Spruce, Fir, and Tamarack

White Spruce (Picea glauca) Two species of spruce are native to Minnesota, the White Spruce and Black Spruce. The spruce in our area are predominantly White Spruce, Black Spruce are small and found in swampy areas. The White Spruce ranges across Canada and extends south only into the northernmost United States. It is the tree […]

Fall Colors in August

Surprisingly to me, there already are hints of fall colors here — prior to September! This post features pictures of these early signs of season change. The conditions here in late August are nearly perfect — crisp days with nearly no bugs. Sugar Maple — August 22 Viburnum; Guelder-rose — August 28 Amur Maple — […]

Hops and Brewing

Cascade Hops (Humulus lupulus) Humulus lupulus, or hops, is a perennial viney plant in the hemp family. Its cone-shaped fruits are one of the four key ingredients in modern beer (water, malted grain, hops, and yeast). Hops add bitter flavor and provide anti-microbial protection for beer. A wide variety of herbs have been used throughout […]

Morning on the Lake

In the three images above a beaver can be seen swimming across the lake, then raising his tail to slap the water, and finally the resulting splash as he submerges. It seemed like this beaver was intentionally showing himself to me and then swimming away — maybe to draw me away from the beaver lodge? […]

Milkweeds and Butterflies #2

Caterpillars In elementary school I remember bringing in these caterpillars with a few milkweed leaves for show-and-tell, hoping they’d turn into monarchs. Here is a similar show-and-tell. Today I’m showing the caterpillars on their Swamp Milkweeds; hoping to return later to capture the metamorphosis. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Described previously, but I got some better […]

Lily Pads

Watershield (Brasenia schreberi) The pads of watershield are slightly smaller than other common lily pads, and they are more elliptical. It blooms throughout the summer, but we did not notice any of the smaller pink-purple flowers. Its most interesting and noticeable feature was a thick coating of very slippery mucilage (slime!) coating the underside of […]

State Flower and More

Yesterday while biking around the area, I managed to get a few interesting photos The best find was this clump of Showy Lady Slippers (Cypripedium reginae), the state flower of Minnesota. Previously I had only seen blooming Lady Slippers in late June, so I was surprised and pleased by this fine display on July 8. […]

Loon Update #1

Below are a few better photos of our loon family — better mainly because I was able to borrow a real camera vs. just using an iphone. Maybe I should go shopping… The image above shows the family of three loons occupying our lake this year. Baby loons, called chicks, can swim nearly immediately after […]

Kayak Excursion Big Bass Lake

Big Bass Lake is largely undeveloped, and was terrific to explore in kayaks on Sunday. In it areas of open water are connected by shallower channels. The shallow channels and the water edges are crowded with lily pads and other vegetation. Yellow Pond Lily (Nuphar variegata) In Big Bass Lake these Yellow Pond Lilies (a.k.a […]