Monday, December 31, 2012

Posting From The Plane

We were going to see temperatures down about -15 tonight with a brisk wind chill on top. So we decided to leave our cats with Rex and visit my mother and sister, west of Orlando, Florida for a few days.

Weather should warm back up to 15 or 20 by the time we return. Then a couple more days in Minnesota before we make the driving journey back to New York City.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Ant food is sprouting in Rex's any farm. I suppose that's good since these are harvester ants.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Land o Frozen Lakes

Just east of our terrestrial realm is another, aqueous realm -the lakes. In winter, normal winter, these lakes freeze and the people leave their homes for a life on the lake. Sometimes on skates, often on mobiles, and perhaps in little shacks.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Last year there was no snow -the whole time we were here and the temperatures were in the 30s and even 40s. That was very unusual. Usual is 15 for a high and often enough a low around -5.

This year we are back to normal. A brief snow is on its way, on top of the remnants of last week's snow storm, for Christmas Eve. Christmas Day promises a high of 6 degrees F, in wake of the storm.

The light is low, earth tilted away from the sun as it is. It's funny to think of this, as it has always been, and how the plants have evolved along with it, and the cold it brings to us in the north. And even funnier to think I am standing less sideways in our x,y,z world at this northerly latitude, this time of the year, than I am say in New York in summer.

Here's to standing upright.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Coyote have made a comeback in almost every mainland wood and clearing I have been to. It's no different in the Big Woods of Minnesota, where up until the last year or so, I hadn't heard them. This video, black because of night, holds the music of night on the edge of the Big Woods in August.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Garlic Stuffed Turkey Thighs

It was nice to chop my garlic today while listening to music. It feels like a needed pause. And the garlic? I've had little opportunity to cook, so it is incredible informative to actually peel it. I'm cooking only with culls -these are bulbs that I have found to have one dried clove or the occasional rotted clove that I take out of the marketable supply. There's been several this season thanks to a very wet May and incredibly dry air this summer.

This afternoon these two turkey thighs, stuffed to the hilt with garlic, rosemary and others will be grilled at my friend Mark's place. It will be alongside several other meats brought by others.

Looking forward.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cardinal Matters

I'm well aware of the disdain (see Garden Rant) and the rhetoric (see Michael Pollan).

Still. As I look upon this cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, I immediately, emotionally respond to its presence.

On the other hand is purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria. It's pale purple wands are pretty, especially so en masse, which is often how one finds it, but hardly stunning. Is this a learned response? If purple loosestrife was a native plant, would I espouse it's regal nature?

I do not know. What I do know is that seeing cardinal flower marsh-side is rare, yet finding purple loosestrife is becoming exceedingly common in Hennepin County ditches, wetlands, and cloverleaf water basins.

Rex likes the purple loosestrife, he says it's pretty where the marsh is just a wash of green. He believes the loosestrife cannot outcompete the cattails and rushes. But I doubt that, as evidenced by New York State's marshes and wetlands. Those must have once looked like Minnesota's, but now many are nearly a monoculture of purple loosestrife. After bloom in July and August, the wetland becomes a wash of dismal brown, whereas Hennepin County wetlands offer a kaleidoscopic interference of green and gold.

I'm not sure people care all that much. Like Rex said, it's pretty, and it's spread appears incremental, hardly noticeable. The government has policy, it is a known invasive, it is illegal to harbor it on private property (this is where tongues tingle with politi-lingual fascism), and it's hard to control. And maybe, maybe, an appreciation for rarified things in life is an elitist affair. And maybe people, humanity, has a thing for the strong, aggressive, and adaptable in life. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


There has been a heavier heart this big woods trip. Rex likes to say that there are only two things in nature -chaos and chance. I like to say that the only thing between civilization and chaos is maintenance.

From the very first day, we've been at work on the house as rot has set in. We stem the tide and wait for next summer. 

The air has been cool, and I have seen the leaves changing, day to day. 

This morning, Rex and Betsy left at 5:30 for the Mayo Clinic. I left for breakfast around 6:45 and saw Autumn's first mist on the marshlands.

The trails have not been worked, and have not been walked. There's no greater sign to the changing of things in the woods. Oak wilt has taken out more of the red oaks, and old falls have not been sawed. Nettles grow, obscuring the path for the first time in my decade of coming here.

Indian Pipe appears ghostly for the first time.

The bridge is missing planks, and most have rotten through. It is now dangerous to cross the marsh unaware.

The chicken, laetiporous, the one focus from the changes afoot.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Banks Of The Mississippi

Somewhere on the banks of the Mississippi, I believe I've seen a box elder bug sucking the life out of a mosquito.

Box elder bugs are vegetarian, as far as I can tell.

Early Morning

On the western most edge of the Big Woods.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Now We're Onto Something

We've had a few showers over the last four days. It's August and cooler, and this speaks of mushrooms.

The oyster Betsy found the other day was eaten last night. It was robustly flavored, and while people often have difficulty describing the flavor, I dare say it often smells like raw oysters at its ripest.

I hit the trails this morning (it awakens the constitution) and spotted several new growths. And, as hoped for, the grand prize of Rex's woods -the chicken, possibly L. cincinnatus.

Now we wait and watch daily as it grows. Pictures of each day's growth posted right here, in anticipation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's A Start

There's not much in mushrooms in the woods, but there is a stirring. The corals are on the way out, but others are poking up, including some oysters too small or aged for picking. We'll keep a look out.

Morning Trail Walk

Friday, August 10, 2012

First Morning

We arrived near 9 pm. There was still light, but by the time we unleashed our cats into their domain, it was dark.

Early this morning, to loosen a body confined by automobile for two days, I headed to the woods for a walk. The air is cool, in the 50s, with a light breeze keeping mosquitoes at bay.

I found snakeroot and fallen red oaks. I found the trails covered in plants. This I've never seen. Rex must not be getting out and this is written in the woods although he won't speak of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Turkey

Once you've had it, there's no other way. 

I buy the boneless turkey thighs from Di Paola at Greenmarket -they're at many of the locations. A piece this big runs about 15 bucks and feeds four. Depending on the type of grilling arrangement, I'll either put lots of herbs inside and tie the two pieces up with butcher's twine to slow cook or simply rub the herbs all over the pieces and grill straight. Olive oil and garlic, salt and pepper. Always moist and tender. You'll love turkey when you don't have to eat it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No Snow

Given the dry and significantly warmer weather, it's been nice to walk around the trails. The smell of decay is rich and enjoyable. The grasses in the wetland are sweet and the woodland edge earthy.

It is unlikely that I would go into the middle of the smaller amphitheater wetland because of water in summer or deep snow in winter. But this weather created the perfect conditions for entering all the wetlands -frozen ground and matted grasses.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Exploded Greenhouse

Black Earth

Around here, and for a stretch into Iowa, the soil is a rich, dark, almost black, earth. Not just the farmlands, but in the woods as well. It's full of carbon.

What is it used for? Mostly corn, and lately, for building more and more “executive homesites.” But that is a digression.

I can see that some fields have been plowed quite recently. This is unusual. The fields are typically under a few inches of snow and deeply frozen.

It's been exceptionally warm thanks to the Arctic Oscillation. It is normal in my experience for the high temperatures to be around 15 degrees and the low near zero, but we've remained above freezing most every day. Some days reach the mid-forties. That's coastal weather, yet it feels much warmer here than it does in NYC when it is the same temperature. Maybe it is because there is little to no wind and little dampness to soak your bones here. I've been outside working on my van in temperatures I would scoff at for the same activity in NYC.

In a few days time I will be off to Iowa, hopefully with a working heater, charger, and dash lights. From there, cats in tow, I will dash back to NYC.

It's time to get rolling again.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Local Grocery Garlic

I was shopping for Marie's Boef Bourgignon in our small town grocer- trust that it's not the easiest place to shop for meals (although it is getting better because the town has been growing over the last decade with city folk).

I, of course, found myself looking at their garlic options. The organic Earthbound Farm garlic was about 15 dollars a pound. The Christopher Ranch boxed garlic was similarly priced, but not organic. The "regular" garlic, probably a Chinese grown artichoke variety, was 4.29 a pound and greening up.

The real zinger was the Christopher Ranch peeled and packaged garlic. The cultivar 'Monviso' has been what they are touting as the best tasting garlic- ever. This product is CR's answer to cheap imports. Wish I could remember the price, something in the 6 dollar range I think. It's biggest problem- the expiration date, or 'best before' date, right on front. That's a good amount of peeled cloves to use before January 9. The problem of course is that peeling garlic ruins it's shelf life and flavor. Convenience rarely improves your meal.