Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Kate Crowley
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Going nature's way


On the eve of July, we were sequestered in the house as a series of thunderstorms rolled through the region. At 11 a.m. it was as dark as it is at 7 p.m. Outside thunder was rolling non-stop to the north of us. We already had about 1.3 inches of rain since 5 a.m. This summer weather seems similar to what we had in 2014, as I look back at my records. June was unusually cool until the last few days when we stepped right into the heat and humidity of July and August. Rain has been sporadic, but when it has fallen, it has come in a deluge. Four inches fell a week ago in a 36 hour period. On Saturday, the poor people around Rochester had 7” in 24 hours leading to flash flooding and the drowning of cattle that were swept away.

Pity the poor farmers who are trying to raise crops in this (always) unpredictable climate. Many in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Iowa will not harvest anything this year due to the devastating and historic floods this spring. In mid-March, estimates predicted that Nebraska alone would face losses to grain farmers in the range of $400 million and ranchers losing around $500 million. Not only does this create financial ruin for some farmers, it spreads through the entire economy of the region and into our grocery baskets. The damage was so severe in many places that it will take months, if not years for farmers to rebound, if, that is, they can stay in business altogether.

Extreme rainfalls match the prediction of scientists as climate changes and warms. Earlier this year NOAA rightly predicted the moderate to major flooding that hit the Midwest between March and May.

We all talk about the weather. It is a universal reality we all share; something we can bemoan and express shared shock and wonder. But when we shift to discussing the climate­—which is the long range conditions and measurements, both past and future—we find disagreement over its condition. Yet it is the climate that ultimately affects our weather and our way of life.

Right now our way of life in north central Minnesota is one of ease, for the most part. That is, if you are not still trying to put seeds in your vegetable garden and keep the weeds from taking over. I know there are people who got everything planted by the first week of June and had all their flower pots filled and growing about the same time, who are now sitting on their decks or patios savoring an iced tea surrounded by blooms and a sense of accomplishment. But not me.

Each year, I discover that it takes longer to perform these gardening tasks and it gets harder and harder to get down on my knees to do the planting, and to get back up afterwards. I refuse to think about the time when I may no longer be able to do these things. My grandmother kept a vegetable garden into her 80s, but she also was mercifully free of arthritis – or she just didn’t complain about it. When she finally couldn’t do the hoeing to get rid of the weeds, she would sit in a chair beside the garden directing me how to do it. This involved moving her arms as if she was doing it herself, which I took to mean I wasn’t doing it right. Gardening and growing vegetables was her passion and I’m sure it kept her healthy and happy well into old age.

I believe that the older we become the more we appreciate the miracles of life—like a hard shelled bean that somehow transforms into a green bushy plant with long, green pods dangling for us to harvest and eat. We have time now to observe details that were too slow or miniscule for us to appreciate as we rushed ahead with our lives.

The lilacs are done blooming, as are the azaleas. The rhubarb is past its prime. The apple and cherry trees have set their fruit and now we are fighting rose chafers—insects that emerge from our sandy soil to mate and attack the fruit and leaves. The peonies are blossoming, though the rainstorms knock them down just as they seem to reach their peak. The irises—my favorite flowers—are opening in an orderly sequence and should continue to add their charm and beauty for the next couple weeks. Then the asiatic and day lilies will open up and brighten the flower beds. And this week I expect the Mock Orange shrubs to burst into full bloom with the accompanying perfume they are so well known for. This is a description of my surroundings. I hope yours give you as much pleasure and opportunities to reflect on the magic of this summer season.


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