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Friday, June 9, 2017





Friday, 9:00 AM.  52 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind E, calm to very light.  The sky is overcast and heavy fog envelops the Islands and the shore.  Today will have a high around 60 and partly cloudy skies, and tomorrow will be significantly warmer with the chance of a thunderstorm.  Next week it will be cooler and rainy.
   We had another day long outage of everything that comes into Bayfield on fiber optic cable yesterday, resulting in another missed post.  Some contractor is facing another large fine, or a correspondingly major increase in his liability insurance, and restaurants and stores had another day without sales because their cash registers and credit card lines were down. Two days lost out of the average 90 day season can be the straw that breaks the back of a local small business.
  The lupines (Lupinus perennis), in the Pea Family, are just starting to bloom all around the area. and will soon put on their annual spectacular. My recorded dates of first bloom are as follows: 6/02/15; 6/18/13; 6/15/12; 6/12/09; 6/23/08.  These dates are pretty accurate but may be off by a couple of days either way.  In any case blooming time may vary considerably, and length of blooming season as well, sometimes short, sometimes as long as three weeks.
   Lupines get their genus name from the latin word for wolf, lupus, because   Europeans   thought that since  their lupine species grew in sandy barrens the plants must “wolf” the soil nutrients, which they do not, but are rather an indicator of infertile soils. In fact, being legumes, they actually increase soil fertility.  The pea-like seeds are said to be poisonous if eaten in large amounts but I wouldn't anticipate anyone actually consuming a lot of them.

   Our lupines are a real show, and could be a more major tourist attraction if their annual blooming time was more predictable, which it is not, but can vary by a couple of weeks depending upon the weather. Our lupines look like they are mostly the native lupine, which grows on sandy soils over much of the east and the Midwest, but local heritage says they were introduced from the Bayfield flower farms early in the 1900’s. I think the story is more complicated than that, as the wild lupine is common in Bayfield County in the oak barrens, and along the sandy lake shore and possibly these plants have mixed with horticultural selections of the native lupine grown by the flower farms. 

    In any case it is a complicated history, and the USDA and  Wisconsin sources are not particularly helpful in its telling.  Our plants are mostly deep blue with some white and pink individuals, and the individual flowers have white throats; the native plants have pretty much that range of color variability. I think our local roadside and field plants may have originated from horticultural color selections that escaped back into native populations, enriching their color palette.  I have seen similar plants all along the southern Lake Superior shoreline and northern Lake Michigan dunes, from Duluth to at least the Mackinac Bridge, so if they aren't truly native they might as well be considered such for all practical purposes. But, truly native or not, they are beautiful, and a joy to see. I have seen the Texas bluebonnets, Lupinu texensis, in full bloom ( much shorter than ours and an annual) and I think ours are every bit as much of an attraction.

   Photos really do not do the annual lupine display justice, as lupines often occur in huge fields of blue which don't seem to have much of an impact in a photograph, and they usually appear as well in patches large and small along the roadside, like pearls on a string, or  like charms on a bracelet, so their actual aesthetic impact is much greater than that of  individual photographs. 

   In any case, the next big show is waiting in the wings, as soon as we get a few more warm days.
   The internet and TV outage yesterday mercifully kept me from giving in to the temptation to watch the Senate hearings and ex-FBI Director Comey's testimony and the resulting all day commentary.  There being nothing else on the news since, I have caught up, and have a question to ask and a quote to cite.
   Question: when a liar accuses  someone else of lying, whom should one believe?
   Quote: character Dick The Butcher, in Shakespear's play Henry VI; 
   "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

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