Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach (1947- ), American author

(Quote Source: brainyquote.com)

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A swan flies over the wild rice beds of the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge located in McGregor, Minnesota.

To learn more about the refuge, please visit their website.

 

 

Water Shield Plant

“Living big and joyful and content is almost always the result of our finding satisfaction in life’s ordinary day-to-day pleasures.  And God must be fond of them, too, for He made so many of them for us to enjoy.

~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr., (1940- ) American author

(Quote Source: BrainyQuote.com)

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The Water Shield plant is also known as the Dollar Bonnet.  Here is a photo of some that I found floating on a pond in northern Minnesota.  I’m told that this plant indicates a good spot for fishing as it provides shade for panfish, largemouth bass, and northern pike.

Learning

“Face it. We’re all ignorant. But there’s a big difference between not knowing anything about, say, astrophysics, and not knowing anything about the natural world we inhabit. The sad fact is, when it comes to nature, the average American is clueless about some very basic stuff.

For example, a recent poll taken at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, revealed that over 75% of their visitors did not know the purpose of pollination.”

~ Andy Wasowski, Native Gardens for Dry Climates

(Quote Source: October 24, 1997 interview as posted on loe.org.  See link at:  http://loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=97-P13-00043&segmentID=6)

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(Honey bee on sedum plant)

I am grateful to people that blog.  I appreciate their courage and commitment to the sharing of ideas, experiences, creativity, research, and thoughts with the rest of the world.  I have learned so much in the last year.  Thank you!

 

Please Don’t Pick the Trilliums

“God has sown his name on the heavens in glittering stars; but on earth he planteth His name by tender flowers.”

~ Jean Paul Richter, (1763-1825) German Romantic writer

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This lovely white flower with just three petals on a single stem is known as the Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).  It can be found in the woodlands of Minnesota and I am lucky enough to have quite a few growing on my property.  Because picking even a part of the plant can kill the whole thing, trilliums are considered quite fragile.  In addition, this plant is slow to establish, taking years to flower.

Large-flowered trilliums are also sensitive to changes in their environment, so they can be good indicators of the health of a forest. Trillium populations have been on the decline, primarily because of soil disturbance, the loss of soil organic matter from non-native earthworms, buckthorn invasion, and overgrazing by deer.  Consequently, Minnesota and many other states have laws to restrict the collection of trilliums. In Minnesota it is illegal to remove trilliums from public land or another person’s property without the owner’s consent.

(Source: http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/news/webnews/may2014/5.pdf)

Happy Frogs

Always be happy.

When people are in a bad mood,

the last thing they want

is to hang around with

happy people.

~Kermit the Frog, Muppet

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Springtime in the marsh includes the many voices of frogs calling out to potential mates.  The variety of songs is fascinating!  Here is just a sampling of calls in a northern Minnesota wetland:

Natural Recycling

“Nature doth thus kindly heal every wound.  By the mediation of a thousand little mosses and fungi, the most unsightly objects become radiant of beauty.  There seem to be two sides of this world, presented us at different time, as we see things in growth or dissolution, in life or death.  And seen with the eye of the poet, as God sees them, all things are alive and beautiful.”

~Henry David Thoreau, (1817-1862) American essayist, poet, and practical philosopher; author of the book, Walden

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Fungi: Mother Nature’s recycling system

Listen

“The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, no objects to be exploited.  Everything has its own voice.  Thunder and lightning and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees — all these have voices and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related.”

~ Thomas Berry (1914-2009), Catholic priest of the Passionist order

(Quote via ourhabitatgarden.org)

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The Northern Flicker is a woodpecker that often excavates nest holes in dead or diseased trees.  As I strolled my property I heard, and then discovered, one hammering on a dead tree.  I hoped that a nest was being built!  It turned out that this handsome bird was not in the market for a home, but I did get a chance to take a few photographs.

Listen to the Ice

“Spring has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.”

~W. Earl Hall (1897-1969) Editor and publisher of the Mason City Globe Gazette

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This is a photo of the ice going out on a river in Minnesota.  If you quietly stand and watch such a site you will actually hear the ice cracking!

Bright Ice

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

~Desmond Tutu (1931- ) South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop

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Here are chunks of ice melting at the edge of a local pond.  I have often enjoyed the way the sunshine plays with both the water and the ice at the end of winter.  To me, the color and textures can be similar to the bright shine of diamonds.

Spring is almost here.  Yay!

Feed the Birds!

“Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.”

~Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) American scholar, statistician, and teacher

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(Pictured above are ducks migrating through my area: a male Ring-necked duck and four Hooded Mergansers.)

What is it about some birds that compel them to migrate?  Once they begin their journey, how do they know when it is time to stop?  How do they know when it is time to return?  Scientists continue to study and learn about this phenomenon!

Here are a few facts that I found interesting about bird migration:

  1.  At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world. (Although this number will likely increase as we learn more about the habits of birds in tropical regions.)–Audubon.org.
  2. The Bar-tailed Godwit can fly for nearly 7,000 miles without stopping, making it the bird with the longest recorded non-stop flight.  During the eight-day journey, the bird doesn’t stop for food or rest–Audubon.org.
  3. Hawks, swifts, swallows and waterfowl migrate primarily during the day, while many songbirds migrate at night, in part to avoid the attention of migrating predators such as raptors. The cooler, calmer air at night also makes migration more efficient for many species, while those that migrate during the day most often take advantage of solar-heated thermal currents for easy soaring–birding.about.com.
  4. The ruby-throated hummingbird migrates from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to the southeastern United States every spring, a journey of 500-600 miles over the Caribbean Sea that takes 24 hours without a break–birding.about.com.
  5. Migrating birds face many threats along their journeys, including window collisions, confusing lights that disrupt navigation, hunting, habitat loss and predation. Juvenile birds are at greater risk because of their inexperience with migration – yet somehow, birds successfully migrate every year–birding.about.com.

So, consider putting out and keeping full a bird feeder and/or bird bath in the spring and the fall.  There are some tired and hungry birds traveling at these times of year!

Spring Bird Migration

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of lands remote,

To travel is to live.”

~Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

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We are in the midst of the bird migration season here in Minnesota.  Simply put, birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. The two primary resources being sought are food and nesting locations.  It can be an exciting time for birders and photographers alike as all hope to spot something new and/or different as the birds visit our area.

This is a shot of geese high above a birding “hotspot” near the Cannon River in southeastern Minnesota.  (To learn more about birding hotspots, please visit:  http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/hotspot-explorer/ )

 

 

Interconnection

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer and statesman

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This Hairy Woodpecker on a deer carcass confused me.  What would a woodpecker be doing on a carcass?  The cold winter weather would no doubt prevent insect activity, right?

Internet research revealed to me that the fat found on a carcass such as this one helps to satisfy the woodpecker’s nutritional needs for survival in frigid weather.  The interconnectedness of nature continues to amaze me!

That Cycle of Life

“I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”

~Andrew Wyeth, (1917-2009) American artist

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This place currently covered by a blanket of snow looks so still and quiet.  Once spring arrives, however, the ice will melt to free the water in the pond.  The trees will blossom, the birds will arrive to nest, and color will return.  Life will begin anew.

Naughty Squirrels

“Until mankind can extend the circle of his compassion to include all living things, he will never, himself, know peace.”

~Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), Nobel Peace prize winner

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Once in awhile I need a quote such as this one from Albert Schweitzer to remind me that the squirrels gnawing on my bird feeder, my outdoor decor, and my deck railings are merely trying to survive — just like all other living creatures.  Anyone else ever find themselves challenged by these determined, and frustratingly naughty creatures?

It’s cold!

“The cold never bothered me anyway.”  ~Elsa, movie Frozen

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As I drove by a frozen wetland, I noticed some unfamiliar and very still brown lumps.  I stopped my car to take a closer look on this frigid day in Minnesota.  The lumps turned out to be a group of turkeys dozing in the bright sunshine.  They awoke to the sound of me pulling my car off to the side of the road, but were slower than usual in making their customary get-away.  Here they look at me in a slightly drowsy state.

I am regularly amazed that any living thing survives outside in Minnesota during the winter when the windchill drops well below zero!

Survival

“God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into the nest.  He does not unearth the good that the earth contains, but He puts it in our way, and gives us the means of getting it ourselves.”

~Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881), American novelist and poet

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A Bald Eagle having just captured his prey on a frigid day in Minnesota.  The temperature was about -5 degrees.  Brrrr…

Daily Routine

“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.”

~ Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist

(This quote appeared in Wisdom of the Wilderness, LIFE magazine, December 22, 1967.)

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Day after day this Pileated Woodpecker hunts for food and shelter entirely dependent upon his own physical attributes for survival.  I am awed by this fact and inspired.

Contentment

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This was the first time that I had ever viewed a real bison!  My husband and I were driving through Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  We happened upon this big guy basking  in the sun and stopped to take a photo.  It was only then that I noticed all of the sweet little prairie dogs running around him.  Such a contrast the two species were to one another, but both accepted the presence of the other.  They also seemed content with letting me and my husband just watch them for awhile.  So, there we all were — the humans, the bison, and the prairie dogs.  A pleasant moment for me permanently captured.

(Don’t worry!  I did not leave my car to approach this handsome animal. I have too much respect for his power.)