Like June Rain Showers, Surprises Keep Dropping By

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub,

Frances, the frenetic flying Ford Focus, almost lost the rubber on her new tires this week. Sedately sailing by the Coachlight Pond at 5:30 the evening of June 14, she spotted a large ivory blob in pond # two south. The blob hesitated, but was soon followed by one, two, three, four, five wee puffs of pure white, plus the ever-watchful male Trumpeter Swan. After all the to-do over ‘who gets the muskrat house closest to Highway 93?’ the reed abode was destroyed four times, resulting in the female swan, Sylvia, to move to the far south of the waters, hidden by willows and reeds. Even then, the incessant flood waters followed her, while the male disappeared as well. Due to the vicious swarms of black flies, (gnats,) we were unable to trace the pair, gave up in despair after viewing nine or ten sedate swans on the Chavelier's sodden fields south of Henderson. What a welcome surprise!!! All seven swans were bunched together Sunday morning, 06.16.2019, although after just two days on the ponds, the adult birds’ heads and necks had accrued red stains, while the cygnets were as dirty as little piglets in a sty. Thus, as of this writing, we have ‘seven swans a-swimming,’ one of which is a runty little critter. Between their enemies…turtles, eagles, northern pike, otters and raccoons, the remainder of the summer and autumn should prove most interesting.

Speaking of turtles, this is “turtles crossing the road to lay eggs” season. A kind observer noted the deliberate killing by auto on #93 midweek, its carapace still lying along the highway; she erected a prominent sign near the Coachlight gently asking drivers to be alert for small and huge fellow travelers on Mother Earth. Brett (Hannah) Straub was able to snare a photo of one of the giants near the waters of the closed Highway 19. Such a giant creature! Of the nine species of turtles in Minnesota, the ‘snapper’ is the largest, eating plants, animals and the dead. The largest are 8 to 14 inches across the carapace, and they are of ‘special concern’ due to dwindling numbers.

While in the egg stage, ‘snappers’ are preyed upon by raccoons and skunks, and when the eggs hatch, usually in September or early October, both of the above plus crows dine on the tiny reptiles. Late hatchers (due to cool) summers, may emerge in early spring, as the liquid in their bodies protects them from freezing. Thanks again to anonymous “A” for placing those turtle crossing signs, a reminder about slowing down for ALL living creatures including humans.

How does YOUR garden grow? Hopefully better than ours. Connor Wigand with his keen machinery prepared our large plot into beautiful shape, long after gardens are ‘supposed’ to be planted. 06.04 found Frances patiently observing her two slaves planting potatoes. Oh yes, on Good Friday we faithfully ‘got our potatoes in,’ two of them, in a hanging pot. But now, practically in mid-June, the potatoes entered the earth. Just as the last potatoes bid “adieu” and disappeared underground, a greenish black cloud appeared above the trees, the sun disappeared, and darkness fell upon the earth. Trees ceased their incessant quibbling. Tension, apprehension, dread was palpable. Birds trembled and fled. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, a maelstrom unlike we’d seen in many moons shut out the world. Rain swooshed sideways in copious sheets, shutting off all sound other than the seething wind. Should Frances make a run for it, or stay put under an ancient maple and a towering oak? Frances fled, unheeding of the possible hailstones which could ruin her fine figure. Do any of our ‘Indy’ reader have a memory of that ferocious June afternoon.
The final result. Taters WERE IN, NOW MANY are out, and those that stayed in may as well be covered in cement. Oh, well, there’s always next year!

Although Jim Gilbert has retired from his Sunday morning broadcasts on WCCO, he remains more than busy with nature programs and completing articles for the 2020 Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac; in addition to writing a weekly article for the Friday edition of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. Jim’s final paragraph in the June 7th Star article bears repeating and pondering at length. “Every forest, every marsh, every roadside is rich with green abundance—evidence that our planet is designed as a place for life, no matter what foolish acts people commit. Summer is the season for repairing the human perspective, for discovering once again that there are forces and rhythms at work to make life possible.” AMEN, Jim, AMEN!!!!!!!!!!! AND THANKS!