Category Archives: Nature


Today’s post comes from Barbara In Rivertown.

WELL, I guess we’ve finally got our snow, at least here in Minnesota. I remember, at the end of that December-January dry spell saying “Oh, we really need some snow or there will be a drought come April, when there’s supposed to be a thaw.” Watch what you ask for – request was granted!

It was so pretty that I took some photos, and Ben sent a few taken from his driveway. A friend of mine has allowed me to post one she took on her patio, that is quite naturally dubbed The Birthday Cake.

There will no doubt be more snow – heck, we’re not even through February!

What’s the longest you’ve been snowed in somewhere – where you really couldn’t get out?

What’s a great “snowed-in” story from a movie or book?

Turkey Trouble

I was surprised a couple of years ago when we were in Moorhead, MN for our daughter’s graduation from Concordia to see a flock of about 10 wild turkeys strutting past campus.  I, too, went to Concordia, and there was nary a wild turkey in Moorhead when I was there.

I follow the Fargo Forum newspaper online, and have read with interest the struggles that the city has with the turkeys.  There seem to be dozens of wild turkeys in town, hanging out in residential areas, terrorizing mail carriers, attacking people’s pets, pooping all over yards and sidewalks, ripping up gardens, playing chicken with cars in the middle of the street, and frightening children on the way to or from school bus stops.

People have been feeding them, which is the crux of the problem.  It keeps them nearby and increases their fecundity.  Several solutions were bandied about by the city council, including shooting them.  Thanks to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, there is a solution that will cost the city nothing.  South Dakota will pay for the whole thing.

After all the necessary permits are gathered, corn will be scattered in a specified place on the banks of the Red River in Moorhead.  Once the turkeys start to gather there en masse, SD Game and Fish personnel will fire off a cannon that will shoot out a huge net that will ensnare the turkeys so they can be humanely gathered and caged and transported to South Dakota. There they will be released into the wild to repopulate South Dakota’s wild turkey population.

They estimate there are at least 75 turkeys that can be caught and removed this way.  Good luck to them. I can imagine great success or hilarious failure. I am just glad they aren’t going to just shoot them. Getting Moorhead residents to stop feeding the remaining turkeys will be the real challenge, I fear.

Have you ever encountered a wild turkey?  What are your favorite birds to feed and watch? How would you go about relocating a flock of turkeys?

February Adventure

Today’s post comes from cynthiainmahtowa.

The First of February 2018 was a beautiful, sunny, crispy -10 F day. There was enough snow to snowshoe and I hadn’t been in the woods since I couldn’t remember when…years before my hip surgery. It was a Thursday, and Sunday afternoon our book club was meeting at my house to discuss “A River Runs Through It” by Norman McLean. As our group often does off- book things like skiing, hiking, canoeing, I thought it would be fun for people to ski or snowshoe down the Moose Horn River that meanders through my land.

But first to check it out.  Friend Daina and her Corgi, Jack, were willing to go through the woods, to the marsh and over the river with me. When we got to the marsh, however, Daina was afraid Jack would go through the ice and not be able to get out so she decided to take him home. I decided to travel on.

When I got to the river, I ventured on to the ice for about half a dozen steps when the ice gave out under me.  Suddenly, I was up to my armpits in ice-cold water. I don’t know how deep it was, my metal and rubber snowshoes wouldn’t let me get my feet under me.  Alas, I thought, “This is how I die.”

Though somehow I must not have believed that because I was hanging on to my Icelandic wool hat that I love and was NOT going to let it go! After a brief struggle, I floated myself over to the side of the river where there appeared to be a solid snow covered something. When I got to the embankment I saw a block of ice below me that I managed to get my snowshoes on.  With my one pole (I had hiking poles with me) I managed to pull myself back onto the ice, get standing up, pick up my other pole that I had left on top of the ice and headed back home.

Fortunately, I had on my polyester down parka and nylon ski pants. So I was not weighted down with water-soaked clothing. The worst was the water in my boots. I figured if I kept moving as fast as I could, I wouldn’t succumb to hypothermia. I was about 15 minutes through the woods and up the pasture from the house. At the power easement I considered going back on the road so someone would see me, but it was farther and open and the wind was bitter.

With some difficulty I got myself over the wire fencing and into the pasture. Halfway to the house, I saw Daina coming down to meet me. She, being brilliant in emergencies – and having experienced her husband’s hypothermia a few years ago – took over. She helped me into the house, out of my Sorel-like boots of man-made materials with frozen laces, my wet clothes and into the shower…then into bed with three or four layers of blankets, mugs of hot tea, chicken soup and liquid jello.

I never shivered, though in bed it felt like my deep core wanted to shake. But the adrenalin was coursing through my body the rest of the day and I was fully warmed up in time to feed my animals that evening…and before the day was over I cleaned and re-organized my cupboard of mugs.

I don’t know what the experience has done to my psyche, but looking back there seems to be a sense of appreciation and direction and confidence and generosity that I didn’t have before.

And when I got kicked in the thigh by Derby Horse the following Friday, the resulting hematoma didn’t seem like much of a big deal.

What was your scariest “adventure”?

Cold Weather Stories

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I was at a funeral a few years ago. Probably this time of year and it was very very cold. At the graveside there was only a handful of people. The minister is a friend of mine and he was wearing a long black robe. Afterward, I asked him if he was wearing his long johns under there. He said, “I’m wearing everything I own under here”.

Come to think of it, I’ve been at the graveside for a few very very cold funerals. My mom says when her father died it was so cold the minister basically said, ‘Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust Amen Let’s go’.

I have two personal cold stories.

The first was a below zero day with a wicked -70’s windchill and something broken on the feed bunk. I wore about 5 layers to fix it. As I recall, it wasn’t terrible and only took me an hour to fix. But anything outside in that kind of weather is terrible.

And back in 1996, daughter was 7 months old and was taking her colds very seriously at that age. She spent a week in NICU (Neo-natal intensive care) the first week of February and we had one of these cold waves. I won’t call it a ‘polar vortex’ because that term wasn’t around then. It was just cold.

Kelly spent most of the week at the hospital. I was still home dealing with chores and milking cows. (Curiously, I don’t recall where her older brother was. He may have been home with me or maybe he was at Grandma and Grandpas house.)

One night it was -42. I took a picture of the old, analog thermometer that hung in the mudroom. The one with the lead you ran out the window and it had the red liquid in it. And I remember thinking it’s a good thing it’s this style because the electronic ones only go to -40. And that same night an owl came into the garage and perched in the rafters. Somewhere is a picture of that too.

I’ve always thought, below -20 it just really doesn’t matter anymore.

Even at that, a barn full of cows is about the coziest spot in the world. I miss that.

What’s your favorite / worst cold weather story?

Surfing Pluto

It’s amazing what happens sometimes when you’re surfing the internet. I started with my daily dose of Sci Show Space, which led me to Gustav Holst’s Suite of Planets.  I realized that Holst wrote The Planets before Pluto was discovered, so he can’t be blamed that after 1930, he was missing a planet (of course now he’s OK again if you want align yourself with the Astronomer’s Union).  Over the years composers have “added” to Holst’s work with various songs about Pluto.

There are serious attempts like Pluto, the Renewer by Colin Matthews):

and very silly (yet funny) pieces, like For the Planet Pluto by the Music Tapes:

And I particularly like this one, Plutonian Nights by Sun Ra:

Then my lunch break was up and I had to get back to work!

Any unsung heroes in your life?


Today’s post comes to us from Port Huron Steve.

I recently posted about discovering several hundred scanned slides from trips my erstwife and I took in the United Kingdom in 1974 and 1975. Most of the original slides were good, but the company that converted them to digital files did poor work. After being scanned the images were badly underexposed and had harsh tones. I spent five weeks editing the slides, making each image look nice, or at least much nicer.

Last Friday night my daughter invited me to her home to deliver a marathon slide show. I presented about 500 edited slides and explained the circumstances of taking them. I talked so long I lost my voice. As my daughter drove me home I realized, with some surprise, that I had just experienced a “perfect” evening.

This surprised me because I am not comfortable calling anything perfect. That is such an absolute word. My experience of life keeps showing me that everything we experience is good or bad in relative terms. I am skittish about absolute words and absolute judgements.

And yet the slideshow evening could not have been better. For a storyteller, an ideal moment involves telling stories to an adoring audience. For a photographer, sharing images with people who are thrilled to see them is total joy. For an old storyteller/photographer what could be better than an evening sharing old images and their stories with family members?

Actually, I learned that there is a way that such an evening could be even better. Something already “perfect” can become nicer.

On our first British Isles trip my erstwife and I spent three days in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds are a region of England where the countryside and the villages are unimaginably charming. Visiting there feels like stepping into a Beatrix Potter storybook. Perhaps the most appealing Cotswold town is Bourton-on-the-water. Its homes and shops were built centuries ago with locally quarried rock. The architecture is consistent, dating to the same period, and perfectly charming. A little stream runs through the heart of town, with stone bridges arching over it. The honey-colored stone used for all buildings is offset by many by countless lush flower gardens.

Bourton has a famous model village. Local craftsmen created a perfect model of the town that includes all the homes, churches and shops just as they looked in the 1930s. Each building was recreated with meticulous detail at a one-to-nine scale. Topiary trees and shrubbery line the tiny stone buildings. The stream is there, of course, along with those cute bridges. While the model town is accurate in scale, a few buildings have been given big windows so visitors can peer inside to appreciate how perfectly the interiors have been duplicated.

Because the model village occupies a significant area, logic dictates that the model village has to include a miniature model of the model. And it does!

The cherry on top of my perfect evening was watching my grandson grasp the concept of an infinite regression of models within models. “Wait, Grampy,” Liam cried. “So the tiny town has a tiny model of the town in it? Whoa! That’s awesome! And does the tiny model of the model have its own tiny model?”

Yes! Of course it does! Liam’s smile improved an evening I thought could not be better.

What kind of day or event would be perfect for you?

Seeing Things

We had snow and ice fog on Saturday, and it stayed  foggy all night.  We came out of church Sunday morning to find the skies had cleared leaving a  thick coating of frost on the trees. Every branch and tree needle was outlined in white.  We take the same route home from church, past the college with its trees, past a pine tree covered butte that rises sharply a couple of  blocks from our house.  I  have seen these same trees for 30 years, but the frost and brilliant blue sky illuminated them to make it seem I was noticing them for the first time. In an hour the wind came and blew it all away.

What have you been noticing lately?