Splashes of White Add to October Beauty…

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub,

One is overwhelmed by the colors spewed upon the land as one succumbs to the everchanging hues of 2020 October! Name the pigmentation, you’ll find it in the tree leaves and trunks, abundant crops, garden flowers and produce unwilling to admit defeat to the capricious nature of frost. The gray skies on Saturday, October 3rd didn’t dampen the spirits of folks involved in the day’s Color Cruise Roll-in; while Sunday’s sun made for a spirit-lifting vision of profuse shade combinations. However, all wasn’t color, unless you term ‘white’ a color. Recently, Bruce Bjork had the good fortune and spontaneity to snap photos of a Great Egret engaged in its autumn hunt for frogs, minnows and water creatures. Those travelers who utilize Highway 22 between St. Peter and LeSueur may have observed eighteen stately white statues poised while poaching in the once-upon-a-time farm field mid-way between the two cities. “Elegant” is a good term to describe the ivory-toned birds which travel through squishy muck, duck-weed and so forth without splotching their feathers. (Hmmmm, how does an egret appear to have stepped out of the showroom of an upscale department store, without a feather amiss?)

A ragged band of white pelicans could be observed heading south over Henderson midweek. They seemed to be asking the query, “Hey, who IS in charge of this operation?” Once pelicans gracefully achieve their flight altitude, fading in and out of the clouds, they seem to head in an orderly southerly direction, yet, we’ve never observed them in “V” formation. Have any of our readers seen that phenomena?

Vicky Yahnke phoned recently, asking “What are the lilacs doing blossoming along the north wall one passes under the Highway # 8 bridge/railroad overpass?” She and her mom, Vi, (birders extraordinaire, had glanced toward the sky as they traveled under the railroad bridge, and sure enough, milky white lilacs are in bloom at that spot, and we have no idea why, nor had we observed the spring??? blooms. Taking the computer by the arm, we asked the technology the question, “Why now, blossoms in October?” SUCH a variety of answers were forthcoming. Some experts said, “Environmental stress.” Others stated that weather patterns are changing. “Hormonal response to the weather with fluctuating temperature during summer” were two additional responses. In the end, at this time, we have no definite answer to Vicky’s and Vi’s wise inquiry.

While clambering around attempting to take a photo of said mystery blooms to share with our readers, we noted that the lilac leaves on most of the plants had turned yellow or brown, that some of the branches of the shrubs were dead. Recalling that our sons were experiencing the same problem at their Minneapolis home and were forced to remove all upper growths of the bushes, we were referred to the University of Minnesota Extension, a free service to those who experience plant problems. Seems that the U of M Extension Plant Disease Clinic “has analyzed lilac samples and discovered that the disease “(get ready for this) “Pseudocercospora leaf spot may be present!” Recommendation from same source: “Prune the branches and hope for the best.” Another source (again, U of M Extension reference) called the problem Verticillium wilt, and state, “There is no cure for a plant with this fungal infection other than to increase watering and fertilizing to extend the life of the plant.” Do we writers have a recommendation? No, we just wished to bring the matter to our readers’ attention. This adventure commenced with two citizens spotting something white in blossom when it shouldn’t be. Thanks, Vicky and Vi!

Pearly-white ring-billed gulls continue to wheel and deal the barren landscape of the former LeSueur Water Treatment ponds. Sunday, October 4th’s poofy white clouds gave an air of elegance to a colorful Minnesota River Valley landscape. Interspersed with the myriad hues on the hillsides, birch and quaking aspen tree trunks added contrast to the multicolored hillsides. The next ‘white’ we experience, may be the ivory northern pellets and feathers of ‘you know what.’ Welcome warmer weather appears to be on the horizon, let’s keep covid off the doorstep with masks and social distancing. Be SAFE, be SOUND!!!