Posts

Showing posts from June, 2013

Fire Flies

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley After giving a talk in Appleton, Wisconsin last night, we drove home, arriving around 3 a.m. Not our preferred time to be driving, but there was one unexpected bonus.  After brushing my teeth and turning off the light in the bathroom, I thought I saw a tiny light outside the window, in the backyard.  I pressed my face to the glass and there it was again:  A firefly (or lightning bug to some) somewhere in the branches of the red pine.  I watched it flash a few times and then it stopped.   Yes, this is truly summertime, when the fireflies dance through the air.
I feel fortunate whenever we see these light producing insects (in the family known as Lampyridae, which comes from the Greek meaning “to shine”) in our fields because they have been declining over the decades where they have lost habitat to urban and suburban development.  Many people over the age of 50 have strong memories of summer evenings spent chasing and catching the flashing beetles in canning jar…

Trees - by Kate Crowley

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley I am a tree hugger – literally and philosophically. Maybe it began in grade school after having to memorize the poem Trees, by Joyce Kilmer.  It begins, “I think that I shall never see; A poem lovely as a tree”. When I was a child; trees were a source of endless challenge and fun, as climbing them became a regular pursuit.  Even today I look at the lower branches of trees when hiking and analyze their suitability for climbing. I admit that occasionally I have tested a few, but with age comes a greater sense of our vulnerability and mortality and I stay on the lower branches (Note by Mike – I have seen her pulled beyond the lower branches).  Trees are vulnerable too. That was very obvious after the last storm when straight line winds toppled, broke or uprooted large, stately trees that had sheltered many a home for decades.  The saturated soil, along with the power of the wind was too much for many of these elders.  Some fell on houses and garages, oth…

Hastings to Red Wing

Image
“How about lunch in Red Wing?”  And thus was born the boat ride with Bill Bixby on his boat June 20th.  From the harbor in Red Wing Kate and I with Bill set off down river.   Hastings is a wonderful little river community with a main street that is reminiscent of the larger Red Wing with brick facades and a feeling of a historic river town.  First established as a camp by soldiers from Fort Snelling to guard a blocked shipment, it soon became a trading post and was incorporated in 1857 with the middle name – Hastings, of future general and governor Henry Hastings Sibley.  The name had been drawn from a hat. Until 1951 it was famous for the 1895 spiral horse bridge that crossed the river and in 2013 it is getting a third bridge opening up the road to the ever increasing traffic demands.  The river port grew because of the Vermilion River that enters near the St Croix.  The falls on the Vermilion provided water power that  ran the gristmills.  Now in a park you can even find the remains…

Observing Common Loons

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley The day could not have been more perfect for a morning pontoon boat ride on Bay Lake, just northwest of Mille Lacs.  This trip is one we have repeated every June for nearly a dozen years.  We take a group of people with us to Ruttger’s Resort where we rent two pontoon boats and set off  in search of loons.  Normally we go in the afternoon, but this year we decided to try the morning and we will stick with that change because we found fewer boats and noise on the lake at that time.  Our passengers come from around the country and they stay at the Audubon Center as part of a Road Scholar’s (formerly known as Elderhostel) program.   One of the reasons they choose to participate in this program is their desire to see our State Bird.  We Minnesotans, are proud of this big, black and white waterfowl and even if we aren’t fortunate enough to live on a lake where loons are found, we relish the knowledge that they come back to our state every spring.  I suspect that mo…