On Sept. 20, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration’s Climate Prediction Center released its three-month weather outlook.
“Drought is expected to persist across most of the Great Plains and upper Mississippi Valley” through Dec. 31, according to the NOAA office.
The lake is the lowest I can remember, with an exposed lake bottom, visible muskrat runs normally hidden underwater, and tiny grass that sprouts in the lake bottom. A log submerged long ago is totally out of water and wearing a fuzzy crown of grass.
As with White Bear Lake and other lakes, we will not see a long-term improvement in lake levels until the drought ends. Remember to water your shrubs as they head into winter.
For several weeks, we have enjoyed birds stopping in the backyard on their way South. The first was a lone thrush I didn’t recognize as nesting around here. Then came flocks of finches foraging among the native plant seed heads, and robins stripping crab apples. Last week, a dozen or so flickers were hopping about the yard eating insects and grubs. And this week, a flock of several hundred black birds descended on the exposed lake bottom.
In the backyard, many of the leaves are falling without following the normal process of color change. The green ash is dropping leaves and the birch seems to be turning turning tan rather than yellow. We took a Sunday evening walk around the lake in search of color, and found a maple in full color and some wood ducks sunning on a boatlift.
We also found fluorescent red ribbons, likely marking all the lakeshore trees on one lot for removal. Will oak, willow, and box elder soon be sacrificed for a lake view? Yet once the soil is exposed, great quantities of buckthorn will emerge and dense thickets will result. Are we masters or are we stewards of nature?
Text and photos by Lee Miller