The grip of the COVID-19 pandemic on Minnesotans softens at times through the lens of the natural world. People in the outdoors have their attention elsewhere — and good thing, because spring’s awakening is in full bloom. We put out a question this week: What’s happening in the outdoors where you are? Here are some responses, edited for length and clarity. Expect more next week.
Mankato: Even though it is a little drier than it has been the last few years, I’m observing the popping of spring wildflowers bringing a little color to what usually looks like a dull landscape of mostly browns and grays. At Minneopa State Park we’re seeing the emergence of flowers such as snow trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, white trout lily, bloodroot and wild ginger. I think everyone this spring is seeking out any sign of rebirth. -Scott Kudelka
Detroit Lakes, Minn.: The songbirds have returned en masse, and it’s amazing to observe the volume of their collective calls. Local hiking trails are still snow- and ice-covered in the shade and wet and muddy in other places. Ice is still thick on the lakes but there’s melt. Rivers are open and flowing and teeming with waterfowl. Interested in learning more about hiking on the North Country Trail and COVID-19-related impact? Check out northcountrytrail.org/the-trail/trail-alerts. – Matt Davis
Houston, Minn.: Near our place in the Root River Valley our wild leeks are up and the bloodroot is just starting to peek. The first Eastern phoebe has arrived and the American woodcock is displaying every night in our prairie ... almost all night on bright moonlight nights. The wild owls don’t say much as they are tending to nests and young. This spring the neighbor’s wetland has expanded, attracting swans for the first time. – Karla Bloem
May Township (Washington County): Nothing on the farm says same old, same old spring in the face of an unprecedented difference like ...
… My beloved Lab’s unwillingness to have his ears checked for the first wood ticks of spring.
… The inaugural pair of wood ducks, in their unmistakable flight profile, delighting in suddenly open water.
… Red-winged blackbirds flying through snow squalls to reach the homey comfort of their favorite cattail swamp.
… Leopard, spring peeper and chorus frogs waking each other up with their persistent breeding calls.
… My rock hound neighbor walking the plowing for any newly frost-heaved agates. — Bill Klein
Grand Marais: The rivers and creeks are just popping through on the North Shore, finally free from ice and with enough water to bust the seams into Lake Superior. A few local anglers are taking to the frigid and frothy waters, weary evermore of those who approach. It’s not just protecting the honey hole that has them on edge. It’s the uncertainty of damn near everything. — Joe Friedrichs