We went from winter to summer this spring, and now it feels like we are skipping fall. The first frost came about two weeks late, giving us a long growing season, but the snow came almost a month early and took the leaves with it. The wind is now blowing the cattail seeds around like snow and the tamaracs are at peak color.
The leaves are starting to turn, acorns are falling and the garden is producing well. The early hunting seasons are under way, and soon small game and archery deer season follows. It's time to fill the freezer for winter. There will be plenty of pleasant days yet to come though, so no need to panic yet. But we can see frost any morning now, with my average being Sept. 15. Last year, it was Oct. 6 — my latest frost ever.
It's the hot, muggy and buggy part of summer — and the last few years a time of drought, but not this year. We have had timely rains, and it shows. There are lots of berries and fruit this year. I have already picked pails of blueberries and seen ripe raspberries and pin cherries. The choke cherries are now ripe in spots. It looks like there will be lots of blackberries, too. It's been a great berry year. The wild rice is blooming.
Everything is happening so fast. We went from a long winter where we saw a near record late ice-out to a summer where I am starting to see stuff near record early. In my 22 years of records, I have never seen such a rapid change, such as how quickly the berry bushes went from bloom to setting fruit, the number of new plants blooming, the new species of butterfly and dragonfly daily. Each walk is a new adventure with several new species for the year.
Amazing what a difference a week makes — from near knee-deep snow to fire danger, from driving on the lakes to not being able to walk out, from shoveling snow to turning the soil over in the garden. Another year where we go from winter to summer in a blink of an eye! Waterfowl are moving through in big numbers, as are robins, juncos and a few sparrows. The phoebe is now calling by the garden. Quite a few overwintering butterflies are still looking for first spring azure.
Saturday, Jan. 20 The red-bellied woodpecker is a fairly new resident to this area from the south. One visited my bird feeder. It is the first I have had stay more than a day or two, so it appears to have included us in its home range. Sunday, Jan. 21 I saw good amount of snowshoe hare tracks. They have been in low numbers here for many years. Hopefully, they're making a comeback.
Editor's Note: Growing up on 11th Crow Wing Lake in Akeley, Dallas Hudson spent his boyhood exploring the surrounding public lands and waters. Since 1996, he has tracked some 500 species — birds, animals, insects, plants — in his daily journals. Since picking up a camera in 2015, Hudson has taken hundreds of photos to go with with his nature observations. Hudson shares his phenology notes and photos with KAXE's Season Watch, the Minnesota Phenology Network — and now the Park Rapids Enterprise. Friday, Dec. 8