Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nice snowing you #phenology

The shallow ponds in the neighborhood are ice covered. Fields are snow covered. More "wintry mix" and snow are forecast for the days before Thanksgiving. Looks like we'll also get daytime melting and refreezing at night for the next week or so. I suppose it's only seasonable, since the beginning of meteorological Winter is only 10 days away. Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is even sooner than that.

junco on snow covered railing
junco on snow covered railing
Photo by J. Harrington

Along with the snow, actually, in advance of it, the juncos have arrived. I rarely (never?) see them at the feeder, but they do seem to like to peck their way around the deck.

This has been a year when many of us, actually, most of us, have expressed out concerns about the advisability of undertaking hard rock sulfide mining in northern Minnesota. Although it's no doubt just a coincidence, I'm taking it as a hopeful sign that a present arrived recently from my sister back East. She wrote that she while was out shopping she came across something that made her think of us, so she bought "it" and sent "it" to us.

Sigurd, the North Country Christmas elf
Sigurd, the North Country Christmas elf
Photo by J. Harrington

Evergreen branches and red berries for Christmas trimmings, in a canoe paddled by a Scandinavian elf, will keep the Boundary Waters and the St. Croix River in our minds during this holiday season. Since it would be downright unfriendly to leave a North Country Christmas elf nameless, he's now known as Sigurd. Pretend he's crossing a snow-covered lake in the BWCAW.

Clearly, one of the nicer presents we could get this Christmas would be to have our wilderness areas protected from unsuitable economic activities like mining and all of our waterways protected from the pollution threats of mines and oil pipelines. The Mining Association of Canada is moving their industry "Towards Sustainable Mining." Is sustainable mining a real possibility or just another snow job? Should Minnesota have some conversations about it with our neighbors to the north?

And the Old Man Speaks of Paradise: a Ghazal



Do not move. Let me speak of a river in paradise
A turquoise gift from fiery stars that is paradise

How do you measure a river’s weight, color, smell, touch?
How do you feel the veins of sand in a breathing paradise?

Eons of earth story, long before rocks, plants or bones
Bulging with flesh and blood in every corner of paradise

You call me Old Man, 12,000 years old, but really I’m a baby of
River Warren, swollen with glacier water flooding the paradise

My torso sloughed by old ice, two cities on sandstone bluffs
Headwaters of a 2350-mile road towards the gulf of paradise

A walk along the beach, a bag of rocks, fossils and agates
Each tells stories of the river, land & life—a kinship of paradise

Come to me at dawn or dusk, by foot, canoe or a single shell
To greet eagles, cranes, fox, trees…a ten-mile gorge of paradise

Gar, bass, goldeye, redhorse, bowfin, stoneroller, buffalo, drum, sunfish
Sickleback, darter, walleye, dace, mooneye…in the waves of paradise

The St. Anthony Fall that walked up 10 miles from Fort Snelling
Clams and shells in Kasota stones—layered history of paradise

Put your fingers into the bluff, and pull a handful of sand
From the Ordovician sea, each perfect to make a paradise

From time to time, I take you into the amniotic womb
A reminder of our origin from a black, red, white, blue paradise

Do not dam me. To move freely is to evolve is to live
Lock feeds fear feeds hate feeds violence to the base of paradise

The Mississippi, temple on earth, home of all living things
Would you tread with love, through the heart of paradise?

We are water—H2O—two hands under an open heart
Pulsing, dissolving, bonding the earth to a green paradise

Stop seeking before or after life, for a paradise
Already in us, in each cell of being that is paradise


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