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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: April 14, 2021

A Week of "Firsts"

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,




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It seems like spring came a little bit early this year. Alice Creek started flowing in the last days of March, last year it didn't open until April. Normally, wild flowers are hard to find on May Day, May 1, but this year I have already spotted the first "Spring Beauty," a small delicate pink/white flower of the purslane family. It was on a south-facing bank in the woods, and filled me with joy when I spotted the unexpected arrival. Next will be the May flowers, the Cowslips/Marsh Marigolds, and the lovely Trilliums, dense among the wild leeks or ramps. Those are so eager in spring they are already six inches high, a dense green carpet in the woods.

The last few days of rain have caused an explosion of green " you'd think the steady drizzles contained green pigment. Early this morning on a rain coat and rubber boots dog walk, I stopped to admire the delicate limb of a shrub, arched over Hank Lake's edge. The branch was studded with tiny green leaves, climbing out of their buds, and between the miniature leaves, rain drops like pearls. I don't think I have ever seen a piece of jewelry as beautiful as that branch.

Late last week, I was standing on the bank where Alice Creek leaves Hank Lake and was startled when a dragonfly rocketed past me. I was sure I was seeing things but then two more zoomed by. I follow a Wisconsin dragonfly fancier Facebook page, so I know these were most likely Common Green Darners. They are normally the first members of their species to make an appearance but these were moving way too fast for me to be sure of the species. Dragonflies are my favorite insects, I find them as fascinating as I do the Blue Angels flight team with their high speeds and incredible maneuvering skills. Plus they eat mosquitoes, another endearing quality. I am happy to announce that we've not yet noticed a mosquito or a wood tick, but after a session of dead tree clearing last weekend I checked myself carefully, as I expect the first tick any day now.

The frogs are overwhelming in their racket. It started with the classic sound of spring, the aptly named Spring Peepers. There must be a thousand of them in the cattails and vegetation along the marshy edges. They fall silent as I pass by them, like a wave makes its way around Packer stadium during a game. They instantly know I am near, and decide I am some sort of frog-eating predator. By the time I have taken four steps away the ones who hushed to hide their location start up again with enthusiasm, and the section just ahead of me falls silent. It reminds me of the chatter on the high school bleachers during assemblies in the gym, which halted abruptly when an offense by a student was significant enough for a teacher to go up the steps to confront the offender. You sat still and silent until the teacher was safely past your own row. Whew! Then, of course, you rubbernecked to see what was going on behind you.

The next set of frog vocalists included the bullfrogs, like a bass violin; the tree frogs trilling in the woods; and what we always called the "Laughing Frogs" in Oklahoma. Last night all four species were calling prior to a rainstorm. It was like listening to four powerful choirs singing four different songs at once. Hank Lake will soon be dense with frog eggs and tadpoles and the wading birds and fish will have a buffet.

Migrants passing by use the lake to rest and feed. There have been many of the usual waterfowl; Mallards, Sandhill Cranes and Canadian Geese. We've also had Buffleheads, and other duck species. The last few days I have been observing a drama concerning a trio of geese who seem to be sticking around. I think it's a pair plus an interested single who is looking for a partner. Two of the geese stick closer together but the third shadows them everywhere. I haven't seen any conflict, but it is certainly an unusual sight at this nesting time of year. If I understood the inter-goose dynamics involved, it would probably be drama on the scale of a Dr. Phil episode. We humans aren't the only species with complicated relationships.

Every day a fresh signal of spring appears. I look forward to seeing the first fawn, friends in lawn chairs, and planting the garden. Winter has gone; let the pleasures of late spring heal us from the burdens and stress of a Covid winter.

Book I am reading: "Arctic Dreams" by the award winning author Barry Lopez, who we lost over the winter. It is a love letter to the arctic by a lyrical and intelligent lover of those frozen lands and their unique species.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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