and others whose livelihood depends on the productivity of the lands surrounding the waters in which trout live. Helping restore the qualities of those waters and lands needs to be done in a way that improves, or at least doesn't unfairly diminish, the quality of life of other users of the watersheds. I don't doubt that sometime in the future, Trout Unlimited's "Nongame guide" will improve by including human occupants along with other nongame wildlife. Conservation organizations have become more and more effective at creating partnerships that support and enhance their missions. Sustainable and restorative living are about connecting all those dots. The more that happens, the more tickled pink we can all be.

The Singer

By Chard DeNiord
For Ethan Canin

I sat on the dock at dusk and spoke
to the fish who swam beneath me
like ears with fins to hear my secrets.
“That words come close?” I whispered.
“The sky enters me like a sword
with my own hand on the hilt.
How to witness what I can't express—
the smell of lilacs, the dirge of loons.
Make up the rest if you wish.
Less is enough.
Say I sound like one of the Hosts.
That I'm crying also and there's nothing
you can do to make me stop.
That I'm like the peepers, katydids, and thrush
with my own song— all call in the opera of dusk. 
Or is it response?”

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