Welcome Back

Sunday, May 2, 2010
Minnesota’s state bird, the common loon, doesn’t winter in the state. Instead, in the middle of November, loons head down to the Gulf of Mexico, where they stay into April. Sometimes they head home to find the Minnesota lakes pretty well iced over, but this year with our early spring, they came home to open waters.
When I was thirteen, my family went on a Civils Rights Tour (until I started college, I assume all families had themed vacations) down through Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. When we were in Biloxi, MS, we had a chance to head out into the Gulf on a fishing boat. As we were nearing the harbor at the end of the cruise, one of the other tourists pointed at a large grey bird swimming alongside the boat. “What’s that?” the person asked the captain. My brother and I both rolled our eyes. For crissakes. Couldn’t they see it was a loon?!

But when loons are in the South, they loose their distinctive tuxedo of feathers that they don all summer long, nor do they sing while in the Gulf. In essence, loons become recluses in the winter and as a result, people in the South aren't nearly as enamored by these solid boned divers as we are up here. So we’re really glad to have our loons back in northern waters. They just narrowly escaped being victims of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill.
Of course, there are plenty of birds and other marine wildlife who will be affected by this massive environmental disaster. It makes me sick to think that this oil spill is worse than Exxon Valdex. I wish there was something tangible I could do to help with the Gulf disaster, but it seems like the best thing we can do is reduce our dependency on oil, foreign or not.

I’m also glad to be back in the Northwoods. I had a wonderful time in New York City and it sounds as though the NYPD and other city officials did an excellent job defusing the amateur bomb in Times Square and managing the situation last night. But I’m okay with having been removed from that drama by a good 1000 miles. We feel pretty safe up here in the middle of the Continent. But with lots and lots of wind this weekend, and not too much rain, everyone’s worried about potential wildfire.
The seedlings are just starting to plant from their sunny spot on the kitchen table. This morning, three cosmos seedlings were stretching out in the light of day. Andy’s been putting lots of time into revamping the garden beds outside. With a bit of luck, the kitchen table will be overflowing with seedlings to plant in those beds in no time.

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