Sunday, August 30, 2009
-a 9-year-old girl
Summer is officially over. The temperature got down to 38 early Sunday morning and the asters have begun blooming. A staccato of walnuts and acorns bouncing on the ground has begun to replace the sound of chirping birds. The birds are still here, they are just not so obvious. The rose hips are beginning to redden. Monarch butterflies are grouping up and beginning their journey south. Streaks of yellow sunflowers and goldenrod still color the prairie, thought it's hard to enjoy them through tear-filled eyes.
Ragweed, the most foul, useless, and insidious plant in North America has made its annual appearance, sending its zillions of grains of pollen directly into my nose and eyeballs, causing endless itchiness, drippiness, sneezing, puffiness, and suffering. Allergy meds don't do much for the feeling, but they do keep me from sneezing and my nose from running like a faucet constantly.
Ragweed is a native plant. Some of it in front of the visitor center at Pipestone is as high as my chest and grows bush-like. However, if it became an endangered species, I would go and stomp on it to finish it off. Learn more about ragweed in Minnesota.
So with ragweed making the outdoors miserable, why not stay inside? This week, Pipestone National Monument premiered its new film, Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy. The 20-minute film is a vast improvement over the old 8-minute slide show, and demonstrates the quarrying and explains the importance of the tradition in the quarriers' own words.
My dad came to visit and I think he had a good time checking things out at Pipestone and in Luverne. He said he probably didn't appreciate the site as much in 1982 as he did on this visit. He was inspired enough to buy a pipe. Will he try it out?
Monday, August 24, 2009
Just as visitation begins to slow down slightly as summer nears its end, the activity in the quarries is picking up. More perennial quarriers are beginning to arrive and work in their pits in addition to the many local quarriers who are here more frequently.
Quarriers like Lee Taylor are some of the local, frequent quarriers. Lee is a wellspring of information about quarrying today and yesterday. He is quick to describe "the old way," or a traditional method that has fallen by the wayside. For quarrying the rock, by heating it with fire and throwing cold water on it. For making pipe stems, hollowing it out by using motivated carpenter ants.
This week, I became able to administrate the Pipestone website. It was just fine to begin with, but I have begun adding some of the highlight buttons and cleaned up a little information here and there. The big addition, though, was adding a Photo Gallery. View the Pipestone Photo Gallery. Regular blog readers will recognize a few of the photos.
Friday, August 21, 2009
A bat that bit a Pipestone man tested negative for rabies, according to the Pipestone County Sheriff, Dan Delaney. The Sheriff’s Office learned of the bite after Jeremy Weddell reported, Wednesday, Aug. 12, having shortness of breath after being bitten by a bat.
“The bat was inside his residence, which is not uncommon,” Delaney said. Weddell was taken by ambulance to the Pipestone County Medical Center where he was treated and released the same day.
Meanwhile, the bat was recovered from Weddell’s home and taken to the Pipestone Veterinary Clinic, where it was forwarded to Brookings for rabies analysis.The Sheriff’s Office learned Monday, Aug. 17, that the bat tested negative for rabies.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Last week's bat was rabies-free. It only cost $70 to learn something I already was pretty sure about, but I guess you can call it insurance. When I talked to the vet on the phone and told her I was the guy that dropped off the live bat, she said she had been somewhat surprised to find a live bat in her refrigerator when she came in to work. I'm fairly sure now that Wilbur was a little brown bat and I was exaggerating about its size last week.
After he gave up trying to find a way out of the bottle, Wilbur took a nap, took a bath, and yawned.
I kept my head down this week preparing a special presentation about Theodore Roosevelt National Park for one of our special events at Pipestone. The presentation is on Tuesday night at 7:30 at the Pipestone National Monument Visitor Center (see press release). It should be epic.
Amber and a bunch of our friends were camping at Split Rock Creek State Park this weekend. They all came up to the park to see me working, so I arranged for an impromptu guided walk through the park and invited everyone in the building to come along - 20 in all! It was raining a bit, but not quite enough to get totally wet. Later that night, it dumped 1.85 inches of rain in Pipestone and made a general mess of things. The lightning was terrific, as was the wind between midnight and 2 AM. A cold front blew in later in the day and brought in cool, dry air, a terrific refreshment after several humid days.
Sunflowers have burst forth across the prairie
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Here is an excerpt from the press release:
MEDORA, NORTH DAKOTA – The National Park Service (NPS) has released a preferred alternative addressing elk management at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The proposal calls for reducing the elk herd in the park from the current level of about 900 animals to a sustainable level between 100 and 400 animals using qualified NPS staff to lead teams that include skilled volunteers.
Skilled volunteers which may include North Dakota sportsmen – who must demonstrate proficiency with firearms and meet other requirements established by the park – will be used to assist park staff in the removal process. In addition, to the extent practicable, animals will be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease. If the animals test negative, the meat will be donated in accordance with federal regulations and National Park Service policy.
The program will be evaluated after two years to determine if direct reduction is effective; if it is not then other methods will be considered to supplement the efforts of the skilled volunteers.
If you read the full newsletter, which explains all the details (and sports my picture of elk I nearly died of exposure to get), you discover that, when faced with all the alternatives in the draft elk management plan, the correct answer was "all of the above."
Although this was not my preference, it is a plan that will cost the least and will involve local people in the park. That way, it's not always a case of "us versus them." The plan that I favored, however, was identified as the "environmentally preferred option," so there is some satisfaction in that.
I think this is a good plan and I support it. I do worry about impacts on visitors who would be using the park recreationally being affected by people shooting in the park. Some of the details will be addressed as the park hammers out the details of the final plan.
The public is able to comment on the plan until September 9. You may do so online through the NPS PEPC website for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Elk Management Plan / EIS by following the directions on that page.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The most excitement this week was early Sunday morning, just before 5:00. Tossing and turning on my uncomfortable air mattress, I rolled over and heard an unusual sound. It sounded like someone slowly shuffling a deck of cards. I pried open my eye and saw a bat flying laps around the bedroom. Amber ducked under the covers and I went to use the bathroom before dealing with the situation. Meanwhile, Amber said from under the covers, "It's on my head!"
The bat was a larger one than I've ever dealt with before, leading me to believe it was a big brown bat.
Monday, August 3, 2009
In other human events, Pipestone's "Miss Poopsie" contest occurred this week. I don't really understand what its history is or why it is done, but it is, first and foremost, men cross-dressing. Not having attended the event (though I drove by it), I can't say exactly what the judges were looking for. The contest seems to be more tongue-in-cheek than it is a full-blown drag queen fiesta, as indicated by the unshaved legs and stubbly chins. I don't know if it's more degrading to the men partaking in the contest or to the drag queens who actually try hard to pull that off.
A funny conversation I overheard this week was a mother talking to her roughly 8-year-old son. As they were at the front door getting ready to depart, she said to him, "Didn't you say you had to use the restroom?" He said, "Oh yeah, I forgot!"
The flowers have been phenomenal through the week. The variety of flowers continues to be impressive and the big bluestem grass is shooting up, now shoulder high on me. The following are some pictures I got of the flowers using the park cameras.
In other wildlife news, on Friday, a steer escaped from D&T's meat market, which is two short blocks from my Pipestone apartment. I wasn't aware of the incident as it occurred, but it sure explained why traffic was annoyingly more congested than usual when I went to work at noon. The story, which ran in the Pipestone County Free Star, said that the steer, which had been delivered to be slaughtered at the meat market, escaped and "led police, meat market employees and others on a half hour chase before finally being brought down on Second Street SW."
Sunday, August 2, 2009
1. First of all, it's illegal to wear a US Park Ranger hat with the hat band unless you are uniformed employee of the National Park Service. If you are, congratulations! You're off to fun and adventure (and seasonal unemployment)!
2. Keep in mind that the ranger hats, especially the straw, summer-weight hats, are fragile and will crack if mishandled. They are impossible to repair, and expensive to replace, so be mindful of how you are handling it while you do this procedure.
Tying the Knot
The following instructions correspond to the diagram above, with "Ring A" being the loop where the tie strap is attached (left on the above diagram) and "Ring B" being the open loop (right on the above diagram).
5. Pull the strap through the underside of Ring B, then back through over the top of Ring A so that it emerges to the brim side of the underside of Ring A. Pull it as tight as you can and don't let go! You need to keep tension on the tie strap through the entire procedure or else it will come apart.
6. While keeping the strap as tight as you can at Ring A, loop the strap around what you did in step 1; keep the loops parallel to each other (like a spring) and somewhat loose because you will need to thread the end of the strap back through them. Depending on the size of your hat, you will have a varying number of coils. Make sure the coils completely cover the horizontal passes of the strap from step 1.
7. The last coil needs to pass through the underside of Ring B and then - here's the tricky part - you must pass the free end of the strap through the coils. Once you've got it through, keep tension on the free end of the strap and twist the coils to tighten them. If you have done the knot properly at this point, the hat band should be snug around the hat.
8. The free end of the strap may be trimmed, but it is not my preference to trim it. Instead, I shove the tail end of the tie strap behind the hat band at the front of the hat. This helps keep the band from slipping.
Looking good, ranger! Now, can you point me to the bathroom?