Thursday, January 5, 2012

Autumn on the prairie

Only, it's not autumn.  It's winter. Or it's supposed to be, anyway.

We had a high today in the upper 60s.  That's about 40 degrees above normal for this time of year.  Everyone I talk to says, "Isn't this weather wonderful!"  But their smile is worried and their eyes are strained.  Up here in Minnesota, we start to get suspicious when we get too much of a good thing.  The pendulum has got to swing sometime.

Mother Nature reigns our lives from solstace to solstace.  Summer is warm and winter is cold and that's the way it works.  Lots of rain in the spring, lots of sun in the summer and fall, and lots of snow in the winter and that's the way it works.  Suddenly, here we are faced with a warm winter and no snow.  This isn't the way it works.  Something is wrong.  Nobody wants to say the big CC words, for fear of looking like a fool or worse, a liberal, but people are beginning to wonder.

The ice on the lake is breaking up, and we have open water along the banks.  Thankfully people got their icehouses off before the thaw, and nobody had to be rescued.

Yesterday I took my worried and strained self to Bonanza for a dose of prairie.  It's good for what ails ya.  Sitting on a hillside surrounded by tall grass and clear sky is a kind of medicine that most folks need and crave, only they don't know it. 

I love dead trees.  Or 'snags' as they are called in forestry lingo.  They are so good for wildlife.  The caverns made by woodpeckers looking for insects are very cool.

And the caverns in turn are used by other critters.  Like squirrels feasting on acorns.

The insect larvae eat etchings under the bark of the trees.  In some cases (as with Emerald Ash Borers) these trails end up girdling and killing the tree.  In most cases the trees are able to withstand the damage.

Bonanza boasts many springs, including this one that has been converted into a flowing well.  It's simply a pipe stuck into the ground at the right spot and the right depth.  The water runs clean and clear and cold all year round.

The ice sculptures are fabulous.  In the summer this creek is teeming with frogs.

Of all the natural landscapes in Minnesota, I think I love oak savanna the most.  The perfect blend of tall grass and tall trees.  A radiantly blue sky and cast of golden sunlight doesn't hurt, either.


Anonymous said...

Lovely images. And yes, it is a little worrying as much as I've loved the balmy weather. My New Year's resolution was to take the dog (and myself) for a walk at least 5x/week. So, the nice weather isn't hurting. Need to get over to Bonanza, but I see my sticker is expired! Must remedy that...

Erin said...

My goodness you are a wonderful photographer, you have a great eye. It is so evident you live in Laura Ingalls country :)