Category Archives: Nature

Winter Attitude

Most of the people I know are thrilled to get a few days of above freezing temperatures at this time of year. Not me.  I chose this climate.  My family visited relatives in northern Wisconsin quite often when I was a child and I always knew I wanted to live here.  I chose a college because it was in Minnesota and after wasband finished grad school in Milwaukee, we headed to Minneapolis even though neither of us had jobs yet.

I don’t mind the cold – until I lose my winter attitude. Once we have some warmer weather, my body decides that it’s ready for spring, a return to shorter sleeves and flip flops.  Then the cold weather DOES get to me.  So even if it’s 35 degrees out, I’m still wearing my gloves and big knitted scarf and pretending Mother Nature is still bringing on the chill.  Once my body has made that transition, there is no going back!

How do you handle the last weeks of winter?

 

HUH!?

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Down by the barn is a small, 75 gallon water tank with a tank heater in it. And by ‘Tank Heater’ I mean it keeps the water just warm enough to keep it from freezing. I’ve never tested it, but it might be 34 degree’s for all I know.

I’m doing my chores one morning. And while I’m doing my chores, I put the chickens water buckets that have frozen, in that tank and leave them for a few minutes.
Then usually the ice around the edges has melted just enough that I can knock it out of the buckets.

This one particular morning while working I notice a smell from the tank. Kind of stinky, like sewage. And I thought to myself, “Huh! That’s odd” and I go about my chores. A few minutes later I’m back with another bucket of ice that I put in the tank and then I go around back to the pole barn and get a bucket of straw for the egg boxes. And when I get back, this bucket of ice has melted about half an inch all the way around and I thought “Huh! that’s interesting.”
And I dump out the ice and refill the bucket and continue my chores.
A little bit later, I’m in the tractor working down there and I notice the tank is steaming more than usual.
And I think “Huh! That’s weird.” And I go about my way.

Ah–  but then I come back and take a second look. And I put my hand in the water and it’s like a hot tub! A dirty, stinky, hot tub but still; way hotter than it should be.
Evidently there is something wrong with this tank heater.

Got a new one and all is well. And I thought to myself, “Took ya long enough to pick up on those hints.”

What’s the last thing that made you say “HUH!”?  

What’s in a Name?

New seed catalog time has come, and Husband and I chose and ordered our selections for this year’s garden.  Husband always researches the varieties carefully and chooses based on length of growing season, disease resistance, past successes, and past failures. I don’t think he ever chooses based on the name of the variety. It seems like a lot of effort goes into finding catchy names to entice us to buy one variety over another.

I wonder how they arrive at the names?  I like it when a plant is named for a person-Big Jim Peppers  or Queen Elizabeth Hybrid Tea Roses.  Some names speak to productivity, such as Mortgage Lifter tomatoes or Lazy Housewife pole beans.   Why, though, would you name a variety of celeriac Mars? There isn’t anything particularly warlike about that humble root vegetable. Flower names get pretty fanciful, such as Double Scoop Bubble Gum Echinacea.

I wondered what names Baboons could come up with if they were to name some plants, so that is today’s challenge.

Come up with some clever names for varieties of flowers,  trees, vegetables, shrubs, or even  weeds  I will get us started with my choice of Dead Man Walking American Elm.

Trail of Ice

I’ve written here before about my fond memory of ice skating on the Iowa River north of town, early in the winter before it became completely snow-covered. My dad would tell of following “their” creek for miles as a kid. Once you’ve skated a distance like that, a rink no longer seems very romantic.

Enter Minnesota’s first Ice Skating Trail, in the Northwest Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove. From the December 2017 AAA Living magazine: “Lampposts offer a warm glow, and the surrounding trees’ white twinkle-lights brighten both trail and mood.” I imagine skating there at dusk, as the sun goes down.

One of only a few in North America (see also Chicago and Toronto), it’s an 810-foot loop that feels “more like a stroll in the park” than the laps you skate at a traditional ice rink, according to Minneapolis Northwest, a regional newsletter(For reference, a regular hockey rink has a 570’ lap.)

You can skate earlier in the season (and later) than most outdoor rinks, as the trail is refrigerated and maintained by a Zamboni. There is skate rental (and concessions like hot chocolate and popcorn) during Central Park’s warming pavilion open hours, but park benches are available anytime for putting on your own skates.

I would have loved to have this nearby when I was still skating.

What will get you out of doors this winter? 

Would you like to try driving a Zamboni, or some other heavy machinery?

 

 

Stuck

My company closed early today so I got home about 2. I barreled up the snowy driveway to discover that YA wasn’t home.  When I called her, she said she was at her boyfriend’s house. I told her she shouldn’t wait too long to come home as the roads were terrible.  She said “his house is only 5 minutes from ours”.  Well, there’s no arguing with THAT, is there?

Fast forward 2½ hours and the phone rings. It’s YA saying she’s stuck at the bottom of the driveway and asking what to do.  I told her to get a shovel, clear out all around the tires and up the driveway a bit.  Despite thinking it was her bed and she should lie in it, it didn’t take long before I coated up and went out to help.  At about that time our neighbor came and helped as well.  YA didn’t really know how to rock the car so I took over, but to no avail.

Neighbor and I decided I should back out onto the street, go around the block and approach the driveway from the north so I could get up some speed. Of course in the crush of traffic, this maneuver took almost 20 minutes, but it did the trick.

When we got back in the house I said “you know I will never be able to resist saying I told you so?” She kinda grinned and said “I know.”

Anybody gotten to say “I told you so” lately in your life?

Beautiful Lake Baikal

I have stacks of unread books on various horizontal surfaces in several rooms. Every once in a while I stop and pick one up and start reading. This weekend I did just that. I picked up “Sacred Sea” by Peter Thomson. I was checking it out before handing it on to a young friend. It is a fascinating account of Thomson (who is an environmental journalist, formerly of NPR’s Living on Earth) journey to Lake Baikal with his younger brother. Then, of course, I needed to listen to a Russian male chorus singing “Holy Sea, Lake Baikal.” It wasn’t the same recording as Dale and Jim Ed used to play, but it was beautiful. That led me to wondering what the lyrics were, so I googled and found a translation. I was very surprised to learn it is a poem written in 1848 devoted to fugitives from prisons, “Thoughts of a Fugitive on Baikal” by Dmitri Pavlovich Davydov. The music was composed by unknown prisoners working in the Nerchinsk mines.

Славное море – священный Байкал!
Славный корабль – омулёвая бочка!
Эй, баргузин, пошевеливай вал, –
Молодцу плыть недалечко. 
Долго я тяжкие цепи носил,
Долго бродил я в горах Акатуя.
Старый товарищ бежать подсобил,
Ожил я, волю почуя.
Шилка и Нерчинск не страшны теперь,
Горная стража меня не поймала,
В дебрях не тронул прожорливый зверь,
Пуля стрелка миновала.

Шел я и вночь, и средь белого дня,
Близ городов, озираяся зорко,
Хлебом кормили крестьянки меня,
Парни снабжали махоркой. 

Славное море – священный Байкал!
Славный мой парус – кафтан дыроватый!
Эй, баргузин, пошевеливай вал,
Слышатся грома раскаты.

Glorious sea the sacred Baikal!
Glorious ship – the omul fish barrel!
Hey, the Baikal wind, stir the billowing waves –
The lad doesn’t have far left to sail.
I’ve been wearing heavy chains for a long time
I’ve been  wandering in the mountains of Akatuy
An old pal helped me to escape,
And I returned to life, feeling the newly found freedom!
I’m not afraid of Shilka and Nerchinsk anymore –
The mountain guards didn’t manage to catch me,
The wild beasts didn’t touch me in the thickets,
And the shooter’s bullet passed me by…

I was going at night time and in the day time
Near the towns I was carefully looking around.
Country women fed me with their bread
And lads supplied me with tobacco.

Glorious sea the sacred Baikal!
My glorious sail – the caftan all in holes!
Hey, the Baikal wind stir the billowing waves –
The rumble of thunder can already be heard!

From http://www.lkharitonov.com/critical/glorious-sea-sacred-baikal-expanded-history/

Then the first comment below the lyrics:

Justus Naumann says:

August 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

Thank you, thank you. Finally the lyrics and a translation to this beautiful song I have listened to for nearly 30 years. A public radio program in Minneapolis, KSJN, had a “roots” and folk music show for many years. Every once in a while they would play Beautiful Lake Baikal by the Pyatnitsky chorus, and even without knowing the words it always brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

Have you had any pleasant (or otherwise) surprises recently?