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Thursday, March 30, 2017

A GOOD EYE

BOARD WALK, MADELINE ISLAND TOWN PARK (Photo by Katie Bridgeforth)...

...BEACH ON MADELINE ISLAND (photo by Katie Bridgeforth)...

...TOWN PARK, MADELINE ISLAND (photo by Katie Bridgeforth)
Friday, 8:00 AM.  36 degrees F at the ferry dock, 34 on the back porch.  Wind NE, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is clear with a bit of haze, the humidity 85%. The barometer is rising, now at 30.07".  Mostly clear skies are predicted for the the next ten day, with highs in the 40's and 50's and lows mostly above freezing, with no significant precipitation.
   Daughter Eva, son-in-law Doug and granddaughter Katie are visiting from Denver, and took the ferry to Madeline Island yesterday to do some sightseeing.  They hiked the Town Park which is on the west side of the island. It is very attractive, with boardwalks, stairs down the bluff to the beach, and a river with an inlet from the lake.
   Katie, who  is a high school sophomore,  took a photography class last semester and received a Nikon through-the-lens digital camera for Christmas.  She took the accompanying photos.
   She has a good eye

ALL ICED OVER AGAIN

CHEQUAMEGON BAY AT ASHLAND, ALL ICED OVER AGAIN
Thursday, 8:00 AM.  34 degrees F at the ferry dock, 33 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm.  The skies are mostly high and cloudy, the humidity 90%. The barometer is falling, now at 30.09".  The forecast calls for high temperatures in the 40's and 59's, the lows above freezing. The winds should be moderate at best, with no significant precipitation.  March is going out like a lamb in our region, at least.
   Several days ago the view of the Bay at Ashland was all open water, no ice.  Yesterday it was iced over again,  Chequamegon Bay full of pack ice, blown in from the open lake by a brisk NE wind.
   It won't last long, but Chequamegon  Bay is all iced over again.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

FIRST ROBINS OF SPRING

FIRST ROBINS OF SPRING

THE BEACH, YESTERDAY

Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  35 degrees F at the ferry dock, 32 on the back porch.  Wind NE, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, with the sun struggling to shine through, the humidity 85%.  The barometer has begun to fall, currently at 30.37".  The next ten days are predicted to have high temperatures in the 40's and 50's, with mixed skies and no precipitation.
   We saw our first robins of the spring this morning; they must have arrived yesterday. Robin migration is very complicated, with some flocks not moving very far and others flying great distances.  It is a fascinating subject, about which I personally know very little.
   Yesterday afternoon was sunny and the temperatures rose to nearly 50 degrees, so Buddy and I took the opportunity to go to the beach for a run and a walk, respectively.  It still is not good weather for shorts, and certainly not for dipping a toe in the water, but most of the ice is melted or blown away.
An occasional fisherman is wading the upper reaches of the Sioux River, but I think it is still too early for trout and salmon to run from the lake up rivers to their spawning beds.
   Daughter Eva, son-in-law Doug and granddaughter Katie arrived from Denver yesterday evening; grandson Nick is back in Denver attending college.  Their mission is to move the piano from Bayfield to Denver with a U-Haul trailer.  We may or may not miss some posts for a few days.




Monday, March 27, 2017

LOCKED HORNS: A BATTLE TO THE DEATH OF BOTH COMBATANTS



LOCKED HORNS (Google photo)...

A BATTLE TO THE DEATH, WITH NO VICTOR (Google photo)





Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  31 degrees F at the ferry dock, 30 on the back porch.  Wind SSW, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is clear with some haze, the humidity 92%.  The barometer is rising, currently at 30.18" of mercury.  The weather for the next week is predicted to have mixed skies, with high temperatures in the 40's and lows above freezing. with some chances of showers.  It is a beautiful, quiet morning, filled with bird song.
   The Democrats and Republicans have really been at it again, with accusations by each of the other doing what amounts to treason.  Well, perhaps they are both right, but that's about par for the course these days.
   The fights over whether to repair or replace Obamacare and immigration, and the virtually futile struggle over the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, have all been filled with unbelievable rancor, and the impossibility of achieving any real progress.  Some commentators have characterized their actions as having "locked horns" with each other.  The standard dictionary definitions of the phrase are pretty mild, such as "challenging each other," or "involved in controversy."
   In nature, "to lock horns" means a fight to the death, and it is invariably a fight to the deaths of both  combatants.  Their horns being inextricably intertwined, and the animals exhausted to the point of death, they finally die of thirst or are killed and eaten by predators.
   "Locked horns" is an idiom not to be used casually, and in the case of the two political parties, a fate to be avoided at all costs if they wish to survive.  American voters are tired of this insanity, and are in a mood to jettison them both.
  I see no victor in this dangerous political game of locking horns which,  if it continues, will almost certainly lead to the death of both parties.

FOG AGAIN

FOGGY BAYFIELD
Monday, 9:00 AM.  32+ degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch, just above freezing.  Wind variable and calm.  The sky is overcast and it is foggy again, the humidity 95%.  The barometer is rising, now at 30.0".  The forecast calls for mixed skies and warming temperatures for the next ten days.
   FOG SONG
Denel Kessler
The night so long
Ships calling
Stay away, come

Sunday, March 26, 2017

BRING THE OUTSIDE IN!

PUSSY WILLOW AND RED OSIER DOGWOOD (don't forget to put water in the container)
Sunday, 9:00 AM.  33 degrees F on both thermometers.  Wind variable, mostly calm with light gusts.Humidity is 95%, and it is foggy and drizzling.  The barometer stands steady, at 30.01".  Weather for the next ten days is predicted to be mostly more of the same, with some clearing and temperatures warming up into the forties and higher, with lows around freezing.
   The red twig, or red osier, dogwood shrub, Cornus stolonifera, in the Dogwood Family (Cornaceae) is particularly beautiful and useful in the native landscape.  It usually occupies wet areas but will grow on drier sites as well.  The species name, stolonifera, refers to its growth habit of spreading by stolons, or underground stems.  This characteristic makes it very valuable for stabilizing stream banks and wet hillsides, but also renders it pretty invasive in the smaller landscape.
Fortunately there is a horticultural selection of the plant, Cornus 'Baleyi' that does not spread and can be used to good advantage in the home landscape.  The red osier also flowers and fruits very nicely, and thus offers year-round visual interest.  There is also a yellow-twig dogwood of European origin, Cornus alba,  which is a nice contrast to the red in the winter landscape. Many willows also offer winter contrasts of yellow to orange.
   The native pussy willow, Salix discolor, in the willow family (Salicaceae), is almost ubiquitous in the eastern and Mid-western US and northern Canada.  It is a large shrub to small, multi-trunked tree with gray bark and simple leaves without teeth (or very finely serrated); leaves are shiny green on top, gray underneath.  It occupies wet spots along roadside ditches, stream banks and similar wet areas
   Late winter and early spring doldrums can be relieved by bringing these and other dormant branches inside, where they will soon leaf out and some even flower. 
   Bring the outside in!
   

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SWAMP WHITE OAK

SWAMP WHITE OAK TREES HOLD THEIR LEAVES THROUGHOUT THE WINTER...

...WINTER LEAF...

...AS A YOUNG STREET TREE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO
Saturday, 9:00 AM.  33 degrees F at the ferry dock, 31 on the back porch.  Wind ENE, very gusty at times.  The sky is overcast, the humidity 88%.  The barometer is falling, now at 30.25".  The forecast calls for ice pellets tomorrow, followed by temperatures in the 40's and lows around freezing, with mixed skies, for the balance of the week.
   A tree that stands out in the winter landscape and into spring is the swamp white oak, Quercus bicolor, which is not native to the far north but is nevertheless  quite hardy. The swamp white oak is a good, dependable street tree, and is quite adaptable, despite its common name. Trees of riverbanks and swamps are usually suitable to drier sites because they have adapted to fluctuating water tables. We have planted a number in Bayfield but they  are still small.
  

Friday, March 24, 2017

A NEW SQUIRREL CONDO

SQUIRREL CONDOMINIUM
A  COOL, DAMP, FOGGY MORNING
Friday, 8:15 AM.  32 degrees F both at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the skies overcast and foggy, humidity 96%.  The barometer is rising, now at 29.99".  It is a damp, foggy, quiet morning and looks to be so for the weekend at least, then it is forecast to warm up into the forties and more late next week with some clearing of skies and the possibility of precipitation.
   We have been without heat for ten days but a new furnace is going in right now.  As my mother used to say:
    "you can get used to anything."
   "You can get used to hanging, if you hang long enough."
   There is an old sugar maple up the road that is being worked on by a pileated woodpecker.  The excavations are perfectly sized for squirrel nests.  Sort of a squirrel condominium.  I think pileated woodpeckers eat acorns, and that would certainly be a good rental agreement for the squirrels if they do.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

AH, SPRING, WHEN A YOUNG BIRD'S FANCY TURNS TO LOVE!

A PAIR OF NATIVE TUNDRA SWANS ON LOWER CHEQUAMEGON BAY...

...NOTE THE BLACK BILL

Cornell Ornithology Lab

DOESN'T LOOK MUCH LIKE SPRING
Thursday, 8:15 AM.  30 degrees F at the ferry dock, 28 on the back porch.  Wind S, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky has a high overcast, and the humidity is 91% after a dusting of snow that left walking iffy.  The barometer is falling, currently at 30.25".  The forecast calls for overcast skies, temperatures around freezing and chances of precipitation.  Enough already!
   We saw our first migrating native tundra (also called whistling) swans of spring yesterday on lower Chequamegon Bay, just outside of Ashland, yesterday.  We assume we will see a lot more of them from now on. 
   The Chequamegon Bay region is a good stopover for them on their way to northern Canada and Alaska in the spring; they often pass over us on a good tailwind in the fall.  Note their black bills, which easily distinguishes them from the European mute swans, which have orange bills.  We sometimes see the later as escapees from captivity that are able to fly (have not had their wings pinioned).  The somewhat larger and quite rare trumpeter swan is quite similar in appearance to the tundra swan but larger.
   I also saw two bald eagles flying over the ice in what was obviously part of a mating ritual.  Sort of a first date, I would guess.  The swans are obviously already paired up.
   Ah, spring, when a young bird's fancy turns to love!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TAG ALDER CATKINS

TAG ALDER MALE CATKINS

...HAVE ELONGATED BUT ARE NOT YET SHEDDING POLLEN
 Wednesday, 8;30 AM.  22 degrees F at the ferry dock, 20 on the back porch.  Wind variable with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is partly cloudy, the humidity low, at 63%.  Today will be cooler than yesterday, but temperatures will warm into the 40's tomorrow and Friday, with a chance of rain.  The thermometer will then drop back to around freezing, with mixed skies.
   Gulls and geese are raising a ruckus along the lake shore this morning, as they begin to mate and establish territory.  Up here on the bluffs the mourning gulls are calling, as are the chickadees, and the woodpeckers are drumming on trees.  These are the sounds of spring.
   Tag alder, Alnus incana subspecies rugosa, in the birch family (Betulaceae), are nearly omnipresent large shrubs or small trees with multiple trunks in the northern landscape.  With speckled, shiny dark brown bark on young stems and trunks tag alder is easily confused with young birch saplings (see post of 4/06/15) when both are dormant, except for the persistent dried female "cones"(technically called a strobile)  that hang on the alders after seeds are shed. 
   The long, pendulous, worm-like male catkins of the alder, usually hanging in groups of three, are also very distinctive, both catkins and cones occurring on the same plant. Leaves are simple and toothed.  There are still a few "cones" left on alders at this point, but most have disintegrated and fallen off by now.  The catkins are fully developed but have not yet opened to shed their pollen, as the new female flowers buds are not mature and have not opened as yet.
   The tag alder, or speckled alder, is native in the far northeast of the North American Continent and around the Great Lakes, and inhabits wet locations, roadside ditches and disturbed areas almost to the point of ubiquity. It is replaced in the northwest  of the continent and western mountains by the thinleaf alder, and it hybridizes with the gray alder in the east.  The complicated hybridizations of these species are beyond my expertise.
   The tag alder is one of the very first plants to bloom in the north, often as early as late March, and their flowering will be completed by the end of April.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

JE ACCUSE...FISHING WITH WORMS!


A FLY FISHERMAN,... MEMBER OF AN ELITE SOCIETY


Tuesday, 9:00 AM.  25 degrees F both at the ferry dock and on the back porch. Wind NW, constant and strong. Skies mostly clear, the humidity a low 66%.  The barometer is rising, currently at 30.36".  Today will be cool but sunny, Tomorrow a bit warmer and sunny, Thursday warmer  still with a chance of rain, then cooling off to around freezing, with wintry weather.  The sap buckets will be full this afternoon.
   I believe that Buddy, whom I have from the start of our relationship identified as an English Pointer, is actually an Italian Pointer, as last night he polished off all the leftover Chicken Alfredo, peas and all.  That's OK, we're all immigrants, but I don't think he would make a good Supreme Court Justice, his heritage and considerable talents notwithstanding. 
   Continuing in that vein, today will be the start of questioning by the Senate of Judge Niel Gorsuch, the President's nominee for the Supreme Court to replace that famed magistrate of Italian descent, Antonin Scallia. I have good information that contrary to most expectations, the nomination will not be easy, as the Democrats will accuse Gorsuch of one of the greatest crimes known to man, or at least to fly fishermen, that elite group of sportsmen to which the candidate claims to be a member in good standing.
   My sources tell me that Gorsuch, who has made great claims to be a fly fishermen, will be accused of an apostasy, a crime against humanity,  that greatest calumny of all, which he will probably deny and thus perjure himself:
   Fishing with worms!

Monday, March 20, 2017

GOING TO GET AN EVICTION NOTICE!

It'S INSIDE, AND DOESN'T HAVE ANY FEATHERS...

...THIS RED SQUIRREL IS GOING TO GET AN EVICTION NOTICE!
Monday, 8:30 AM. 41 degrees F at the ferry dock,  40 on the back porch.  Wind N, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The humidity is 68%, the barometer is steady, at 30.14".  The forecast calls for cooling temperatures today and tomorrow, then dropping into the 20's for a few days, then warming into the 30's and 40's with cloudy weather and chances of rain.
   Yesterday, while on a job site on Chequamegon Road, I heard a flock of geese making a tremendous ruckus on nearby Pike's Bay.  Maybe they were complaining because they flew there all the way from wherever to find it still frozen over.
   Yesterday, while having my morning coffee, I saw a  furry red tail sticking out of the bird house on the back porch.  The tail was suddenly withdrawn inside, and just as suddenly a little red head stuck out. Then the diminutive red squirrel bolted out the entrance and off the porch.  
   Just as quickly he (or she) returned, and did it all over again, much too quickly for me to photograph its activities; maybe next time.
   In any event, this little imposter has no feathers, and so will receive an eviction notice shortly!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

SPRING, THE RELUCTANT CHILD

A CHILL, SOMBER MORNING

Sunday, 8:45 AM.  26 degrees F at the ferry dock, 25 on the back porch.  Wind SSW, calm with occasional light gusts  The sky is mostly cloudy, the sun not making much of an impact thus far.  The humidity is 88%, the barometer 30.30" and falling.  The forecast predicts highs into the high 40's today and tomorrow, then cooling off some with rain towards next weekend.
   Buddy and I had a rather chill and uneventful walk this morning.
   The calendar indicates that it is spring and the sun agrees, but spring is a reluctant child.

Friday, March 17, 2017

IT EMERGED FROM THE FOG LIKE A GHOST FROM THE PAST





Saturday, 8:45 AM.  29 degrees F at the ferry dock, 28 on the back porch.  Wind NW, moderate with stronger gusts.  The sky is mostly overcast and cloudy, with a patch of blue here and there.  The humidity is 82% after a dusting of snow over ice that made walking hazardous.  The barometer is rising, now at 30.25", predicting much warmer weather Sunday and Monday, which will then revert to colder and more wintry weather.  Old Man Winter has us in his death grip, and won't let go.
   The heavy fog held on all yesterday, giving me the opportunity to do this photographic study of Bayfiel's Nineteenth Century iron bridge, which in the old days connected the protestant and Catholic 
sides of town.
   Yesterday it emerged from the fog like a ghost from the past.

Fog

Related Poem Content Details

The fog comes 
on little cat feet. 

It sits looking 
over harbor and city 
on silent haunches 
and then moves on.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

THEY'RE BA.....CK!


PILEATED WOODPECKER EATING CRABAPPLES

video

 EUROPEAN LARCH ON TENTH ST.


WOODS ACROSS TENTH ST. FROM OUR HOUSE

Friday, 9:00 AM.  32 degrees at the ferry dock, 31 on the back porch.Wind variable and calm.  The sky is overcast and foggy and it has been snowing, about 2" of sticky, heavy stuff at this point.  The humidity is 94%, the barometer is bottoming out, currently at 29,92".  The forecast calls for warmer temperatures this afternoon (which should melt the snow) and for much warmer temperatures Sunday and Monday, then getting colder again, with a wintry mix of skies and weather into the following week.
   Yesterday afternoon the pileated woodpecker returned to the crabapple tree on the south side of the house to feast on the crabapples. He is becoming a frequent visitor, and is loosing some of his shyness.
   I hope the video works, I'm new at some of this stuff.
   They're ba...ck.

I PROBABLY NEED A SHOWER

NATIVE PUSSY WILLOW FLOWER BUDS LOSING THEIR SCALES...

...AND A NICE AFTERNOON AT THE BEACH...

...WITH THE CHANNEL REFROZEN

DEER IN THE WOODS ON OLD MILITARY ROAD THIS MORNING
Thursday, 9:00 AM.  Temperature 20 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind SSW, mostly calm with very light gusts.  The sky is clear with some haze in the east, the humidity 71%.  The barometer is taking a nose dive, but is still at 30.27".  A warming trend is predicted, with light snow tomorrow and again towards the end of next week.
   The weather of late is sure a contradiction in terms.  It was a nice afternoon for a walk on the beach with Buddy yesterday, but the channel is refrozen and looks like Siberia. 
   The pussy willows are loosing their bud scales, but the mornings have been frigid.
   The lower Cheaquamegon Bay at Ashland was open a few days ago but is refrozen, and two fishermen were venturing out on it yesterday afternoon when I entered  Ashland; I didn't see them when I left.  Fish Creek on Hwy. 2 near Ashland is refrozen, but two geese have returned and were looking for a nesting site yesterday.  Spring is always by definition a contradiction in terms.
   Standing still for a moment at the top of the hill on Old Military Road this mornng, I was startled by a nearby sound.  Looking up, I saw three deer looking at buddy and me, invaders of their woods. I have heard a "buck snort" in the woods, but never before so close.  The lead deer snorted, bounded off a bit, stopped and looked at us again and snorted; it did this three times, a loud exhaling sound, almost like a dog's "woof."
   The sound was literally one of disgust, as though I smelled bad. I Probably need a shower.
 
   
  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!! THE RUSSIANS ARE AHEAD OF US...

 DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, THE ETERNAL MYSTERY

Wednesday, 8:15 AM: 19 degrees F at the ferry dock, 17 on the back porch.  The wind is variable. and calm at present.  The sky is clear, the humidity 82%.  The barometer is falling, now at 30.46".  The forecast is for warmer weather but mostly cloudy and overcast skies, with some intermittent precipitation.
“Spring ahead, fall behind,” I’ve finally got it straight, late in life. But that doesn’t make it any easier, and Daylight Saving Time arrived even earlier this year.   Joan and I don’t like it, but it doesn’t seem to bother Lucky who has his own internal clock independent of any human foolishness. He knows when it is time to eat, time to sleep and time to take a pee; he has all of life's essentials covered.
   The atomic clock (is it powered by atoms, does it count atoms...what does it do?) does make it easier and more likely to change the clocks in the right direction, as long as someone adjusts it somewhere up on Cloud Nine or wherever it resides.  I sure hope nobody hacks into it and scrambles it all up, as we would truly be in trouble then. As the old saying goes, “It isn’t nice to fool Mother Nature.”
   We heard someone on TV say, “It will be nice to have more daylight.” Someone should tell her that there is the same amount of daylight, determined by the sun, whether there is daylight savings time or not.
   A number of years ago a visiting Russian scientist told me that one of their remote time zones   (Russia has 11)) went on daylight saving time with the rest of the country during World War II, but some apparatchik forgot to turn the clock back in the fall, and then the next spring the time zone’s clocks were set ahead again, so there were two hours of daylight savings time.  Everyone got so confused they just left it that way, winter and summer. The birch trees didn’t complain and neither did the residents of the gulags.
    The Russians are light years ahead of us in one respect at least; they got rid of Daylight Saving Time a few years back.
  
   

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

AND YOU KNOW WHAT JACK AND I THINK THEY CAN DO WITH THAT!



AN OLD FISHING TUG, MOLDERING AWAY ON ROCKY ACRES BERRY FARM
 BLACK-PHASE BALD EAGLE
 SPOTTED (IMMATURE) BALD EAGLE


Tuesday, 8:45 AM.  17 degrees F at the ferry dock, 23 degrees on the back porch.  Wind variable, and calm at present.  The sky is mostly clear, the humidity 78%.  The barometer is dropping very slowly, now at 30.58", predicting warmer (into the 30's) and uneventful weather for the week ahead.
  I wrote Jack and the Eagles for the 1/08/09 post of the Almanac.  I got to thinking again about old Jack and his eagles after a magnificent bald eagle swept low over the truck yesterday while I was driving on Hwy. 13, and decided to reprint it in Jack's memory and as part of my continuing protest of the Great American Nanny State.
JACK AND THE EAGLES

  Jack is a berry farmer and is even older and crustier than I am. You have to be a tough old bird to make a living growing berries.
   In the old days on the big lake, if the fishing wasn't good for a few years a fisherman might sell his boat and buy a berry farm; and conversely if the berry farm wasn't doing well, might sell it and buy a boat.
   Jack was a fisherman in his younger days, and watched the gulls and eagles from his boat. Some of his old fishing tugs now ply his berry fields, moldering away, joining sea to land. When he became a landlubber he missed his birds, and forty years ago [maybe a half century now] started putting fish heads and entrails that he got from his old haunts onto his fields in the winter to attract the birds.
   First came the gulls and eventually the eagles, and for about six weeks each winter, until the eagles went off to mate and nest, anyone could watch Jack’s birds from his berry patch parking lot. Eagles perched by the dozens in the surrounding trees, chased the gulls, and did aerial acrobatics. One could watch their social interactions, observe their flight patterns and see their various plumage stages. Occasionally one might see a huge golden eagle, or an osprey. It was great, innocent fun. The eagles aren’t around this year, and I knew why even before I asked Jack about them while having coffee in the Northern Edge yesterday morning.
   “They shut me down,” he groused, hurt and angry. That didn’t surprise me, as I could come up with a number of reasons why it might not be a good idea to feed the eagles their fish. After all, we can’t have dump bears anymore, because the bears become a nuisance. We can’t feed deer in the southern part of the state for fear it will spread chronic wasting disease (but baiting has been encouraged in the north, to help  hunters reduce the herd…go figure that one out). Maybe Jack’s enterprise was upsetting the eagles’ natural routines (or maybe not). Maybe it encouraged disease (or maybe not). Maybe it actually benefited the eagles by making them stronger for mating (or maybe not). For every eagle maybe, there's a "maybe not." I asked him what laws they cited, and he replied, “They said I needed a solid waste disposal license to put a few fish on my land, and a CDL drivers license to haul a couple boxes of fish.” Nothing at all about eagles.
   Sorry, Jack. Big Brother got you…you were doing something different, something they didn’t like or didn’t understand. “The nail that sticks up will be hammered down," is what Chairman Mao used to say. You can’t be different, be an odd old coot these days, you will get on somebody’s list and they will shut you down. What did you expect, Jack?
   It’s what I have expected would happen from the first time I saw Jack’s eagles. But, what really gets me, is no one even bothered to ask old Jack, a keen life-long observer of eagles, what he had learned about them.
    Can’t be much.
    After all, Jack’s just a crazy old berry farmer who loves eagles.

 ------------------
   Jack is no longer with us, he died shortly after that.  His daughter inherited the berry farm and is doing great.  I don't know where they buried old Jack. I hope it wasn't in a church yard, as I am sure he wouldn't stay there and he would be wandering the countryside trying to find a berry farm or a fishing  tug to haunt.  
   Jack wasn't always a nice old man.  He cussed like a sailor and some of the stories that are told about him will raise at least your eyebrows, and perhaps your hair.  In his lifetime he had some serious brushes with the law, and with the game wardens and the DNR, and they laid for him until they got him.  Spent some time in prison, I am told.
   I heard once about an inveterate old duck hunter who left a codicil in his will that he was to be cremated and his ashes loaded into 12 gauge shot shells and his hunting buddies should load up and go hunting at his favorite ponds and marshes, the ash-filled shells mixed in with the shot shells so that his remains ended up in the places he loved, in the way he loved them.
   I would like to think they cremated old Jack and took his ashes out on the big lake in the middle of a Nor'easter and let him go into the gale to join his eagles.  
   Probably a law against that (yep, since I wrote this a few years back, there is now a law against scattering a loved one's ashes on Lake Superior without a permit).
   AND YOU KNOW WHAT  JACK AND I THINK THEY CAN DO WITH THAT!

Monday, March 13, 2017

FROZEN

FROZEN...AGAIN

GETTING THE LAST DROP...
MONDAY MORNING SURPRISE

Monday, 9:00 AM.  15 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch as well.  The wind is variable and calm, the humidity 89%.  It is snowing and there is heavy fog.  The barometer is steady, at 30.57".  We were surprised to see four plus inches of snow this morning, and it looks like like we will get a lot more.  The forecast for the week ahead is more wintry weather through at least Thursday, then warming up.  March is a fickle month.
   Having promised Buddy I would take him for a run on the beach, we ventured out late yesterday afternoon.  We didn't stay long, as the wind was again blowing a gale, and even though the temperature was in the twenties it was very bitter. The newly formed ice looked as though the waves had been flash frozen, as though the water was still in motion.
   And up in the orchard country, we saw this pitiful old sugar maple, almost hacked in half by woodpeckers, giving up its last drops of sap for maple syrup.

OFF THE CUFF
When The Spying Will Stop
   I think by now we all know there is no longer any privacy.  Everybody, and especially the state, has its nose in everyone else's business.   I used to get upset by all the cameras everywhere, but like a low-grade toothache, I have begun to tolerate and ignore them.  But I have to admit to some paranoia, such as the feeling that I am being surreptitiously filmed when I open the refrigerator door and the light goes on.
  I no longer trust the microwave, and my suspicions about the TV have been confirmed.
  When will all the spying stop?  Will we have to take a sledge hammer to all our modern conveniences, or at best speak in whispers when in their presence?  Will we need to have a revolution? Elections no longer seem to change things.
   Take heart, as I can tell you when the spying will end.  It will stop when women realize that some creep, deep in the bowels of the CIA or FBI digs, is peeking at them in the morning, before they put their makeup on. Not even their husbands get away with that.
   The whole unsavory enterprise, spooks and all, will then disappear like a bad dream, as did the Berlin wall.  Women, united in purpose, will march on Washington like never before, and dismantle the whole seedy enterprise, stone by stone.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

HUNKERING DOWN FOR WHILE YET

ICE FORMING ON THE CHANNEL AGAIN...

BUT STRONG WINDS HAVE KEPT IT OPEN
Sunday, 8:30 AM.  14 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch as well.  Wind NNE, light to moderate.  The sky is mostly clear, the barometer steady for now, at 30.56".  The forecast for the coming week is mostly the same weather pattern, but warming some towards the end of next week, and with no significant precipitation.
   It has been so cold that serious ice is forming on the channel again; but the constant winds have kept it from freezing over.  It would never get thick enough anyway to impede the ferry, or a determined fishing trawler, but it has been bitter cold.
   We'll have to hunker down for a while yet, but spring is on its way.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

PILEATED WOODPECKER EATING CRABAPPLES

PILLEATED WOODPECKER EATING CXRABAPPLES 
PILEATED WOODPECKER...
PILEATED WOODPECKER EATING CRABAPPLES


Saturday, 8:00 AM.  6 degrees F at the ferry dock, the same on the back porch.  Wind NNW, light with stronger gusts.  The sky is mostly clear and sunny, moderating the chill somewhat.  The humidity is relatively low at 63%, the barometer mostly steady at 30.69".  It looks like it will be a beautiful but cold weekend, the wintry weather continuing into next week
   This gorgeous pileated woodpecker was spotted eating crabapples from the flowering crabapple tree on the south side of the house.  I had seen him precariously perched there a day or two ago but he was too wary then for me to snap a photo; as it was I was lucky to get this one, imperfect as it is, because he noticed my slightest, most cautious moves to take the picture.  
   He was so large hat he had a difficult time staying upright on the branch, and spent a lot of time upside down while having breakfast, which makes it doubly hard to swallow.
   Bayfield has a significant population of pileated woodpeckers, the largest of the North American woodpecker clan.  Buddy and I often hear them on our walks, drilling holes in decaying trees to extract grubs, or drumming on trees and other objects to define their territory.  Their depredations look terrible, but insect grubs, which the birds are after, have already done the major damage to the trees, and in nature the excavations made by the woodpeckers provide nesting holes for many different animals and birds.  Folks often blame the woodpeckers for damaging the trees, but in reality the damage has already been done by injury, decay and insects.
  The pileated woodpecker is quite a large bird, roughly the size of a crow, and is very obvious in flight, with an undulating flight pattern and a distinct, laugh-like call.  They are not difficult to observe (at least hereabouts)  if they are present, and if one has even a modicum of patience.
   The natural habitat of pileated woodpeckers are the deciduous and coniferous forests of eastern North America and around the Great Lakes.  The larger ivory-billed woodpecker of the southern forests of North America is quite probably extinct, although there are persistent reports to the contrary.

Friday, March 10, 2017

LUCKY HOMEOWNER

OLD WHITE PINE ON 9TH ST. AND MANYPENNY AVE. ..

...THAT LOST ITS TOP...

...IN THE GALE FORCE WINDS..

...BUT MIRACULOUSLY MISSED THE HOUSE
Friday, 8:00 AM.  2 degrees F, both thermometers.  Wind N, breezy.  The sky is partly cloudy but clearing, the humidity 65%.  The barometer is steady, at 30.17".  The forecast calls for more cold weather with mixed skies for the next week, then snow on Monday and warming up some.  Still winter.
   As I have reported, we had three days of truly ferocious winds, and I expected to see trees down and lots of damage around Bayfield, but there was not much that is evident.  Perhaps that is a tribute to good tree care in the community, perhaps we have had enough strong winds in the last few years that old trees have been previously wind pruned, perhaps it is pure luck.  In any case, the worst damage I have seen is the top blown out of an old white pine on the corner of 9th St. and Manypenny Ave.
   It is a tree I have been watching for some years because it had some structural issues and I was not surprised to see it heavily damaged.  Luck was with the homeowner, however, as the massive trunk snapped off about fifteen feet up and fell in a way that it just missed damaging the house.  The tree should have been taken down previously, and is so damaged now that it will have to be done  anyway.  
   Luck  seldom happens more than once in the same way.