Minnesota was logging country in the late 1800s, and as a result, most of the state’s old-growth trees were cut down. At present, only 2% of trees in Minnesota’s forests are considered old-growth, but there is an extraordinary place known as The Lost 40, where the elderly giants survive en masse. It’s an area of 144 acres of pure old-growth forest, and its survival until now is due to a mapping error.
In 1882, a surveying and mapping error made loggers believe that the entire section of the forest was underwater, so they passed through it. This area, which is actually located in the Chippewa National Forest, was therefore never logged, and the trees that were growing then continue to grow now.
The tradition of leaving the Lost 40 untouched has remained, and the forest section is still thriving as a result. There is nowhere else in the Midwest like the Lost 40, since most of the trees in other forests are much younger than this swath of centenarians growing in the Midwest.
Story via: Atlas Obscura, where you can find more photos and a small map.
It’s winter in January again. That warm spring nonsense has gone back to its hiding place under the snow, and I hope it stays there for a while. Over the weekend, we had snow, rain, ice, and finally, more snow that decided to stay. Jack loves this weather, and we took a walk in the woods to celebrate. The air was cold (-12°c ), but the day was sunny, the sky was a soft turquoise blue, and the path had been nicely trodden by many sets of feet that came before us. There were also signs of life in the forest. We saw lots of squirrels out and about doing squirrel things, and since Jack can’t run in deep snow any more, he glowered at them all. There was also a small, but vocal murder of crows to keep us company and they cawed and howled at us from the trees as we made our way around. Jack barked once or twice at them in reply, and I’m not sure what he said, but it wasn’t very polite. It was a simply beautiful winter’s day, and walking among expanses of virgin snow instead of the slush and ice of city sidewalks and streets made it good for Jack’s feet and great for my mood.
Nightjar has sent us flowers. Mondays are always better with flowers. Thanks, Nightjar.
Today I bring you another wildflower, I think it is Verbascum virgatum, also known as twiggy mullein or wand mullein. According to my field guide it should bloom from April to July, which last time I checked doesn’t include January, but I suspect that such information is no longer useful so I’m standing by this ID anyway. The photo was taken with my telephoto lens while I was looking for birds (with limited success).
Winter has returned! It’s properly cold (-6°c) and the forecast is predicting snowfall of about 15 cm. over the next 2 days. Then, next week the temp is supposed to rise a few degrees above zero again. Great, it’s another round of snow – shovel – melt – mud, but I’m not going to complain today.
Instead, I’m going to tell you that’s it’s been a wonderful day here. I awoke to a bright cornflower blue sky full of sunshine, and it made the getting out of bed ever so much easier. I made coffee and drank 2 cups while getting dressed and coifed, then Jack and I took a slow stroll around the neighbourhood. I could see that the sun was sitting higher on the horizon, a sure sign that the days are finally getting longer, and I could feel my mood brighten. The glittering rays of the sun warmed my cheeks and my nose and the bite of cold air couldn’t compete. Neither Jack nor I, wanted to go back inside so we lingered a bit longer at electrical poles and trees. We talked of this and that, as we meandered past the school and towards the park, and we even stopped to sing our song* as a train droned past in the background. When we arrived back home, Jack found a sunbeam in the living room and chose the spot to stretch out and nap. When he awoke a few hours later, we went for another walk, just to enjoy the wonder of the day. Tomorrow will come in its own time and there’s no sense worrying about it. Today, Jack and I lived in the moment and it was grand. I hope your day was just as pleasant.
*This is Jack’s favourite song
We had a few flurries of snow today, but it didn’t amount to much, and it won’t stick around. The ground isn’t frozen yet, and the temp doesn’t want to stay below zero this winter. We’ll get a few relatively cold days at -4°c, which is warmish for here in January, then it swings up to a few degrees above zero and stays there for a few days. I know I’ve been talking a lot about the unseasonable weather this week, but I have one more observation that I want to share. It’s about the grass. I think it’s been growing.
I know that sounds ridiculous, but I can see it with my own eyes. Yesterday when Jack and I were at the park, I noticed that the grass looked green. Not the dull brownish-green of winter, but rather the bright Kelly green of late summer or early autumn. It was shaggy, too, and looked ready for a cut, but maybe that’s the way the parks department left it in the fall. I wasn’t really paying attention, so who knows. I do remember how my own grass was left in the fall, though, and it was a lot shorter than it is now. Our grass cutting service came by on Halloween and did the last cut for the year, and it was left nicely short and snipped. Then November got cold and nasty and I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the grass anymore.
Until today, when I checked it with a critical eye. It is definitely looking shaggier than it did in November. I can’t prove it. I didn’t think to take measurements at the time, and it wouldn’t make sense to take measurements now, but it looks like it could use a cut. Maybe there’s another piece of evidence, though – Jack. More specifically, Jack’s feet. My Bubba is allergic to grass, and he takes a mild steroid combined with an antihistamine in the summer. We usually stop giving it to him around the end of October, and he’s good until spring without it. It’s called a drug holiday, and it’s better for Jack’s overall health. This winter, we’ve tried several times to discontinue the drug, but within a few days, Jack starts to gnaw and fuss with his feet again, and we have to restart the drug. I thought it might have something to do with road salt because he has less hair this winter, including around his foot pads, but it’s probably the grass. It’s growing.
Something special from Lofty today.
I thought that it’s about time I added some spring cheer into the blog. Attached are pictures of the Eastern Spinebill chicks nearly ready to leave the nest. I first noticed them as I brushed under our snowball tree and they made a thin piping noise. Carefully pulling down the branch to see into the foliage must have made the babies think that a parent with a meal had arrived. The first picture includes the parent that was too quick to catch in a second photo. The next day the chicks were looking much readier and a couple of days later they were gone, leaving only a pile of baby feathers on the ground below.