Sunday, April 30, 2017
Bayfield's daffodils are just beginning to bloom, and the weather has turned cold enough again to keep them on hold so they should be spectacular for the annual Bayfield in Bloom celebration and Garden Talk Radio Show on Friday, May 12. That's a good thing.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
|A BAYFIELD ARBOR DAY|
Saturday, 9:30 AM. 37 degrees F at the ferry dock, 39 on the back porch. Wind SE, calm with very light gusts. The sky is clearing, the humidity 74%. The barometer is steady, at 30.40". Today will be in the forties and sunny, but rain and snow are predicted for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, then warmer and clearing the remainder of next week.
Yesterday was the 145th anniversary of the founding of Arbor Day. Established by the Nebraska State Agricultural Board in 1872 at the urging of Nebraska newspaper editor J. Sterling Morton, who was also a politician and briefly the acting governor of the state, it rapidly became a popular event around the nation and beyond. When I was a child Arbor Day was an important grade school event, and it remains so in most states to this day.
Nebraska was at the time, as were other Great Plains states, almost treeless, and it was believed that the prairies were arid because there were no trees. Establishing forests was thought to be able to change the climate, not a completely illogical concept (after all, there was a lot more rain where there were trees) but of course incorrect.
Anyone who still believes this to be true should stand in the middle of The Nebraska National Forest, where one can look over the tops of the stunted, stricken trees to the drouthy Sand Hills on the horizon.
Which brings up the question: what is the Nebraska state tree? Answer: the telephone pole.
Still, Arbor Day caught on because it is a positive and simple thing to do, whether it is a shade tree, a conifer, a flowering tree or a fruit or nut tree that is planted, and another tree is always welcome. We celebrate it here in Bayfield, but several weeks later, as the ground is often still frozen on the official day.
And then there is that imposter, Earth Day, which doubtless was conceived with the express intent of supplanting the original holiday.
Presented as an antidote to all things considered at the moment to be anti-environmental, with flag carrying marchers chanting prayers to Gaea the Earth Goddess and spouting politically correct ideas that everyone had damn well better believe in or at least kowtow to, Earth Day is completely contrary to the political philosophy of Morton, who was what we would call today a small-government libertarian.
Be a Conservative Environmentalist. Celebrate Arbor Day. Plant a tree.
Friday, April 28, 2017
|A COLD, BLUSTERY DAY AT THE BEACH...|
|... ROBINS WILL DO WHEN THERE ARE NO GROUSE AROUND TO POINT|
The cold, dismal weather continued yesterday, but Buddy wanted to go to the beach anyway, where he had a grand time while I practically froze to death.
When there are no grouse to point, robins will have to do.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
We drove to and from Duluth yesterday in a spring snow storm. Not fun, particularly in the morning, before the salt trucks got going, and in Duluth, which has generally nasty weather, except perhaps for a few weeks in August.
Global warming, where are you when we need you?
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
|A FLAT OF COLORFUL PANSIES ON THE COFFEE TABLE|
|'"IT AIN'T OVER 'TIL IT'S OVER"|
Spring annuals aren't in at the local garden centers yet, so we picked up a flat of pansies in Milwaukee on the weekend, and will enjoy them inside on the coffee table for a few days before planting them out in the garden; it definitely adds a touch of spring while we await the arrival of the real thing in northern Wisconsin.
OFF THE CUFF
The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is the guarantor of all of our other constitutional rights, as the founders obviously realized. It is the last defense of a free people against kings, despots, and dictators of both the right and the left.
We have seen over the years, and most recently again in Venezuela, that disarming the population is among the first steps in the advent of a dictatorial regime. Hitler disarmed the German people, Stalin the Russians, Mao the Chinese, and so on, and Maduro the Venezuelans.
It is often done insidiously, in the cause of stemming domestic violence. But the confiscation of firearms is never done completely, only the political opposition being disarmed. The supporters of the dictatorial regime are left armed, and able to quell their opponents without the government actually doing so, which all the while looks the other way. That is exactly what is happening in Carracas; Maduro's armed supporters, like Hitler's Brown Shirts, are able to intimidate, destroy and even kill their opponents at will in the streets.
The next time you see masked left wing rioters dressed in black ninja suits setting fires and breaking windows and attacking others with baseball bats, think of all the whiles that are being used to cajole Americans to give up their guns. At first they only want to register your gun, or have an onerous permitting process, or only want to confiscate pistols, or semi-automatic weapons, or clips holding so many rounds, or guns of a certain style. But once they have one victory they will go for another, and so on, until the Second Amendment has been gutted.
Don't give up the right to defend your life, your family, and your freedom with your own guns, and never trust the government to do it for you, as the "sadder now but wiser" people of Venezuela did.
The weather is still wintry, but that does not discourage the hyacinths and grape hyacinths from blooming, right on time. The genjus Hyacinthus is in the family Asparagaceae, and is native from southern Turkey to Israel in the eastern Mediteranian region. Most of the plants in the trade are selections of the species orientalis. The bulbs contain oxalic acid and are poisonous, but the flowers are highly fragrant. They have been grown in horticulture for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Grape hyacinths are in the same family as hyacinths but are in the genus Muscari, which is native to southern Europe, the Mideast and northern Africa. The bulbs are also poisonous. The plants now in horticulture have been bred for so long that their lineage is totally confused. They will naturalize well in a lawn, along with crocus and other minor bulbs.
Monday, April 24, 2017
|TREES AND IRRIGATION MAKE THE "DESERT" BLOOM|
|ORNAMENTAL PEAR TREES IN SOUTHERN WISCONSIN|
|SUGAR MAPLES IN BLOOM|
Our trip to southern Wisconsin accomplished its goals of visiting family for a 90th birthday party and a christening, but we got off track and didn't get to the funeral. Southern Wisconsin is in full bloom with maples, ornamental pears, cherries, plums, flowering crabs and spring bulbs all glorious. Sugar maple was the dominant tree in bloom from Wausau, which is mid-state, south. Not much going on north of there.
The birthday party was in Wild Rose, which is pretty much in the middle of the central sand counties of the state. Seventy years ago when we visited relatives there it was poor country, akin to Apalachia economically, the land worn out, a virtual desert, with sand blowouts and deep gullies where rusted out cars and trucks were dumped in an attempt to stem the erosion. One could not walk barefoot because of the sand burrs. About the only cash crop was cucumbers.
In the intervening years pine trees were planted for Christmas trees and lumber, which anchored the blowing sands, and the streams and water table came back. Now the trees are being replaced where practical with big irrigation rigs that pump water onto a variety of crops, everything from peas to corn, and farming is profitable again (but don't ask a farmer, they will always say they are loosing money).
Skeptics regarding the care of the earth and its endless possibilities need look no further than Wisconsin's sand counties to see what can be accomplished by free markets and a free people.
Friday, April 21, 2017
|SNOW SQUALL YESTERDAY|
|NORTH WIND AND ROUGH WATERS|
The last three days have been pretty nasty, with a prolonged snow squall yesterday that left a bit of white stuff on the ground for a while. The constant high winds caused rough conditions on the lake, and I did not see a ferry sail all day (I don't know if it actually shut down).
We will be traveling, so there won't be a post for a few days, as life seems to be compressed into the coming weekend. We will attend a 90th birthday party in Wild Rose, Wisconsin for a cousin who lived with us when I was a kid, a "big sister" for an only child.
Then it's on to Milwaukee to deliver a baby buggy to a niece with a newborn, the buggy being in the family for several generations.
Then on Sunday we will attend the funeral of a very dear friend in Occonomowoc.
Seems like we will be hitting all the station buttons on life's radio.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
|FEMALE FLOWERS, OPEN TO RECEIVE POLLEN|
|A COLD, RAINY DAY|
|MALE FLOWER CATKINS, FULL OF POLLEN|
Thursday, 8:45 AM. 38 degrees F at the ferry dock, 35 on the back porch. Wind north, very gusty. The sky is overcast and it is raining, a cold, pelting rain; the humidity is 94%. The barometer is steady, at 29.95". The forecast is for continuing cold temperatures with possible snow today, then warming into the 40's and clear Friday and Saturday, then cooling off with chances or snow or rain into next week. The daffodils are shivering, they can take it, but Buddy and I are wet and chilled from our walk, and my shoulder aches.
I have written a lot about tag alder in posts over the years, because it is so prevalent, and as an indicator of the advent of spring, but it can bloom over a long period and is difficult to determine exactly when it is in full bloom, at least for me; but for purposes of phenology (tracking the dates of the blooming of flowering plants) the following are my dates of record: 4/20/17; 4/17/16; 4/22/15; 4/15/14; 4/29/13; 4/11/11. These are pretty consistent dates, considering we have had some relatively severe and also relatively mild winters within those years, and correspondingly early or late springs.
Tag alder, or speckled alder, Alnus incana, is a common large, multiple-stemmed shrub (occasionally small tree) of wet areas throughout most of North America except the South and the prairie states. It can occupy huge areas that have been cut over, particularly in the North (in my observation). It is called speckled because of the light colored lenticels (specialized organs for atmospheric gas exchange) that occur on its reddish, cherry-like bark. I do not know the derivation of the name "tag alder."
Alnus incana has several synonyms, including A. serrulata and A rugosa, and there are a number of other species of alder with which it hybridizes, particularly at the edges of its range, so I can't get too particular as to its exact botanical classification. Additionally, there is a larger European species, A glutinosa, which is occasionally used as a street tree.
The alders have a light, useful wood but probably none but the European species becomes large enough in trunk diameter to be milled. The genus also has considerable folk medicinal value, as all parts of the plant contain salicilates (the main constituent of aspirin), and alder bark was used in kinnikinick, the American Indian smoking mixture.
Alders are nitrogen fixing plants, and a western species is important in preparing mountain soils for forestation; they are intolerant to heavy shade and thus are a natural nurse crop for Douglas fir and other forest trees, which shade the alders out as they grow.
Like many people, tag alders don't seem very useful or important until we really get to know them.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
|A CHALLENGING LANDSCAPE...|
|WALKWAY TO LAKE STAIRS INSTALLED,.|
|MEADOW GRASSES AND WILDFLOWERS PLANTED|
We got the meadow grasses and wildflower seeding done on Monday, just in time for a much needed rain on Tuesday. Landscaping is as much about the nuances of timing, as anything.
LANDSCAPINGGet the approval of the client before he leaves.
Get the seed in and covered before it rains a lot.
Get the perennials in before the weather turns hot.
Get the evergreens planted before it snows.
Get the bulbs planted before the ground freezes.
Get the job done while you have the crew.
Get paid before your bills come due.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
|FORSYTHIA AND HEATHER|
Forsythia are a pretty good indicator that spring is here to stay. They are also good indicators of whether the spring is early, late or more or less on time. My records show the following bloom dates, all when the plants are in full bloom: 4/20/16; 4/16/15; 5/16/14; 5/12/13;3/23/12; 4/10/10.
The genus Forsythia has eleven species, ten native to eastern Asia, and one to southeastern Europe. The genus has bright yellow, bell shaped flowers that bloom prodigiously in early spring. It is in the olive family (Oleaceae), and has opposite leaves and branches. The common name and scientific genus name are the same, but the common name "forsythia" is not capitalized.
Brought to Europe from Chinese and Japanese gardens in the Eighteenth Century, the shrubs we are familiar with today are mostly derived from Forsythia x intermedia, a hybrid cross between the species suspensa and viridissima. There are many selections and back crosses of the original hybrid, and it is often identified only dubiously at most garden outlets, which is usually O.K. for general purposes.
The genus is named for John Forsyth, an Eighteenth Century British Royal Gardener and founder of the Royal Horticulture Society. It has become the commonest of landscape and garden shrubs, and though often overused and perhaps considered trite by some, its colorful early blooms and hardiness render it useful and probably necessary to most common landscapes.
Forsythia is of the easiest culture, but needs full sun to bloom well. The flowers bloom on older branches, including that of the prior year, so forsythias are best pruned right after they bloom. If pruned in the fall a lot of the next spring's flowers will be lost. If they get too large they may be drastically cut back, but then they will have few blooms the next spring and possibly for another year thereafter.
Blooming along with daffodils or heather, forsythias say "spring."
Monday, April 17, 2017
|A FOG BANK...|
|...ROLLING IN, OBSCURING MADELINE ISLAND|
|...FLOWERS ARE NOW IN FULL BLOOM...|
|...THESE ARE FEMALE CATKINS|
Buddy and I went to the beach yesterday and almost froze to death, the temperature a full twenty degrees lower than Bayfield and the wind blowing a gale out of the northeast.
It was worth it though, as we saw LaPoint on Madeline Island disappear in an advancing fog bank, then reappear and then disappear again, as though it was a subject in some great magic show. It always amazes me the way the seascape can change with the atmosphere, nature the great magician wielding its wand.
I also had the opportunity to observe close at hand the flowers of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the Willow Family, the Saliceae, the flowering branches of which are usually too high to reach. They were in full bloom, the male and female flower catkins are on different, male and female trees (dioecious). Those pictured are female.
The hillsides will soon turn a wispy gray, as all the poplars come into bloom.
Nature is indeed the greatest magician.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
|A MOBIL TRAINING UNIT FROM WISCONSIN INDIAN HEAD COMMUNITY COLLEGE..|
|GIVES LOCAL VOLUNTEER FIREMEN...|
|...TO DON SPECIAL EQUIPMENT...|
|AND PRACTICE UNDER REAL-LIFE FIRE AND SMOKE CONDITIONS|
As we returned yesterday from the recycle center outside Red Cliff we drove through heavy smoke, and glancing about saw that it was fire and rescue training, provided on-site by the Wisconsin Indian Head Technical College.
A large number of voluteer firemen were dressed in their fire and smoke gear, with protective clothing and oxygen tanks, waiting their turn to enter the smoke filled trailer provided by the school. This was evidently a pretty sophisticated simulation, and the training serious business.
We have lived in communities with volunteer emergency services and those with paid professionals, and have always felt the two to be functionally pretty similar, but rural volunteers are becoming a scarce commodity, as young people seek work elsewhere, and older volunteers become fewer and fewer, and the community tax base struggles to provide support for either volunteers or paid professionals.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
|A QUIET, GRAY DAY|
|DAFFODILS ARE BLOOMING ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE HOUSE|
The first standard daffodils bloomed yesterday on the south side of the house, and others around Bayfield will soon follow. Blooming dates can vary somewhat with the spring weather; here's some history of first bloom: 4/26/16. 4/23/15. 4/16/14, 5/3/13, 4/14/11. 4/15/10. In a warm spring they might last two weeks, in a cool spring a month or longer.
Nothing says "spring" like the yellow trumpets of daffodils. I am not particular as to species or variety, as long as they are yellow daffodils. I think those pictured are "King Alfred," an old and usually inexpensive favorite. miniature daffodils are also blooming.
Daffodils were grown in ancient Greece and Rome and have been a commercial plant for centuries and longer. There are many species, mostly native to southern Europe and North Africa, their epicenter being the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). They grow in meadows and woods and along streams in their native habitats, and prefer a slightly acid soil, adequate moisture and good drainage. Primary colors are yellow and white, with some species and varieties also having orange or pink floral parts. The species of the genus Narcisus, in the Amaryllis family, hybridize readily, and I cannot go into much description of varieties as I am not a real fancier. I just like the typical form, and if they happen to be fragrant, so much the better. Having been grown commercially for hundreds of years, there are endless varieties available.
Bayfield has planted thirty or more thousand yellow daffodils throughout the community through the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce. It is worth a trip to see them in full bloom. Daffodils naturalize in lawn grass pretty well, but a few rules have to be followed to enjoy then over the years: don't mow the lawns they grow in until the daffodil leaves die back; and, fertilize the lawn they grow in with a complete low nitrogen fertilizer, or bonemeal if you can get it, in the fall. Daffodils probably grow best in a garden area where they can be dug up and divided every four or five years, but there is nothing to compare with the massed blooms of naturalized daffodils.
by William Wordsworth, 1815
I wandered, lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Friday, April 14, 2017
|NUMEROUS INDIVIDUAL RED MAPLE FLOWERS IN A CLUSTER...|
|...ARE QUITE EFFECTIVE IN MASS|
We went to Duluth yesterday for a doctor's appointment and the shipping season has started, with grain ships, the big lakers, being loaded from mammoth waterfront silos. Took a few photos while crossing the bridge but they didn't turn out.
For most of the past half century I have considered the flowering of the red maple (Acer rubrum) as the earliest true harbinger of spring. There is a red maple on Manypenny avenue and 8th St. that I watch daily for it to bloom, and yesterday was the day the buds opened. Pollen is not yet being shed, so flowers are not quite at anthesis, but I'll take it.
Red maple bloom time can vary quite a bit from year to year with the spring weather; April 17 in 2015, May 13 in 2014.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
|BOATS ARE RIDING HIGH AT CITY DOCK|
|SAND PIPER ALL DRESSED UP TO GO COURTIN'|
Yesterday we saw this sand piper all dressed up to go courtin'. Now that's a handsome dude! Also saw two tundra swans flying about treetop high over Hwy 13; they are awesome when in flight.
I ran into the City Marina superintendent at the post office yesterday, who noted that Lake Superior was at very high levels, even though there was little ice the last two winters to reduce evaporation.
In fact, the lake is at its highest level in 17 years, and up 30" since March of 2013. It was only a few years ago that environmentalists were predicting that The Great Lakes would be shrunken to mere puddles by mid-century, due to global warming.
Seems they got that prediction a bit wrong, unless it can be proven that melting polar ice is causing the rise. If the level suddenly drops it will probably be because the Army Corps of Engineers pulled the plug at the east end of the lake.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
|LARGE HOME SITUATED ON INTERESTING TOPOGRAPHY...|
|...SEED BED PREPARED FOR MEADOW GRASSES AND WILDFLOWERS...|
|...WALK LAID AND NORTH HALF OF PROPERTY SEEDED LAST FALL...|
|...ALL OVERLOOKING LAKE, ISLANDS AND SMALL SAND BEACH|
We have been working for well over a year on the design and installation of a landscape for a lake shore home with interesting architecture and topography, and will hopefully finish it up sometime this summer. We already have planted a native tree and shrub overlook and have installed a brick paver walkway to the steps which lead to the lake and small private beach, and have seeded the north half of the back yard with native meadow grasses and wildflowers.
We currently are preparing the south half of the back yard for seed and covering with excelsior matting, and are readying the rock walls for planting.
The owners prefer a mostly native landscape, except for the wall plants, and an area of low-mow grass around the home. The seed mix is specialized for adaption to dry clay and sandy soils, with little bluestem the predominant grass, and diverse colorful, low-growing prairie and meadow wildflowers. Reduced maintenance is a priority, and the meadow plants will need to be mowed only once a year after establishment, and the low-mow lawn perhaps only three or four times a season. The rock wall plantings will need to be watered as needed.
The seed, obtained from Prairie Nursery of Westfield, Wisconsin, is expensive, at approximately $200 per pound, but is very low maintenance once established.
When completed, this will be a very beautiful and unusual landscape.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
|YESTERDAY AFTERNOON AT THE BEACH|
So far, Bayfield has dodged the bullet.
Monday, April 10, 2017
|THIS BUCK JUST CROSSED THE ROAD...|
|...BUT HAD TO BE CARRIED, AS IT IS AN ARCHERY TARGET|
Monday, 8:30 AM. 36 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch as well. Wind NE, with very strong gusts. The sky is overcast, the humidity 81%. The barometer is rising steeply, now at 29.99". The forecast calls for dropping temperatures, high winds and snow late this afternoon and evening, with accumulations of 2" to 4"; tomorrow will be much cooler, then warming towards the weekend, with a chance of rain.
The answer to the age-old question, "Why did the buck cross the road?" is that it wanted to crash through the windshield of the car. Deer are notoriously unpredictable (read stupid) about cars and trucks, and seem to be on a suicide mission most of the time.
This six-p[oint buck is different; because it is an archery target, evidently placed by the side of the road as a neighborhood joke.
Which reminds me of a story from my early days of deer hunting, when there were two opposing deer camps, always in competition as to which would bag the first buck on opening day. A hunter in one of the camps had a noxious habit of firing at anything that moved that resembled a deer early opening morning, which was not only dangerous but supremely annoying. He also had a favorite stand, across a meadow from a deer run.
The opposing camp of hunters decided to teach him a lesson, and the night before season opening they got an iron lawn deer and placed it on the run across from the transgressor's deer stand. At first light, considerably before legal opening time, everyone from both camps could hear:
The early morning shooter went home early that deer season.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
|MINI DAFFODIL BULBS ARE BLOOMING|
Sunday, 9:00 AM. 42 degrees F at the ferry dock 47 on the back porch. Wind variable and calm, skies mostly cloudy, humidity 88%. The barometer is more or less steady, the temperature predicted to plummet to freezing tonight, with snow tomorrow, then warming towards the end of the week, with mixed skies and chances of rain. It is a gray morning, quiet except for a few raucous crows and noisy woodpeckers.
Mini daffodils (Narcissus asturicensis) are suddenly blooming, a cheerful, welcome sight, but they bloom much earlier than the standard bulbs, and will soon be covered by snow from an early spring snowstorm.
Native to the mountains of northern Portugal and Spain, the species is threatened in the wild but adapts readily to horticulture. They require little care and will even spread in the right location. They also force well and are good late winter plants for a sunny windowsill.
Saturday, April 8, 2017
|AN OSPREY NEST ON HWY 8 WEST OF RHINELANDER, WISCONSIN|
|TWO OSPREYS, LOWER ONE WITH A FISH IN ITS TALONS|
Saturday, 9:00 AM. 44 degrees F at the ferry dock, 46 on the back porch. Wind variable and calm with occasional light gusts. The sky is partly cloudy, the humidity a low 52%. The barometer is falling, currently at 29.77". Rain is predicted for tomorrow, then falling temperatures and snow on Monday. Next week will be much colder, but warming again with rain next weekend.
I had an opportunity to witness a rather dramatic wildlife encounter late yesterday morning. I heard crows while on the back porch, and looking up saw two ospreys (either ospreys or immature eagles, but I think the former. The wingspans of the two species are about the same, around 6') being harassed by several crows. The lower bird in the photo had a fish grasped in its talons and was being dive bombed by a crow. Both ospreys briefly landed about forty feet up in a pine tree across the street but quickly flew off again, followed by the pestering crows. I raised my camera and took a snap shot without even looking in the view finder; but close only counts in horseshoes.
Friday, April 7, 2017
|PACK ICE CLEARLY VISIBLE AT SOUTH END OF CHEQUAMEGON BAY|
Thursday, 7:45 AM. 33 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch as well (seldom happens). Wind variable and calm. The sky is clear, the humidity a relatively low 69%. The barometer is beginning to fall, currently at 30.02". The skies are predicted to stay clear Friday and Saturday with high temperatures into the 50's and 60's; then falling temperatures and rain on Sunday changing to snow on Monday, and continued cold weather all next week.
I have been watching the movement of pack ice on Chequamegon Bay for many years now, and it always amazes me how it moves with the winds, particularly in the spring. It migrates from north to south and back again, huge masses of ice and slush. One would think the ice would be melted by now, but it is still out there, moving around.
It's sort of a meteorological slush fund.
It's sort of a meteorological slush fund.