Friday, May 11, 2018

We're not blowing prairie smoke, Mother's Day is Sunday! #phenology

If we waited 'til Sunday to remind you, and you hadn't remembered yourself in time to get a card and present, you'd have good reason to fuss at us, so consider yourself reminded and you're welcome.

Last year, by the end of May, our local patch of blooming prairie smoke had passed peak. Today in that same patch we found one flower bud emerging where a week or so ago there was nothing but base leaves. If the weather cooperates and we check more regularly than once a week, we may be able to photograph peak bloom this year. It would have been nice if they had bloomed in time for Mother's Day but that's not happening locally this year.

prairie smoke blooming, late May 2017
prairie smoke blooming, late May 2017
Photo by J. Harrington

One of Minnesota's fundamental seasonal milestones will occur this weekend. No, silly, we're not referring to Mother's Day, but to Walleye Opener. Since walleye are Minnesota's state fish (in Massachusetts, it's the cod), we're surprised that the state constitution hasn't been amended to require the legislative session end before walleye opener. Seasons for trout in streams open earlier, usually in April. Bass seasons open closer to Memorial Day. Neither generates the attention that walleye "fishing" opener does. Personally, our preferences lean toward trout and bass, each of which is more susceptible to being caught on a fly. Walleye have a decided preference for bait. (Since both walleye and wild rice, the state grain, depend on clean water, we'd think the legislature might be a little more sensitive about messing with water quality standards. Maybe someday!)

The Better Half informed us yesterday that the periwinkles on the slope behind the house have started to bloom. We haven't had chance to look for ourselves yet but we need to be careful when pulling buckthorn on that slope to minimize damage to the periwinkles. Before we start pulling the larger buckthorn plants, we need to change the oil in the tractor. The pleasures of warmer weather in Minnesota are sometimes tempered.

Since this weekend is also Mother's Day, may all of us born of and partnered with a mother be sure to honor them without being too fishy about it. We'll share this poem because it mentions periwinkles and soon it will be too late to reference early Spring this year.

Lines Written in Early Spring



William Wordsworth17701850


I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;                         
And ‘tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played:
Their thoughts I cannot measure,
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.                              

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?


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