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Sunday, December 17, 2017

ALMANAC RETROSPECTIVE: VOLUNTEERISM


ARBOR DAY TREE PLANTING SPONSORED BY THE TREE BOARD

FIRE HALL AND GARAGE



Sunday, 9:30 AM.  25 degrees F at the ferry dock, 23 on the back porch.  Wind SW, calm with occasional light gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, the humidity 86%. The barometer is falling,  now at 30.07".  High today around 30, warming some with snow sowers tomorrow, then cooling again with clouds and snow showers throughout the rest of the week.
   There is no excuse for boredom when living in a small community, since there are so many opportunities to volunteer on boards, committees  and for various community organizations.  I personally was involved in the tree board, and was on various city zoning committees. 
   Bayfield's firemen and EMTs are an all volunteer force, well trained and on call 24/7.
They raise money to supplement the city equipment budget with an annual raffle and other events.  Area fire departments and ambulance services cooperate in combating major fires and in other emergencies, and and a helicopter service is on call for emergency flights to Duluth hospitals.
  I remember having to call for the  volunteer EMt's while working at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, for a woman who fell and broke her leg.  It was forty years ago and on a weekend, and the volunteers showed up in tee shirts and bermuda shorts.  The woman's husband wouldn't let them touch his wife, and he took her away in their car.  I knew all the EMTs, who were either doctors or nurses.  You can't judge an EMT by their clothes.
   We have lived in communities with both paid and volunteer emergency services, and find them about equal in effectiveness.   It is becoming more and more difficult to maintain volunteer services  because of declining rural and small town populations, and one way to compensate for that factor is for communities to pay a standby and per-emergency stipend, which helps young people with seasonal or low income regular jobs to stay in the community, and is still far less of a tax burden than hiring full time personnel.
   I served on the Bayfield Tree Board for over a decade.  We sponsored the annual Arbor Day tree planting, did tree training pruning, cleared stop signs of obstructions, maintained the tree inventory, planted trees, monitored pests and diseases and wrote grants.
   Small communities run on volunteerism, and it is easy to be involved, and never bored.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

PINE GROSSBEAKS IN THE CRABAPPLE TREE

FEMALE PINE GROSSBEAK

MALE PINE GROSSBEAK

ICE ON LOWER CHEQUAMEGON BAY
Saturday, 9:30 AM.  20 degrees F at the ferry dock, 18 on the back porch.  Wind SE, gusty, creating significant wind chill.  The sky continues cloudy and overcast, the humidity 65%.  The barometer is rising gently, now at  30.07".  The high today will be in the mid-20's, warming some tomorrow and continuing cloudy with snow showers next week.
   We had a flock of pine grossbeaks feasting on crabapples just outside the window yesterday, male and females both very colorful.
   The lower Chequamegon Bay at Ashland has frozen over enough to tempt ice fishermen to venture out, but it is way to thin to be safe,
   We will continue our Almanac Retrospectives tomorrow.

Friday, December 15, 2017

ALMANAC RETROSPECTIVE:HORTICULTURE

BLUEBERRY FIELDS IN OCTOBER

CHERRY ORCHARD IN MAY

DAFFODILS IN APRIL

VEGETABLE GARDEN IN JUNE

PERENNIAL GARDEN IN LATE MAY


MAGNOLIA IN MAY

A TREE PLANTING JOB
Friday, 9:00 AM.  15 degrees F at the ferry dock, 14 on the back porch.  Wind NW, calm with occasional light to moderate gusts.  The sky is cloudy, overcast, and it is quite foggy.  It is snowing, adding to the 18"+ on the ground.  High today in the upper teens, warming some tomorrow and next week with continuing clouds and snow.  Welcome to life in the Bayfield snow globe.
   Some wag once said that Bayfield is as far north in Wisconsin as you can go without getting your feet wet, but the insulating effect of the Big Lake renders it a relatively mild climate; USDA Zone 4b (probably 5a near right near the water).  Rainfall averages 31" yearly with normally heavy snow cover and the temperature seldom exceeds 86 F maximum or -15 F minimum.  The soils are mostly sandy or clayey woodland soils.  In all, a fine growing climate for northern temperate region trees and crops.   Bayfield has been a mecca for commercial fruit and perennial production for over a century, and is, as one 19th Century real estate hustler once called it, "The bananna belt of the Great Lakes."
   As a horticulturist I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to garden and even do some commercial landscaping in Bayfield, and being the City Forester (volunteer) for a decade was the icing on the cake.  Living here has given me the opportunity to be active in my chosen profession long after my retirement from full time work, and I am thankful to have been able to do so. Ageing has not hindered me too much until very recently; as Tomas Jefferson famously said, "I may be an old man, but I am yet a young gardener."
   Being connected to the outdoors and with wildlife and growing things has been a lifelong blessing.  Our living in Bayfield has added to and prolonged that great gift, and we thank God for it every day, but it is time to move on and open the next chapter in our book of life.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

ALMANAC RETROSPECTIVE:THE OJIBWE PEOPLE

DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH, LIBERTY IS OUR BOND


CEDED TERRITORIES (DOES NOT INCLUDE CANADIAN OJIBWE LANDS)

Thursday, 9:00 AM.  18 degrees F at the ferry dock, 16 on the back porch. Wind S, calm at present.  The sky is cloudy and overcast and it is snowing lightly after depositing another 1.5" last night.  The humidity is 84%, the barometer at 30.06" and steady on.  High today low 20's, falling to mid-teens tomorrow with cloudy skies and wintry weather continuing throughout next week.
   One of the unique experiences of life in Bayfield is the opportunity to get to know the Ojibwe tribe of American Indians.  Like all great learning experiences, it takes an open mind and some effort to enter in, but once one has accepted those parameters, it opens a window on another culture within the  great phalanx of cultures and peoples that comprise The United States of America.
   American Indians are not a monolithic culture, but a collection of individual tribes, mini-nations each with their own unique history, struggles, customs and beliefs.  Sometimes these fit handily within the dominant society, sometimes not, but regardless of past and even present conflicts among themselves and with the American government, they are part of the American fabric, and are loyal Americans; they view America as their homeland and the United States as their government with as great or greater sincerity as any other group of citizens. They have not only fought against, but famously under, The Star Spangled Banner.
    Unfortunately they are often marginalized,  poorly appreciated and misunderstood, and living near and among them has given us an opportunity to closely observe these dynamics and form genuine friendships.
    I have  mentioned the territory of the Ojibwe Indians ceded to the United States by treaty, and their legal right to hunt, fish and gather on those lands under those treaties.  The accompanying map shows the ceded lands in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan covered by the various treaties. Without going into more detail than warranted, it can be said that these rights have been well defined in  case law and court decisions, and there is now a quite sophisticated arrangement for enforcement of treaty rights  between the Ojibwe and the federal and state governments. 
    The tribe has established the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wild Life Commission, which works closely with state and federal agencies to enforce regulations developed under the treaties, and to improve and regulate fish, game and wild rice populations and habitat.    There was a time thirty and more years ago when there was open conflict between Indians and others over those rights, but cooler heads, and reason, prevailed on both sides and there are few conflicts today.


OFFICIAL POW WOW FLAGS AND STAFFS
EVERYONE IS WELCOME AND CAN DANCE
TRADITIONAL DANCE REGALIA
REGALIA OPTIONAL

   We have never been to a really big inter tribal Pow Wow such as is held at larger venues, but would welcome the opportunity.  I have always felt welcome at the many Pow Wows I have been to, both here and elsewhere.  American Indian communities are invariably welcoming and friendly to visitors but if there is a serious religious ceremony involved,  attendance may be limited to tribal members.
Pow Wows are held on Indian time and a white man must show some patience.
   I once asked impatiently, "When does this thing start?"  Answer: "When everyone gets here,"  a perfectly logical attitude in a traditional culture that evolved without clocks and modern transportation.
    At the opening ceremony of one Pow Wow I attended the sacred eagle staff was accidentally dropped, the announcer exclaiming, "What the hell do we do now?"
   The answer came from somewhere, "Stop everything and ask one of the elders,"  and everything came to a sudden  and painfully long halt.
   The neighboring Red Cliff Reservation (The Rez) has many problems, among them alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, crime and ignorance, but these severe challenges are in many ways balanced by a culture that respects its traditions and its elders, and is sharing and compassionate in ways that go far beyond the parameters of the greater society. Many of their social problems stem from being in essence an often defeated and abused people, but they refused to give up.
    When the Ojibwe say, "Everyone is invited to the feast," they actually mean it.
    Diversity is our strength, liberty is our bond.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ALMANAC RETROSPECTIVE: THE COAST GUARD


COAST GUARD FLAG

COAST GUARD ICE RESCUE PRACTICE IN MARCH
BAYFIELD COAST GUARD STATION'S 45' PATROL BOAT
FISHING TUGS STILL OPERATING
Wednesday, 9:30 AM.  20 degrees F at the ferry dock, 18 on the back porch.  Wind E, gusty at times. The sky is cloudy, overcast and foggy and it is snowing, with an expected accumulation of another 4.5".  High today mid 20's and pretty much the same for the balance of the week, with a steady barometer and cloudy skies, but no additional snow.
   We have lived for almost eighteen years with  Coast Guard families occupying the house next door.  These are usually young people with small children, and they brighten our lives.  We have always found them to be good neighbors and dedicated to their work and the community.  No retrospective of our lives in Bayfield would be complete without giving special recognition to the Coast Guard and its Guardians.
   The ferry is still running, the fishing tugs will go out until the ice is too thick, and freighters still ply the big lake and may need medical assistance, so the Coast Guard stays on the ready; and when the ice is too thick to operate boats they will maintain ice rescue readiness.  When they can no longer sail they rely on wind sled and helicopter.
   I think the Coast Guard is not always given the same respect as the other branches of our uniformed services, but it requires as much dedication to duty, and in many respects is just as dangerous or more so, as duty in the other services.  The Coast Guard is often deployed to serve hazardous overseas duty in unfamiliar foreign waters, where it is subject to enemy action, and they routinely interdict drug traffickers and smugglers.   Even here in quiet Bayfield, the Coast Guard is at the ready.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

ALMANAC RETROSPECTIVE: ALL GOD'S CREATURES

BLACK BEAR

BALD EAGLE

PILEATED WOODPECKER


RUFFED GROUSE
COYOTE

WHITE TAIL DEER
Tuesday, 10:30 AM.  Ten degrees F at the ferry dock, 14 on the back porch.  Wind NNW, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is partly sunny, the humidity 72%.  The barometer is falling, now at 30.18".  High today and tomorrow low to mid-20's, with snow flurries tomorrow and a wintry mix the balance of the week.
   Of all the everyday blessings of life in Bayfield  the greatest for us is the opportunity to see and interrelate with wildlife: birds and bears and deer and coyotes; even to hear a wolf occasionally if not to actually see one.  One does not have to be a hunter or dedicated bird watcher or go to any great lengths to enjoy this simple pleasure.  One is as likely to see wildlife on an evening drive or just sitting looking out the window as if one searches for it (although having a bird feeder and being an outdoors person certainly increases one's chances) but observing wildlife is literally as easy as watching TV, and a lot more interesting.
   I no longer hunt or even go out of my way to fish much, but I enjoy and appreciate "All God's creatures, great and small," more than ever, and we will miss this Bayfield amenity perhaps more than any other, and will hope to find wildlife to appreciate in Texas.

Monday, December 11, 2017

ALMANAC RETROSPECTIVE: THE LAKE IS BOSS

LITTLE SPIRIT MOON

RED SKY AT NIGHT, SAILOR'S DELIGHT

A NOR'EASTER LASTS THREE DAYS
A "THOUSAND FOOTER"

Monday, 9:00 AM.  22 degrees F at the ferry dock, 20 on the back porch.  Wind WSW, calm at present.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, the humidity 92% and it is snowing lightly.  High today will be in the upper 20's, becoming colder with wind and snow tomorrow, followed by temperatures in the upper teens to mid-20s with snow showers for the rest of the week.  We are living in the Bayfield snow globe once again.
   The next week or so of posts will be retrospective topics concerning Bayfield, beginning with today's post about weather and the Big Lake.
   Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water in the world, 31,000 square miles.  It creates its own weather systems and influences wind, temperatures, rainfall and snow depth, considerably altering the continental climate of the land masses surrounding it.  It has influenced the endemic Native American cultures which lived on its shores, and every aspect of immigrant life, from logging and mining and farming to trading and manufacturing, and continues to dominate life today on its shores and its waters.

   A few of my observation of the lake at Duluth several years ago:
  • The fog drifts in and out, alternately dense in early morning and then disappearing, to reveal all it had hidden: "Things seen and unseen, known and unknown," a metaphor for the mysteries of life.
  • The spruce trees sway and dance in the north wind, while the white caps toss smaller boats to and fro like flotsam on the water.
  • Wraith-like, the shape-shifting fog billows over and about the waters, revealing or hiding all at its  pleasure.
  • Nine small white power boats, possibly a fishing fleet, head out from the harbor entrance, fanning out at last in groups of three.  One lone, spire-like sail boat remains behind.  The boats appear to be no more than white caps as they recede in the vastness of the lake.
  • What looks like a very small boat sits a half mile off shore, its wind screen glinting on and off in the sun like a beacon, as it bounces about on the choppy water.
  • Threading the needle: A laker the length of several football fields steams at ten knots towards the harbor entrance, a concrete channel perhaps three times the length of the ship, and scarcely wider. The ship is deftly piloted into the narrow opening and it quickly passes through this "eye of the needle"into the  safety of the capacious harbor to load or unload its cargo.
  • Evening: The waters are becalmed, reflecting the the blue sky and gray-mauve clouds.  The sky is akin to a painter's canvas, the colors applied with broad, sweeping strokes.  The raven sits on its perch, and a few gulls coast by, deftly riding the occasional updrafts.
  • The ancient spruces, still visible in the twilight, sway to and fro in the increasing night wind, stately performers in an ancient tribal dance.  Now they are increasingly animated, encouraged in their gyrations by the  strong breeze.  They need chants and drums, and a fire to dance around, to reflect their wild images into the burgeoning dark.
 ""By the shoresof Gitche Gumee, by the big se Shining Water, Stands the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon Nokomis" thus begins Hawthorne's epic poem Hiawatha, a collection of tales gleaned from Ojibwe stories about their demi-god Winneboojo.  Read it to gain insight into the great lake and its original people.


NOR'EASTERS
Art Ode

When I was a kid
My father, of Lake Michigan
said:
A Nor'easter will last three days

Here on the  Lake called Superior
The Ojibwe's  Gitche Gume
Hawthorne's Big Sea Shining Water
The winds blow fierce,  dangerous, forever
and a Nor'easter lasts three days

'Twas a wild, November
Nor'easter
that doomed the Edmond Fitzgerald
that sank it with all of its hands
deep  in the belly of the monster

The lake, it is told
has a heart that's too cold
to ever give up its dead
As old lake captains say
'bout the storm that sad day
'twas a Nor'easter that lasted three days

November 11, 2017 was the 42nd anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Edmond Fitzgerald with  all its crew of twenty-nine.  As the old lake captains say, "The lake is boss."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Sunday, December 10, 2017

BAYFIELD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

A FOREST OF CHRISTMAS TREES

FOUNTAIN GARDEN PARK

11TH STREET

THE LUTHERAN CHURCH

2ND AND WASHINGTON AVE.

MADELINE ISLAND INFORMATION CENTER
Sunday, 9:30 AM.  22 degrees F at the ferry dock, 19 on the back porch.  Wind N, light with a few stronger gusts.  The sky is again overcast and cloudy, the humidity 80%, but it is not snowing.  The barometer is still rising, now at 29.89".  Highs today will be in the low twenties, with sunshine in the afternoon;  then a bit warmer with snow flurries tomorrow, with a wintry mix of weather thereafter for the rest of the week.
   Since announcing our move from Bayufield yesterday we are viewing this Christmas season with even more nostalgia than usual.  We have lived here for seventeen years, the longest Joan and I have lived anywhere in the almost fifty years of our marriage. There have been progressively fewer holiday decorations as the years have gone by, since so many residences have become second homes.
    I don't want to get ahead of myself in creating a retrospective of The Almanac, so will leave it there for now.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

THE GARDENING ANGEL IS MOVING TO TEXAS

.
SNOWED IN GARDENING ANGEL
Saturday, 9:00 AM.  12 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch as well.  Wind N with moderate gusts.  The sky is again overcast and cloudy, the humidity 76%.  It is snowing lightly.  The barometer is just topping out and steady at 30.31" before descending again.  Highs today will in the mid to upper teens, continuing cloudy and cold until strong winds and snow flurries arrive on Monday.
   The gardening angel in the herb garden will be moving to a warmer climate, as we have accepted an offer on our Bayfield home and will be relocating to Texas.  It's time for the old folks to be nearer to family.
   Baring complications, we will close on January 31, so it is also time to start wrapping up the Almanac, and put the decade of its commentary into some sort of perspective.  Don't stop visiting our web site just yet, as that will take a few more posts, and we do have some plans for the future, but as for now the news is that the gardening angel is moving to Texas.
  
  

Friday, December 8, 2017

TIME FOR THAT SECOND CUP OF COFFEE


NEW DAY DAWNING

 Friday, 8:00 AM.  Wind NNE, calm with occasional light to moderate gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, the humidity 74%. The barometer is taking a dip, now at 29.98", before rising again.  High today will be in the low 20's, becoming colder and windy tomorrow,  with sunny skies in the afternoon, 
   This morning's dawn was cold and dark, yet each day is filled with its own challenges and promises, if we can but wake up and see them.
   Time for that second cup of coffee.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH

BAYFIELD YACHT CLUB DOCK
Thursday, PEARL HARBOR DAY, 8:00 AM.  13 degrees F at the ferry dock, 11 on the back porch.  Wind SW, calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is overcast with snow showers, the humidity 72%.  The barometer has begun to fall, now at 30.15".  The highs today and tomorrow will be in the low 20's.  Wintry skies will continue, with snow showers ending this morning but commencing Friday night.
   We did our weekly shopping in Ashland yesterday afternoon, and the weather was miserable. Chequamegon Bay was dark and angry, the wind and snow flurries biting.  We did our best to get back in time for the Wednesday evening Advent service at Christ Episcopal Church, but the weather won out.
   The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on this date in December, 1941, plunging the world into WWII.  I was too young to really remember that infamous day, but I well remember cousins going off to war shortly thereafter.
   We were asleep at the switch on that fateful Sunday morning; let's not repeat the same mistake seventy six years later, when it would mean loosing a great city and hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MORE WINTER WEATHER

ICE COVERED YOUNG RIVER BIRCH S IN BAYFIELD

SNOWY LANE ALONG HWY. 13
Wednesday, 9:30 AM.  14 degrees F both thermometers. Wind WNW, gusty at times.  The sky is cloudy, overcast and foggy, the humidity 79%. The barometer is rising, now at 29,92".  Highs today in the low 20's with snow continuing, now at a depth of 6"-7".  Cold and cloudy weather will continue for the balance of the week.  Buddy has become an inside dog.
   Yesterday's trip back and forth to Duluth was long and arduous, over bumpy, iced roads...with nary a snowflake present at the end of the lake, a winter rarity indeed.
   We will brave the elements again today for our weekly shopping trip to Ashland.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A GAMECHANGER (pretty, though)

HEAVY FOG,,,
FOLLOWED BY WIND AND SNOW

Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  Wind W, light with strong gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, with heavy fog and snow showers, humidity 87%.  The barometer is rising, now at 29.5".  High today around 20, with snow showers contiuing until around noon; cold with snow showers tomorrow.  Snow depth at the house 4'-5', less downtown.
   The front moved in yesterday evening at 6:30 PM, announced by a loud clap of thunder and the sound of heavy rain and hail on the living room skylight.  This Nor'easter threatens to be a game changer, as we leave momentarily for an appointment in Duluth (pretty, though).

Monday, December 4, 2017

A MOBILE TINY HOUSE


A TINY HOUSE...
....IT EVEN HAS A BACK DECK


Monday, 9:00 AM.  40 degrees F at the ferry dock, 38 on the back porch.  Wind ENE, calm with occasional moderate gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, the humidity 91%.  The barometer is falling, now at 29.54".  High today low 40's, dropping precipitously to around 20 tomorrow with snow and gusting wind, and colder thereafter.  Looks like winter is coming on with a vengeance.
   We all have watched with some amazement the explosion of "tiny houses" on the DIY network TV channel.  Can't say as I would want to live in one, but they can be intriguing.
   This obviously home made mobile house was built on an ancient Mack flatbed truck with an over-the=engine cab.  It even has a back deck to lounge on.  I didn't ask for a tour, they would have had to hoist me up with a crane.
   It was being  filled up at the Red Cliff gas station.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

DECEMBER FULL MOON

MANIDOO-GIZIISOONS....

...THE LITTLE SPIRIT MOON
Sunday, 9:00 AM.  34 degrees F at the ferry dock, 29 on the back porch.  Wind SW, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is partly cloudy with some low overcast, the humidity 100%.  The barometer is beginning to fall, now at 30.32".  Highs today and Monday will be around 40, then temperatures will drop, with rain tomorrow.  I think we have had our Indian summer.
   I was driving through Washburn yesterday evening as the full moon rose, an unbelievably beautiful sight on a cloudless evening.  I turned toward the lake and drove out on the old coal dock to look at it, and there were a number of cars there with people who had the same spontaneous idea, and a lot, like myself, were taking photos.  Tonight will be a so-called supermoon, when the full moon is closest to the earth in its orbit.  It evidently didn't qualify for that nomination last evening but it must have been pretty close.
   The December full moon is called Manidoo-Giziisoons, the Little Spirit Moon, in the Ojibwe language.  Looking at the spectacular  moon, it was easy to understand how the Indians kept track of time by counting the moons, without emphasizing years, particularly since they were a largely pre-agricultural society that didn't have the necessity of determining exact spring planting times.