Category Archives: science

Somebody laid eggs on my bur oak branch

I’m tracking the passage of the seasons by following a branch on a stately old bur oak at the University of Minnesota. The season hasn’t changed, of course. It’s still summer, and, in fact, the temperature in my neighborhood probably … Continue reading

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Beaver building a house — live action!

The list of those who work the Mississippi River as it flows through Minneapolis is much shorter today than it used to be. Fewer tugboat captains, fewer deckhands. But beavers, those riparian workaholics, are still at it. I first saw … Continue reading

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What’s blooming in the urban prairie patch?

Almost every day, I get a tiny dose of prairieĀ  in the middle of the city. The Sixth Avenue Greenway, just a few blocks from the Mississippi River, looks a little unruly and neglected this time of year, but it’s … Continue reading

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Why don’t the oil and gas drillers want our sand?

Several feet beneath me (and you, too, if you live in Minneapolis or St. Paul) is a thick layer of sugar-like sand — about a hundred and fifty feet thick. Here’s a tiny slice of it: Photo by Mark Ryan, … Continue reading

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My bur oak branch at the summer solstice

I’m sending out this post on the summer solstice. This is the sun’s day to shine! Well, maybe not much in southeast Minneapolis, but still, this is the day of the year with the most daylight hours and the fewest … Continue reading

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How much do you want for that hat?

I met David Wiggins at the east end of the Stone Arch Bridge the other day. David is a genuine article National Park Service ranger for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. We were going to talk about rocks, … Continue reading

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A perfect place to preen

I can’t make it to the urban birding festivities that start tomorrow (Thursday) and run through Sunday. But it’s open house season, so I made the rounds in my neighborhood, visiting the birds in their urban digs. This time of … Continue reading

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My bur oak branch in the spring

Is it really spring if you still pull the long johns out every morning and give them serious thought? Almost six weeks after my calendar declared spring sprung, my bur oak branch on the University of Minnesota campus has finally … Continue reading

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A whole world in a handful of sand

I’ve learned two things this week: 1. Plain brown sand is never as plain and brown as it looks. 2. You really can see a whole world in a grain of sand. A few weeks ago I collected a sample … Continue reading

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High water watch #3

Ta-da! The Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls reached its first crest on Tuesday. For those of us just in it for the drama, it was a little disappointing. The crest was far below what flood forecasters had predicted. But … Continue reading

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