Sunday, May 25, 2014

Free to Good Home and the results of a nice day

Cleaned out under the porch yesterday, gaining access to my walk out basement and opening up space for the mower, bicycles and garden supplies to be stored out of the weather. In the process I found a few items that need new owners:

Porch swing, still solid just needs a place to hang.
Edit: swing has gone to a new home

Hand crank ice cream maker, in rough shape, maybe leaks. Off to the dump in two days if not claimed.
Edit: ice cream maker has been disposed of.

Bike rack - works well on the back of sedans and hatchbacks. Can hold two bikes. 
Free to good home - you transport.

The magnolia blossoms really enjoyed the warm temps and opened wide:

 I took a break from cleaning out the area under our porch and mowing the lawn to explore the woods below our house (I had spied something blooming as I drove by and wanted to find out what it was). As I followed deer paths downhill I came across this:
Rope swing
I had completely forgotten our girls had a fort down there when they were little! Next to the swing was an old foot stool/table and an odd shaped bucket we had found somewhere and given to them to use. I put the bucket to good use after stumbling across one of the many dump sites that litter our hillside (there used to be a lot more homes in the area and folks just piled their garbage "out back").

Five unbroken, vintage glass bottles. The tall one on the left has "Duluth Bottling" embossed in the glass.
The white flowers I had seen near an exposed outcrop of rock were a mustard species. There was also evidence of a large area of Lily-of-the-valley (more proof of old home sites). On the way back up the hill I passed through the area that is used for garden/yard waste by our neighborhood and found this in bloom:

Phlox species? 

 In the afternoon I took a break from household chores to go for a nice 12 mile pedal on the Munger Trail. It was warm at our house, tucked into the hillside but very cool down at the Lake. The Munger starts in West Duluth, near the bay and so receives some influence from the winds off of Lake Superior (currently blowing over at least a mile of ice). As we rode inland the temperature kept rising and by the time we reached the Ely's Peak area it was in the upper 70's , maybe even 80 F. It felt nice to drop back down to the cooler temps on the ride back.

The Munger Trail is lined with Large-flowered trillium and Large-flowered bellwort right now (both species easily identified while riding a bike). I regretted not bringing a camera along, although I think Mr. Wildknits was grateful as it meant no stops.

After the ride I switched into running clothes and headed up hill to the Piedmont trailhead for my first run in two weeks (not counting a short excursion last Saturday that was less then a mile and proved I was not ready for running yet). My friend Sam and her dog Cedar came along as well. It was a nice outing on some hilly, technical trail and was proof that the stubborn muscle issue I have been dealing with for the past three weeks is finally on the mend.

I am off to play outdoors again today while the sun is still shining!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Yard flowers, and a little excursion up north

Spring continues to proceed along the north shore. With a few warm days, and the ice retreating further and further on the big Lake, the land is starting to respond. Hillsides are washed with a haze of green and if you look close, plants are emerging and flowers are beginning to bloom. 

Last weekend I spent Friday - Sunday in the Lutsen/Grand Marias area. While my day didn't go as planned I had a relaxing trip and quality time with my running family. 

Scenes from Palisade Head:
Appears the local Peregrine falcons had lunch atop the cliffs.

Look closely, do you see the pollen trapped on the spider web?

In my yard the rhubarb is rapidly getting larger, with one clump almost at harvest stage. And our magnolia is blooming!

I love the subtle hint of pink.

 I noticed while scoping out my overgrown flower beds that the Mertensia (Virginia Bluebells) are also blooming:

And one of my favorite spring ephemerals - Wild Ginger (which is technically in my neighbors yard):

These little violets make it hard to contemplate mowing. Maybe if I take on the task I can work around them? Though they are located on one, of many, difficult slopes in the yard.

The hops are up! And almost two feet tall already. I don't think they had even emerged last week.

Birds continue to arrive in the yard, some just passing through on their way further north. We had a pair of Red-breasted Grosbeaks for a few days and the Goldfinches continue to stick around. Various sparrows are about including White-throated sparrows and Song sparrows. A Blackburnian warbler was spied on the trail above my house (spur to the Superior Hiking Trail). There is a Northern Mockingbird in the neighborhood and I also noticed our Catbird flitting about.

With a bit more time on my hands I have made some good progress on the sweater I am designing and knitting. I have about four inches of the body completed with currently 288 stitches on the needle. I am working my way up from the bottom edge and will be increasing to 318 sts by the time I reach the armholes. As I work I am writing out (and developing) the pattern, with hopes of having something publishable by the end.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Spring II

Spring continues to make it's slow way north. In the past week I have seen or heard:
 - white-throated sparrows
 - red-winged blackbirds
 - goldfinches 

The pussy willows are now out in abundance. And while down "south" (Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis) last weekend I saw Bloodroot in bloom and Skunk Cabbage emerging. 

Trails remain snow-covered in many areas. What isn't under snow may very well be under water. I made a couple of forays down a few trails today to check out conditions and they are still too wet and fragile for use. Dry, warm weather would help immensely to get the rest of the frost out of the ground and allow the snowmelt to soak in. 

Upon my return home from a shortened run today I noticed a few other signs of the change of seasons in my yard:

Scilla siberica

Scilla siberica

Rhubarb sp.

Rhubarb sp.

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
And proof that we may very well be the laziest gardeners ever, and that some plants that we think of as annuals can survive very cold winters unprotected:
Brussel Sprouts - apparently they can overwinter in Northern Minnesota!
Onion sp. - unsure of variety - again, overwintered in Northern Minnesota.