Posted by: greentangle | November 5, 2017

Continued Murkiness

This morning I took a walk by the Lake, which is still brown and murky after the storm nine days ago.

There was a lot of massive destruction along the Lakewalk which is going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. The major areas of damage were by Canal Park and Brighton Beach, but here’s a little spot close to me.

You can’t tell from that angle but the right side of that asphalt is hanging over open air.

I read the new book American Wolf recently which focuses on wolf watching in Yellowstone and the life and murder of a famous wolf there, but this is less a book review than a few thoughts stirred by the book and the times.

Most of the events described in the book happened during the years I lived in the park, and I watched some of the wolves and met some of the men who cried over O-Six’s death. But this was just one rotation of the apparently unending cycle of celebrity wolves being killed legally and illegally by local residents; it has happened before and since the events of this book.

I was always happy to see a wolf but even if it had been an option for me, I never would have been one of the watchers who spent days and years in Lamar Valley waiting to see them. I think there’s an understandable motivation to want to reconnect with wildness and the natural world but I don’t share the obsession with one species.

Which is not to say that I agreed with local residents’ attitudes toward the wolves. One said she couldn’t understand why people cared about them because they were just mean dogs. Others hated them because the elk population had been reduced to the point where people could no longer shoot one from their pickup at the side of the road, or make easy thousands of dollars guiding out of state “hunters”. Others simply hated anything involving the federal government.

There is an unending continental divide between the hunters and ranchers on one side and the ecologists and wildlife watchers on the other, just as deep as the divide between the red and the blue.

But deep as that divide is, the fact is that on the issues which matter most to me, Democrats don’t represent me any more than Republicans do. Yes, Trump and his crew are loathsome beyond words, and if you’re concerned about human issues, there may be a bigger difference.

But for what I care most about? It’s mostly only a matter of  rhetorical platitudes instead of outright contempt. It was Montana’s Democratic Senator Tester who first added a budget rider to eliminate wolves from Endangered Species Act protection regardless of what science and the courts said. It’s Minnesota’s Democratic Senator Klobuchar who has tried to do the same this year, Minnesota’s Democratic Senator Franken who supported delisting, Minnesota’s Democratic Representative Nolan pushing for sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters. Their true values are very clear to me.


Posted by: greentangle | October 27, 2017

Gales of October

The forecast last night was for a winter storm in northeastern Minnesota. Based on my experience of living only a few blocks from the Lake for years, I didn’t expect any accumulation but hoped to see a flake or two and some waves.

I looked out at seven this morning and saw that the ground was white. Luckily I wasn’t working until the afternoon, so I pulled on my Sorels (old ones from when they were still a high quality boot) and headed out.

First snow of the season, first photo of the season, taken from my porch. It was before sunrise, windy, snowing, and cold, so none of the photos I took were good.

I headed for the Lake, filled with enthusiasm, leg pain from clots be damned and forgotten for a little while.

I was amazed how much of a winter storm this was, much more severe than I’d expected. I was standing on a platform inland and above the Lake and waves were still on the verge of splashing me after crashing on the shore. The strong wind was packing up heavy wet snow on my coat, and my gloves were wet and hands cold.

After an hour I headed home for a hot shower. Just after I’d pulled items out of the refrigerator to make a stir-fry for an early lunch, the power went off for an hour. I headed back to the Lake for more photos before buying lunch.

The video looked so much better than the photos that I put one up as my first Facebook post because I can’t post it here directly.


Posted by: greentangle | October 21, 2017

Wolves in a Dangerous Time

I have ignored my review-based doubts and started reading American Wolf about one of Yellowstone’s famous wolves killed by a hunter, and maybe I’ll have more to say about that in time. I was fortunate to have great experiences seeing many wolves in the wide and open landscape of Yellowstone’s Northern Range during the years I lived there–including wolves and a grizzly at an elk carcass, pups, and a one on one encounter with another famous (also later shot and killed, this time illegally) wolf during a winter hike.

But there’s something about hard to spot wolves in our Northwoods landscape (I’ve only seen two, together in Michigan’s UP) which is even more satisfying to me. Maybe because they survived here on their own despite humans, so didn’t need to be reintroduced, and are less indifferent to the presence of people. Maybe because their presence was one of the reasons I originally moved to northern Minnesota.

From Jim Brandenburg:

Posted by: greentangle | September 19, 2017

Yellowstone Photos

Since I can’t show you Yellowstone photos anymore (and despite the beauty don’t mind at all that I wasn’t there this overcrowded, hot, and smoky summer–but it did snow enough to close roads twice in the past week), I’ll make sure you see this collection of them.

Posted by: greentangle | September 2, 2017


One of the part time jobs I’ve had since I moved back here has been at the zoo. The other day some of the employees were given a tiger feeding tour which was interesting. The highlight was spreading her meal of ground cow (all the parts) around a two room holding area–on the bottom of a bench, just outside the cage so she’d have to reach under, high on the walls so she’d have to stand to paw it off. No posted photos allowed, but in any case my camera battery had died while I was walking around the zoo before the tour, so I’m not holding out on you.

This llama lives fairly close to where I work, so I usually go say hello on my break. As with people, I’m never sure if he’ll be friendly or spit at me. Usually we just stare.

This heron isn’t an actual zoo resident but is often in the area.

There’s a butterfly exhibit this summer.

I think the snow leopard is the most beautiful animal there–the tail and paws are amazing, but here’s the face.

Maybe someday I’ll try that again with a fresh battery.


Posted by: greentangle | August 13, 2017

What Would Henry Do?

This morning I finished reading a book I’ve been slogging through for a month: Henry David Thoreau: A Life. I came close to giving up halfway through but I’m glad I finished it because I thought it became more interesting when focused on the later part of Thoreau’s life. I learned details I didn’t know or remember about Thoreau’s involvement with John Brown and the Underground Railroad (appropriate for these divided days), as well as his trip to Minnesota near the end of his life. I found the writing style a little awkward, primarily because of paragraphs comprised of too much information in a mixture of quotes and apparent paraphrases which read like quotes but lacked quotation marks.

Mostly I’m glad I kept reading because it reawakened the urge to read Thoreau. In my studio apartment, where the main living area is almost exactly the size of Thoreau’s home at Walden (although I have much larger windows and found no room for chairs for friendship or society), the only convenient place for the one bookcase remaining from the overflowing five I used to own is in a corner entryway where it can’t be seen from most of the room. This morning I moved the eighteen (used to be 40 something) Thoreau books and over a dozen field guides from the bookcase to the floor where I used to store books I didn’t care about that much. Instead of being hidden in a dark corner, these books will now be in sight all the time.

I’m also nearing the end of The Quarry Fox: And Other Critters of the Wild Catskills which has reawakened a little homesickness for New England’s landscape and wildlife.

I’m not as easily and cheaply relocated as a few dozen books so I’ve settled for researching websites for wildlife cams and some favorite Massachusetts locations. The least well-known of those is probably Purgatory Chasm, so here’s a link to an article with several photos. I made several important trips there at different periods of my life, and reading the comments makes clear that others have strong memories of the place as well. And the Arnold Arboretum, just a couple blocks from one of my Boston homes, where I sadly learned about the hemlock wooly adelgid. And the whales! The August 11th entry includes not only some great breaching humpback photos but also a great white shark!

Posted by: greentangle | August 10, 2017

Yellowstone National Traffic Jam

I told you it was too crowded.

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