Oh August, what an enjoyable month on Lake Superior! The cold wind off the lake subsides making for sunny calm 70 degree days,and the quiet ripple of the waves is soothing. Eagles and sea gulls still screech at each other in their constant conflicts, and a pileated woodpecker bangs on dying trees, but like the hummingbirds most birds are getting ready to head south and are unusually silent.
August is one of my favorite months for watching butterflies. They bring joy as they flit around from plant to plant. The most common in my neighborhood is the white admiral, with frequent sighting of monarchs, fritillaries, and the tiny eastern-tailed blue.
Climate change is affecting the big lake. Weather patterns get stuck, and the rain and high water of the past few years is causing banks to collapse into the lake. Also, plastic is becoming a serious problem. Read about it here.
I think most of us would agree we don’t want polluted air and water, or a world without interesting animals, birds, and butterflies. Can we accept a world where people are staving to death? Do we want to live without diversity, in a mono-culture where we can’t accept anything different from how we live? Do we want a world where disrespect is accepted?
Several recent studies and events should wake us up and shake us to action. First a study from the United Nations that says we are going to have a food crisis if we don’t change our land use. We just aren’t going to have food for everyone if we continue on our path of land use and wasting food. The study encourages a reduction in our meat consumption. The raising of meat, especially beef and lamb takes an enormous amount of energy, land, and water resources. It also states we must stop wasting so much food. Read the study comprised by over a hundred scientists here.
Second, how about some plastic in your drink? Plastic is everywhere, and it might never break down. The amount of plastic microfibers in our water and air is troubling. Read about it at Plastic. Read about the plastic in the big lake at Lake Superior.
Finally, the quality of life will decline if we don’t have song birds and crickets singing, if we don’t have eagles, hummingbirds or happy chickadees to entertain us. We all want a world with penguins, giraffes and elephants. Our changing climate makes it necessary that we protect and support animals that will take longer to adjust to this change. Protecting some animals might be as simple as keeping oil and gas companies from drilling in certain areas. Read at Endangered Species Act . The Trump administration intends to end special protections of some of our most cherished animals.
What actions matter? These are the things my household tries to do everyday. If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot! 1. Reduce food waste. This is the hardest, but the most important! https://savethefood.com/ 2. Eat less meat, https://damndelicious.net/2014/12/02/15-best-quick-easy-meatless-recipes/ 3. Reduce our plastic foot-print and work for zero waste 4. Buy less stuff, and purchase items that will last, not junk! 5. Be kind. It would be a boring world if everyone had blue eyes, blond hair, tiny noses, and a perfect weight. Be respectful of our differences.
If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot! Our warming planet is real, and we need to find ways use our land more efficiently, and to slow down our warming planet. What do you think? What kind of world do you want to live in?
As I sit and listen to the waves, I can tell this is no ordinary lake. The sound of the waves tell of a deep cold big lake, and this year it is colder than usual making for a late spring and summer.
Song sparrows have built a nest on the ground a short distance from my window. Building a ground nest is surprising to me, but these sparrows know more about nests than I do. Any outside activity near the nest is off limits for us, and I am thrilled I have such a good view from my window.
Along with the song sparrow the common yellow throat, red-eyed vireo, red start, oven bird, mourning warbler and chestnut sided warbler sing their hearts out and bring joy. The painted butterfly, monarch, and yellow swallow-tail are searching for host plants for their eggs. I hope the lateness of plants this year doesn’t harm the butterflies.
During these long days the sun rises at 5:10am, and sets at 9:03pm giving us lots of daylight to enjoy the big lake, the birds, the butterflies, and new blooming flowers.
Run-off from the rivers and high-water levels are making the big lake brown. The dirt banks are wearing away. The wet climate of the last few years has really changed the lake! And a local news article about powerful Lake Superior grabbing land as the lake levels rise. Lake Superior is always changing and renewing itself in every season, including the shoreline that surrounds it.
October is a magical month. Nature’s paint brush thrives with the fall colors. The hues change from green to red to orange to yellow to brown. And the fleeting colors and leaves hang on for life as the wind blows. Today the leaves gently fell from the trees like the first light snowfall. The first half of the month was unseasonably cold, cloudy and rainy, but the bright autumn colors kept the landscape bright and happy. I love October!
The wind dominates the weather. Eighty-mile an hour winds were recorded with twenty-foot waves pounding the Lake Superior shore. Some days and nights the waves from the lake pound our sandstone cliff. The spray can actually travel 75 feet to splash our house.
Interesting birds are migrating through from the north. Yellow rump warblers eat flies sunning themselves on our house, hermit thrush jump in the leaf litter, palm warblers wag their tails, and my favorite white-throated sparrows look for food in the brush. The junkos, harbingers of winter, are everywhere, and groups of snow buntings have just arrived.
Wildlife and humans hunker down into thoughts of the winter ahead. The brisk temperatures and short days become a message that our warmth is fleeting. The chickadees, gold finch and nuthatches are busy emptying our bird feeder. It is amazing they can remember where they hide their seeds. The squirrels and chipmunks wait below for scraps to be part eating and hiding fun.
The big lake is seldom quiet. The sound of moving water and lack of human noise is refreshing. We love our sounds from nature, and our one square inch of silence. https://onesquareinch.org/
“We believe water is key to our future prosperity, and that together, we can achieve a water wise world.”
26 – 31 August, 2018, Stockholm, Sweden
World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It is organized by SIWI. World Water Week will address the theme, “Water, ecosystems and human development.”
The water on earth belongs to all of us, not to just big business or farmers, but to everyone. We depend on clean water for drinking and recreation, and our survival. We can’t choose business profits over the health of people. Let’s all speak out for clean water.
Water is life! I live in a water rich place, and worry that protecting this precious natural resource isn’t enough of a priority. We are at such an important place in protecting our waterways. The past ten years have shown declining water quality. Forty percent of Minnesota’s streams and lakes are not safe for swimming or boating and Lake Superior has many stresses also. Tell policy makers clean water is a priority.
Conferences and education are important, but each one of us has a role to play in protecting our water. There are simple things we can do that can make a big difference. First, reduce run-off on your property by redirecting drain spouts, planting deep-rooted native plants that absorb water, and making raingardens. Never use chemicals on your yard, and sweep your sidewalks. Third, buy less stuff, and reduce your plastic footprint by reusing and refusing. Fourth, tell elected officials clean water is a top priority. Finally, make a big effort to keep from wasting food. These things can make a big difference in our water quality. If everyone does a small amount it can make a big difference!
Yes, this big lake has a spiritual effect on many of us. I love mornings the as the sun rises and noisy birds are busy with their day. The eagles whistle and screech as they fly along the shoreline. I watch two adults and one juvenile land on a white pine, they sit and watch the lake, and chatter among themselves as they fly away. I wonder what the adult eagles are telling their child about life and survival? The hummingbirds are also active in August. They are eating and drinking and squeaking as they prepare for their journey south. What do they tell their young about the journey that lies in front of them? This all typical of August on Lake Superior
Sphinx moths and many bees are loving my late-blooming pollinator garden. The monarch caterpillars have become chrysalis , and I watch for new monarchs to emerge, and to my excitement they do!
Sadly, August is not like Melanie (above) describes in June. Signs of our warming climate are wearing on this big lake. Canadian wildfire smoke is creating a milky white sky and foggy horizon. Also, blue-green algae has been found along the south shore, probably caused by the yearly hundred year rains in the lake watershed. The watershed streams over-flow into the lake. Heavy rain run-off of lawn and agriculture chemicals causes a nutrient rich brown lake. Along with warm water these nutrients can lead to a blue-green algae problem. After the brown sediment filters out a greener color lake remains that has not been the Lake Superior norm. Read at blue-green algae
It makes me so happy when butterflies dance along as I walk the road by my house. One day there were dancing sulfurs, another day monarchs, swallow-tail and white admirals. I was watching a northern pearly eye, it flew at me, and decided to sit on my hand for 10 minutes as I continued my walk. July is easy to see painted ladies, red admirals, wood nymph butterflies, checkerspots, fritillaries and many skippers. This is the best time of the year to see butterflies! Get outside and look.
Seeing butterflies is so much easier than seeing birds, but the birds sing their ”I love life” song? some of them must have raised their first family and ready to start again? Song sparrows, red starts, chickadees, chestnut-sided warblers, vireos, and white-throated sparrows seem to sing just for me. I sure appreciate their happy songs.