Bittern


Leif and I were driving down Rob’s gravel road and saw a bird tiptoeing from one side of the road to the other. It looked like a tall bird all hunched over, like it was hiding. We drove up slowly and saw that it was an American bittern. We got some pics, then Leif went out to try to get closer and it flew off. As we sat in the car, it did an impersonation of a reed, with its bill pointed straight up. See if you can spot it.

Mean guy

The other day I was jogging and a guy down the road shouted from his yard. I’d met him a few times and thought he was okay, if a little crazy, or a little drunk. Anyway, I thought he said, “I was in the hospital for six bucks.”

That sounded interesting, so I stopped and said, “Pardon?”

He said, “I was in the hospital for six months, and here you are running up and down the road showing everyone how strong you are.”

He sounded either drunk or crazy.

I don’t think fast on my feet, so I just said, “I’m sorry to hear that. I’m trying to stay in shape.”

And I ran home, my lack of faith in humanity strengthened.

Boating on Mille Lacs

I waited all weekend for the weather to get nice for our maiden voyage on Mille Lacs, but it never did. So Leif and I went out on Sunday morning anyway, but we didn’t get farther than Isle Bay. We put in at Isle Harbor access, and coming through the narrow spot I must’ve gotten a weed caught in the prop because we came to a standstill. Not being much of a motor boat expert, I kinda panicked, which made Leif a little nervous. Just like when I was a kid and my dad would take me sailing. He was not a great sailor and would often panic. Anyway, there was mud being churned up, probably because I was pulling weeds out by the roots. I finally thought to put it in reverse and we came loose.

The waves were pretty big coming through the mouth of the bay, so we found a sheltered area, anchored, and threw some leeches in the water. No bites. Leif got bored after about an hour so we came in and went to the pow wow. I posted a video on the Messenger website.

Another net

So I posted Mr. Quast’s photos of net he found on the website yesterday. It was full of fish in various states of decompostion, some still fresh, indicating that the net had been snagging fish for the weeks it was lost.

So there it is.

It’s an interesting time to be in journalism. This net and the pictures are the talk of the Internet walleye chatrooms, so if we don’t post it, it’s like we’re pretending it doesn’t exist. On the other hand, posting it may indicate some sort of position on the issue to some of our readers.

News organizations with their standards of accuracy, fairness, balance and some measure of objectivity are in direct competition with blogs and websites and chatrooms that are all about the controversy, the sensationalism, the knock-down drag-out fights.

Who’s winning? Well, newspapers are going bankrupt, firing staff, downsizing left and right. We’ll need to adapt somehow, perhaps by adopting some of the attitude, some of the controversy of the Web while holding on to our standards.

Memorial Day

My friend John sent this email to me today. Thought I’d share it. I don’t think he’ll mind.

“I’d like to say a Memorial Day “hey” to the memory of my brother, who was a Navy jet pilot who flew support missons immediately following Gulf War I. Steve was two years older than me. He died in 1991, two months before his 30th birthday, when he was run down and left to drown in a drainage ditch by a civilian drunk driver, while hanging out back at his base in Key West on a reprive from his assignment. He left behind a one-year old daughter (she had her first birthday five days before he died) and a son who was born 6 months later, and his wife. And he left behind me, and his Mom (who I had to inform about his death) and his brother (who had to inform me about his death), and his sister. And a whole host of nieces and nephews. Steve now lies in the ground at Fort Snelling Cemetary. So, if you feel like honoring Memorial Day in a traditional manner, and if you’re looking for a visualization of a good person who died while serving his country, feel free to borrow the image of my brother. I’d like it back when you’re done.”

Birds etc.

We didn’t go up to Mille Lacs yesterday because the wind was bad. Instead we drove around looking for a truck to pull our boat and horse trailer. Today we stayed home except for a quick drive to town, when we got caught in the worst hail I’ve ever been in. Golf ball size. Hail damage on the car. Took a hot tub, washed the cars, relaxed.

On my walk I heard my first yellow-throated vireo of the year and first common yellowthroat (not to be confused with yellow warbler, which I also saw and heard today). Usually the yellow-throated vireo comes back a few days before the red-eyed vireo, but a few minutes after the y-t, I heard a r-e. It’s always nice when they come back because Diane did her first master’s research on red-eyed vireos, so we spent two summers studying them when we lived between Detroit Lakes and Fargo. 
Saw my first mosquitoes yesterday, then got swarmed by them on my walk today. That’s something I didn’t miss in New Zealand.
Tomorrow we’ll probably head up to Isle in the morning, hell or high water or thunderstorms or high winds. Hopefully it’ll be like it is right now: dead calm, warm, sunny at 7:30 p.m.
Forgot to mention that I saw a green heron by the river the other day. There was a family of Canada geese acting very tentative, hanging out by the bank, apparently freaked out by the heron’s screeching call. Saw another green heron today. Those Canada geese sure breed early. I saw the family the first time a week or more ago, sitting on a sandbar in the river. I saw one of the adults in the tall grass on the other side of the river today. I couldn’t tell what it was — a jug-shaped white thing, then a white thing a few inches above it. Perfectly still. Focused the binoculars, and it was a goose.