Saturday, August 27, 2016

How to bear rainy weather #phenology

Mountain ash berries
Mountain ash berries
Photo by J. Harrington

We're experiencing another cool, wet and dreary day here at the southern edge of the North Country. That makes me grateful that we've got a supply of coffee and good books to read. I'm still working my way through North Shore. This morning's reading covered pages that mentioned how far black bears (we have one or two in the neighborhood) will travel to feast on acorns (20 miles +/-) and mountain ash berries, among other Autumn options. The particular 154 acre oak stand mentioned is now in Tettegouche State Park. I was intrigued to read about the mountain ash berries. We've seen lots of them along the North Shore, but weren't aware that bears fed on them, nor were we aware that an estimated 96 species of birds and mammals feed on acorns. I won't have time to finish the book before then, but I'm motivated to read lots more before we head back up to the Gunflint late next month.

Smooth Oxeye
Smooth Oxeye
Photo by J. Harrington

To counteract today's glum weather, take a walk, bike, horse, or drive if you must, and enjoy the brightness of the yellow flowers blooming along the roadsides. There are plenty of Heliopsis helianthoides (Smooth Oxeye) and Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan) and some remaining birdsfoot trefoil to be seen. The varietals of fall gold aren't easy to distinguish at 60 or 70 miles per hour, so township roads at 20 or so are a better option for those of you vehicle-bound. Clouds are breaking up, sun's trying to come out. Time to follow my own advice, grab a leash, a dog and walk down the road.

Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan
Photo by J. Harrington

Once

By Tara Bray


I climbed the roll of hay to watch the heron
in the pond. He waded a few steps out,
then back, thrusting his beak under water,
pulling it up empty, but only once.
Later I walked the roads for miles, certain
he’d be there when I returned. How is it for him,
day after day, his brittle legs rising
from warm green scum, his graceful neck curled,
damp in the bright heat? It’s a dull world.
Every day, the same roads, the sky,
the dust, the barn caving into itself,
the tin roof twisted and scattered in the yard.
Again, the bank covered with oxeye daisy
that turns to spiderwort, to chicory,
and at last to goldenrod. Each year, the birds—
thick in the air and darting in wild numbers—
grow quiet, the grasses thin, the light leaves
earlier each day. The heron stood
stone-still on my spot when I returned.
And then, his wings burst open, lifting the steel-
blue rhythm of his body into flight.
I touched the warm hay. Hoping for a trace
of his wild smell, I cupped my hands over
my face: nothing but the heat of fields
and skin. It wasn’t long before the world
began to breathe the beat of ordinary hours,
stretching out again beneath the sky.


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