The Best Place on Earth in August, Lake Superior!

Perfect Weather and Great Views

Even Cedar Wax Wings Enjoy the View
Even Cedar Wax Wings Enjoy the View

The air is dry and temperatures are comfortable with a slight breeze.  Most days the sun shines, and the big lake moderates the hot extreme.   Daylight still hangs on until about 8:30PM.  It is perfect kayaking weather and the big lake is a rich blue hue.  Breathing the refreshing air feels healthy, and you wish for these marvelous days to linger forever.

The ripe red elderberry berries bring a family of hairy woodpeckers, red-eyed vireo and some very noisy blue jays to our yard.  The hummingbirds love anything red, pink or purple.  The call of loons, sand hill cranes, and pileated woodpeckers haunt the air.

St John's Wort with vervain
St John’s Wort with vervain

Best pollinator plants blooming now are the common milkweed, thistle, and the St John’s Wort.  The native bee balm hasn’t bloomed yet, and the hyssop and golden rod are a few days away from vying for best pollinator plant!

Fritillary on Thistle
Fritillary on Thistle

Our friend, the fox, visits daily, stares at us for 2 minutes and then trots off.  Some days he brings a mate. Sightings of does and her babies are unusually rare.

Sunset on Lake Superior
Sunset on Lake Superior

Yikes, Too Many Chemicals in our Lakes

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It is August and August is the best month of the summer.  The air is dry, nights are cool, and daylight still dominates. Sunsets are magnificent.

It is disheartening to hear the discussion of all the nitrates that are being deposited in our Minnesota lakes including Lake Superior.  Nitrates poison the lake, and cause thick algae to grow choking out good plants and light for the fish and other aquatic animals. Nitrates in the lakes are caused by fertilizers on our lawns and fertilizers in the production of crops.  What we put on our lawns and fields ends up in our lakes and streams.  Is this why some call August the “Dog Days of summer” because we have spent the summer poisoning our lakes?

Those of us who live in the land of lakes forget how lucky we are to have our beautiful lakes, and we all need to work for good lake quality whether it is being careful not to spread invasives or being aware of the chemicals we use. With climate change Texas and the Southwest USA are dealing with severe water shortage(see articles below).  Let’s take care of our wonderful water resource!

The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, and the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:

  1. Be conservative with your water use.
  2. Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair.  And….NEVER burn trash.
  3. Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
  4. Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
  5. Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
  6. Plant native trees  According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
  7. Install a rain barrel
  8. Create an energy-efficient  home.
  9. Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
  10. Love our lakes!

I would add several more:

  1. Rain gardens are excellent for capturing harmful water runoff.
  2. Keep leaves and trash out of streets and storm drains-Adopt a storm drain!
  3. Never use cleaning products or hand sanitizer with triclosan.
  4. Reduce all plastic use–If you must use plastic bags and bottles, be sure you recycle them.

    We love playing in our lakes
    We love playing in our lakes

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/current-news-releases/mpca-study-confirms-suspicions-high-nitrate-levels-in-southern-minnesota.html

http://www.npr.org/2013/08/11/211130501/the-algae-is-coming-but-its-impact-is-felt-far-from-water?ft=1&f=1001&sc=tw&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/current-news-releases/mpca-study-confirms-suspicions-high-nitrate-levels-in-southern-minnesota.html

http://unconsumption.tumblr.com/post/58098198181/plastic-beads-are-the-latest-pollution-threat-to-great#

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/11/texas-tragedy-ample-oil-no-water

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/35bdf2381af844658d7a5b5943ba38c5/NV–Western-Water-Colorado-River

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/219989751.html

Climate Change is Frightening

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Climate Change is Real, and it is Frightening

What changes have you seen the past few years because of our changing climate?  Some of the following have frightened me:

– In one year my pollinator plant yard has gone from many beautiful monarchs watching daily hoping they will appear..  Just last year my neighbors said to me, “We enjoy watching all the monarchs in your yard!”  This year, not one monarch.  The bees have just appeared–In August?

– My rain barrel can’t handle the downpours of rain anymore, and he heavy rains run off instead of soaking the plants that need the moisture.

– In between the rain storms is drought.

– I experienced the big June Duluth storm last year: The thunderstorms just kept rolling through for 36 hours washing out roads, bridges and homes.

– The costs for insurance and rebuilding are more than we can comprehend.

– We are insecure about the next big storm or drought!

– Ticks: Many have struggled with Lyme’s Disease.

– Asthma and health problems are worse in the vulnerable.

-The beautiful Paper Birch trees of Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin are dying.

Climate Change is here, it is real, and 97% of climate scientists say it is caused by human activity. If we act quickly we can slow the terrible effects for the future.

Instead of just talking about it we all need to act.  Just by doing one or two of the following will make a big difference:

  1. Combine your driving trips, walk, bike, car pool and take the bus whenever possible.
  2. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and reduce the amount you use your air conditioner.
  3. Look for ways your energy use can become more efficient such as insulation, and energy efficient appliances, cars, windows and doors.
  4. Cut your meat consumption, especially beef!
  5. Purchase organic food, and do not use pesticides!
  6. Punish those that pollute: Call your members of Congress and ask them to pass carbon tax legislation to punish those that are polluting our air and water. Support only candidates that believe in climate change.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/usepagov/sets/72157635037133053/

http://blog.ucsusa.org/rising-seas-and-worsening-storms-require-rethinking-flood-and-wind-insurance-203?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=tw&utm_campaign=tw

 

 

My letter in the Star Tribune

My letter published in the Minneapolis, Star Tribune August 7.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Where are our monarch butterflies? The droughts, alternating with heavy rains and pesticide use, have destroyed a lot of their habitat.

In response to the Aug. 6 commentary, “We’re free-market Republicans, but action on climate is urgent,” yes, climate change is real. We can all see it. To expect this Congress to act is hopeless, but luckily with the leadership of former State Sen. Ellen Anderson and Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota is on its way to national leadership in renewable energy.

Most important, we can all make a difference by reducing our carbon output by driving less, turning off lights and electronics when not in use, and reducing the chemicals we use. Our monarchs and children are depending on us.

Below is the op-ed to which I was responding:

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/218437091.html

Do We Want Clean Air and Clean Water?

 Lake Superior
Lake Superior

I am on my way to Climate Reality  Leadership Training in Chicago, and hope to learn to communicate what we need to do if clean air and clean water are important to us!

Below is from Steve Hogseth of Utah:

When our industrial age began, few could have projected today’s predicament. For decades, the wake-up call has been ringing. We need to utilize fossil fuels in the foreseeable future, as we must maintain our economy.  We need to taper off on fossil fuels and embrace gentler energies. Through man’s innovation, greener energies will gain efficiency, mitigating fossil consumption. We need to stop blindly “believing the words” of self-interest lobbyists, greed mongers, oil/coal advocates, and political pundits. We must personally become scientifically attuned.

A question for naysayers: “Even if you do not believe in global warming, why would you not want to address the source of dirty air and water?”   Steve Hogseth, Utah

http://www.leadertelegram.com/opinions/letters_to_editor/article_5e9ce4cb-878c-512d-927a-34095ef07bb6.html   Steve Hogseth on climate change

https://realitydrop.org/

Superior Views, Hoping for that Lake Superior Breeze

“The fog was lifting off the water. It was just magical.”  Jennifer Granholm

No monarch butterflies to enjoy, but the white admiral,  fritillary, northern pearly eye,  and lots of skippers are happy and beautiful.

White Admiral
White Admiral

It has been a great year for blue flag iris. and I am thrilled a painted lady butterfly has laid eggs on the pearly everlasting.  The daisies and buttercup are the dominant roadside flowers.

Blue Flag Iris
Blue Flag Iris

The northern parula, red-eye vireo, and song sparrow serenade me as I work in my yard.

On hot days there is a fascinating struggle over the lake between the hot and cold air and it looks and feels like a thunderstorm is being created over Lake Superior with the very hot and cold air mix. The perfect place to be on a hot summer day, especially when the wind is off the lake.

Northern Parula
Northern Parula (Photo credit: Dan Pancamo)
Anaphalis margaritacea
Pearly Eye

Habitat loss, No Monarchs this year

Asclepias syriaca COMMON MILKWEED
Asclepias syriaca COMMON MILKWEED (Photo credit: gmayfield10)

There just isn’t enough milkweed!

The monarch butterfly numbers have plummeted, and experts tell us it is habitat loss due to bad weather(climate change), mono-cultures of corn and soybeans, and pesticides.

Why can’t you purchase common milkweed at garden stores? The experts say we should be planting common milkweed.  For the past two summers I have been trying to purchase milkweed.  Even native plant stores say, “Our supplier doesn’t carry common milkweed”  They consider it a weed.

For years I have been scattering seeds, but have not seen any results.

A garden store 3 hours from my home dug some out of their garden for me.  It was wilted by the time I was able to get it planted, but I cut it off and stuck in the ground.  Two weeks later it has some new growth and I am thrilled.

The last few years a monarch sighting was special, but this year, I can count on one hand the number of monarchs I have seen on my daily walks.  We all need to act!

What can we all do?

  1. Tell garden stores you would like to purchase common milkweed, and to please find a source so they can sell it to their customers.
  2. Plant other plants the monarchs love: Liatris, cone flowers, hyssop, butterflyweed, swamp milkweed and many smelly orange and yellow flowers.
  3. Reduce the amount of turf grass in your yard, and if possible just leave some wild areas for the birds, bees and butterflies.  Bees and butterflies love dandelions
  4. Do not use chemicals, especially neonicotinoid pesticides.
  5.  Use as many organic food products as you can, and buy local.

http://www.startribune.com/local/215176011.html  Monarch butterfly numbers down sharply

http://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/

Monarch male showing its wings to attract a mate
Monarch male showing its wings to attract a mate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)