Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day! #phenology

Come September, Mother Nature eases up her own labors. The number of wildflowers in bloom drops toward almost half of what it was in August but that's still plenty to keep many rural roadsides prettified with smooth ox-eyes and sunflowers and asters. Early September thunderstorms have left our front flower garden looking frightfully shopworn and tattered as we transition from ground level colors to treetop spectacles. Today is the first time this year we've seen oak leaves that have traded their Summer green for brown sugar or caramel. Day by day, maples and aspens are swapping greens for maroon and scarlet and yellows and gold.

Autumn oak leaves
Autumn oak leaves
Photo by J. Harrington

This morning we checked the monarch migration reports and noticed that there are very few reports from the Minnesota side of the St. Croix valley. I'm nor sure if that's due to a lack of butterflies (there's a category for that) or a lack of reporters (my suspicion). The local road through Carlos Avery is open again, but the construction all Summer probably prompted the local Canada flock(s) to raise their brood(s) elsewhere. We haven't seen any geese as we've driven through the past couple of days but today we did see a pair of sandhill cranes flying over the pools and marshes. We also saw, for the first time in more than 20 years, some kayakers exploring the Sunrise River. They might have been scouting for duck season or just enjoying getting out on the water with minimal holiday weekend hassles. we'll keep watching and see if any trends seem to shape up. May you and yours enjoy what's left of the holiday and arrive home safe and sound if you traveled.

roadside geese from other years
roadside geese from other years
Photo by J. Harrington

Labor Day

By Joseph Millar

Even the bosses are sleeping late
in the dusty light of September.

The parking lot’s empty and no one cares.
No one unloads a ladder, steps on the gas

or starts up the big machines in the shop,
sanding and grinding, cutting and binding.

No one lays a flat bead of flux over a metal seam
or lowers the steel forks from a tailgate.

Shadows gather inside the sleeve
of the empty thermos beside the sink,

the bells go still by the channel buoy,
the wind lies down in the west,

the tuna boats rest on their tie-up lines
turning a little, this way and that.


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