Steve Madewell

Pedestrian Ramblings

Howard Marsh

Today the Toledo Metroparks opened Howard Marsh Metropark and early this afternoon I had the tremendous honor of cutting a ribbon, and symbolically opening the boardwalk for public use.

 

 

A Permit On The Fly...

Three years in the making.
My second Belizean experience and my first trip to the Blue Bonefish Lodge

 

Last week we had the first “sugar snow” of the winter. “Sugar snow” comes in February or March. 

As the grey days of mid-winter drag on and the chill seems to settle deeper and deeper I often hear people complain about winter fatigue. I fight these same demons, but a late winter sugar snow fall triggers a wave of wonderful, emotional recollections for me of younger years, and the beginning of the long relationship with the love of my life.                

Nearly anytime spent on the stream is special but there are many “extra” special times. Sunrise, twilight, a moon lit night, the roar of a flood but two events on the creek are alway magical to me, when the stream is freezing and when it is opening up. Some folks call this ice up and ice out. 

Sometimes ice out is triggered by a warm rain. Combined with a heavy snow melt the release of energy can really be dramatic. If thick ice is on the stream, huge plates of ice get pushed up on the shore, scouring the banks and gashing big chucks of bark off of trees. Some plates melt on the shore others get broken apart into smaller pieces and float down stream. Ice jams often form at stream bends creating dams which can cause rapid fluctuations in water levels.

When temperatures gradually warm however ice out can be relatively gentle.  Right now we are enjoying a slow thaw in the valley and the creek is coming alive after several weeks of bitterly cold temperatures. Generally, the ripples are the last places to close up and the first ones to open. These rivulets within the frozen stream are like windows into the flowing water below the ice. The water is clear, the gravel is bright. It is a beautiful thing to behold as the late winter steelhead season begins.

 

So You Want To Be the Boss? 

Observations and thoughts on the transition from front line interpretation to administration.

Moving into a supervisory role is generally regarded as essential part of career advancement. The the transition however, from front line interpretation to an administrative or supervisory position often requires significant changes in attitude and self motivation. These shifts are necessary to accommodate changes in responsibilities. Taking the time to recognize that this is an essential process can enhance a successful transition, avoid unnecessary stress or a bad career decision.  

Op Ed I wrote regarding open space and public lands.

 

 

Great Expectations:
My bee boxes were empty this winter. Both colonies bolted, as in the bees left. I suspect this occurred in September. I was very consumed with wrapping things up in Toledo and didn't have time to get back to the creek house and check on them at the end of the summer. Long story short, I ordered some more bees this spring. Two, three pound packages. One for the back yard and one for my brother-in-law's farm.
It is always a trip to transfer a package of bees into a hive. There is something that is very counter intuitive to opening up a container full of thousands of stinging insects and dumping them out. Mixed with this base, primal emotion there is a high level of attentiveness and care to do this adroitly and this is all tempered with the great expectation of a honey yield to follow.

Since last year's bees bolted they left a great deal of honey and I will be using this to help the new bees get established. These bees are enjoying the privilege of not only having honey in the hive when they arrived but they are also setting up residence in hives that have established comb. Creating or building comb takes time are energy so having frames with existing comb is a tremendous asset for a colony. Consequently it is certainly feasible that there could be enough surplus honey to warrant a harvest this fall.

I also picked up a bee gum this spring. That is a traditional term for a bee hive that is situated in a hollow tree or log. Phil and his crew were working on some trees in Madison and they dropped a big cherry that had a hive in it. The fellows cut the log into a manageable section and we got it loaded into my truck. Back at the house I was able to get the log out of the pickup with the little tractor and end loader. With a little bit of pushing and shoving I got it situated on a couple cinder blocks behind the barn. Cool!

There isn't that much room in the log and I am hoping that this colony will thrive. If they do well, they will certainly swarm several times this summer. If I keep an eye on them and I am lucky I might be able to catch a couple swarms and get them established in my commercial hives.
Yet another great expectation.

When I was driving back from picking up the packaged bees I witnessed something that I will surely never see again and I hope I will always remember when I reflect on my aspirations and expectations.

I was driving north and on the west side of the road was a hay field, on the east was a block of mature trees. A pair of geese were grazing in the field and a red-tailed hawk came floating out of the woods clearly on a stoop toward the goose that was closest to the road. Both geese flushed but the hawk was on a perfect Intercepting vector. At the last minute the target goose folded its' wings, turned sideways in the air and literally dropped like a rock. The hawk overshot its intended prey and continued flying aimlessly along as the other goose was well on its way to a safe escape.

This was a remarkable thing to witness. First, the evasive maneuver was simply mind boggling. The goose just collapsed in the air and fell. Second, I couldn't believe I saw a red-tail hawk attempt to take a goose! Talk about great expectations! Geese are big birds. And finally I have to wonder what would have happened if indeed the hawk would have grabbed the goose? Geese are not only big but they are tough birds. I have to assume that a goose would severely beat a red-tail up. The expectations I have for my bees have nowhere near the dire consequences of life or injury as those that could have unfolded if the hawk would have realized his mark. I suppose the moral of the story is some time it just might be best if our expectations are not realized.

 

Some Dusty Woods:

Being back at the Creek House for the past 6 months has certainly illustrated some of the benefits of the loft condo living. When you leave, you lock the door walk away and forget about it, no sump pumps, down trees, plugged driveway culverts, nothing like that.

But we are back, living in "Some Old Dusty Woods”.  Which happens to be one of my favorite Greg Brown songs.  (Lyrics posted below) 

Last night I was on a step stool killing dozens of some kind of beetle on the living room ceiling.  Obviously one of the window screens has a crack, or maybe one of the doors. This past week I have been waging war on carpenter ants, carpenter bees and wasps.  

And my little woodlot has been invaded by a spreading force of invasive plants: Japanese knot weed, two types of honey suckle, multiflora rose, English ivy, periwinkle and several others.

I have enjoyed engaging in the war but I know that ultimately all of my actions and efforts are transitory which helps to remind me not to take this too seriously.  It is in effect recreation.  These things are not essential to my survival but engaging in these endeavors are indeed part of the human condition.  

Entropy is a crazy thing.  After being not living here for four and a half years the amount of small repair and replacement is staggering. And the large projects  I left behind seem even bigger.  

It is really overwhelming what to do in any sort of order, so I just do whatever happens to strike me as important or what seems essential to do in order to do the next thing. 

So there is tractor work, planting bed restoration, rock wall landscaping, pavers work, lots of chainsaw and fire wood and tree work and the creation and management of storage and order.   

And then there is music and outdoor pursuits.

Excuse me but I’ve got to go play guitar for a bit.   

Dusty Woods

Greg Brown Slant 6 Mind

(a vision of Robert Johnson)

He's riding in the back of a wagon and his city choes are dragging

and the sweat is pouring down his back

One eye west and one eye south

Two words fall out his mouth

He jumps down, waves, walks across the railroad track

 

He's in some dusty woods outside of town

 

Got a piece of paper folded in four, a stub pencil from the hardware store,

and a guitar that looks like it's been used

The birds shut down their song

He can't stay too long

There's something up ahead he's just got to do

 

He licks the pencil, looks around, writes a few words down,

and pulls a moan from his guitar

A hound dog answers low and he stands up real slow

He's got a ways to go, he don't know how far

 

He's in some dusty woods outside of town.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_w4Sp2o3hg

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