Category Archives: Nature

The Annual Migration of the Timpani

I saw four enormous birds soaring over town in migration a couple of weeks ago . They were whooping cranes, probably on their way to Alberta.  I have only seen migrating whooping cranes one other time in all the years we have been here.  We also have had geese fly over, and the owls, hawks, meadowlarks, and vultures are back.

Yesterday Husband and I assisted in the migration of  two timpani from the college band room to our church in Husband’s pickup. They are needed for a piece  our bell choir is doing on Sunday with a brass quintet. (Our bell choir director failed to see how funny it was when she kept saying a few weeks ago that she was one trombone player short of a brass quintet. She didn’t get it when people replied to her that they had always thought that).

When I grew up in Luverne, we usually had timpani in my church on Easter. They came from the high school. All the high school band directors in my youth were Lutheran, and we always got the timpani for special church services. No one from the community ever complained about it as being unfair or a misuse of public property. Our bell choir director teaches at the college, and I guess that is why we have the timpani for Easter. Our church probably has the most music of all the churches in town, and not all of them have the space for such things even if they had the musicians.

I wondered yesterday just how many timpani in the US are migrating from schools to churches for Easter services.  I like to imagine that there are many in transit, and that it is a brief but yearly migration. I like to see cooperative use of such things. How many timpani does one small town need, after all?

What migratory birds have you seen lately? What percussion instruments would you like to play?  What are some successful public-private cooperative ventures you know about?

Where in the World are Renee and Chris

I am borrowing shamelessly from VS by posing this riddle for Baboons to consider.

We are not in ND.  We are at an elevation of 6200 ft., but the only mountains are far in the distance. The air wherever we walk  is filled with the smell of roasting meat and vegetables, as well as burning herbs and wood smoke.  It is  center of art and culture. Nearby there are 4000 to 5000 visiting archeologists. It has been a center of government for centuries.

Where do you think we are?

Cruel April

I just read the NOAA weather map for later this week. Oh my! Minnesota Baboons may get a lot of snow! Son and DIL could get 20 inches in Brookings.

It has warmed up sufficiently here that people are jumping into yard work, cleaning flower beds and mowing lawns (which they oughtn’t do yet as it is too early).  Husband and I are waiting to do any yard work until we return from a trip next Sunday.  We first plan to prepare the garden for pea, lettuce, and spinach seeds, which we will plant later in April.  Husband tilled last fall, so we won’t need to do that now. The tomato and pepper seedlings are coming along under the grow lights, Tulips are up and crocuses are blooming.  We have pruning and flower bed cleaning to do, too.

I always find April a chancy month to garden. One April many years ago I was awaiting the first blooming of some tulips I had planted in the fall, when, on April 28, we got 18 inches of heavy wet snow. The tulips had flower buds just ready to open, and there they were, frozen solid just above the snow line. I had to wait another year to see them bloom.   April is the cruelest month. Sometimes March is just as bad, though.

What are your favorite and least favorite months? Any favorite T.S. Elliot poems? 

 

Big Splash

We live very near to an important geologic area called the Hell Creek Formation.  It covers parts of western North Dakota, Western South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. It contains some of the richest fossil beds from the Cretaceous period, the era that ended with the death of the dinosaurs.

Recently, two paleontologists published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  titled “A seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota”,  outlining just what happened in what is now North Dakota in the minutes following the crash of an asteroid in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This was the asteroid that is thought to have killed all the dinosaurs.

Based on what they found in a grey/ black layer near the top of a butte on a ranch near Bowman, ND, about 80 miles from my town, they estimate that in minutes after the asteroid crashed in Yucatan, seismic waves of water and molten rocks smashed into what is now the Hell Creek Formation.  Molten glass particles filled the air, choking any living thing.  Fish (salt water and fresh water), trees, rocks, dinosaurs, and beads of molten glass were swept up into a jumbled mass, preserved in the mud and debris for the modern paleontologists to find.  The fish fossils in the KPg boundary dig  were so well preserved that they could see that their mouths were open, gasping for air.  It triggered fires within 1500 miles of the impact and formed a plume of fire that rose halfway to the Moon.  They estimate 70% of the world’s forests burned.  Almost all life on the planet died.

Well, I find that pretty awe inspiring and amazing.  I like it when scientists can make things real and exciting.  Yucatan is a long way from where I live. That must have made a really big splash when it hit.

What has amazed you recently? Would you want to be a paleontologist? Did you ever do cannon balls?

 

Good Stewards

Today’s post comes from tim.

i take my compost to the compost drop off spot by bush lake near my house.

i knew there was something special about this time of year and the woods but i didn’t put my finger on it until yesterday.

during the winter the woods are trees standing in a white floor that makes the woods feel like a vista of strategically placed trees in the word of white.

In the summer the undergrowth fills all the available space with things springing forth and only the path that is well worn is passable in the city scape.

up north where the canopy is so dense that the undergrowth can be filtered so effectively that the walk through the woods is a dream like crunch of leaves and twigs and a graveyard of fallen trees and broken branches left to figure out how to deal in a natural way with restoration.

from mid march til may 1 the woods are brown and gray with subtle shades of yellow rust and green that allow you to envision what could be if the buckthorns weren’t devouring the available light and space,choking out the wildflowers and ferns and grasses in their way.

i see a new creeper in the ditches that is slowly but surely covering the adjacent space with a vengeful lust. A 10 foot run three years ago turns to a 50 foot run and then an entire landscape with the nearby former plants buried by the blanket of the new invader

a while back i lived near bush lake and loved walking my dogs along the trails and paths that are there. I was aware of the problem with the invasive plants and the choking out of the native plants that comes along with it. The buckthorn issue is one i have heard about but it wasn’t until walking my dogs that i thought about it.

now i wish i could figure out a way to inspire people to work the area within a block of their house. maybe a grading system for a buckthorn collecting contest.

documented progress and maintenance reports. grading that makes the neighborhood aware of the invasion the solution and the progress realized and aspired to

i can do a 10×10 area of the woods. it feels like something that can be accomplished but a milllion acres feels like too much.

stewardship is such a admirable thing. maybe free park passes to minnesota state parks for picking up after the invasion? lions, church groups, neighborhood communities  and pta organizations taking responsibility for a chunk of the woods like they do picking up a mile of the freeway today would be a start.

if you could pick a little corner of the world to fix what might it be (take 2 they’re small)

 

 

Up Up & Away

Found this video clip online today. Apparently this took place a few days ago, in celebration of the last super moon of 2019.  I’m pretty sure I would have thought it was a meteor or meteoroid (apparently there is a serious difference in the scientific world) if I had seen it live.  Glad to know the police had been forewarned.

But seriously, jump out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet? Obviously the jumpers could breathe at this altitude, since Mount Everest is a lot higher, but still….jump out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet?  Gives me the wilies.

I’ve done two really scary things in my life. Both of them within 3 days of each other.  When YA was just a year old, I was offered the trip of a lifetime to Kenya and Tanzania.  We started in Nairobi and traveled around for 8 days, staying at a different lodge every night.  We had early morning and late afternoon safari runs, entertainment and massive amounts of great food.

I knew prior to the trip that an option hot-air balloon ride would be offered and I convinced my boss that I should be allowed to expense it. If you had asked me before this if I would EVER get in a hot air balloon, the answer would have been an unequivocal “no”.  When faced with this option however, I couldn’t get past the idea that I would be sorry to let an opportunity like this pass me by.  I was correct – it was fabulous and nothing like I expected.  We even had a wonderful breakfast cooked for us in the bush after we came down, complete with champagne.

Two days later, the group met a pilot who was doing open-air biplane tourist flights around Mount Kenya. He came and spoke to our group at a cocktail reception and at the end of his talk, he mentioned that the group leader had said there would be time for one flight in the morning before we left; was anyone interested?  I had my hand up so fast that I almost pulled my arm out of my socket.  Again – fabulous, complete with leather jackets and silk scarves and Out of Africa music playing in our headphones. I felt like Dennis Finch Hatton.

So I’ve overcome my fear twice for experiences that were over the top. But I’m still fairly sure no one will ever convince me to bungee jump.  Or fling myself out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet.

What scary things have you done?

Fantasy Island

Off the shores of Palermo, Sicily, an aristocratic Italian family has put up their private island for sale. It’s called Isola delle Femmine (Island of Women).  It’s uninhabited and is part of a marine park that is protected and used as an elite scuba and snorkeling area.  It can be yours for just $1.1 million.

What will you do with the island once it’s yours?