Happy Autumn!

Thoughts for the first day of fall on Lake Superior:

Bees love the fall asters

Crickets sing, eagles whistle, the wind howls and pounds waves against the sandstone bank.
The red tips of the maples, the blooming asters, and the shortening days say one thing, summer has turned to fall!

Summer’s End
By Judith Viorst

One by one the petals drop
There’s nothing that can make them stop.
You cannot beg a rose to stay.
Why does it have to be that way?

There is an unusual explosion of painted ladies this fall

The butterflies I used to chase
Have gone off to some other place.
I don’t know where. I only know
I wish they didn’t have to go, and all the shiny afternoons
So full of birds and sun are done. I do not want them done!

The sun sets on summer 2017, Lake Superior
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How Can We Embrace Water?

Wetlands along the Mississippi River

The earth has a natural balance. The prairies, lakes, wetlands, deserts, mountains and oceans and rivers all work together to provide food and habitat for living things. Unfortunately, some places have gotten out of balance. Some areas are suffering terrible drought, and others have more rain and water than they can manage.

Building cities, driveways, parking lots, and roads changes the earth’s balance. What had been surfaces that were pervious, water drained through, are changed into impervious surfaces, that do not drain.  Wetlands have gotten the shaft the past 200 years taking away the natural healing for our earth. Farmers have drained the wetlands to be used for agriculture and cities have drained and paved over these valuable places that naturally clean our water and provide homes for so much wildlife. When you build a city on a wetland you take away the natural ability to drain the area. You also destroy the dynamic life that lives there.

Houston sits on a wetland. Without any regulation parts of Houston were built on a wetlands. The concrete and asphalt took away the earth’s drainage capacity. The original wetland wants to flood, that’s what it is supposed to do, but all the hard paved surface has left only small patches of ground to drain the water and guess what? You have a flooded area.

How can Houston embrace their water? I hope that as Houston rebuilds from Hurricane Harvey they will work to maximize pervious areas, areas that drain, and limit the concrete and asphalt. It is impossible to plan for a 50 inch rain, but with some good science and skilled planning, some houses and many lives can be saved.  Regulation and good minds are needed instead of a “Do what you want” attitude.  I hope the people of Houston will try!   It is so wasteful and expensive not to try to change the way they do things.

Areas need to be created that capture the water so it drains into the earth not into the rivers and streams. Run-off creates polluted water.  The earth naturally cleans the water as it is absorbed by the earth.  I hope Houston is willing to replace some concrete with renewed wetlands and rain gardens that will keep such destruction from happening again! Homeowners could be required to install pervious or permeable driveways or gardens that absorb water, or some area on their property that absorbs a percentage of water. See permeable driveways for ideas.

I heard one Houston homeowner on the radio, his house had flooded 3 times in the past 5 years.  It is insane to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result!  Maybe we can all learn something from New Orleans. See below.

After fighting water New Orleans is starting to embrace their water problem with a new paradigm. I hope Houston can learn from them. Read about it at New Orleans.

Also, Mayors along the Mississippi River are embracing wetlands to improve water quality and this will help New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, also! Read about at wetlands.

Houston, it’s your turn!  Wetlands can soak up lots of flood water. Can you do things differently this time around? Start listening to the scientists, engineers and environmentalists.

Houston helped put a man on the moon. Houston is the leader in the medical field. It could also begin to be a smart, resilient city if it puts its mind to it. That’s all it’s got to do. Read more at Houston.

 

 

 

Scientists, other experts and federal officials say Houston’s explosive growth is largely to blame. As millions have flocked to the metropolitan area in recent decades, local officials have largely snubbed stricter building regulations, allowing developers to pave over crucial acres of prairie land that once absorbed huge amounts of rainwater. That has led to an excess of

Enjoy the Butterfly Explosion

Painted Lady

Painted lady butterflies are one of my favorites. This week in Minneapolis we had an explosion of painted ladies as they migrate south. Other cities have experienced painted lady migration also. Read about their  migration at Fargo and Lawrence.

Pearly everlasting, painted lady host plant.

Pearly everlasting is a host plant for the painted lady caterpillars and I watch their lives cycle all summer in my yard as they transform from caterpillar, to chrysalis to butterfly on these interesting white flowered plants.

Want to know more about the painted lady? Thoughtco has more information on them. Read at painted lady

Go for a walk and see if you can find migrating monarchs and painted lady butterflies.

Painted Lady by Dave Carpenter, Nokomis Naturescape

 

Getting Ready for a Long Journey

A new monarch on blazing star

This is an exciting time for my yard!  At this time of year my yard is overrun by monarch butterflies and hummingbirds.   Total enjoyment!

The hummingbirds are gorging on the nectar feeder and on the cardinal flowers, and monarchs are obsessed with the blazing star flowers.

Then just like, that they are gone on a perilous journey, migrating to warmer climes. First the hummingbirds are gone, then a week or so later, no monarchs! I hope they aren’t caught in storms, or hit by cars, and that they all arrive in Mexico or Central America safely.

Cardinal flowers

 

Female ruby-throat hummingbird

How can you have monarchs and hummingbirds in your yard? First, never use chemicals. Second, plant lots of milkweed, cardinal flowers and blazing star. Good Luck!

September 2. is National Hummingbird Day! A day to celebrate these amazing birds.

 

Filling the Swamp with Plastic

Plastic breaks into tiny pieces, wildlife thinks it’s food, and it might last forever!

Humans have created 9 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and most of this plastic still exists on earth. Only 9 percent has been recycled, and 11 percent incinerated. That leaves 80 percent of the plastic ever produced floating around in our waterways, poisoning fish, or releasing chemicals in landfills. As citizens of this planet we should be doing everything we can to reduce the amount of plastic we use.

There were two sad set-backs for plastic in our environment this past week, and both were pandering to big business and lobbyists, or “filling the swamp”.

First, our national parks had made an effort to begin banning plastic water bottles, but the new deputy secretary of the interior, with ties to the plastic bottle industry, changed the policy. Read about it here.

Second, on what should have been an easy issue, the Minneapolis City Council tabled a five-cent fee to be placed on plastic bags. The lobbyists and the plastic industry wins over our lakes and streams.

Never should plastic have been allowed to be produced without a plan to dispose of it. Sixty-seven years later plastic manufacturers and lobbyists are thriving, and elected officials continue to “fill the swamp” taking campaign money from them.  If our parks and cities don’t lead by example our environment lacks places it can turn for leadership!

Please do what you can to reduce your plastic foot-print!

Simple ways to reduce your plastic pollution:

Bring you own bag
Bring your own bag
  1. Start simple and add one idea at a time
  2. Bring your own shopping bags
  3. Buy bulk and refill your own containers
  4. Don’t purchase bottled water
  5. Say “No” to straws, plastic spoons, forks, and knives
  6. Always choose glass containers over plastic!
  7. Never purchase products packaged in Styrofoam (Be aware of meat and produce trays)
  8. Recycle, recycle, recycle and reuse.

 

Life and Death on Lake Superior

August 2017

Many bees on the native plants.

I had just seen a hawk fly along Lake Superior, but was surprised when two large birds came crashing into a window where was sitting. This created a 45 minute ordeal below my window. The flicker cried, fought and cried some more, but the talons of the hawk had a firm grip. Blue jays and crows came to watch the commotion. The persistence of the hawk ruled and she was too strong and determined for the flicker. An unusual number of hawks in our neighborhood this August have changed the lives of chipmunks, squirrels, and the birds.

On a happier note, A a fresh bright monarch was drying her wings after emerging from her cocoon, and a monarch caterpillar was weaving herself into a cocoon and will hopefully evolve into a new monarch in two weeks.

The great south migration has started with groups of night-hawks and yellow-rump warblers migrating through, and in another week the hummingbirds will be gone, also.  Harbingers of fall.

Common Wood-nymph

The flowers are at their peak and the bees are crazy for bee balm and anise hyssop. The wood-nymph butterflies have been plentiul, but they too are at the end of their life cycle to be replaced by white admirals, cabbage whites, and fritillaries.