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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WINTER'S DISSONANT SYMPHONY

WINTER RETURNS (if it ever left)

STORED BOATS AT THE CITY MARINA 
Wednesday, 7:45 AM.  35 degrees F, wind NE, variable with moderate gusts.  The sky is overcast and it has been raining, now lightly, with an accumulation of precipitates of about .5".  The humidity is up to 96% and the barometer is trending down, now at 29.7".
   Winter returned, if it had ever left, precisely at noon yesterday.  I was trimming roses and Hydrangeas in the yard when my ears were assaulted by a harsh, roaring noise that I vaguely recognized but could not place, that was much louder than the noon whistle.  At the same time it began to snow very hard, quickly becoming a real blizzard.  I put my tools away in disgust, and decided to find the source of the continuing cacophony.
   I stopped at the post office to get the mail, where the roaring sound was louder still and seemed to emanate from the City Marina.  Heading again, with the window down,  towards the roaring, shrieking, clanking noise, I arrived at the boat storage area of the marina, whence a mighty din arose from the east wind roaring through the masts and rigging of the boats, the taught lines shrieking like out of tune violin strings and the rigging fittings clanging like unruly cymbals as they banged against the masts.
   It's an ill wind indeed that creates such a dissonant symphony.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

ON THE REZ: A LOOK AT THE NEW RED CLIFF HEALTH CARE CENTER

NEW RESERVATION HEALTH CENTER...

...ENTRANCE...

...REAR OF BUILDING, WITH SOLAR PANELS ON ROOF
Tuesday, 8:00 AM.  34 degrees F, wind NNE, very strong.  The sky is overcast with high clouds and the sun is again AWOL.  The humidity is down some to 81%, and the barometer has dropped to 29.87".  The only good thing to say about the weather is that it is not snowing at present.
   The Red Cliff Reservation's new health clinic looks as though it is in the finishing stages of construction.  This is a large facility, 38,00 square feet in size, three times the size of the present health center, and certainly looks more like a full scale hospital than a clinic.  It will have doctors, registered nurses, a dentist, mental health professionals and many other specialists.  It will serve all area residents, as does the present facility.
   The new facility is financed by several federal agencies, the Shakopee Sioux Indian tribe of South Dakota, which also has a majority interest in the Legendary Waters Casino, and the Red Cliff band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe).  The tribe has a web site, and more information is available from the Ashland Daily Press article of May 24, 2013.
   The Ashland hospital is thirty miles from the Rez, and the Bayfield Peninsula region could use a closer trauma center;  if it can handle helicopter flights to Duluth it would be a boon to the the communities of Bayfield, Cornucopia, Herbster and rural townships, as well as Red Cliff.  I don't know if emergency services are part of the plan of operations.  I certainly hope so.

Monday, April 28, 2014

AS BUSY AS A BEAVER

THE PERENNIAL GARDEN, CLEANED UP AND MULCHED (should have been done last fall)

THE BEAVERS HAVE BEEN VERY BUSY...

...INCREASING THEIR TERRITORY...

...THEY MOSTLY WORK THE NIGHT SHIFT
Monday, 8:00 AM.  34 degrees F, wind NE, very strong.  The sky is overcast and there has been a pelting rain.  The humidity is 83% and the barometer 30.02".  It was tough walking into the wind this morning, but our sails were billowing when it was at our backs.   It is a gloriously nasty morning, the sadistic wind thrashing the trees until they groan.  Nice to get in out of it though, and stand in front of the gas fireplace in the library.
   I finally took the bull by the horns (actually the rake by the handle) yesterday and cleaned up and mulched the perennial garden.  It should have been done last fall but I was occupied with a futile attempt to fill the freezer with venison.  And then it snowed.  And snowed.
   The beavers on the North Branch of Pike's Creek have been more industries than I, mostly the result of the activities of their night shift.  They have made vast improvements to their impoundment, the waters of which now clearly cover several acres.  In the past it has been but a puddle.  I attribute this to several factors: 1) a great lengthening and heightening of the dam; 2) ample snowmelt from the past winter; 3) although I cannot prove it, a probable increase in the beaver work force due to decreased trapping.
   In any case, the visual and environmental impact of the beavers industry is considerable and extends far beyond the dam and the pond, as the beavers go some distance to cut trees to build and reinforce the dam, and to consume as food.  The sheer genius of the beavers' activity is apparent in that as the water backs up behind the dam it floods more woodland, making the trees the water engulfs easily transportable by water, when cut, to the dam site and their lodge.
   I am reluctant to "lawyer up" here, but I am compelled to ask who now owns the land the beavers have flooded.  Will the Army Corps of Engineers  claim it as a navigable waterway; will the Bureau of Land Management claim it as federal land, as it has claimed land along the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas; will the Environmental Protection Agency declare it an immutable wetland, which the beavers must now maintain as such in perpetuity? Or will that Orwellian agency require the beavers to destroy the dam because it interferes with the migration of anadromous fish? If the beavers should gain title to the dam and pond through adverse possession, will they have to pay property taxes to Bayfield County and the State of Wisconsin; and if so, will it be paid in cord wood or, cruelly, in beaver skins? Will the beaver dam have to pass annual safety inspections conducted by the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources?  Do the beavers even have standing in a court of law in this matter?
   Life is as complicated for a Castor canadensis as it is for a Homo sapiens. Especially when one is "as busy as a beaver."
 
 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

CARING FOR AN OLD RED OAK TREE

AN OLD RED OAK GETS A PRUNING (is that Spider Man up there?)...




...MOSTLY WITH A HAND SAW...


...ALWAYS TIED IN; SAFETY FIRST...

...CHAIN SAW FOR LARGER BRANCHES; IT'S TIED IN, TOO!~

...BUT THIS MAY KILL THE TREE EVENTUALLY ANYWAY!
Sunday, 31 degrees F, wind NNE, cold and blustery.  The sky wears a high overcast and the sun is again nowhere to be seen.  The humidity, 87%, and the barometer, 30.16", are virtually unchanged from yesterday.  When the wind blows off the still-frozen lake it is like standing in front of an open freezer door.  The fishing tug the Eleanor B, featured in the posting of April 12, has left its mooring.  I can't imagine it is out fishing anywhere, but maybe it got to the ferry channel and thence to some open water somewhere.  Those guys sure were anxious to get out of Bayfield.  Maybe they are bank robbers on the run or something.
  Bayfield has many grand old trees, some almost as old as the town itself.  Most are sugar maples, Acer saccharum, or native red oaks, Quercus rubra.  These ancient trees occur on both public and private property and can be a challenge to maintain.  Both maples and oaks need naturally occurring dead branches removed on a periodic basis, or the branches will come down with wind and snow, which can be dangerous as well as messy, and a clean, proper saw cut is much preferable to a ragged break that doesn't heal properly.  Insects and disease can invade a tree through improperly healed wounds.
   The red oak pictured, on the corner of 8th St. and Rittenhouse Ave. is a majestic tree.  Without taking a core boring and counting the rings it is difficult to estimate the age of such a tree, since trees can grow at various rates dependent upon water, nutrients, exposure, soil and other environmental conditions.  Many old city trees were planted at about the time the house on the property was built and that can provide as good a guess as any, and I estimate this tree to be about a hundred years old.
   Pruning out dead branches in a large old tree is a job for an  experienced, certified climbing arborist.  Jay of Jay's Tree Care is up in this tree.  Note how he is tied in to a strong higher branch at all times, as is his chain saw.  Safety in the tree and on the ground is the top priority in tree work, and even the most experienced and careful climbers can make serious or even fatal mistakes; but there is no better way to trim a tree.  Jay fell from nearly that height several years ago and got off with a broken femur, but he sure doesn't want to repeat the experience.
   As far as other routine care of an old tree is concerned, water and nutrients are a factor, and periodic applications of a slow release, low-nitrogen complete fertilizer are helpful, as is watering during drought  conditions.  Gypsy moths love oak leaves, an the tree should be monitored for them; watch for egg masses on trunk and branches when the tree is dormant.  Oak wilt can spread by root grafts from tree to tree, so if a neighboring tree is diseased it may be necessary to isolate an important tree from the roots of neighboring oaks mechanically or chemically.  Oaks should not be pruned between April 1 and mid-summer or later.  It is best to prune them while they are dormant, to prevent the spread of disease.
   Unfortunately, all the corrective pruning and preventive care possible won't compensate for actions that compromise the bark and prop roots of a tree, and raising the soil around the base of the tree will usually, with time, rot the bark and girdle the tree, killing it.  The tree in this case has had a raised flower bed built around it.  The added soil is not very deep, but any change in grade around a tree is potentially harmful.  Doing so may not only rot the bark on the trunk but also the bark on exposed prop roots, compromising the structural support of the tree.
   Some trees, particularly those species that have adapted to growing in flood plains with changing water and soil levels can withstand  soil filled around their trunks but red oaks, sugar maples, white ash, black cherry, linden and other climax forest trees, as well as most conifers, will not.  Soil fill also interferes with water infiltration and air exchange to the roots of established trees,  weakening them.
   Both sugar maples and red oaks exhibit structural problems as they age; very old sugar maples tend to have crowded, weak multiple trunks and branches that are prone to wind and snow damage, and red oaks often develop cavities at the base of the tree which are difficult to detect and may make the tree very unstable (another good reason not to raise the grade around the base of the trunk).  I did take it upon myself to warn the homeowner of the danger of doing so but I doubt she was convinced, as the raised bed was built a number of years ago and the tree does not appear damaged.
   It can take many years for the thick bark of a mature tree to rot due to soil being raised around it, but when it finally does so the tree will die.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

HOT ENOUGH FOR US, ANYWAY

ASHLAND BREW PUB HAS SOME GREAT BEERS AND FOOD

FISHING IN THE POWER PLANT HOT POND...

...AND  SWIMMING (maybe not so hot)
Saturday, 9:00 AM.  33 degrees F, wind E, light with stronger gusts.  The sky is again overcast, the sun nowhere to be seen.  The humidity is 89% and the barometer is up a bit, at 30.14".
   We had some errands to run in Ashland late yesterday afternoon and decided to have fish fry at the South Shore Brewery, which serves fine craft beers and food.  Joan and I both had beer-battered whitefish, which was excellent, and each a pint of the brewery's Rhodes Scholar stout.  The stout is almost black, with a head like ocean foam; it is as much food as drink, and puts "lite" beer to shame!
   After dinner we stopped at MacDonald's and got ice cream cones, and then drove the short distance to the parking lot at the Excel Energy power plant to eat them.  Two guys were fishing from the pier and one caught a really big fish, maybe a lake trout or a stealhead.  I couldn't make out what it was for sure, and neither could I get a picture of it.
   And much to our surprise, a young couple took a dip in the pond as well, but they didn't stay in long.  I think "hot"in this instance merely means not frozen.
   Anyway, as the song goes, it was "A Hot Time In The Old Town."  Hot enough for us, anyway.
 

Friday, April 25, 2014

WINTER STILL ROAMS THE NORTHLAND

STILL PLENTY OF ICE IN CITY HARBOR
HUGE SNOWFLAKES FELL YESTERDAY ...
...WHILE THE CEMETERY LOOKED PROPERLY GOTHIC 
Friday, 8:30 AM.  34 degrees F, wind SSW, very light with some stronger gusts.  The sky is overcast and it was snowing lightly earlier.  The humidity is 95% and the barometer is down,  to 29.7".
   Winter returned (as if it had ever really left) yesterday afternoon.  I have never seen such large snowflakes; some  the size of a half dollar, they were so heavy they fell from the leaden skies like stones.
   We attended an evening Chamber of Commerce "After Hours" at the Bayfield Inn and drove up Washington Ave. into the orchard country afterward, where the roads were slick with about 4" of wet new snow, and the cemetery looked properly Gothic in the grim twilight.
   With no stake in its heart winter, Dracula-like, still roams the Northland.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

SPRING IN BAYFIELD REALLY ARIVES WITH THE FIRST FERRY

FERRY ARRIVES AT BAYFIELD DOCK FROM LAPOINTE ON MADELINE ISLAND
Thursday,  9:00 AM.  36 degrees, wind NE, calm with moderate gusts.  The sky has a low overcast and it rained .16" last night but has stopped at present.  the humidity has risen to 92%, and the barometer has dropped to 30.01".
   We were having a mid-morning cup of coffee yesterday when I caught movement out on the channel, a big black object proceeding slowly across the ice.  Or, more accurately, through the ice.  The ferry was running!  In Bayfield spring doesn't arrive with the first robin or the first daffodil, but with the first ferry.  I tried to get a photo but it was out of sight before I could do so.  I got into the truck and got to the ferry dock just as the ship was coming in.
   I found out later from neighbor Sherman that the ferry broke ice from Bayfield to LaPointe on Tuesday.  It took one hour and thirty-two minutes.  Usually a Coast Guard ice breaker will make the first run, but they have had all they can do to open the major shipping lane from Duluth to the locks at Sioux St. Marie on the east end of the Big Lake.  There is still a tremendous amount of ice out in the channel and it will be a tough run every morning to keep the path open as the ice breaks into flows and is pushed around by wind and current.  But now it is officially spring in Bayfield.
 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UNWELCOME GUESTS AT MY GARDEN PARTY

RAVINE ON 8TH AND RITTENHOUSE
UNWELCOME GUESTS


Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  32 degrees F, wind variable, light.  The sky is mostly overcast.  The humidity is up, at 85%.  The barometer is steady, at 30.19".  It is a quiet, rather pleasant morning, despite the discouraging statistics.  The melting continues steadily and slowly, but there is still plenty of snow in the woods, ravines and on north facing slopes.
   While we were eating lunch yesterday Joan saw two deer in the back yeard, and I grabbed my camera.  I stayed sitting at the table so as not to spook them by approaching the patio door but they sensed my presence anyway and scampered off.  They were obviously looking for tender green plants now poking up in the garden.  In fourteen years here I have only seen deer in the yard once or twice before, and those episodes were very fleeting.  These deer are emboldened by hunger.  I am empathetic to anything or anyone that is hungry, but I can't have deer in my garden and next time I will let Buddy on the porch to bark at them.
   Deer are unwelcome guests at my garden party.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

THE CLIMATE MAY BE CHANGING SOMEWHERE, BUT IT SURE HASN'T BEEN ANY WARMER IN BAYFIED

YET ANOTHR WATER MAIN BREAK ON 6TH ST....

...BRING IN THE BIG STUFF
Tuesday,  8:30 AM.  40 degrees F, up from 35 an hour ago. Wind NE, calm to gusty. The sky is partly cloudy but clearing.  The humidity is down to 56% and the barometer is up slightly, at 30.19".
   Over the weekend another water main break surfaced on 6th st., which is Hwy. 13 through the city.
It surfaced  pretty much in the same spot that had recently been repaired and the road patched with asphalt.  I assume this is another break in the previously repaired line, the water now surfacing in the same place.  In any case, the rupture probably happened sometime earlier, the leak now becoming apparent as the ground has thawed out.
   I can't fault the city on any of these occurrences, as the frost has descended to around eight feet in depth this winter, much deeper than would historically be expected.  I don't know how old the water and sewer lines that have ruptured are, but they were certainly laid decades and more ago, and even if replaced in the relatively recent past were certainly laid at the depth of the first lines laid a century and more ago.     Even taking into consideration that there may have been extenuating circumstances such as more recent underground culverts in some areas that transferred additional cold into the ground, most of the infrastructure is at depths that have not frozen in a century.  And this with record or near record  insulating snow depths (which of course has little effect where roads are plowed)
   To add insult to injury, the Daily Press published a major article yesterday on local citizens who are active in a national organization "combating climate change."
   The climate may be changing somewhere, but it sure hasn't been any warmer in Bayfied.

Monday, April 21, 2014

CROCUSES AND CRANES FOR EASTER

CROCUSES FOR EASTER...

...AND SANDHILL CRANES
Monday,  49 degree F, wind ESE and variable, calm with some gusts.  The sky is partly to mostly cloudy at present after being clear an hour ago. but it is a nice morning (since it isn't snowing).
   Our quiet Easter Sunday was greeted by crocuses blooming in the gravel debris on the edge of the guest driveway.  Tough blossoms, those.
   And on a short getaway drive at noon yesterday we came across three Sandhill cranes out on Highway K.  Two were doing a courtship dance while another looked on.  Andy had said more than a week ago that he had heard cranes, and he certainly did, as these were in a huge hayfield about a half-mile from the Larsen camp.  
   We love to see cranes, as they remind us of our time spent in Nebraska, where we watched them on the Platte River every spring.  These Wisconsin cranes are an eastern flyway subspecies of those we watched in Nebraska, and are a somewhat larger race of birds.  Those we saw will nest here.  The Nebraska cranes stop along the Platte in early spring on their way to Canadian, Alaskan and Siberian nesting sites.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

HAPPY EASTER !

CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL AT CHRIST CHURCH

THE LILY: ICON OF EASTER AND SPRING
Easter Sunday morning, 9:00 AM.  35 degrees F, wind ESE, calm to light.  The sky is clear with some haze in the east.  The humidity is 89% and the barometer is down a bit at 30.09".  Weather in the 40's and 50's is predicted for much of the coming week, which should melt most of the remaining snow, but there is a pile 5' high in the herb garden which may not not be gone until June!
   That said, it is a gorgeous morning; the flickers and geese have returned, and the woods along Old San Road were sparkling with dewed branches, a scene way beyond my poor ability to capture on film (now there's a malapropism in this digital age).  The promise of spring and renewed life were everywhere, and Buddy and I gloried in it all.
   The Great Vigil of Easter was held at Bayfield's historic Christ Church (Episcopal) yesterday evening.  It was a candlelight service, with the lighting of the Paschal Candle, the renewal of baptismal vows and the first Holy Eucharist of Easter.  The sung service, celebrated by Reverand Mark Ricker of the Episcopal church in Ashland, was beautiful, and the diminutive Carpenter Gothic chapel was almost filled.
   These are troubled times, when people seek the comfort and assurance of our cultural and religious traditions.
   I am always humbled when I repeat my baptismal vows, as I realize yet again how far and how often I  miss the mark in daily life.  But Easter is about renewal, about life and hope and faith.
   Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

UNTIL THE COWS COME HOME

TRAFFIC STOPPED FOR A SAND HILLS CATTLE DRIVE

MYRON LEAVING CAMP FOR HOME

ANDY, JOAN, JUDY AND BUDDY
Saturday,  9:00 AM.  33 degrees F, wind E, light.  The sky is overcast and it was raining enough for me to put on my rain jacket when Buddy and I went out walking,  but it has since stopped.  The humidity is 82% and the barometer is down somewhat, now at 30.27"
   I got the missing cord for the new camera yesterday, so can post a couple of photos taken at the Larsen camp on Thursday night. They are packing up and leaving today, the first time ever, I believe, without any maple syrup.
   For all the news coverage of the Nevada armed standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management, and all the analysis by pundits and TV lawyers and judgers, I don't think most Americans understand the underlying philosophical and legal concepts involved in the dispute. I am for sure not a lawyer, but am something of a student of history, so here, for what it is worth, is my perspective.
   The concept of the "open range" is not only a part of American history, it has its roots in European and even ancient history.  And I suspect it is a concept that has its counterparts in most if not all cultures that were supported by the grazing  of animals.  Long before the concept of ownership of land arose, nomadic herders roamed at will with their cattle and sheep across the prairies and steppes, much as the earlier hunters and gatherers did.
   The land was not owned by anyone, nor by any government entity.  It existed as a common resource for all with the strength to keep their cattle safe from predation.  The watering places were used by all, and all were able to move their animals to better forage and to markets.
   In early American history, every town and village had a central "commons," most of which still exist in the East to this day. The grassy commons provided a place for town  residents to graze their family milk cow.  In England and throughout Western Europe common fields, woodlots and rural pathways between communities still exist, free for all to use "in common" with such rules as are needed traditionally decided at the local level by the people who use them.
  The concept of an "open range" is nothing more than a latter day iteration of land held "in common,"  for free use by all.  Until the invention of barbed wire, even private property was crossed  to move  herds over long traditional trails to market.  Range wars erupted when fences were erected that denied such common use of land and water resources for herded cattle.
   In the western states of the United States, vast tracts (about 50%) of the land is supposedly "owned" by the federal government; but by what right has it been removed form the ancient concept and actual precedent of usufruct (the English common law concept of the rights to the use of  land not actually owned)? If I allow my  neighbor to use my land for a driveway or even to build upon without a fee for a certain length of time he can claim ownership by adverse possession, what we call "squatter's rights" in the vernacular.  This is an ancient concept in common law.  Why does it not apply in this case?  In Northern Wisconsin and neighboring states, Indian tribes may fish, hunt and gather on state, federal and even private property, as right of usufruct gained through treaty with the United States government.  Shouldn't western ranchers have some such rudimentary rights?
   The ranchers of the west used common land without paying a fee for a century or more; what has happened to their common law right of use?  And how can the government charge a fee for use of what was formerly used in common for generations? And,  if any entity other that the users has the right of actual ownership of the vacant land, shouldn't it be the states that were created from it?  The government of the United States only "owns" the land through conquest, and even at that has ceded back vast tracts of land to the Indians from which it was taken by force.  Why shouldn't vast tracts of unused land be, in like manner, ceded now to the states and to the ranchers who have used it and made it productive for generations?  And the supposedly endangered tortoise is only a ploy by the federal government to maintain control of the land, as proven by the fact that during the recent altercation federal forces ran all over the contested area, destroying tortoise nests and habitat.
   Rancher Bundy has been fighting in the courts for years to regain free common use of the land his ancestors used in like manner.   I think he has every right, in logic and precedent, to do so.  Eventually this matter will have to be resolved peacefully and equitably through the justice system.  I contend his case needs to be re-litigated, and argued within the context of the ancient rights of herdsmen under common law.
   Argued until the cows come home.

Friday, April 18, 2014

IT'S BEEN A HARD WINTER

ANDY AT THE SUGAR SHACK IN A BETTER TIME; APRIL 2008
Friday, 32 degrees F.  Wind N, light with stronger gusts.  The sky is clear, the humidity 72% and the barometer high, at 30.45".  The snow dumped on us on Wednesday will begin to disappear today.
   We went out to Andy and Judy's camp yesterday evening for supper.  They were going to be with us for Easter Sunday dinner, but have decided to give up on maple sugaring without boiling down any sap this year, and go home for Easter.  The last snowstorm, with another foot and more added to the frozen slush still in the woods was the tipping point I guess, and I can't blame them.  It has all been a futile struggle this season.     If they stayed another couple of weeks they would undoubtedly get some sap and make some syrup, but they have things to do back home, and really miss the grandchildren. And they're tired.
   I took some photos with the new Canon camera I bought yesterday but discovered it didn't come with  a cord that connects the camera to the computer, and the one from my Nikon that I had to scrap doesn't fit.  I don't know how the manufacturer can sell the camera without one but there was sure none in the box.  The Nikon, which has been nothing but trouble, finally wouldn't work at all and the warranty was up.  It was the worst purchase I have made since our 1979 Ford Fairmont, and that's saying a lot.  Hope the new camera is better, but things aren't starting out well.
   I haven't checked with any other of the maple sugaring operations but I am sure they are all tired, disgusted and ready to pack it in as well,  but some will tough it out.  It has been one hell of a winter, taking its toll on animals, plants and humans.
   At Andy's Grocery in town yesterday a guy that I didn't recognize because he had grown a winter's beard hollered out to me, "The turkeys are all gone," to which I answered, "we've already bought a ham."
   He said, "No, no,  the turkeys out by your deer stand."  They had been doing O.K. until about three weeks ago when Joan and I had last seen them along the road.  I asked him what had happened, assuming they had ended up on someone's dinner table.
   "They froze to death, sitting up in the pine trees, the whole flock.  There they were roosting on some lower branches but they didn't fly when I walked up so I picked up a stick and poked one and it fell off, stone dead.  The rest of them too,"he said.  I assume they got caught in one of the recent wet, freezing blizzards.
   It's been a hard winter.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

WHERE HAVE ALL THE POPPY SEEDS GONE?



A FIELD OF POPPIES



Thursday, 9:00 AM.  31 degrees F, wind NE, light with occasional moderate gusts.  The sky still has a low overcast but the snow has stopped.  The humidity is 92% and the barometer stands at 30.19".  We received at least 6" of slushy snow in Bayfield; it is hard to measure accurately because it drifted considerably.  Surrounding communities got 12" or more so we may have gotten more than the 6".  It is awful, wet, sticky stuff, and I was very fortunate to have neighbor Jon Nelson stop by and scrape out the driveway.
   The snow started late yesterday morning as light rain mixed with snow, and quickly developed into a foggy blizzard, which pretty much continued through the night, although it seems to be over now. Winter is, for the time being, back with us.  It is supposed to warm up into the 40's and 50's soon and stay that way for a week, so this mess will soon be gone.  But for the immediate future it is ours to deal with.
   The Department of Natural Resources stated yesterday that the deer herd in  Northern Wisconsin has suffered heavily in this second severe winter in a row, the surviving does retaining little or no body fat, which is crucial for having healthy fawns.  It is virtually certain that there will be a bucks-only regular deer season this fall, which should have been the case last season after a tough 2012-2013 winter.  Too little, too late, I am afraid.
   We bought a half a ham for Easter Sunday dinner, and when I think of ham I think of hard rolls.  Real old fashioned Milwaukee bakery hard rolls, with an egg shell-like crust and a soft, airy inside.  I doubt if anyone knows how to make them anymore, even in Milwaukee.  Forget about sweet rolls for breakfast, a fresh hard roll cut in half and slathered with butter is far superior.  And for Sunday lunch the same, with an ample amount of thinly sliced ham.  Health regulations have killed the hard roll, I am afraid, as they demand the rolls be put in plastic bags, which ruins them.
   And when the  the hard roll  has been baked  with poppy seeds on top  it is enough to make one forget all else.  I don't know if you can get baked goods with poppy seeds anymore, either.  They may not actually be illegal, but since truck drivers, pilots, police officers and heaven knows who else are being randomly tested for drug abuse (poppy seeds will turn the test positive) everyone is very sensitive to the issue. We eliminate poppy seeds while legalizing marijuana.  Go figure.
   Life has sure gotten complicated, and its simple pleasures far fewer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

INCIDENT AT BUNKERVILLE

STILL FIXING FROZEN WATER LINES IN BAYFIED

BLM RHINESTONE COWBOYS
Wednesday,  8:45 AM.  27 degrees, wind NE at ground level, calm with stronger gusts. A diminished silver disk of a sun is attempting unsuccessfully to penetrate the leaden overcast.  The humidity is 62% and the barometer stands at a relatively high 30.27".  It looks and feels like we will get the predicted snow storm.
   Bayfield is at last recovering from winter damage to frozen water lines and sewers.  We hope this will be the last photo of it!

   I usually try to find some humor in all but tragic situations, and the BLM’s ridiculous and misguided standoff with the Nevada ranchers should, I guess, be no different. So...
                                     THE INCIDENT AT BUNKERVILLE
   There were actually humorous statements made and situations that occurred during the dangerous Nevada standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and the ranchers, such as the obviously-New York reporter who stated that the BLM helicopters were “separating the mothers from their children.”  Cows and calves were not in his citified lexicon.
    And then there was the absolutely clueless bureaucrat who referred to the BLM conducting a “cattle gathering.”  He evidently had never heard of a “roundup.”  Pretty axiomatic of someone trying to manage a task about which they are totally ignorant.  And, by the way, they only managed to find four-hundred of the nine-hundred cows they were looking for.  Kind of hard to find them-there critters up those rocky draws if you ain’t no cowboy!
    And then there were the looks on the faces of the heavily armed federal troops who lifted their eyes to the ridges and realized that they were surrounded by a far greater number of adversaries, well armed, than had been anticipated.  Sort of like Custer and all them Injuns.  
   Certainly some gray, if not actually dark, humor therein.So I have invoked my artistic license and composed a little ditty in commemoration of the Incident at Bunkerville, to be sung to the tune of “Home on the Range”
           
            Home, home on the Mall
            Where the Pols and the Lobbyists play
            Where seldom is heard
            An encouraging word
            And the skies they are murky all day

            Home, home in DC
            Where the Pres and his pals they do roam
            Far from their work
            On the golf links they lurk
            While  impoverishing poor you and me
           
            Home, home on the range
            Where the hardworking ranchers do live
            And their cattle do graze
            While the bureaucrats rave
            ‘Bout the turtles that don’t misbehave
           

I could go on ad nauseum but will spare all concerned.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING: PUSSY WILLOW AND ALDER FLOWERS


PUSSY WILLOW CATKINS
ALDER CATKINS, HANGING FROM THE BRANCHES.,,



ALDER MALE CATKINS AND FEMALE FLOWERS (at thumb)
Tuesday, 9:30 AM.  23 degrees F, wind NNE, calm with occasional moderate gusts. The sky is partly cloudy and it some very light snow has fallen.  The humidity is 62% and the barometer stands at 30.12". Heavy snow, 6" to 12" is predicted for the region, starting late tonight and lasting through Wednesday evening.  I see no fishermen out on the ice anywhere now (although there must be a few intrepid souls out there somewhere), nor do I see any motorized activity, which is probably a very good thing.
   As the old song says, "It might as well be spring."  In fact, it is spring, regardless of what the thermometer says.  Spring is, of course, more than warmth; it is also, and primarily, day length.  The pussy willow catkins have shed their bud scales (although they are not yet shedding pollen, as are the alders).
   The alder male catkins in the photo are at full anthesis, that is,  shedding pollen. And when pollen is being shed, there has to be a female flower blooming to receive it; and there are several of the tiny, cone-like  flowers pictured,  just at my thumb nail.  Roadside alders are now easily recognized even at a distance by the profuse, pendulous male catkins.
   It not only might as well be spring, it actually is.

Monday, April 14, 2014

THE WATER IS HIGH AND THE DEER ARE ACTIVE


SIOUX RIVER ROARING OVER THE BIG ROCK

DEER ALONG HWY. J
Monday,  25 degrees F, wind moderate with stronger gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast.  The humidity is down to 55% (because it is so windy) and the barometer has risen to 30.04".  There is a biting wind tho morning.  It feels like winter has returned to Bayfield.
   The snow continued to disappear over the weekend, with few signs of flooding anywhere, even though the rivers are running high.  The Sioux River was boiling over the Big Rock on Sunday, with few signs of anyone trying to fish for the steelhead trout that should be running up the river to spawn any time now.
   The deer continue to be very active. I counted eight along a short stretch of Hwy. J yesterday.  They looked pretty fit, considering the very rough winter we have had.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A TOUGH WINTER ON STREET TREES

RED OAK PLANTED TWO YEARS AGO PUSHED OVER BY PILED  SNOW...

,,,TREE PLANTED LAST YEAR TIPPED BY SNOW LOAD...

YOUNG BUCKEYE UPROOTED BY SNOW PLOW
WHITE PINE WITH BRANCHES BROKEN BY PLOWED SNOW
Palm Sunday, 8:45 AM.  35 degrees F, wind N, calm with occasional gusts. The sky is covered  with a low overcast. The humidity is high, at 95%, and the barometer is trending down, now at 29.82".  It looks like rain.  Neighbor Tina, who works on Madeline Island, is still taking her snowmobile to work. She says she will probably do so for another week or so, depending on the ice conditions.
   Now that the high snowbanks are melting it is becoming obvious how much the trees along city streets have suffered from plow damage and snow load.  Young trees are most vulnerable, and can be tipped over or broken even if well staked.  One can't usually fault the snow plow drivers, as the snow has to go somewhere.  And it becomes obvious after a winter like this last that some locations just are not suitable for street trees.  Homeowners and landscapers have to keep in mind the realities of snow plowing and piling along driveways and garages as well.
   But one can't give up; the damage has to be repaired and trees replaced, or our streets would soon be treeless and forlorn.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

RUSHING THE SEASON, AND PUSHING THEIR LUCK


LET'S GO FISHIN'...
WELL, MAYBE WE'RE RUSHING THE SEASON
Saturday, 8:30 AM.  34 degrees F, wind NNE, light.  The sky is overcast and it looks like rain.  The humidity is 84% and the barometer has risen to a quite high 30.04", which seems rather counterintuitive.
   The ice is evidently getting rotten in the Bayfield City Harbor, and the fishing tug Elizabeth was fired up to tested it.  I don't think they really intended to go fishing,  as there is still several feet of ice in the channel and reportedly over five feet of ice at the LaPointe dock on Madeline Island.
   I am incensed at the Gestapo-like tactics being used by the Bureau of Land Management in its altercation with Nevada ranchers using the hitherto public open range.  The sons and daughters of pioneers are being assaulted with tasers and dogs by uniformed men in body armor and armed with automatic weapons, and their cattle are being harassed and herded by helicopters and are dying.  One expects this kind of action, reminiscent of the Nazis,  in Russia or China, where all are subservient to a dictatorial State.  Is this what the United States of America is coming to?
   The ranchers have been using the open range since they settled it in the 19th Century.  It is a tough existence in a harsh environment, and these are tough people. They are confronting a faceless bureaucracy run by an anonymous elite in faraway places.
  The federal government has denied these Americans their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech by declaring they may only assemble and speak freely in arbitrarily established Free Speech Zones in the middle of the desert.
    I thought all of America was a Free Speech Zone.
   American citizens are being goaded into armed rebellion over issues that are not in any way critical to the government and that should be resolved in a reasonable and peaceful manner. The supposedly endangered desert tortoise is a side issue, and an obvious ploy.
   The Bureau of Land Management is yet another out-of-control Statist bureaucracy that should be shrunk to size or abolished, and the idiots at the top of the food chain that have provoked this confrontation fired.  The federal government controls much of our western lands,  around 50% (84.5% in Nevada), which would be better sold at an affordable price to the people who actually live there and make the land productive.
   Dictatorial, obnoxious and dangerous federal agencies continue to push their luck.

Friday, April 11, 2014

BAYFIELD, CITY OF RAVINES

CEMETERY RAVINE; 8TH ST. AND RITTENHOUSE AVE.,  LOOKING EAST...

...DITTO, LOOKNG WEST


IRON BRIDGE RAVINE, LOOKING NORTH FROM THE HISTORIC IRON BRIDGE...

...DITTO, LOOKING SOUTH
Friday,  8:30 AM. 35 degrees F, wind westerly, calm to very light.  The sky is mostly cloudy and overcast.  The humidity is 80% and the barometer has risen somewhat to 29.93".  The sun is trying to shine through the murk and it will probably clear later in the day.  The City crews are out clearing drains and gutters this morning to keep meltwater flowing. It was just cold enough last night to freeze water into thin sheets of black ice on the roads and I went skittering a couple of times while walking with Buddy.
   The little city of Bayfield, founded in 1856, clings to steep Lake Superior bluffs.  In typical Nineteenth Century fashion, it was laid out with a compass oriented grid system of mostly straight avenues and streets, without seeming regard to terrain or other natural features.  Thus the  plan ignored to a great extent the numerous naturally occurring ravines and gullies, large and small.  Lots and streets were plotted where major filling needed to be done, and water runoff courses channeled into ditches or enclosed in culverts under streets and lots.
   This  initial ignoring of the natural landscape has of course caused numerous problems over the years, resulting in shifting and crumbling roads and other infrastructure, many a failed building foundation and perpetually wet basement, and flooding both major and minor.
   Some of the ravines were virtually unbuildable, and were eventually incorporated into a system of conservancy areas, many of which exist on private property upon which development restrictions have been imposed.  Some of the larger ravine areas are publicly owned or have mixed ownership.  The two major ravines and conservancy areas are the Cemetery Ravine, which originates high up in the orchard country along Hwy. J and wends its way through the city to the lakefront and Black Hawk Marina, and the Iron Bridge Ravine, which starts several miles north of town and ends at Washington Avenue, where it goes into a large culvert and then an open channel and is at last diverted into the lake near the Ferry Dock.
  Over the years both these ravines have experienced major flooding, with much damage to roads and private property.  The Flood of 1942, precipitated by a freak 8" rain storm, decimated the entire downtown area.  Much has been done since then to reforest and stabilize ravines and their watersheds and build impoundments to control runoff, including the establishment of the official  conservancy areas.  As much as has been accomplished, much more could be done in the way of improvement of the formal and informal natural areas, which at present lack any kind of comprehensive management plan.
   Today Bayfield has a mixed heritage of rather mindless original development that was typical of the era, overlaid with some very good attempts to control flooding and enhance the natural and built  environment.  Although many challenges remain, the present ravine conservancy system rewards Bayfield with a rather unique and quite beautiful natural environment that extends throughout much of the city.