Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Beginings

Today marks the start of the winter season as per the calendar and the axis wobble of the big blue marble. Winter weather has actually been here since early November, with enough sub-freezing temps, snow, ice formation and grey skies as to be nearly continuous, except for a few hours yesterday and the day before when the air temperature rose above thirty-two. So, during this longest night of the year, I am looking back toward the other Solstice.

On that afternoon in June, on the shore of Winnibigoshish, it was cocktail hour, after the crew and I had already burned twelve plus hours of daylight. We sat around on the deck of our host's cabin in a small clearing of the canopy in a large section of the maple basswood complex of northern Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest. The air was alive with flying insects, birdsong, and wind waved leaves as a true tropic cascade danced above.  We watched an explosion of frenzied dragonfly feasting on both seen and unseen targets. There were several different species of dragonfly present, distinguishable in size, as they patrolled the opening in the canopy and the clearing below. Mosquitoes, blackflies, deerflies, midges and mayflies were all on the menu. And there were woodland warblers darting through the whole mix, eagerly collecting the abundant protein.

And then there was something surprising that non of us had ever seen.

With an audible "splat", the largest of the dragonfly types crashed onto the deck at our feet. Clasping tightly around a captured meal, it consumed another, smaller dragonfly. We were stunned and wowed!

New information about the green darner suggests that migration patterns of these common large  predatory insects are becoming better understood.

The time required to completely consume the meal was eight minutes. Only the mouth parts of the darner moved as it ate its meal. The smaller odonta was just reeled into oblivion! We witnessed this phenomenon several times over the course of that afternoon. We even laid bets on whether the big predator would be able to fly off after such a large meal. I was on the losing side of that - with no struggle or hesitation, and one flip of its wings, it was gone again into the aerial hunt the instant that the other was finished.

So, I think I am looking forward as I look back. Isn't that the purpose of the whole seasonal celebration. Happy Holidays !!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

As low as it gets

Eight days hence
as a final five minutes of daylight disappear
from this grey and gloomy sky
we stop and look toward the lowest angled sun
unseen these many weeks behind the hazy shroud of early winter
its slow return a thing to celebrate

Monday, December 10, 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018

Freeze up

Eight degrees this morning
followed by another snowy day
Grey is the dominant hue throughout
A full on January kind of day
soft water last gasp

 Dogs intent on harassment by the bank beaver. This may its last day above the ice for many months.

Transition zone between shallow bay and deep main lake basin


Brewski saved from unheated barn just in the nick