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Saturday, May 31, 2008


Saturday, 7:15 AM. 49 degrees, wind E, light to moderate. The barometer predicts sun, skies are blue with high black rain clouds on the eastern horizon. We may get a shower. We got another quarter inch of rain yesterday and the two rain barrels are full. I haven’t turned on the outside water spigots as yet and hopefully won't have to for a while.
The wild cherries... pin, choke and black, are all in bloom, and woods edges and old fields are white with them. The cherry illustrated is choke cherry, Prunus virginiana. Apple trees have begun to bloom, I don’t know about the domestic cherries. Juneberries are about finished blooming.
I participated in a work crew for the Conservancy yesterday afternoon, led by Grandon Harris, who is a great volunteer. We placed railroad ties and gravel on the Iron Bridge trail, which leads up the ravine north of town, starting across the street from the library on Third and Washington. A good project.
We went to Cornucopia to the Village Inn (one of my favorite places) for fish fry last night, the first time in a while. It was excellent, the ride out and back very nice.

Friday, May 30, 2008

5/30/08 JACKPINE

Friday, 8:00 AM. 45 degrees, wind ENE, presently calm. The barometer predicts rain, which we received one-half inch of last night. Skies are overcast, and fog obscures the Island. We need a good rain, so I hope it continues.
It was a quiet walk with only a few rain drops, and no one else out, except the omnipresent Roxie, who has acquired a whiffle ball the size of a soft ball from somewhere.
The pines are ready to shed their pollen, the male cones of the Jackpine, Pinus banksiana, on the south side of the house, about ready to burst. I am very fond of the tough, picturesque Jackpine, native to our Wisconsin barrens. Ours has a very oriental appearance, caused by many of its terminal buds being killed by borers each year. The borer is a landscaping ally, producing an appearance I would be hard pressed to obtain with artful pruning. I planted this tree seven years ago, as a seedling.
I have a number of landscaping jobs to do, it will be a full day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Thursday, 7:00 AM. 47 degrees, wind W, calm. The barometer predicts rain, and skies are blue with some haze. The channel is slightly wrinkled.
All the indoor plants are now outside, including the lemon tree, the croton, and the Agave.
Today’s photo is of one of the very few remaining home gardens that I see in Bayfield these days. Mike and Sharon Bonney do a great job with vegetables, fruit trees and berries as well as flowers. It is a productive and eye-catching garden. It takes years to develop a good vegetable garden soil, and theirs is a nice dark, friable loam, and virtually weed free by dint of patience and hard work. We have a number of grand, professionally maintained formal gardens in Bayfield, but I don’t think they can compare to this pleasant, productive, much loved and cared for garden.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Wednesday, 8:00 AM. 47 degrees, up from 38 at 7:30 AM. Wind NE, calm. The barometer predicts sunny skies, currently hazy. The channel is wrinkled.
More and more trees and shrubs are in leaf and bloom; red elderberry on the side of the house, a native pin cherry, Prunus pennsylvanica, down the road; both very attractive wild plants. Natives seldom are fooled by the weather.
Motel Mike says he has seen later springs; about fifteen years ago he says there was not a tree in leaf on Memorial Day. Erick says his peas are just coming up, and Mike B. is going to plant his today.
The baskets are back outside, and will stay there now until fall. Have to get the herb garden planted, and water ten newly planted red buckeyes, city trees, and mow lawns today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Tuesday, 8:00 AM. 37 degrees, wind NE, calm to light. The channel is “wrinkled.” The barometer predicts sunny skies, it is a crisp, clear beautiful morning in mid- April.
It got down to 32 degrees last night, and I had to schlep all the plants in again, ahead of rain, wind and frost, and out again into the sunshine this morning.
Mike at Seagull Bay Motel says they had a full weekend, despite the weather. He has fishermen who come up early and leave their boats during the week and return each weekend, but all left with their boats yesterday. Mike says it was a good early fishing season (my boat is still in the barn) and he is happy to have the boats out of the way, and no more fish guts. The way this spring has been he was lucky he didn’t have to plow snow around them.
Marilyn, neighbor to the east, gave me a number of dwarf lilacs from their property in Eau Clair, and planting them will be one project for the day. Our wrens are busy building their nest on the porch, twittering constantly.
In the context of current weather conditions hereabouts, I must mention a historical event, the explosion of Krakatoa Volcano in Indonesia in 1883, the ash from which, circulating in the stratosphere around the earth, caused "global cooling," and subsequently that year became known in vernacular history as Eighteen-Hundred and Froze To Death. Has anyone heard a loud "boom" lately?

Monday, May 26, 2008

5/26/08 MEMORIAL DAY 2008

Monday, Memorial Day, 7:30 AM. 44 degrees, wind E, calm. The barometer predicts rain, and fog obscures the Island.
There were some warblers flitting about this morning and I identified a few, but the light is not conducive to the activity this morning. I have new found respect for the birders who are actually adept at finding and ID-ing warblers.
The photo posted is of the Red Cliff Reservation Veterans Park, a memorial to the fallen heroes of our nation, and in particular, those of Red Cliff and the Town of Russell area. This morning it is a quiet place of homespun beauty, overlooking Basswood Island and Buffalo Bay. Nothing fancy, just the work of ordinary people. I have walked the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. early in the morning, and have sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after dawn, without another soul in sight, contemplating our history, and I find this unassuming place at least as compelling. After all, it is the little people of our country communities and city neighborhoods who have most truly kept the faith in freedom and democracy alive through all our years and all our struggles, they are our Great Warriors, who didn’t run away from the fight.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Sunday, 7:45 AM. 60 degrees, wind S, calm. The channel is like glass. The barometer is down, predicting rain, skies are overcast. We got a trace amount of rain last night, and things are damp.
It is another quiet morning, the walk uneventful except for someone’s dog howling inside the garage he obviously objected to being kept in. Loud, long, mournful hound sounds.
I got all the hanging baskets planted yesterday and put them in the garage with the door open to harden them off. They will be spectacular. I have put indoor plants out and back in a couple of times. The lemon tree is desperate to be outside.
The pretty native Juneberry tree in the garden, probably Amelanchier laevis (there a number of natives that hybridize), is in bloom, as is the PJM Korean Rhododendron in the front yard. The Juneberry is a volunteer, it's mother lives in the woods across the street.
I saw my first bear of the season yesterday, a big black blob (try saying that three times real fast) on an abandoned driveway just west of the Reservation on Hwy. 13. By the time I stopped and backed up, he was gone. You never know when or where they will show up, bears have their own agendas.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Saturday, 7:00 AM. 38 degrees, wind SW, calm. The channel is calm. The barometer is down, predicting rain, but skies are blue. The wind, such as it is, has shifted, the barometer has dropped, and a big storm system is moving in slowly from the southwest. We need the rain, but it should be a nice day, and to quote an early rising neighbor, it is an “awesome” morning.
We got our annuals yesterday at Hauser’s and my weekend task is to make up our hanging baskets and pots. I put them in the garage last night to harden them off, and may put them back there for a day or so after I make them up. I bought a large bag of commercial potting mix, which I have found pays, as it has the proper drainage and nutrient qualities for good baskets. I usually put up eight baskets but may do a couple more. I try to have a little variety, but the conditions are windy and rather tough and I rely mainly on ivy leaved geraniums, along with a fuchsia and a petunia basket or two, all mixed with a few trailing things, etc. I find baskets the perfect accent for a domestic landscape, even if they are a lot of work, as they add color and interest wherever one needs it.
The humidity is still low, and one can see for sixty miles or so including the iron ranges, which appear as distant mountains, which they are, even if worn to relative nubbins over the last umpty-ump million years.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Friday, 7:30 AM. 40 degrees, wind E, light. The channel is slightly wrinkled, the barometer is down, predicting mostly sunny skies, which currently are darkly cloudy.
I talked with my buddy and award-winning naturalist Andy Larsen regarding the warbler migration, and he says the birds that were here in great numbers a few days ago have obviously moved on, and any that nest here have dispersed into their nesting territories and are not that obvious. He says they migrate on a barometric pressure high, and stop and rest whey they run into a low. When the low lifts thy all leave en mass, at night, and consequently just disappear from our sight. He will right a few paragraphs of more complete information which I will post at an appropriate juncture.
Lichens are another fascinating subject that we can explore at some point, but for now please note the photo of lichens on a red oak tree in the woods at about 12th and Manypenny avenue.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Thursday, 7:30 AM. 39 degrees, wind E, light to calm, channel smooth. The barometer is up, predicting sunny skies. At present skies are partly cloudy. An east wind will keep us cooler than normal as long as it persists.
Forget-me-nots and marsh marigolds are blooming in the ditches, and violets and pussytoes in the lawns. The oaks are finally leafing out. The Amelanchiers (Juneberries) are ready to bloom, the first of our more ornamental trees to do so.
There has been commercial spraying for dandelions on some properties and on the park down the road, and the noxious smell of 2,4-D permeates the air. I prefer to live with the dandelions, which, if we used them in salads and to make wine would be considered, as they are in Europe, a valuable plant (they were brought here by settlers because they were considered a pretty and useful reminder of home). Spraying lawns for these “weeds” also kills the violets, hawkweed, pussytoes, ajuga and a lot of other pretty and interesting plants. Some of the most attractive lawns I have ever seen have contained all these plants and one of the most beautiful was full of creeping Charlie, its tiny flowers creating a fine blue mist over a large tree studded expanse. Grass and “weeds” can coexist if sensibly managed, to the benefit of both esthetics and the environment. More on this subject at some future time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Wednesday, 8:00 AM. 40 degrees, wind W, light to moderate. The channel is blue, alternating from glassy to slightly wrinkled as the west wind plays about upon its surface. The barometer is down, predicting partly cloudy skies, now magnificently blue.
The warblers must be staying low to the ground in the cool and breezy mornings. I saw lots of white throated and other sparrows and small birds, but no flittering warblers. But, as I have said, I am not that great a birder.
This slow, cool spring has been wonderful for bulbs, the daffodils and tulips lasting for weeks, and I am guessing the perennials will be great as well once the really get started, so in many respects this has been a particularly nice spring. One just has to dress as though it is April instead of almost June.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Tuesday, 7:00 AM. 43 degrees, wind SW, moderate with stronger gusts. The channel is “bumpy.” The barometer is up, predicting partly cloudy skies, which are now blue with some white clouds moving fast from the west.
I glimpsed a few warblers this morning but won’t venture any identification. It looks like we have a wren setting up housekeeping in our back porch birdhouse. It seems like a nice day but probably will be rough on the lake.
I am putting wood chip mulch on various garden areas and around trees and shrubs. It is locally chipped from trimmed trees and I am not worried about insect pests or diseases. I have more than I can use and have told neighbors to help themselves. Mulch is beneficial in keeping weeds under control and conserving moisture, but can’t be applied too heavily (2”-3” is about right). Keep mulch away from tree trunks, and remember that wood chips will deplete soil nitrogen in decomposition, so it is necessary to add some extra nitrogen fertilizer to mulched areas to compensate (I still like to use Milorganite when it is available). One of the greatest benefits of mulch is that it helps keep mowers and string trimmers away from tender tree trunk bark. In my experience, more damage is done to home, street and park trees by "mower blight" than almost anything else.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Monday, 7:45 AM. 38 degrees, wind W, calm, the channel is flat, the barometer down, predicting partly cloudy skies, and they are that at present.
It got pretty chilly last night, but is warming up. There was a lot of birdsong on our walk, mostly birds I recognized, but I saw no warblers. Maybe too cold, or perhaps some have continued on north. I am not that good a birder and the warblers are too quick and secretive for me to catch many of them and I salute those who can. Plants, except for leaves and branches blowing in the wind, keep more still and don’t move around much except by means of seed distribution.
The woodland ferns are mostly in the “fiddle head” stage, the leaves still tightly folded. When they open fully I will recognize at least some of them. Fern fiddle heads are considered by many a cooked delicacy, but I have never tried them. I don’t know of any that would be poisonous.
Today I need to mow laws and then begin to draw a garden plan, and have a Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Bureau meeting at 5:00 PM. It’s a busy time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Sunday, 7:45 AM. 37 degrees, wind variable, first west then east, moderate to blustery. The barometer is down, predicting partly cloudy skies, which are now mostly cloudy with patches of blue. The channel is wrinkled but will get choppy I am sure.
I walked slowly through the woods and wooded roadsides looking for warblers this morning, but it was cold, dark and windy and all I got for my efforts was fresh air (good) and a stiff neck (not so good) from looking up into the trees. I am a better back yard birder than walking birder, and shall take my coffee and binoculars to the front deck.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Saturday, 8:00 AM. 48 degrees, wind ENE, light to moderate. The channel is wrinkled. The barometer is down, predicting partly cloudy skies, which are presently mostly clear. There is little humidity and one can see Ashland, and the Gogebic and Penoke ranges to the southeast and south.
There is big weeping willow on 9th Street, and the male flowers (catkins) are in full bloom (anthesis). It is as beautiful as any flower imaginable, but one must look closely. The stamens are composed of chartreuse filaments topped by golden pollen bearing anthers.
I met park naturalist Niel Hauk birding along Wilson Ave. this morning, he says there are lots of warblers. Next walk I take my binoculars along.
Yesterday’s event went off without a hitch. Most of the questions were about trees this year. Today I have to catch up with a lot of yard work, and time is awastin’.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Friday, 6:45 AM. 45 degrees, wind NW, calm. The channel is glassy. Skies are blue with some haze, but the barometer predicts rain.
Today is the Bayfield in Bloom kickoff, beginning with the Arbor Day tree planting at East Dock Park at 9:00 AM. The Mayor will read his proclamation, the State regional Urban Forester will give proper planting instructions, and the Bayfield 4th grade class will help plant and water the tree. The Tree Board will be there and other citizens as well.
The 14 exhibitors will be all set up in the Pavilion by 10:00, and the Garden Talk WPR radio show, hosted by Larry Meillor, will start broadcasting state wide at 11:00. Don Kissinger, State Regional Urban Forester, Jason Fischbach, the County Agent, and I will field questions on trees, gardening and landscaping. It is always an interesting and fun time. The city and environs look good for this first event of the Bayfield in Bloom season.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5/15/08 A BEAR LOG

Thursday, 8:00 AM. 46 degrees, up from 40 at 7:00 AM. Wind SSE, calm. Channel calm. The skies are blue and hazy. The barometer is down, predicting partly cloudy skies. It is a nice day.
We walked through the woods this morning and saw a long-fallen spruce log that has been mostly shredded by a bear looking for grubs. The trees are at long-last beginning to leaf out, the poplar leaves are about the size of my thumb, a very light lime green.
This morning I will stake out city trees for planting along Hwy.13 (6th.St.) through town, ten red buckeyes, cultivars of the Ohio buckeye, about the size of flowering crabapple trees at maturity. They bear large bright red panicles of flowers, and will be a very impressive entry to downtown.
This afternoon we will set up the pavilion for the Bayfield in Bloom activities tomorrow. Tonight Joan and I will have a real treat, dinner in Ashland with friends of our youth, Dave and Mariette Novak, whom we haven’t seen in at least forty years. They are here to participate in the Ashland Birding and Nature Festival, Mariette having just published a new birding book.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Wednesday, 8:00 AM. 39 degrees, wind NW, calm. The channel is wrinkled. The barometer predicts partly cloudy skies, presently blue with some high thin white clouds and more cloud cover on the eastern horizon.
The big news is that the hummingbirds are back, we saw two yesterday at the feeder and one is there right now. They are as predictable as the legendary swallows of Capistrano, but no saint’s day seems to be involved. Our hummers are the ruby throated, although there are occasional reports of the western rufous hummer. Our birds may have wintered anywhere from southern Florida to Central America or the Yucatan. If they cross the Gulf they may fly 500 miles non-stop, and are incredibly fast. I don’t think anyone knows when they left for the north breeding grounds or how long it took them to get here. People say they send scouts ahead which report back to the main flock, which makes sense to me, but I have no idea whether that is true or not. At any rate there are always a few birds in advance of the main body of birds.I am trying to get a few camera shots of them at the feeder but they are not very cooperative.
We finally got another thistle seed bag and the goldfinches and chickadees are elated.
Today I will stake out trees for the playground at the lake front for Arbor Day tree planting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Tuesday, 7:30 AM. 40 degrees, wind E, calm. The channel is smooth, the skies overcast. The barometer predicts rain.
Depending upon the weather, I will devote the day to an office botanical project, and/or stake out trees for planting on city streets, in my role as volunteer forester. I also must select a spot to plant an Arbor Day tree for Friday’s annual Bayfield in Bloom kickoff, which includes the Garden Talk radio show emanating from the Bayfield Pavilion. Daffodils will be in full bloom for this event, one big plus from this late spring. The Pasque flowers are in bloom, as are the birch trees, which are just about ready to shed their pollen.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Monday, 7:30 AM. 33 degrees, wind SSE, calm. The channel is calm. The barometer is down, predicting partly cloudy skies, which are currently mostly blue with some wispy white clouds. We were awakened at 5:30 AM by the fluttering and bumping of our territorial robin, who has now opened a second front in his war against rivals, attacking the patio door to the bedroom from the front deck as well as the bedroom window. He attacks one or the other, then retires to contemplate his actions, sitting on the ridge pole of the front yard swing. He is obviously highly frustrated but I am bereft of any counsel to give him, as I have at times attacked equally imaginary threats with equal vigor and frustration. Psychologist, psychologize thyself!
I made the hummingbird feeder solution last night, and hung the feeder out this morning. One and one-half cups of sugar to one quart of water, don’t cut back on the sugar or they won’t drink it; bring to a boil and let cool. We should see one of the advance scouts any day now.
There is a striking male rose breasted grosbeak at the feeder, the first I have seen in a long while, resplendent with his black wings and head, and white breast splashed with red just below the chin. Wow! What a fancy character! And, just now, an equally handsome evening grosbeak!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Sunday, 8:00 AM. 35 degrees, wind WNW, calm to moderate. The barometer is down, predicting rain. We got only a trace of rain last night, but it filled the two rain barrels nonetheless.
A Pasque flower, Anemone patens, is blooming in the front yard, right on schedule; it is almost a bitter morning, just cold and windy enough to make me wish I had worn my gloves on our walk. It may be a late spring, but we still have enough blossoms for Mothers Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Saturday, 8:45 AM. 40 degrees, wind S, calm. The channel is like glass. The barometer predicts rain, skies are hazy.
The trip to Madison for the Urban Forestry Council meeting was pleasant, and reminiscent of trips to Atlanta or somewhere south in February or March. By the time we got to Minocqua the poplars were pretty well leafed out; by Wausau oaks were leafing out as well, and wild plums and Juneberries were in bloom. Madison was beautiful, with flowering crabapples, magnolias, tulips, Viburnums all in bloom. We are still pretty far behind up here, but will catch up soon.
Went to Hauser's on J to buy some pansies, they were busy, busy, busy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Thursday, 8:00 AM. 39 degrees, wind ENE, light to variable. The channel is wrinkled. The barometer predicts sunny skies, which are currently clear with some haze. It is a gorgeous morning, and there was a happy contingent of dogs and walkers out.
I had promised Andy I would plant some wildflowers (Liatris bulbs) for him so I drove out to his place yesterday afternoon. A porcupine scampered up a tree as we drove in. They have their place in nature’s scheme of things of course, but they are extremely damaging (to pine trees in particular), and are absolutely deadly to dogs, which are not smart enough to realize the danger. A dog with a mouthful of quills is in great peril, and even if they survive the experience, are likely to repeat it if given the opportunity. Lucky stayed in the truck.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


7:30 AM, 39 degrees, wind WNW, light. The barometer is down, predicting rain. Skies are overcast, the channel wrinkled.
The bear took down our feeders off the back porch last night, he must have waited until after midnight when we went to bed, as we would have heard him otherwise. I am beginning to think Lucky is a friend of the bear. This incident is proof positive that if fate is tempted long enough it will bite. The male downy woodpecker is very upset that his breakfast is missing. If I put the small feeders back up they will have to be taken in every night. It is time to put up the hummingbird feeders anyway, as the birds always arrive by May 15th.
The Forsythia are blooming at last, desperate to do their thing. Ours are not much this year as I had to cut them back severely last summer, and they bloom on old wood.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Tuesday, 7:30 AM. 36 degrees, wind E, calm. The channel is like glass. The barometer predicts rain, the skies are mostly filled with puffy clouds, and the sun is peeking through.
A sugar maple tree on 11th and Manypenny is in full bloom, the first I’ve seen this spring. Again, the round clusters of greenish yellow flowers, about the size of a quarter, are not spectacular, but have a subtle beauty all their own.
I forgot I had a garbage can partly filled with deer corn sitting on the side of the garage, and our neighborhood bear got into it last night, dented it all up, and ate part of the contents. Bears have a cast iron stomach. Jane across the street says it is a good sized bear, that can reach at least eight feet, the height of their bird feeder that it took down.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Monday, 7:00 AM. 29 degrees, wind NW, calm to light. The channel is wrinkled. The first two ferries of the day are leaving La Pointe. The barometer is up, predicting sunny skies, which are currently blue with some haze.
Once again it was a very quiet walk, meeting nothing and nobody. Maybe I am getting up earlier than most. Garbage was strewn around between Wilson and Manypenny on 8th street, so our local bruin must have been busy again last night.
I took the woods walk for the first time in a while, it having been pretty wet. All seems well and there is an air of expectancy about things, which are just waiting for some warm weather. I just put some fancy chocolate in my coffee, and it sure tastes good (I am always happy to hear that something that used to be considered bad for me is now considered beneficial).

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Sunday, 9:00 AM. It is 36 degrees, the wind E, light. The barometer is down, predicting partly sunny skies. The skies presently are partly cloudy, the channel is calm. It is a very quiet morning, we met neither car nor person or dog, only the birds and squirrels are active. Red maples are in full bloom, and although not spectacular, close up they are very pretty in blossom.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


8:00 AM. 30 degrees, wind NW, moderate with strong gusts. The skies are overcast, with some snow flurries. The barometer is down, predicting precipitation. The channel is rough. We have gotten 2.5 inches of rain in the past 24 hours.
Every roadside ditch in town has become a mountain freshet, and the sound of rushing water permeates the air. The storm seems to be over, and the birds are ravenous at the feeders, with two dozen purple finches fluttering about at present.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Friday, 7:00 AM. 34 degrees, wind E, moderate; the channel is “bumpy.” The barometer is down, predicting rain, which we have had about an inch of this week so far.
This is a slow spring, most buds and blooms late or on hold. Sure glad I got the yard and gardens cleaned up while the weather cooperated.
Joan says the feeder was visited by a flock of evening grosbeaks yesterday afternoon, but I missed them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

5/01/08 SCAT

7:00 AM. 30 degrees, wind S, calm. The channel is smooth.
8:00 AM. 37 degrees, wind E, light. The barometer is down, predicting rain. The sky is overcast, and the channel waters look “wrinkled.”
A bear got into the next door neighbors’ garbage last night and left a large, seed-studded calling card, which environmentalists euphemistically call “scat.” I don’t know why ”scat” is any more acceptable than the Anglo-Saxon four-letter word, but I will adopt the convention. Anyway, I guess the bird feeders will have to come down or be brought in at night. Lucky never barked. No treat for him this morning.
It looks like it will be a rainy day and we have saved up some errands for an Ashland trip; I am tired of painting anyway.