Monday, April 10, 2006

open water

Over this warm weekend, most of the lakes in the southern half of Minnnesota lost their cover of ice. I heard that Grindstone Lake, near Sandstone, lost its ice the earliest in thirty years. The lakes north of my place may still have a mass of slush floating on them for another day or so.

It is such a thrill to see open water, after five months of frozenness. It's an amazing transformation, when you can walk on water one month and float a boat on it the next.

I spent my work day on what my elder fisheries professionals would call a "gravy run". That is, you drive a lot, go pick up fish somewhere and dump them someplace else, not much work involved. In this case it was muskies or muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) , an esocid predator fish that some people in this state are obsessed with. It's not considered a food fish; the minimum harvest length is 48 inches, so if you kill one it generally ends up on your wall. I don't get it, but whatever pays the rent.

The above lake was the rearing pond for muskie. I arrived at the lake at about 10:30, whereupon I waited about two hours for the guys that were pulling the nets to have any fish for me. I spent that time exploring the lakeshore, enjoying the warmth of the sun. The call of the sandhill crane was constantly in the background, and I observed four of them flying around. A frog chorus erupted from an adjacent shallow wetland, with Western chorus frogs, leopard frogs, and spring peepers performing a symphony. On the water I heard a loon give its laughing call, and I watched a small group of bufflehead ducks dive and fly. Buffleheads are among the most beautiful of ducks, in my humble opinion. They are a contrast of white and iridescent black. On the land I saw a red headed woodpecker, something I just don't see where I live. That, and some tree sparrows.

After I received the fish, it was a long drive and an exercise in contrast. The lake I stocked them in is on the northern edge of the ever-expanding Twin Cities metropolitan area. I endured city-like traffic, and monstroso-mansions built where there used to be humble little weekend lake cabins. I hope they enjoy their trophy fish.

Back to the office at last, ten minutes after quitting time, and on the drive home I had a perma smile on my face. I love this day, the welcome warmth of spring and being able to drive around and see so much of it. I love that I don't live in one of those cookie cutter houses on the edge of suburbia like I used to. It could be no other way for me.

I forgot to add, the frog symphony tonight is absolutely intoxicating. Breathtaking. I'm going outside for more. Who cannot be overwhelmed, joyful over this?

Unfortunately, I think I know. But hey, if you can't appreciate the first evening frog chorus, well, you're not goddamn alive. What have you got to lose?


colleen said...

Enjoyed reading your blog, especially the nature writings.

I'm at

Pam in Tucson said...

What a wonderful day! Sounds like you have an idyllic job. Enjoy the frog chorus - something I truly miss since we moved to the desert.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

What a great work day! Not many people get to sit at the lakeshore and watch that splendid parade of wildlife go by. How wonderful that you were there and enjoyed every minute of it. Frog chorus is our music of spring.

Floridacracker said...

Fish tales Yeah!

I can't believe you have frog choruses this early. I haven't had my choruses yet...just a few soloists.

One night soon there will be a mass orgy at the pond with trilling so loud it hurts the ears.
Can't wait.

...talking about a frog orgy of course. This isn't Miami.

madcapmum said...

It was a Deb-day!

I haven't heard any frogs yet myself. I guess it's too cold for them to even fantasize yet about orgies. (Funny ol' Floridacracker!)

doubleknot said...

Wow, thank you so much - I am so glad they made you wait for your fish - you took me on a journey.
It has been so dry here and there are no ponds near us that we haven't heard any frogs yet.

Mike said...

Hate those monstroso-mansions! Do you think the trend will ever reverse itself and see those preposterous edifices torn down for small fishing cabins or will the exurbs swallow the world whole?

Deb said...

colleen- thanks for stopping by!

pam and rd- I do spend a lot of boring days in the office, but a day like that makes up for it!

floridacracker- I think here in Minnesotarctica the frogs feel they don't have any time to waste. First warm sunny day of spring = mass orgy. For the frogs, that is.

madcap- yes, if I could design a spring day it would be a lot like that. Except for the traffic.

doubleknot- some things were just meant to be.

mike- I believe the peak oil situation is certainly going to put a damper on sprawl. "Preposterous edifices torn down for small fishing cabins"...I like that vision!

By the way, one of the monstroso-mansions I drove by was the target of an arsonist a little over a year ago, just before construction was finished. Completely torched. A dark part of me took some pleasure in that news, but the statement was futile because of course they rebuilt it, thus using twice the resources than would have been used otherwise. Sigh. The lake spirits are not happy.

clairesgarden said...

great water, a job like that would suit me, I would have to take my kayak with me!!

bev said...

Deb -- I think you're right about the frogs up here in the north country not wasting any time. The weather finally turned warm here a few days ago and the frogs are singing everywhere I go.

Sandy said...

Great Blog! Makes me think-I like that.
Beautiful country there, too.