A Raw Day

The past two days have been foul in northwestern Minnesota. Near-freezing temperatures, snow, slush, and a raw, wet wind. This morning, I drove to Thief River Falls to speak to a Kiwanis group. Fortunately, the highway is still warm enough that it readily melts off the snow and slush. Driving was no problem. My voice, however, which is also raw from a cold, was very much a problem! They found a microphone for me, and it went fine.

I believe the group was called the Golden Key Kiwanis. It was mostly retired men, about 40 of them. All of them to whom I spoke were both interesting and interested. The man who introduced me did so by saying that the last time I spoke to them, I had suggested that he hang a 5 foot piece of hose in his maple tree to scare off the sapsuckers. It worked. (The birds think it's a snake.) I have since switched doctrines. I now suggest hanging metallic streamers, which seem to work as well. I had forgotten the hose method, most likely because I hate snakes and often jump at the sight of a coiled hose out of the corner of my eye.

With such a group, there is usually more to be learned than taught. I learned that Chestnut crabapples, my favorite, will keep for months in the fridge in a plastic bag which has a little water inside. I learned that seed source is very important on Scotch pine--not all are equally hardy. I also learned that during the war (WWII) and shortly after there was a plant near Thief River which manufactured lifejackets made out of cattails harvested locally. The baler from that plant is displayed in a museum in Warren, MN. Not something to plan one's vacation around, but interesting nonetheless.