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

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

“Cooler by the Lake”

Superior Views, First week of July

Summer is late this year because of a rainy cold spring, and the strength of the sun is needed everyday to warm the air near the big lake.  Because of the crisis with bees I am closely watching all pollinator plants.  Without a doubt I am see more bees and butterflies in Northern Wisconsin than I observe in Minneapolis

Canada Anemone
Canada Anemone

Carpets of bunch berries cover the forest floor, wild geraniums, Canada anemone and flowering chives are the first to bloom.

Lupine is not blooming yet along the lake, but dominates the roadsides with the hawkweed, daisies, and buttercup.  A magnificent composition!

Hawkweed and Daisies
Hawkweed and Daisies
Lupine
Lupine

And everyday day on this big lake ends in beauty.

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Superior Views-A Northern Shrike

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Frozen ice sheets cover the lake, and wind-blown snow covers the landscape.  The pileated woodpeckers, juvenile eagles and chickadees and long daylight bring joy.  Snow falls,  melting, and icy walking are almost an everyday cycle068

Attacking a chickadee a Northern  Shrike is stunned as he bangs into a window.  Our first great view of a shrike!064

Real spring is still weeks away, but enjoy a March sunset over the lake071