Thursday, March 2, 2017

Phenology: Minnesotans slowly emerge from Winter lairs

Yesterday or this morning I noticed a report of lilac bud burst in a locale about 30 or 40 miles South of here so this morning, as I was taking care of some errands, I stopped at our local lilac grove. No bud burst yet here, but you can see the swelling. Fields and roads exposed to full sunlight are almost bare of recent snows. Where our roads pass through shaded areas, especially conifer groves, they're slick and largely snow covered. Gravel country roads are once again getting muddy. It's the third or fourth time this year we've enjoyed sessions of Slip Slidin Away.

lilac buds not quite burst
lilac buds not quite burst
Photo by J. Harrington

While out and about I watched for, but did not see, either red-winged blackbirds or bluebirds. I did see lots of open water, including a long stretch of the Sunrise River, sparkling in the sunlight. I've no idea if it has to do with phenology, but the past few afternoons, a murder of crows has started roosting in oak trees bordering the field behind the house. I refuse to believe that has anything to do with the fact that I just recently started to play with the Edgar Allen Poe coloring book I gave myself at Christmas. That would be just too weird, but then, as I look at the headlines this week...?

a murder of crows
a murder of crows
Photo by J. Harrington

As Winter fades and Minnesotans return to a less cabin-bound life, we're often faced with too many simultaneous events. Come May every year, I get frustrated by my continuing inability to be in two (or more) places at once. Let me offer a partial solution to that kind of problem. This Saturday, Duluth for Clean Water presents a conversation about jobs in the Arrowhead. Here's most of the notice I received:
"So. What are some current opportunities for new jobs in the Arrowhead? When we advocate for a clean Lake Superior and in opposition to the PolyMet proposal, we get that very important question a lot. Thus, our second forum, DFCW Presents: A Conversation About Jobs in the Arrowhead, this Saturday, 2PM, at the Zeitgeist Teatro in Duluth.

"Exciting Update -- The panel for Saturday's Event: DFCW Presents: A Conversation about Jobs in the Arrowhead is final, with exciting additions this week! Here it is:
  • Nevada Littlewolf, Virginia City Councilor
  • Senator Erik Simonson, Senate District 7
  • Jodi Slick, CEO Equilibrium3
  • Rolf Weberg, Executive Director of Natural Resources Research Institute
  • with Moderator and Introductory Comments: City Council President Joel Sipress
We look forward to seeing you there for another great afternoon at Teatro, with social hour to follow, music by Nate Weiler and beverages from Bent Paddle. 
"Please help share the news of this event with your networks. And, if you have particular seating needs, please consider arriving early -- the February forum was standing room only with livestream overflow in the atrium, which will be available again."
Unfortunately, due to prior commitments with the family, I won't be able to attend. Those of us who truly believe that job creation and environmental protection are compatible should try to attend. Frankly, I'd like to see Minnesota's environmental community do lots more like this. If we don't want the North Country (or southeast Minnesota's trout country) ruined by mining or CAFOs, we have, I believe, an obligation to help identify viable, environmentally sound options for employment. Energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects are helping to offset fossil fuel job losses. Wales has been working on alternatives to coal mining jobs for some time now. It's a much better use of limited resources to create alternatives than to try to bring dinosaur industries back to life. Saturday in Duluth is forecast to be partly cloudy and above freezing. How can you beat that?

Crocus


When trees have lost remembrance of the leaves
that spring bequeaths to summer, autumn weaves
and loosens mournfully — this dirge, to whom
does it belong — who treads the hidden loom?

When peaks are overwhelmed with snow and ice,
and clouds with crepe bedeck and shroud the skies — 
nor any sun or moon or star, it seems,
can wedge a path of light through such black dreams — 

All motion cold, and dead all traces thereof:
What sudden shock below, or spark above,
starts torrents raging down till rivers surge — 
that aid the first small crocus to emerge?

The earth will turn and spin and fairly soar,
that couldn’t move a tortoise-foot before — 
and planets permeate the atmosphere
till misery depart and mystery clear! — 

And yet, so insignificant a hearse? — 
who gave it the endurance so to brave
such elements? — shove winter down a grave? — 
and then lead on again the universe?


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