Friday, June 23, 2017

Ground truthing

I don't remember where or when I first encountered the saying "The map is not the territory." I do recall that I first heard it as "The map is not the place." I much prefer the latter. Today I experienced a classic example of the differences between maps, descriptions and places. I was trying to find an alleged trout stream in a Scientific and Natural Area not to farm from home. I"m still trying to reconcile what I saw and photographed with this description from the fisheries folks at the Department of Natural Resources:
This is a small stream with a good population of small brook trout. The stream enters the St. Croix just upstream of the railroad bridge below Cedar Bend. The fishable areas on this stream are located on private property. Anglers must gain permission from property owners before fishing this stream.
The good folks in the DNR's Scientific and Natural Areas section provide this description online:
Falls Creek is one of the most diverse natural areas remaining in Washington County. Folded and faulted rocks at this site show the largest displacement of any known Paleozoic rocks in Minnesota, revealing Decorah, Platteville, Glenwood, and St. Peter formations. Steep ravines line the intermittently active stream beds. Slopes face north or south primarily, with groundcover varied accordingly. Pine canopy openings on south slopes permit growth of many species native to bluff prairies. Oak forest occupies the drier ridge tops. The old fields on the site are undergoing reforestation with seedlings grown from acorns collected on the site. A deer exclosure protects the seedlings on one old field.
There's not a word about fishing, but there is a much better map than the fisheries folks give us.

part of MNDNR SNA map of Falls Creek SNA
part of MNDNR SNA map of Falls Creek SNA

I spent a fair amount of time today trying to find Falls Creek SNA. Neither parking area has a sign readily noticeable from the road. I believe I got a chance to examine parts of the southerly blue line but had neither the time nor the energy to do a thorough reconnoiter after I finally managed to actually locate both parking areas. Here's a few :ground truth" photos. I'm still searching for a fishable segment. More to explore some other day. This "living local" can often be more challenging that it seems at first. The reality and the idea, the place and the map, often require effort to reconcile. That can be fun, or tedious, or both.
try to see this sign from the road
try to see this sign from the road
Photo by J. Harrington

stream bed of intermittent stream
stream bed of intermittent stream
Photo by J. Harrington

"downstream?" of previous photo
"downstream?" of previous photo
Photo by J. Harrington

 There is no doubt in my mind that the only thing tougher than trying to fish this intermittent stream would be trying to live in it if you were a trout! Maybe the DNR fisheries folks were referring to the stream North of this one. That's a trip for another day. I should be a little easier next time.

Truth Serum


By Naomi Shihab Nye


We made it from the ground-up corn in the old back pasture.
Pinched a scent of night jasmine billowing off the fence,   
popped it right in.
That frog song wanting nothing but echo?   
We used that.
Stirred it widely. Noticed the clouds while stirring.
Called upon our ancient great aunts and their long slow eyes   
of summer. Dropped in their names.   
Added a mint leaf now and then   
to hearten the broth. Added a note of cheer and worry.   
Orange butterfly between the claps of thunder?   
Perfect. And once we had it,
had smelled and tasted the fragrant syrup,   
placing the pan on a back burner for keeping,   
the sorrow lifted in small ways.
We boiled down the lies in another pan till they disappeared.
We washed that pan.


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