New Life, Earth’s Verdant Resurrection, Azure Skie

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub,

There they huddled and snuggled, a dozen wee fuzzy urchins experiencing the world of light for the first time, resurrected from their calcium enclosed tombs. An incubator coaxed them into life, there to be greeted by the smiling face of their benefactor, Vern Bienfang. “They’re here, come see the first chicks of the season!” And so it was that we were privileged to admire the little bi-colored peepers of 2021, right on time for Easter. A handful of worms and a diet of chick grower will soon see them big enough to take on the insects and green grass shoots of the poultry yard, with Vern’s ever watchful yard dog, eyes, ears and nose constantly on the alert. Nary a weasel, mink, coyote or birds of prey need enter the conclave.

The sight of the wee birds cuddled in Vern’s hands reminded us of two devotees of nature who passed from the area the past week, both lovers of earth and its many creatures which inhabit the sphere with them. A freak accident claimed Mark Osborne of rural Nicollet County at a young age, a person who loved people, land and soil, one who challenged mountains and persevered through the changing seasons. One who plowed, planted and reaped, teaching others with patience and enthusiasm the challenges of bringing new life into the world.

Henderson’s irreplaceable Doris Wigand knew the world about her as one great book to be read, studied, absorbed, and shared. Her wisdom, knowledge and respect for life emanated from her inner being. She knew the rising of the sun, the phases of the moon, and the names of all the creatures who sprang from the soil which she was nurtured. Both leave a legacy of earthly fulfillment. Who shall step forward to occupy their moccasins?

As regular readers of this column are aware, faithful Frances, friendly Ford Focus, after carting around her environmentalist friends for more than 200,000 miles, asked to retire while she could enjoy a more docile life. Her replacement is another Focus, silver white in color, and in that he lives on Swan Street in LeSueur, has asked to be named “Swanee.” After solving the ‘when is a goose a goose and not a duck’ mystery a week ago, he was ready for an even more challenging task on Easter Sunday after his spiritual needs were met. The double challenge, that of spotting flocks of white pelicans in migration, and snapping a photo of the arrival of the first great blue herons. Swanee traveled 170 miles and failed at both assignments! He now is familiar with LeSueur, Nicollet, Scott and Sibley Counties; has traveled through the cities and boroughs of ten surrounding towns; while inspecting lakes Elysian, Clear Lake at Lexington, Jefferson, Gorman, German and Emily, plus the swamps and marshes in between. The grand total of birds sought was… (drum roll)… N O N E!!! Yes, a week ago great blues were flapping about at the Belle Plaine rookery, but not on Easter Sunday, 2021. The azure skies of a breathlessly beautiful day yielded no great white soaring pellies circling effortlessly above the Minnesota River nor area lakes. Not a single heron stalked frogs, minnows and giant water beetles in shallow marshes. A pond at the southwest corner of Lake Emily roared with frog croaks, an open invitation to herons for a Sunday morning breakfast of frog fritters. Nary a heron. Swanee ended up hanging his windshield wipers in shame.

We tried to perk him up by promising sights of pelicans in the near future, great blue herons will soon feast, and cormorants will drop by in dozens to chase rough fish and northern pike in Bucks’ Lake off Highway #93 in Sibley County.

Photographer extraordinaire Bruce Bjork of LeSueur alerted us to a pair of kestrals (also known as sparrow hawks) bonding near the Jessenland Church, and sure enough, they were present, always moving ahead of Swanee so as to not allow a great photo. Bruce did that for him. Horned larks were moving through the area in singles and doubles; bluebirds enhanced the beautiful morning with their spanking new feathers. Best of all, Trumpeter swans, once close to extermination, were observed in many a shallow marsh, wetland and slough. Thus ended Swanee’s first tough assignment, with many a rough yet enjoyable miles ahead of him in the future.