For the second year in a row there has been a noticeable loss in the variety of our prairie plants. Our three native varieties of coneflowers disappeared entirely. Last year, only one bedraggled half-grown coneflower struggled for survival on ground where dozens had bloomed in past years. The Rattlesnake Masters are also gone, their blue-grey spiked globes hovering above waving grasses like minute alien aircraft. Perhaps it’s too early, but I can’t find my usual stand of Big Blue Stem prairie grass either. August may end up being the month we intentionally kill off half our prairie, necessary to replant and restore balance to our small re-creation of lost Wisconsin prairie. It’s been a very long time since I posted … I’d hit the blogger wall of indecision and over questioning; why was I doing this, what did I expect, and who am I? I’m back where I started, still haven’t answered any of those questions, but I have completed another set of photos to post. My site also looks different. I messed with my theme during my renewal and found I couldn’t upload my backup. Still working on THAT one! My apologies to those that I may have lost in the process … my links are also gone. Please contact me if you haven’t heard from me in a long time – I’m literally lost in WordPress land!
Happy First Anniversary!
May 27, 2014
The Whooping Crane is the third most endangered bird in North America. A mere average of 380 birds remain alive in the wild today. About a hundred are reintroduced birds that migrate between Wisconsin and Alabama or Florida. The majority are a natural flock that summers in Canada and winters on the coast of Texas.
The most malevolent killer of these stately, five-foot tall, white birds with their seven-foot wingspan, are not bobcats, alligators, or bears, but humans with guns. The birds aren’t predators, they pose no harm to domestic animals or farm crops. The birds spend most of their time foraging in wetlands and the edges of fields. In Kentucky, two more Whooping Cranes have been murdered.
Historically they were hunted for their for their brilliant white feathers. Today they’re killed for sport or plain ass stupidity. In 1950 there were less than 50 alive in the entire United States. Sixty-four years later not many more are around. They don’t breed every year like most birds. They raise their young for the first year. They mate for life. The environment today presents new dangers. Power lines, pesticides and poisons, loss of habitat, danger from oil spills and water shortages. The easier access of man to smaller territories inhabited by Whooping Cranes.
When cranes fly, they’ll catch a thermal and rise like a spirit into the heavens, gone from view within the tenth of a second used to measure who wins a race. Those lucky few that watch the near illusion are left standing in awe, wondering if they’ve actually seen a Whooping Crane or an miracle.
I’ve watched a Whooping Crane glide along the tree tops, following the path of a small creek through a protected wetland. Creeping along a highway shoulder at 35 miles an hour, I saw that brilliant white bird from more than a mile in the distance. It disappeared when it came to ground after the third mile. Although I turned down the first road to the left, I had no luck finding it, although, its distinctive whoop could be heard from the marsh.
Listen to the unique call of two Texas Whooping Cranes …
Approximately mid-March in Wisconsin, I open the bedroom and porch windows. I do it so I can listen for the sound of birds returning north. Canada Geese arrive first, followed by the mated pair of Sandhill Cranes that return to the bog behind our home. When the neighborhood hooking settles down, it’s time to separate the Sandhills from the possible Whooping Cranes. They might arrive separately, or they might arrive together. It depends. These are still young birds, they haven’t established permanent territories or picked out lifetime mates.
A few years ago, a young female Whooper broke ranks during the Florida UltraLite migration and flew off with a flock of Sandhill Cranes. When she returned, she was leading the flock, was the loudest, and the Sandhill Cranes were following her. I didn’t see them. We live between a hill and the Fox River they were navigating over. I certainly heard them.
That same year, a single bird flew over and disappeared for the entire summer. Again, I heard him but couldn’t see him. When I heard he was missing, i suspected where he might be, but there was no way I could get in there. Eventually, in late summer, early autumn, he was located by an air search in the expected area. He’s well and with the flock in Alabama this winter.
Not so with the couple of birds that decided Kentucky would be a good place to mate and raise a family. They nested and produced their first egg this year. It was the first egg from the White River Marsh birds. It wasn’t viable, but it was a hopeful sign. Our birds had learned well, they were acting like wild birds, no attachment to humans, doing what they were trained to do. Go, leave, live naturally in the wetlands of the eastern fly-way.
In late November, someone decided it would be fun to shoot two Whooping Cranes wintering in Kentucky. Our magnificent Wisconsin birds have been murdered. Please help us find the killer or killers of our young birds.
Living twenty miles from Operation Migration’s Whooping Crane summer site, makes the killing of these birds, very personal We must find this person, or persons and turn them over for investigation and prosecution. This was a joy killing, a criminal offence covered by the Federal Endangered Species Act. The reward recently doubled to $15,000. Someone needs a good ass whooping for what they’ve done. Please share this blog and pass the word along.
The Today Show updated and rebroadcast their recent feature on Operation Migration and the Wisconsin to Florida flock to include the killing and reward for our two birds.
Please get the word out and HELP. Thank You.
Mid-November in South-central Wisconsin is drab. There is no other way to describe it. Layers of dead, drab brown oak leaves litter the ground. Oak trees tend to keep at least half their leaves until the following spring so the view from my windows is also khaki colored. I’ve reached back into my files for a few photos I took during mid-September of my backyard garden lair while it was in the transition stage from late summer to early autumn. Lot’s of layers of color, texture, and reflections. Let me know what you think. I appreciate your feedback.
I’ve been singing this to myself a lot lately …
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” ― Wendell Berry
…and so I have reached a wall I cannot find my way around. I’ve tried to write my way through it, dug deep beneath to unearth profound ideas, and called upon Muses to uplift my spirits so that I might see what lies beyond. Nothing produced any grand scheme. My mind used to open and place words faster than a beaver could fall a sampling. If a mystified mind is employed surely I’m working overtime without pay. A Muse of Perspiration has replaced my Muse of Inspiration.
It doesn’t matter if I work by light of day, or lamp, nothing shines forth. Late last night was the closest I came to hearing the faint whisper of my creative Muse. I was on the back porch, overcast, no light flickered from sky or woods. Nothing glowed from within the house. A free symphony of night sounds uplifted me – and mystified that this should happen while I was in total darkness, with only lean capability to recall the scale of the occasion. I couldn’t sit and write my cascading thoughts as they turned into articulate visions in the dark of Cicadas and Tree Frogs. A playful, short-seasoned chorus which only the night breeze hears. It was similar to, ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears, will it still make a sound?’
I’d been gifted with several minutes to absorb an experience I could bring forth at will during the remainder of my life. It was long enough to acknowledge my Muse of Realization – this is what John Muir listened to while awake in his loft bed a few miles away some 160 years or so ago. I’ll wrestle my stupefied Muses and give them a good cussing for kicking back and chugging good old Wisconsin brews while ignoring my pleas, I’ve posted a short sideshow from the John Muir Memorial County Park in Marquette County, Wisconsin. The prairie restoration is on the acreage below the original boyhood of John Muir, surrounding Fountain Lake (now named Ennis Lake). The park is located on County Highway F, approximately halfway between Portage and Montello, Wisconsin.
Later in his life, John recalled his arrival on the farm in 1849 as, “To this charming hut, in the sunny woods, overlooking a flowery glacier meadow and a lake rimmed with water lilies, we were hauled by an ox-team across trackless Carex swamps and low rolling hills sparsely dotted with round-headed oaks. . .This sudden plash into pure wildness–baptism in Nature’s warm heart–how utterly happy it made us. . .Everything new and pure in the very prime of spring when Nature’s pulses were beating highest and mysteriously keeping time with our own. Young hearts, young leaves, flowers, animals, the winds and the streams and the sparkling lake, all wildly, gladly rejoicing together. Oh, that glorious Wisconsin wilderness!” Obviously, John had no problem in his life with missing Muses or mystification.
If granted such a passion
I will dance in rain
Be happy with bad weather
And not cry for loss of schedule
The flowers on the prairie
Are doubled down with fear
That if standing straight in windstorm
Will tear them from the land
Even grass bends low
Shelters neighbors near
Keeps tender buds from breaking
Open petals safe from hail
Wisdom lives in prairie
Passed down from year to year
Inherits genetics ancient
Arranged gardens never know
There are lovely wet adventures
In a garden under rain
To those that dare to venture
With clothing soaked and dank
Nature often shows her best
When hiding light behind the clouds
Living things run for shelter
And leave land unguarded
End of stormy weather
Shows clouds of yellow hues
Like pies baked upside down
And thrown angrily aside
Bruised sky looking saddened
Lightning struck and thunder battered
Silently slipping over me
Turmoil waning and strength depleted
That all the glory of the storm
Will go to sunset in the west
That rain left untouched
And swiftly skirted past
The last hurrah of rainy day
Will come from setting sun
Reflected off of stormy boil
And bounded down to praise