For The Love Of A River – The Minnesota by Darby Nelson

from a post by Dave Solheim

“Everyone with an interest in the Minnesota River Valley or southern Minnesota in general should read this book. It is well-researched and informative based on the author’s experience and has several useful features. If one wants only the travelogue of canoeing the Minnesota River, read only the chapters marked with paddles in the table of contents. One may also include the chapters of the watershed lakes.

“The opening chapters present the geologic history of the river valley, and scattered throughout are short chapters on the continuing efforts to restore the water quality of the river. The book is also a swan song of the author who spent his early childhood in the valley and his adult life living, teaching, and canoeing in Minnesota. The book is available at”

How Minnesota Fk’d Up Butternuts

Butternut canker and legality

Another reason you might not see butternuts is because of the disease that affects them. Butternut canker, a sort of fungus that attacks the trees, is bad news, similar to the blight that hit American chestnut trees as far as impact–not a good thing if you’re a butternut tree. Some trees I’ve picked from seemed to have a good resistance though, and if you look closely you can see the scars on the trunk to prove it. Unfortunately, the losses in Minnesota are bad enough that the tree has been listed as “of special concern” since 1996, and is now considered endangered, and, in a nutshell, that’s why it’s illegal.

I couldn’t believe that a food plant so reasonably well known in the wild food community could be illegal myself, so I called the Minnesota DNR and, after a number of calls over the span of a few months, I finally got the answer. Essentially, listing it as an endangered species invokes the full legal the full legal protocol making it completely illegal to harvest or possess the nuts. Don’t gather the nuts, pick them up, move them, eat them, plant them, or, drive around with some in your car, unless they’re in a secret compartment. That’s right, even if you wanted to plant the trees, be the Johnny Appleseed of butternuts, you could technically be facing jailtime, a felony and all the trimmings that go with it, including the loss of your voting rights.

When traveling with butternuts across state lines into Minnesota, try to hide them in a place the Police won’t look. Here I’m using the old school “He’s got nuts” method.

The law here is obviously overkill, but I can understand the intent. Plant gets blight disease that slowly destroys it? Put it on the endangered list–easy as, pecan pie, right? It seems to me like a knee jerk reaction that had unintended consequences. At least to me, there’s a stark contrast to someone possessing the edible fruit of a tree, one that’s harvested in quantity and legal in the surrounding states, to possessing something like a boreal owl, destroying the den of a timber rattlesnake, eating bald eagle egg omelets, or gathering other vascular plants that are endangered for some purpose, as in the case of the ginseng black market.

Not even the state can possess the nuts for propagation

It gets better though, and by better I mean bad. The law is fascinatingly byzantine in the case of butternuts, and I’m quoting the DNR here: “not even the State Nursery can possess the nuts for purposes of propagation”. So, you can’t plant butternuts, I can’t plant butternuts, and neither can the state. So, my question is, how the hell are we supposed to help this tree if no one can touch it? Is there nutting we can do?

Fresh butternuts (left) Dried butternuts (right).

Hammons Black Walnuts

David Shields On Black Walnut Candy

David ShieldsOn Black Walnut Candy

Of all the nuts in the antioxidant rich Juglans family, the black walnut has the most distinctive flavor—sweet, with a licorice note, a mild bitterness, and a mellow resonance as the oils linger in the mouth.

The chemistry of the nut is complex, high in y-Tocopherols, and highest in poly-unsaturated fatty acids among nuts, with a rich array of Phenolics and Flavanoids. Food scientists have long been aware of the beneficial effects of black walnut on human health.

Because of the notorious difficulty of removing the nut meats from the shell, the commercial culinary exploitation of the nut has been modest compared to its relatives the hickory, and the walnut.

Currently the Hammons Company of Missouri is the major supplier of processed nut meats, but home foragers have kept alive a rich tradition of home baked black walnut confections and candies.


Because of its distinctive flavor, the black walnut was subject to extensive experimentation as a candy ingredient–an array of fudges, taffies, chews, and brittles came into being. One of the classic creations was a candy in which chopped meats were coated with molten maple sugar, water and butter.

A southern version of the candy used the following formula:

Three cups of white sugar; 1/c cup of vinegar; 1 tablespoon of dark molasses, 1 tablespoon of butter. This was cooked until the water test turned the hot mixture brittle. Take off fire, stir in 2 cups of black walnuts that have been pounded fine. Stir mixture until it thickens. Pour rapidly in a buttered dish and cut into squares. The Pullman News (December 1928), 270

This basic formula could be tarted up by adding almond or orange extract and by upping the molasses component from 1 to 3 tablespoons.

Among the stranger black walnut confections was Sauer Kraut Candy: which used equal parts black walnut meats and shredded coconut as the material for a brown sugar, goldens syrup, milk and butter matrix. It was cut into long strips. I’ve never tasted this or seen this made.

Black walnut brittle was the simplest candy to make. You poured a salted simply syrup onto chopped nuts onto a cold candy slab and set it set.

There was a moment in the early 20th century when taffy chews were made with black walnuts, but the near equal mix of sugar, corn syrup, an molasses in the candy body made this rather noxiously sweet.

Coating black walnuts in chocolate was the path of late 20th century confectionery and is probably the most common form of black walnut candy now commercially available. I think the darker the chocolate, the more interesting the experience.

And as black walnut brittle


(Ian Henderson 2-18-2022 lifted from a paywalled FT report by Robert McCauley) [See link at end]
Bitcoin is off its all-time high of $69,000 set on November 9, 2021. It suffered a wrenching $12,000 flash crash over the first weekend in December, amid accounts of leveraged positions being closed out. And yet, even at the current price of $49,000, guests on financial TV news continue to tout it as the best-performing asset of the last N years, where N can be just about any number from one to ten.

They also increasingly judge it as a credible investment in its own right.

This contradicts the longstanding skeptical view by many economists and others that what bitcoin really is, in effect, is a Ponzi scheme.
Brazilian computer scientist Jorge Stolfi is one voice who has contended this. His view is based on the following observations:
Investors buy in the expectation of profits. That expectation is sustained by the profits of those that cash out. But there is no external source for those profits; they come entirely from new investments. And the operators take away a large portion of the money.

All of this rings true. But in calling bitcoin a Ponzi scheme, critics are arguably being too kind on two counts. First, bitcoin doesn’t have the same end game as a Ponzi scheme. Second, it constitutes a deeply negative sum game from a broad social perspective.

On the first count, it’s worth assessing how it compares to the original scheme devised by Charles Ponzi. In 1920, Ponzi promised 50 per cent on a 45-day investment and managed to pay this to a number of investors. He suffered and managed to survive investor runs, until eventually the scheme collapsed less than a year into it.
In the largest and probably the longest running Ponzi scheme in history, Bernie Madoff paid returns of around one per cent a month. He offered to cash out his scheme’s participants, both the original sum “invested” and the “return” thereon. As a result, the scheme could and did suffer a run; the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 led to a cascade of redemptions by participants and the scheme’s collapse.

But the resolution of Madoff’s scheme has extended beyond its collapse on account of the remarkable and ongoing legal proceedings. These have outlived Madoff himself, who died in early 2021.

Many are unaware that a bankruptcy trustee, Irving H. Picard, has doggedly and successfully pursued those who took more money out of the scheme than they put in. He even managed to follow the money into offshore dollar accounts, litigating a controversial extraterritorial reach of US law all the way to the US Supreme Court. Of the $20bn in recognized original investments in the scheme (which the victims had been told had reached a value more than three times that sum), some $14bn, a striking 70 per cent, has been recovered and distributed. Claims of up to $1.6m are being fully repaid.

By contrast to investments with Madoff, Bitcoin is bought not as an income-earning asset but rather as a zero-coupon perpetual.
In other words, it promises nothing as a running yield and never matures with a required terminal payment. It follows that it cannot suffer a run. The only way a holder of bitcoin can cash out is by a sale to someone else.

Bitcoin’s collapse would look very different to that of Ponzi’s or Madoff’s scheme. One possible trigger could be the collapse of a big so-called stablecoin, that is, ersatz US dollars that have sprung up to provide a cash leg for cryptocurrency transactions. These “unregulated money market funds” have been sold as dollar stand-ins with safe assets that match their outstanding liabilities. Given the lack of regulation and disclosure, it is not hard to imagine a big stablecoin “breaking the buck”, as occurred with a regulated money market fund that held Lehman paper in 2008.
This could so disrupt the whole ecology of crypto that there could be no bids for bitcoin. The market might close indefinitely.
In this event, there would be no long-running legal effort to chase down those who cashed in their bitcoin early in order to redistribute their profits to those left holding bitcoins. Holders of bitcoin would have no claim on those who bought early and sold.

In its cashflow, bitcoin resembles a penny-stock pump-and-dump scheme more than a Ponzi scheme. In a pump-and-dump scheme, traders acquire basically worthless stock, talk it up and perhaps trade it among themselves at rising prices before unloading it on to those drawn in by the chatter and the price action.
Like the pump-and-dump scheme, bitcoin taps into the pure desire for capital gains. Buyers cannot stand the sight of friends getting rich overnight: they suffer an acute fear of missing out (FOMO). In any case, bitcoin makes no promises and cannot end as a Ponzi scheme ends.

On the second count, another big difference between bitcoin and a Ponzi scheme is that the former is, from an aggregate or social standpoint, a negative sum game. To the extent that real resources are used up to make bitcoin run, it is costly in a way that Madoff’s two- or three-man operation was not. From the social standpoint, what Madoff took out of his scheme and finally consumed is a redistribution in a zero-sum game (the trustee sold his penthouse). Stolfi’s fourth observation above that “the operators take away a large portion of the money” lumps together Madoff’s take and bitcoin miners’ revenues, but these are very different in economic terms.

With bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the game is to name the country whose electricity consumption equals that of all the puzzle-solvers (miners) who get to effect transactions and receive bitcoin in reward. Even if the electricity were priced to include its contribution to global warming (its “environmental externality”)—which presumably it mostly is not—this represents a real cost.

How big a cost? At the beginning of 2021, Stolfi put the cumulative payments to bitcoin’s miners since 2009 at $15bn. At the then price of bitcoin, he put the increase in this sum at about $30m per day, which mostly pays for electricity.

At today’s higher bitcoin prices, the hole is growing faster. About 900 new bitcoin a day require most of $45m a day in electricity. Thus, the negative sum in the bitcoin game is in tens of billions of dollars and rising at over a billion dollars per month.

If the price of bitcoin collapses to zero, the gains of those who sold would fall short of the losses of holders by this growing sum.

To liken bitcoin to a Ponzi scheme or a pump-and-dump scheme, both basically redistributive, is to flatter the cryptocurrency system.

To conclude, an economic analysis of bitcoin must recognize its uniqueness in the history of manias. As an object of speculation, bitcoin is unprecedented in the degree to which there is no there, there. This post-modern mania features big prices for entries on nobody’s spreadsheet.

A zero-coupon perpetual has arrived not as a joke but as a trillion dollar asset. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, bitcoin cannot end in a run.
In a crash, the holders of bitcoin will collectively have lost what they have paid the miners for their bitcoin. This sum may be not far from the sum originally invested with Madoff, after accounting for inflation.

But bitcoin holders will have no one to pursue to recover this sum: it will simply have gone up in smoke, a social loss. The holders of bitcoin would then only wish it had been a Ponzi scheme.

[[Robert McCauley, is a non-resident senior fellow at Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center and associate member of the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford. In this post McCauley argues that comparing bitcoin to a Ponzi scheme is unfair to Ponzi schemes.…/83a14261-598d-4601-87fc-5dde528b33d0%5D%5D

Call It ‘Codger Power.’ We’re Older and Fighting for a Better America.

 from The New York Times Feb. 7, 2022

Neil Young.Credit…Matt Furman/Redux

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

By Bill McKibben and Akaya Windwood

Mr. McKibben is the founder of Third Act, helped found the climate advocacy group and is the author of the forthcoming memoir The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon.” Ms. Windwood is the lead adviser of Third Act and a co-author of the forthcoming “Leading With Joy.”

Neil Young and Joni Mitchell did more than go after Spotify for spreading Covid disinformation last week. They also, inadvertently, signaled what could turn out to be an extraordinarily important revival: of an older generation fully rejoining the fight for a working future.

You could call it (with a wink!) codger power.

We’ve seen this close up: Over the past few months, we’ve worked with others of our generation to start the group Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 for progressive change. That’s no easy task. The baby boomers and the Silent Generation before them make up a huge share of the population — nearly 75 million people, a larger population than France’s. And conventional wisdom (and a certain amount of data) holds that people become more conservative as they age, perhaps because they have more to protect.

But as those musicians reminded us, these are no normal generations. We’re both in our 60s; in the 1960s and ’70s, our generation either bore witness to or participated in truly profound cultural, social and political transformations. Think of Neil Young singing “four dead in Ohio” in the weeks after Kent State or Joni Mitchell singing “they paved paradise” after the first Earth Day. Perhaps we thought we’d won those fights. But now we emerge into older age with skills, resources, grandchildren — and a growing fear that we’re about to leave the world a worse place than we found it. So some of us are more than ready to turn things around.

It’s not that there aren’t plenty of older Americans involved in the business of politics: We’ve perhaps never had more aged people in positions of power, with most of the highest offices in the nation occupied by septuagenarians and up, yet even with all their skills, they can’t get anything done because of the country’s political divisions.

But the daily business of politics — the inside game — is very different from the sort of political movements that helped change the world in the ’60s. Those we traditionally leave to the young, and indeed at the moment it’s young people who are making most of the difference, from the new civil rights movement exemplified by Black Lives Matter to the teenage ranks of the climate strikers. But we can’t assign tasks this large to high school students as extra homework; that’s neither fair nor practical.

Instead, we need older people returning to the movement politics they helped invent. It’s true that the effort to embarrass Spotify over its contributions to the stupidification of our body politic hasn’t managed yet to make it change its policies yet. But the users of that streaming service skew young: Slightly more than half are below the age of 35, and just under a fifth are 55 or older.

Other important pressure points may play out differently. One of Third Act’s first campaigns, for instance, aims to take on the biggest banks in America for their continued funding of the fossil fuel industry even as the global temperature keeps climbing. Chase, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo might want to take note, because (fairly or not) 70 percent of the country’s financial assets are in the hands of boomers and the Silent Generation, compared to just about 5 percent for millennials.

Jewelweed Chapter 003

Buck Roebuck lived four miles from town with his wife, Amy, their fourteen-year-old son, Kevin, Buck’s father, and Amy’s grandmother. Behind their three-story home, a pond lay wide and deep. A dock made of wood planking extended over the water to a painted gazebo. Nearby, a tethered boat floated, its oars slanting out of the oarlocks like the back legs of a cricket. Though the surface of the water seemed as smooth as glass in the dim morning light, an unseen current beat one of the oar-shafts against the side of the boat in a slow, hollow drumming.
Buck paid little attention to the hypnotic noise or the extraordinary tranquility of the morning. There was a creature living in the pond that he needed to get rid of, and for this reason he was pacing back and forth along the dock, waiting for the conservation agent from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wispy strands of fog clung to the water’s surface, and the sound of his boots pounded through it. He didn’t like it when people were late, and being an unusually large man, with thighs as big around as his wife’s waist, his impatience could be understood from a long way away.
Buck had dug the pond four years ago, and a great variety of living things immediately appropriated it for their own use. Innumerable tunnels, paths, and flyways led to the water’s edge, and what at one time had belonged only to his wife’s vision of the future now belonged to more creatures than anyone could fully fathom. At least eight kinds of fish now thrived somewhere beneath the surface. Buck had caught a three-pound bass himself, and no one would ever call him a fisherman; with a construction company to run, he simply didn’t have the time. His seventy-eight-year-old father, Wallace, had once caught an enormous orange carp, and no one would call Wally a fisherman either.
Since no one had stocked the pond, Buck sometimes wondered how the fish arrived there. Did the feeder-spring connect to a larger body of water? And could full-grown watery creatures actually move through the underground passage like refugees from another world? Frankly, Buck didn’t really care, but thinking about the astonishing fecundity of the pond sometimes gave him a fleeting pleasure. Nature had apparently focused its green eye upon it.
It had been his wife’s idea to turn the swampy ground behind their house into a pond. Amy said their son, Kevin, would find reason to leave the confinement of his room. It would encourage him to rise above the disabilities that usually prevented his participation in outdoor activities. So Buck agreed to complete it.
Problems had mounted quickly. Before issuing a permit, the DNR required a costly study of the watershed’s drainage grid and an assessment of the environmental footprint of impounding three hundred thousand gallons of water with an anticipated flow rate of ten thousand gallons per day. Buck hired a consultant to work with the department, draw up a land-use plan, and complete the legal forms.
When the permit finally came through, Buck began pumping water out of the swamp and pushing dirt with his dozer, filling trucks and hauling the dirt, clay, and rocks to a construction site on the other side of Grange, where it could be used in later projects.
By the time he dug down six feet, the spring dried up. The DNR sent people out to look and Buck’s consultant agreed with them: the weight and vibration of the machinery had temporarily sealed the channels in the rock and clay. But everyone was sure that the spring was still down there and further digging would open it up.
Buck brought in his excavator and went down another ten feet, enlarging the diameter of the hole as he went.
“This is bigger than we planned,” said Amy, standing with her husband on the deck off the back of the house, her hands clasped behind her back. She was a tall woman with wide shoulders, and her upright posture argued against the worried expression on her face, creating an image of optimistic anxiety. Beneath them, the excavator loaded rock and dirt into trucks parked on a second tier of ground. The dozer carved out another ramp into the pit. Smoke belched from the engines. At twenty feet there was still no water.
Buck signaled his operator to go deeper.
At thirty feet the spring opened up.
“Oh good,” said Amy, watching water rise around the tracks of the excavator. Farther away, the dozer tried to climb up the muddy incline and slid backward.
Buck scrambled down from the deck and ran forward, shouting at his men standing along the sides of the pit.
By the time the equipment was pulled out, water had seeped into compartments, shorted circuit boards, fouled switches, filled intakes with gritty water, and damaged the pumps. Repairs cost over eight thousand dollars, even with his own men doing most of the work.
But no one had been hurt and the DNR didn’t complain too long or too loudly when the size of the pond turned out to be three times the one originally proposed. It now extended from the edge of the deck on the back of the house all the way to the windbreak along the gravel road.
The following summer, the grass on the earth dam sprouted thick and green. The dock and gazebo were completed on schedule, at a thousand dollars below the estimated cost. With warmer weather, Amy coaxed Kevin out of his room, away from his video games, computers, and magazines. The boy inched across the redwood deck in his slippers and placed his thin hands on the railing. He looked over the pond. A squadron of mallards flew overhead. Four of them broke formation and dropped out of the sky. At about twenty feet above the pond, wing and tail feathers fanned open, necks arched, green heads rose; the ducks appeared to be standing up in the air, sinking slowly. Then their wide orange feet skidded across the glazed surface, spraying water. Seconds later, they folded into compact oval shapes, bobbing up and down contentedly in the undulating wake of their own landing.
A smile spread across the boy’s face. With the help of his mother and nurse, Kevin climbed onto the lowest terrace of the deck. From there they ventured onto the dock, Amy steadying his progress and the gray-haired nurse pulling the oxygen tank and keeping the tubing from tangling in the wheels of the cart.
Beneath the dock, lazy liquid slapped against oak posts, and water bugs skittered madly in and out of rolling shadows. The hoarse croaking of a bullfrog sounded like an ancient door pried open, thick ribbons of iridescent green slime grew underwater, and the smell of moist heat, earth, and damp wood rose into the air. These sensations dove to the bottom of Kevin’s mind, where they were set to work in the mines of his young imagination.
Amy later recalled this moment to her husband as they ate dinner at the kitchen table. “I wish you could have seen his smile, Buck. It was like he finally—” She stopped, set her cup of coffee down, and listened. “Finally what?” asked Buck.
Before she could answer, Kevin began coughing and Amy hurried down the hallway toward his bedroom, leaving Buck to eat the last of the salad from the wooden serving bowl. At the other end of the table, Buck’s father rose, centered his weight on both legs, adjusted the suspenders holding up his pants, and walked out of the kitchen, closing the door.
Unfinished sentences had become a way of life, thought Buck. He was still hungry, but resolved to eat nothing more. He listened to his father climbing the stairs to his bedroom on the second floor. Buck had offered to move his furniture into available rooms downstairs, but Wally preferred to stay upstairs. In the morning he could look out and see farther, he said.
Though he did not like to acknowledge it, Buck often felt abandoned, first by his wife and later by his father. The feeling shamed him, made him seem weak, childish, and ungrateful for the many privileges that he enjoyed.
For thirty-five years he and Wally had worked side by side, building Roebuck Construction from a father-and-son team with a pickup, cement mixer, ladder, and two wheelbarrows, to the largest construction company in the area. They’d constructed so many retaining walls, parking lots, sheds, garages, shops, additions, houses, and commercial buildings that Buck had recently walked into a store, finished what he’d come in for, and left without remembering that he and his father had built it.
Together, they had borrowed money, bought more equipment, bid on jobs, and hired workers. The company grew until they could no longer handle the paperwork. Two new employees helped with that—a younger woman with a lively telephone personality and secretarial skills, and an older bookkeeper. A new office building in Grange provided them with a place to answer the phone, make payroll, deal with vendors, send out bills, pay insurance, apply for permits, and file contracts.
During this time Buck married Amy Fisher, which seemed especially appropriate to everyone who thought about it. Because of Amy’s six-foot-three-inch height they made an almost-normal-looking couple, and people often said how fortunate they were to have found each other. Someone as big as Buck married to an average-sized person would look like a giant married to a child, and seeing such a mismatch would be uncomfortable for everyone. They also seemed to have temperaments that fit nicely together: Buck was reserved yet amiable, and Amy was amiable yet reserved.
Amy’s mother ran the Cut & Curl in Grange, and her father had traveled through a large area of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa, selling farm machinery. She had one younger brother, named Lucky, and although the two siblings were often together they never formed a close relationship. From an early age they nurtured separate agendas. Lucky wanted to be admired and Amy wanted to belong, and the paths leading to these respective fulfillments headed in different directions.
Amy and Buck both liked hiking and camping, and whenever they got a chance, they walked into wilderness areas with packs on their backs and compasses in their pockets. They canoed the Boundary Waters and in winter went cross-country skiing. One year they hiked much of the Glacial Trail.
Amy liked to make love inside tents, Buck discovered. Something unraveled inside her when the wind blew the canvas sides in and out, and even when it didn’t there was something exciting about the thin walls and pointed, membrane-like ceiling.
Buck also discovered that Amy loved her grandparents’ house outside Grange more than anywhere else in the world. Much of this had to do with her grandparents, of course, to whom Amy felt a deep and relaxed affinity—a fond attraction stronger even than her feelings for her parents, in whose presence she always felt disapproval hiding behind measured acceptance, a silent nagging insistence for her to become someone more accomplished and petite.
Amy experienced unmetered acceptance from her grandparents and spent as much time as she possibly could with them. They were like her, laughed at her jokes, understood her quiet ways, and appreciated her without her needing to do something flamboyant or cute. Her grandfather taught philosophy at the university in La Crosse until he retired, and their big old country home possessed all the seclusion and grand enchantment that her parents’ home in town lacked. There were three full floors, ten-foot ceilings, leaded windows, walnut baseboards, and a library on the third floor for all her grandfather’s books. On the outside were wooden sides painted in gray, ceramic roofs, gutters, and downspouts. Her grandmother, Florence, kept a flower garden and orchard that extended the quaint features of the house a short ways into nature. Everything about the property seemed to exist in an earlier era, a different time to which Amy felt perfectly in tune.
As they aged, her grandparents became increasingly unable to conduct war against the omnipresent forces that seek to erode the unique charm of any particular place and time, to hide its attractions and obscure its beauty, and the place fell into disrepair. When her grandfather died, Florence put the house up for sale. Amy couldn’t bear to have anyone else own it, so she talked to Florence and implored her to allow Buck and her to move in. Flo agreed, and Amy at once began the deliberate process of turning back the clock and restoring the house and gardens to their former condition. She attempted to enlist her grandmother as an adviser in the restoration, but found her oddly uninterested in the furnishings and condition of her surroundings. Having already lived through the period of history that Amy longed to re-create, Florence had no desire to see it resurrected, and preferred to pass the years and hours left to her making rosaries, or in silent contemplation.
Then Amy got pregnant inside a tent on a windy night, and after he was born the baby seemed fine for a week or two. He looked normal, but over the next month he failed to thrive, which was how the hospital staff referred to it. Something was wrong, and after kissing the infant’s forehead one morning, Amy noticed that her lips were salty. Tests were run and discoveries made: Kevin’s DNA made errors in translating its coded material into proteins. His heart and lungs were weak. Amy and Buck were told that these impairments would certainly increase with age, and might later prevent his proper growth. He would most likely need some type of care for the rest of his life.
“Nature’s way of experimenting,” said the counselor who had been recommended by the hospital. “No,” said Amy, “it’s not. It’s the opposite.”
The counselor folded his hands over his stomach. “Evolution,” he said, “progresses through little mistakes. Some are beneficial and over time become refined into species-wide adaptive traits. Unfortunately, others are not beneficial at all. These cases of cystic fibrosis are well documented, and with modern drugs much of the discomfort can be alleviated. A palliative treatment routine can be readily administered within a proper facility.”
“Will he live? What kind of help is available in the home? What could we have done to prevent this?”
“Look, Mrs. Roebuck, let’s not make ourselves out to be victims here. In my experience there’s nothing more difficult than people who see themselves as victims. You need to stop thinking of this as some kind of cosmic injustice. Your first obligation is to your own mental wellness. If you don’t feel adequately prepared to care for this child, there are alternatives that may prove—”
Buck leaned forward in his chair, picked up the compact carved maple desk between them, and held it several feet off the floor. Then he put it down and everything, including the phone, pens, and papers, remained in place. Afterward, the counselor adopted a different, more sympathetic approach. “I wish you wouldn’t do things like that, Buck,” said Amy afterward. “I’m sorry.”
Over the years, caring for Kevin brought Buck and Amy closer together in many ways, though this seemed somewhat paradoxical because they had little time to themselves. They were silently united in rejecting all social norms that prescribed failure for their son. Kevin would have a good life and they would see to it. They encouraged each other, supported each other, and even pressured each other to never give up. When problems arose, they could be fixed. And when they couldn’t be fixed, they could be lived through. People could be happy in a different kind of way, and they were.
In the meantime, however, Buck lost the larger portion of his wife. There was little of Amy leftover and he accepted that. She was too busy with Kevin and Florence. But it didn’t matter. He and his father had a construction company to run and he threw himself into his work with missionary zeal, always aware of the rising cost of his son’s medical needs.
Buck liked construction and even suspected that his father had started the business to provide him with the incessant physical activity he had required as a young person—pushing wheelbarrows of wet concrete, shoveling gravel, and climbing ladders with pallets of shingles and brick. They had a mutual love of the work, and even many years later, when all the other workers had gone home, Buck and Wally remained at the job site, tying up loose ends and planning out the following day.
Then Buck’s mother died and Wally’s interest in the company died with her. He continued another couple years and just gave up.
“You take it, Buck. I’m through,” he said one morning, looking out the window in the office in Grange.
“Never thought you’d say that, Dad. What will you do? You ought to think about it a little longer.” “Buck, I can’t do it any longer.”
And so Wally left the construction business and entered into what seemed to Buck and Amy like an uninterrupted two-year-long drinking binge. After wrecking his pickup twice, setting fire to his kitchen, falling asleep on his front lawn in winter, buying and selling a tavern in the same week, tearing up the road in front of his house with the construction company’s biggest dozer, urinating in front of the police station, and otherwise proving to everyone concerned that he could not live alone, he sold his house and moved in with Buck and Amy. He preferred one of the rooms on the second floor, he said.
Amy agreed to it. She wanted him there. Wally would stop drinking, she said, as soon as he was living with family. And he did.
As Amy had also foreseen, the pond ignited Kevin’s enthusiasm for the out of doors. He spent many of his summer afternoons inside the gazebo, where he could lie down and plug any needed equipment into the outlets. Stacks of magazines spread across the table, accompanied by computer cords, video game controls, and sketching tablets, onto which he drew images of the pond and the creatures that came there. Once, when his resistance to infection, mildew, and dampness in general seemed especially strong, he even slept overnight in the gazebo, overruling the disapproval of his nurse. He felt connected to nature there, in touch with a wider experience.
Then one night in early autumn, Wally couldn’t sleep. He carried a tackle box and a fishing pole out to the end of the dock, baited a hook, and caught a fish. It weighed over five pounds and was followed by six others, ranging between two and four pounds. He put them all on a stringer, tied the stringer to the end of the dock, and went back to bed. While falling asleep he thought about batter-frying the smaller ones and taking the biggest to a man who smoked fish inside a metal drum behind his garage. But after he went to sleep Wally dreamed of an elegant woman with a sensuous smile and a bulbous eye on each side of her head.
Since his wife’s death, Wally had become increasingly sensitive to any signals from the next world—a sensitivity he consciously nurtured. He wanted to be ready to calmly greet whatever waited for him after his death, and he tried to live accordingly. Because of his dream, Wally decided to free the fish on the dock. But first he wondered if his grandson Kevin might want to see them.
“I caught some nice fish last night,” he announced Sunday morning while he, Buck, Florence, and Amy ate scrambled eggs and buttered toast. “I’m going to turn them loose, but I wondered if the boy would like to see them first.” “I’m sure he would, Wally,” said Amy, setting down her fork. “I’ll ask him.”
When Kevin was dressed they all went outdoors together. Buck carried his son, the nurse followed with the oxygen tank, and Amy and Wally helped Florence, who brought a camera.
“Put me down, Dad,” said the fourteen-year-old, and Buck set him on the bench beside the gazebo. The boy’s eyes followed the stringer over the dock and into the water. Wally stepped forward and drew it up. Six ragged heads dangled in midair, their bodies missing. The nurse muffled a shriek with a gasp. Kevin drew back in horror. Unable to interrupt her intended movements quickly enough, Florence took a picture. Wally dropped the stringer.
Kevin’s face darkened.
“Turtles do that,” said Wally, trying to sound comforting in an informative way. “A turtle leaves heads.” “He ate them while they were alive?” asked Kevin.
“Well, yes, in a manner of speaking.”
“I want to go back inside now,” said Kevin.
“Sorry, Amy,” said Wally as they walked up to the house.
“It will be all right,” said Amy. “I know it will.”
At first it seemed as if Amy’s resolute optimism might prevail. After several weeks, Kevin again was drawn to the water, and once again ventured out to the gazebo.
Migrating geese stopped that autumn, sometimes a hundred at a time. They dove beneath the surface looking for food, slept on the water, and talked to each other in wild squawking tones.
As Kevin watched them, he tried to imagine being a goose, having feathers, and floating half in and half out of the water, webbed feet dangling. He wondered what it would feel like to be surrounded by an enormous extended family of geese, to fall asleep with your head lying on your back, the naked sun overhead and the cool water beneath—a seamless connection to the rest of the world.
That’s what I want, thought Kevin, a seamless connection—every stir stirring through me.
Several days later, Kevin sat in his chair in the gazebo and an unusually large flock of geese circled the pond and landed. The noise was deafening in a good way. Kevin stood up and gripped the railing. “We should throw out pieces of bread,” he said to the nurse. “Go get some.”
“I’ll be right back,” she said, putting her book aside and slipping her shoes on.
After checking the tubing and settling Kevin back into his chair, she walked down the dock, up onto the deck, and into the house.
Kevin watched the geese. They covered nearly all of the surface. Then they rose at once in a cacophony of beating wings and loud fearful cries. Kevin sat forward. Within seconds, they were flapping over the top of the windbreak—all but one, who appeared to be having some trouble taking off from the surface of the pond. The lone goose slapped its wings against the water, lurched upward, and continued to bleat as it sank deeper into the pond. Finally, only its neck and head remained, and then these also disappeared and quiet ripples radiated from the place it had gone under. The pond became absolutely silent.
When the nurse returned Kevin said he wanted to go back inside the house. “Where’d all the birds go?” asked the nurse.
“I told you I want to be back inside.”
“We have to wait for your mother to come back from town.”
“I don’t want to wait.”
“I’ll go in and get your grandfather. He can help.”
“Hurry, I don’t want to be out here any longer.”
The nurse went back inside. Kevin listened to the deafening silence of the pond and felt alone. He stood up and walked out onto the dock. Staring into the blue-green water, he thought he saw something. The color of the water seemed to coalesce beneath the surface, drawing together, taking on form.
It seemed as if the old nurse was taking forever to come back, and Kevin grew increasingly anxious. As his anxiety grew, his breathing became more labored. His chest hurt and he stared into the water again.
The greenish-blue form had turned more yellow since he last looked, and it had a definite shape now. It looked like a boulder three or four feet in diameter, lying at the bottom.
Then it slowly rose and a dark bony shell broke through the surface, wet and slick. Finally the turtle’s knurled head and neck emerged. Its bright reptilian eyes contemplated him, and Kevin could not at first understand—beyond the sickly horror he was experiencing—what manner of stare it was. The neck swelled out from beneath the shell, serpent-like. The head drew closer and the mouth opened, revealing the full width of its bite. Kevin felt the animal’s dark intelligence, as if all its ten million ancestors were scoffing at Kevin, laughing at evolution’s latest doomed experiment. Long after Kevin had taken his last labored breath, the turtle would still be here, living beneath the surface.
Satisfied with its communication, the giant turtle then closed its mouth, drew its neck in, and slowly sank until it disappeared completely. From then on, Kevin refused to have anything to do with the pond. “It’s the turtle, Buck,” said Amy. “You’ve got to get that thing out of there.” “How am I supposed to do that?”
“Wally said he saw it once. He poked it with a stick and it bit off a piece of the wood.” “Seeing it and getting rid of it are two different things.”
When the DNR agent finally arrived later that morning, they stood together on the dock and Buck explained what he intended to do. “Oh no, you can’t drain the pond, Mr. Roebuck.”
“I have all the pumps I need.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Roebuck. We can’t let you drain the pond.”
“I want that turtle out of there.”
“We talked about this turtle, Mr. Roebuck. I discussed it with our fish and game people and none of them think there’s a snapper like the one you described anywhere in Wisconsin. They’re certain, in fact, that there isn’t.”
“I don’t care a whole lot what your people think,” said Buck. “My father saw it. My son saw it. I’m going to drain the pond.”
“We can’t let you do that. It’s disruptive to the ecosystem. You already ceded this. It was part of the agreement you signed before impounding the water.” Buck knotted his hands together.
“We can bring in a seining crew,” said the field agent. “It would be expensive, but we could drag the pond and pull up whatever you have down there.” “With nets?”
“Nylon nets. Nothing escapes the nets, especially something as large as you think you have here. We’ll bring it up and remove it.” “What if it comes back?”
“It won’t. You want me to put in a requisition for a crew? Remember, Buck, it’s expensive.” “Do it, as soon as possible.”

Four Endangered Whooping Cranes Shot And Killed In Oklahoma

December 20, 2021 News Staff

KIOWA COUNTY, Okla. — The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) reported that four whooping cranes were recently shot and killed in Oklahoma. The whooping crane is an endangered species, and it is against the law to kill, harm or harass the bird.

The ODWC is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to investigate the deaths that happened near Tom Steed Lake in Kiowa County.

One whooping crane was discovered by hunters who notified ODWC game wardens. It died while being taken to a veterinarian clinic.

The USFWS’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory determined a shotgun wound was the cause of death.

Three more dead whooping cranes were found where the first crane was found, bringing the loss to four. All of the deaths are being investigated by ODWC and USFWS.

“This is sickening to see such a wanton waste of wildlife, and our Game Wardens are very eager to visit with the individual or individuals who committed this crime,” said Wade Farrar, Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement with the Wildlife Department.

“Somebody out there knows something that will help in this investigation, and I trust that they will do the right thing and come forward.”

The total whooping crane population is estimated at 500 birds in North America. They travel through Oklahoma during migrations to and from their breeding grounds in Texas. Most Oklahoma sightings are reported from mid-October through November.

A conviction for killing a whooping crane can carry up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine per person under the Endangered Species Act, and up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Anyone with information regarding the deaths of the whooping cranes is asked to contact the Wildlife Department’s Operation Game Thief at 918-331-5555 or the USFWS’ Office of Law Enforcement in Fort Worth, Texas, at 817-334-5202. Callers with information may remain anonymous.

Cash rewards are being offered for information leading to a conviction.


What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans
By Michaeleen Doucleff

“Hunt, Gather, Parent” — a book about what harried Western mothers can learn from their supposedly serene Indigenous counterparts — opens in the style of an addiction memoir.

Michaeleen Doucleff, an NPR science reporter living in San Francisco with her husband and fiery 3-year-old, Rosy, has just “hit rock bottom as a mom.”

Rosy, though “whip smart” and “wildly courageous,” has frequent tantrums in which she slaps, bites, overturns furniture or won’t put on shoes. Doucleff yearns for the holy grail of new motherhood: a shower.

She has read the extant parenting literature, and even obeyed the pediatrician who told her to speak to Rosy constantly. But nothing helped, and the 40-something Doucleff, who has a doctorate in chemistry, finds herself kneeling in the kitchen shouting her frustration into a cupboard. “Never before had I been so bad at something that I wanted to be good at,” she writes.

Then she remembers that, while in Liberia covering an Ebola outbreak, and in the Arctic reporting on climate change, the children seemed sweet, helpful and compliant. Maybe Doucleff isn’t to blame for her failures — Western parenting culture is.

Thus begins another addition to the now extensive literature, mostly written for Americans by Americans, about the sensible, calmer ways that people in other countries raise kids. (I’m guilty of adding to the pile.) These books are in response to the rising and sometimes ridiculous demands of modern American parenting, which is practiced in weaker form in many other countries, too.

Doucleff’s instructive book follows her as she takes her daughter to rural villages in Mexico, Canada and Tanzania, to discern the local child-rearing techniques, and try them out on the tempestuous Rosy.

She claims to discover methods that are “tens of thousands of years” old and practiced around the world, yet missing from other parenting books. In a Maya village in the Yucatán, she meets children who not only do chores voluntarily but also watch to see which chores need to be done, a blend of awareness and action that Mexicans call acomedido. (A chore chart, by contrast, makes a child think he needs to set the table only on Tuesdays.)

Maya parents — really it seems to be mothers, grandmothers and big sisters — encourage acomedido by letting even toddlers pitch in on everyday tasks, from making tortillas to digging fields. Caregivers keep close watch, without offering much correction or praise. The kids eventually develop truly useful skills. Later, they pitch in naturally, because they feel like part of the family enterprise.

Doucleff realizes that she’d been underestimating Rosy’s abilities. Toddlers are “born assistants” for whom helping with grown-up tasks is a form of learning and play.

Western parents think they’re saving time by plopping a child down with a screen while they cook dinner. In fact, they’re signaling to her that she’s not part of the team, so these tasks aren’t her job. Parents needlessly exhaust themselves creating separate activities for kids, whereas in fact, they “can lead their normal lives — working or relaxing — while kids follow along, learning as they go.”

The lessons continue in a freezing Arctic village, where Doucleff observes parents who remain placid when their children misbehave. She realizes that, as a Westerner, she assumed that Rosy was challenging her authority, so a loud, angry battle of wills ensued.

However, Inuit parents view kids as “illogical, newbie citizens trying to figure out the proper behavior,” so their parents don’t take misbehavior personally. They certainly don’t shout, she says, since that would just teach kids to shout too. Instead, they either go silent and observe the child, or walk away.

“Hunt, Gather, Parent” is full of smart ideas that I immediately wanted to force on my own kids. (I wish I’d read it at the start of the pandemic, when I made their chore charts.) Doucleff is a dogged reporter who’s good at observing families and breaking down what they’re doing.

Not all her findings are groundbreaking. Plenty of other books also warn that yelling begets yelling, that too much praise demotivates and that today’s youth must learn “the blessing of a skinned knee.”

But given the cultural pressure to micromanage and cordon off kids, these messages bear repeating, and Doucleff’s versions are promising. She eventually extinguishes Rosy’s tantrums with radical, Inuit-style calm (“think lying-facedown-on-a-massage-table calmness”). And paradoxically, their family life improves after she ditches most toys, play dates and kids’ birthday parties.

The book works better as parenting guide than anthropology. Some of Doucleff’s interviewees come off as noble savages brimming with nothing but kindness. I cringed when, upon entering the Mexican village, she describes a “warm, wondrous feeling that everyone around you is family — everyone has your back.” I couldn’t help wondering whether Maya women would choose to lead gaggles of kids in housework if elective abortion were legal in the Yucatán.

And Doucleff underemphasizes the fact that Indigenous cultures evolve too. Not even the Inuit all do proper Inuit parenting anymore. And don’t they have Canadian health care?

Also, where are all the dads? Doucleff’s German shepherd appears about as often as her husband. She suggests recruiting “alloparents” to help with child care, but doesn’t mention that America lacks not just universal health care, but national paid maternity leave, day care and preschool. Sure, we need our kids (and spouses) to be acomedido. But to become truly nonanxious parents, we need the government to help more, too.

1930 Ford Model A Pickup Truck


Grandpa Howe’s Red 1930 Ford Model A Pickup Truck

Grandpa Howe and I used one like this on our foraging trips to Wisconsin’s backwoods hunting for black walnuts and butternuts