Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Signs of Spring

Through much of last weekend, sandhill cranes filled the skies on their northward migration up to Wisconsin. A friend once aptly compared their bugling calls to the sound of a Canada goose trying to warble.

The first crocus of the year have appeared outside of my window.

A jumping spider showed up on my breezeway. And the weather has been getting warmer and warmer. Tuesday was gorgeous- sunny, breezy and in the mid 70s. This weather invited another sign of spring- the annual prescribed burns on our prairies, woodlands and wetlands, including Bluff Spring Fen.

The Fen adjoins a cemetery. There was a burial on Tuesday morning, so we started in a remote corner of woodland in order to avoid disturbing the funeral. This is a section where the herbaceous layer has been coming back well following seeding. Because it's remote, it often goes unburned and we were starting to lose the progress we had made. It burned reasonably well, and I'm very glad that we got to it this year.

Did I mention it was breezy? The up side is that things burned extremely well this year. The down side is that this was the most physically demanding burn that I have ever participated in. It's now two days later and I can still feel the effects of the exertion. I was on flapper duty. In the photo immediately above, you can see Stuart (tan shirt) holding a flapper. It's a square of rubber on the end of a wooden rake handle. You flap it onto the flames to help confine the fire to the areas that you want burned. The breeze made the fire reluctant to die down when flapped. We worked very hard all day long, and I did little photography as a result.

Later in the afternoon, Rick (far right) ordered pizza- which was delivered right to the cemetery. It gives a whole new meaning to the Tombstone Pizza brand. What do you want on your Tombstone?

It was a good burn. It was wonderful to get to spend such a beautiful day outdoors in natural surroundings rather than at the office. Still, I'm glad it's over.

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At 08:44, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flapper duty. You need to work out more Doug. {:)

At 09:18, Blogger SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I know about these aches and pains Doug. :( It seems that you ache in places you did not know you had muscles. LOL!!

Burning is so necessary in places at times.

I love the spider of course.

At 09:19, Blogger Fresh Kiki said...

I would LOVE to see the Sandhill Cranes!!

At 11:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The weather looks a little nicer than the day I was there!

At 11:52, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome fire pics.
Thanks for checking out my blog also/ :-)

At 12:26, Blogger Ur-spo said...

you do a fine job getting in touch with your fire sign.
That should be rather energizing for you.

At 13:42, Blogger R.Powers said...


At 16:52, Blogger Kathie Brown said...

So, my cranes have come back to you! I hope you enjoy them. I love the crocus. I miss seeing them in the springtime where they covered my Nana's lawn in CT. Looks like a good day in the fen and I would take that any day over sitting in an office! Hope your body heals soon! I'm busy planting for the birds and the butterflies down here. It's so nice to have plants in the backyard!

At 19:24, Blogger cedrorum said...

It's great to see you burning at the fen. It puts a smile on my face.

At 19:45, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ain't it SOMETHING when just a SUN-Warmy BIG CHANGE of weather wakes up your little mortal body? I too was energized even though in crutches. I wanted to be there with you folk, aching in that good feeling of "gettin' 'er done!". My tombstone should say, "Extra sausage." Is that gay enough?

At 21:34, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Roy- Tuesday made me painfully aware of that.

Joan- I don't care what the calendar says. I'm too young to be feeling this way.

CG- Thousands of them fly right over my house each year.

Ted- It's such a shame that the weather was so bad the day you were here.

Bob- Welcome to the Tapestry. Thanks.

Spo- I never have trouble channeling my inner pyro.

FC- When you did your recent post about burning we were having floods here. I had no idea that we would be able to get a burn in so soon.

Kathie- Perhaps I'll get to see the fruits of your backyard planting efforts.

cedrorum- Wish you had been here to help out. We could have used the extra hands.

Mark- I hope you are feeling better soon.

At 02:32, Blogger wcs said...

I'm not sure I've ever seen a sand hill crane. Darn.


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