Life Moves On, and So Must We…

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

Mind boggling! So many changes in the lives of people on Planet Earth in Spring, 2019! Roger Reinhardt of rural Sibley County moved on to the ‘other side’ this past week, leaving a gaping hole in the lives of his family, friends and neighbors. Roger was a man of the soil, having farmed all his days, with a close attachment to black earth, to people, nature and phenology. When he wasn’t involved in numerous activities, contributing to his family, country, church and county, he was building furniture, bird houses and feeders, you name it.
Gifted and giving is a short summary of his life.
All creation will miss this generous smiling man. Our empathy is extended to his wife Joan, and family.

Sunday, May 5th’s 7:10 a.m. WCCO radio broadcast left area folk stunned and disappointed. Jim Gilbert, famed phenologist who brought news of the natural world across the radio airwaves announced his retirement after some 40 plus years! Jim was nature’s “voice of the upper northwest” as he brought nature lovers together in a common cause, caring for Mother Earth and its creatures, human and otherwise. Many years ago, we fledging teachers received a flyer asking us to note phenological occurrences; such as when the first earthworm surfaced on school tarvias; or when the first ants appeared on school sidewalks; the first robins and their appearance in springtime; or which birds were building nests; on what date apple trees began blossoming; etc., and especially, as ‘king of the monarch butterflies,’ the departure and arrival dates of those beautiful creatures.

You see, Jim was integral in finding the whereabouts of migrating monarch butterflies, having been instrumental in ‘tagging’ the beautiful insects before they departed for winter homes. He was part of the discovery that Minnesota monarchs gather on coniferous trees in Mexico. Once the monarch bug bit him, he became an expert on that subject and so many more. But it was Jim’s knack for listening to farm and city earthlings share their discoveries that was and is an outstanding feature. This distinguished Jim from other nature observers and writers.

Henderson’s first encounter with Jim was through Dolores Hagen, who was instrumental in fledging the first ‘Hummingbird Hurrahs’ over ten years ago. At this writing, he has been invited to be part of that celebration once more in August. He assisted at the birth of forty-plus editions of the Minnesota Weather Guide Environmental Almanac and calendar, again sharing his own discoveries and those of persons ‘on the ground’ who pay attention to the ebb and flow of the natural world. Supported by his patient and beautiful wife Sandy, the pair led cultural and eco-tours around the world! Yet, Jim took precious time to share the tales of the folks in the hills and vales of his state, in addition to many years teaching at Gustaus Adolphus College in St. Peter. Good travels, Jim, from your countless admirers in Henderson and Le Sueur; we look forward to your August visit.

Frances, super-sensitive Ford Focus, having recovered from a hit-and-run driver on May third, overheard Dave Kolter’s narrative about hanging a ruby-throated hummingbird feeder resulting in a male of the species pop by immediately. Frances admonished her mistress to do the same. Sure enough, the mistress was in the very process of filling a red feeder, when an angry buzzing male hummer almost alit upon her shoulder. The hummer was not a happy camper, having arrived sometime aforehand, and voiced his displeasure and pique at not finding sugar water ready to assuage his hunger and thirst after covering hundreds of miles from his winter home in Costa Rica. Fortunately, proud little jewel stuck around for his first pictorial of the season.

Stu and Helen Peterson, LeSueur, stopped for a breather after raking lawn on May 6th, just in time for a scarlet tanager to visit their feeding station. This brilliantly colored bird of the deep forest surprised the Petersons with his ‘in LeSueur’ visit. Most often, the brilliant scarlet and black bird seeks livelihood in the deep forest. Polly Schneider reported an indigo bunting on May 8th, the Petersons on May 10th. Blakeley’s Carolyn Boettcher was surprised to hear a whip-poor-will’s plaintive call May 6th, then was rewarded with four chimney swifts dropping down her large chimney about the same evening. The birds arrived in spite of a scarcity of insects.

Joe Luskey (Judy) of Green Isle was surprised on May 6th by Canada goose goslings scampering behind their parents from out the swamp near their Green Isle Garden of Eden, while Vern Bienfang spotted four goslings near the south levee on Henderson’s stretch of #93.
A giant snapping turtle wandered across Marge (Darrel) Amberson’s path near #93, about the same time as a painted turtle was heading out of the flood plain for higher ground. The sun warmed Bucks’ Lake long enough the same day for a map turtle to sun itself on a sunken log, along with thirty or so smaller unnamed turtles. In the meantime, Sylvia swan is setting on the nest she scooped from the muck and cattail debris May 7th. This means, in spite of flood, fury and fuming Canada geese, citizenry may be treated to the sight of swanlets…cygnets, thirty-four days from now.

Exciting news from neighbors off East Henderson Station Road; Bryant Straub encountered an orchard oriole mooching on grape jelly among a flock of northern orioles, while to his west, Jeanne and Kerry Renneke, had the great fortune of a tufted titmouse visiting. That’s a bird’s tale/tail for another day. Watch the skies, girls and guys!!!!! (But not while driving!!!)