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.