Sunday, October 9, 2016

A #phenology breviary?

Yesterday's mention, that it might be a week or so before the bird bath became ice covered, was unduly optimistic. I'm not sharing the photo of this morning's ice coating because yesterday we shared last year's, taken a week later in the month. One year's ice coated bird bath looks pretty much like the next's.

Birch Lake, Laurentian Divide
Birch Lake, Laurentian Divide
Photo by J. Harrington

Since the cold has followed us South, in honor of our two trips to the Gunflint Trail this year, I've started rereading Paul Gruchow's Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild. His section on Summer is further divided into:
  • Lauds A Psalm of Praise: Wilderness Travel as an Artistic Act
  • Matins Daybreak: The Songs of Birds
  • Prime 6 A.M.: Morning Mists
  • Tierce 9 A.M.: Water, the Canoe, Rock Paintings
  • Interstices The Economy of the Canoe Country
  • Sext Noon: Rock, the Swim, the Dragonfly
  • Nones 3 P.M.: Wind, Portage Trails, the Storm
  • Vespers Evening: Calm Waters, Sunset Rituals
  • Compline The Last Hour of the Day: Loons, Wolves, Night Sounds, Sleep
I thought I vaguely remembered the Latin terms, but couldn't recall their origin. For those of you who may not already know, or, like me, have memory lapses, they're a variation on the Liturgy of the Hours. Since I believe the earth and all its inhabitants would be greatly improved if humans paid more attention to their home planet's cycles: daily (solar), monthly (lunar) and seasonally (all four, not just Minnesota's Winter and Road Construction), I'm going to think about what a phenology breviary could look like and how I might fit it into my daily life. (Suggestions appreciated) Aldo Leopold gives us examples in A Sand County Almanac with his routine of noting the times birds call and the amount of light that corresponds to various species (Matins). (I bet one can't hear many bird calls as mining equipment starts up.

Today's North Country needs modern Voyageurs, to lead the way to its new, sustainable future.


By Todd Hearon

We've packed our bags, we're set to fly
no one knows where, the maps won't do.
We're crossing the ocean's nihilistic blue
with an unborn infant's opal eye.

It has the clarity of earth and sky
seen from a spacecraft, once removed,
as through an amniotic lens, that groove-
lessness of space, the last star by.

We have set out to live and die
into the interstices of a new
nowhere to be or be returning to

(a little like an infant's airborne cry).
We've set our sights on nothing left to lose
and made of loss itself a lullaby.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.