Friday, May 31, 2013

Wood Duck and chicks

A female wood duck and her chicks cruised along the shores of the pond at Bassett Creek Park

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Splash of spring

There are a few blooming ornamental crabapple trees at Bassett Creek Park that are totally loaded with blossoms.  Wow, what a display!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Running through adversity

Jason Williams (rt) winning a 100 meter race
It was interesting to read about Jason Williams, a standout sprinter from Washburn High School, who is competing at a high level, despite the tragic losses of his mother and grandmother in the past few years (Washburn star overcomes hurdles to star in track).

I was pleased to see Jason compete yesterday at the Minnesota State High School Section 6 track meet. He is pictured, at left, winning his heat of the 100 meter dash (lf) and the 200 meter run (below).
Jason winning 200 meter race

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sending flowers from California

I attended the wedding this past weekend in Southern California.

The weather was beautiful, and I thought it might be nice to send you some flowers!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Variegated Hosta

Variegated hosta are sprouting up quickly, given lots of moisture and a bit of sunlight every now and then..

Friday, May 24, 2013

Getting out of the comfort zone

Splitting wedge
Despite good intentions, a couple of weeks of cool rainy weather kept me off of my bike.  However with yesterday's warming temperatures and sunshine it was a great day for riding.  Yet, having become comfortable getting around in a car, it took additional effort to take my bike out and run a few errands.  When I finally was out and riding it was a great experience; enjoying the fresh air, getting exercise and getting my errands done. Glad I was able to get out of my comfort zone.
Ash firewood

Yesterday morning I got some additional exercise splitting wood.  I had a couple of large rounds of ash, that were highly resistant to splitting.  Thankfully a neighbor happened by and offered me the assistance of a splitting wedge.  It made an almost impossible job of splitting the wood to a possible one, albeit still none to easy.  I now fully appreciate why many baseball bats are made out of ash, it doesn't break/split easily.

I love it when I can get exercise and also get some things done.  No need to pay for enrollment at a gym.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barred Owl

It was an unexpected bonus to discover a Barrred Owl at the Eloise Butler Wildflower garden.  I went to take pictures of the flowers, but discovered this stately bird perched on a branch nearby the walking trail.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reasons to doubt anthropomorphic climate change

I used to wonder how on this green earth people could still doubt the negative impact of anthropomorphic climate change, and our personal and corporate responsibility to radically reduce our carbon footprint. Then I was reminded of our lackluster science education, compounded by our tremendous dependency upon oil. Additionally, there are millions of individual and corporate investors who have oil stocks and or mutual funds, which are heavily invested in the oil industry. Disparaging oil in this country is a bit like suggesting; take a big gulp, that Coke isn’t all that good for your health. A radical idea to be sure, but sadly oh so true.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Natural elegance

River Birch catkin alongside Weeping Willow
How elegant are the dangling tree catkins this time of year.

Weeping Willow catkin

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mallard and Canada Goose

 A mallard took to flight nearby a Canada Goose swimming in the pond at Bassett Creek Park.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange 
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands 
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging --- 

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

-Mary Oliver

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bringing up a new generation

Canada Geese and Goslings
Once again it is that time of year again at the park....
Ready or not, make way for a new generation of Canada Geese!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Common Tern

Common Tern
A surprise visitor has been enjoying Bassett Creek Park; a Common Tern.  We don't usually see these beautiful birds in our region.  It has been fun watching it dive for fish.  It becomes submerged when diving under the water to make a capture.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Park drama

I had a chance to witness an amazing drama at Bassett Creek Park yesterday. Initially it was fascinating to watch an American Osprey being tailed by a Grackle.  The Osprey later swooped down to capture a goldfish from the pond.  Moments later a Juvenile American Bald Eagle forced the Osprey to drop its fish, which it then retrieved and flew off with into the horizon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pair of Mallards

Pair of Mallards in the Pond at Bassett Creek Park
I decided to play around with the processing power of Adobe Lightroom 3 by making the colors more vivid.  Though mallards are common ducks around Minnesota, they really are pretty beautiful!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Target Employees at the Minneapolis Peace Garden
I must confess to being impressed with Target employees yesterday.  I discovered them providing assistance to the community in two very different venues.  First, on a visit to Second Harvest Heartland, I found they were helping to bag food for area food shelves.  Then later, midcourse of a bike ride, I was amazed to see red Target employee shirts helping out throughout the Peace Gardens and Rose Gardens nearby Lake Harriet.  I asked one of the employees if they were strictly volunteering or on company time, and he indicated they were on company time.  Way to go employees and the Target Corporation!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Budding tree

Though this is one of the latest spring in recorded history here in Minnesota, it looks like it is finally appearing.  Whew!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dramatic swing in weather pattern

The ice out date for a local lake, Minnetonka, recently occurred on May 2nd.  The year previous it went out 42 days earlier on March 21st.  The median date for ice out on Minnetonka is April 14th.  Wow, what a difference a year makes!

This news was from the LakeMinnetonkaPatch, Freshwater society officially declares ice out on Lake Minnetonka.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bird bath

I enjoyed taking a few shots of birds at the bird bath this weekend.  As you can see, the first bird took off on me before I could catch.  Even with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second, it was still something of a blur.

The yellow rumped warbler however was a much more accommodating model.

Lastly, the robin demonstrated how to take a bath.  These birds really like to splish and splash when they take their bath!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Great Horned Owl and Owlet
 Yesterday morning I brought my camera along with me on my walk to church, hoping that the owlet might be visible.  Much to my surprise it was perched with one of its parents on a cottonwood limb.

Bird watching continues to be spectacular, given our cool temps the tree leaves have yet to arrive

It felt like our extremely long winter ended yesterday.  The day warmed considerably, with a high temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sunset with tree branch and buds

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Owlet camouflage

This owlet seems to blend in pretty well with the giant Cottonwood tree in which it was nested.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fear mongering radio

In order to try to understand other perspectives I've been forcing myself to listen to a fear mongering radio station that features a multitude of shock jocks, including the largest mouth on radio; Rush Limbaugh. One of the local radio personalities, Bob Davis, even suggested the parents of the children who were gunned down in Newtown should go to hell* (editorial comment: he was eager for company?), since they were advocating gun control.  I finally realized why I dislike this format so much. It is the antithesis of the Apostle Paul's admonition: 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

*  Pro-gun radio host tells Newtown victims' families "Go to Hell"

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spring flowers and tree buds

I stopped by Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden yesterday to see if any flowers were starting to bloom.  The flowers above and below were the first and only blossoms I could find.  It was, however, just as interesting to see the tree buds. What creative designs!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Commodification of morality

I wanted to shout "Amen" after reading a provocative article in the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch, Capitalism is killing our morals, our future, by Paul Farrell.  He references work by Harvard Philosopher Michael Sandel, author of "What Money Can't Buy: The moral limits of markets".

A couple of the primary concerns that Dr. Sandel has associated with unfettered capitalism is the cultivation of corruption and inequality.  One example of inequality is the growth of student fees for children to participate in school sports and other after-school activities. Now the kids that could benefit most by participating in the school play, debate team, chess, or sports team are those who are more likely to be ruled out with expensive participation fees.  Even without any equipment fees it costs students in our school district $210 to participate in one sport and $110 to join an extracurricular actvity, such as a play, debate, etc. Taxpayers and legislators once valued participation by students in such activities, when they were totally supported by taxpayers.  Corruption occurs when money wields influence over such things as citizenship in the United States.

These past 30 years our nation has moved from being a market economy to a market society.  Market values permeate human and societal behavior in a market society.  So, for example, our natural environment no longer becomes intrinsically valuable, but it becomes valued only based on the financial worth of what it is able to provide for human consumption.

Capitalism has many endearing qualities to advance society, but it needs to be balanced by laws, and a sense of justice, in order to keep at least some focus on the interests of the common good.  Sadly I must admit, support for our common good is becoming less common.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What is the value of Nature?

Traces of bugs in dead tree
Mark Tercek, the CEO of The Nature Conservancy, spoke at the Westminster Town Hall Forum this past week.  He's written a book "Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature." He suggested we consider nature as "green infrastructure".  This will allow the environmental movement to:
1. Broadens support to include more constituents
2. Lead to more financial resources for the movement, harnessing support from capitalism
3. It changes the dialogue into problem solving

Nature also has intrinsic value, beyond the price tag a capitalist might place on it for their financial benefit.  As something of an idealist I think it seems rather sad that the only way for our natural environment to get the respect it deserves is through commodification.