Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dunes: A Slowly Accumulating Mound of Coincidences; Followed by the Weather and Hopping Down the Bunny Trail

Along with my recent interest in (re)reading some classic literature has come a renewed interest in reading some fantasy and science fiction. I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club decades ago but haven't paid much attention since. A book or series that I decided to read again is Frank Herbert's Dune, an ecological political sociological classic set on a desert planet.

In between novels from the library, I've been rotating reading from a few books of essays. A recent combination found me reading
Ed Abbey about southwestern desert dunes and Robert Finch about Cape Cod dunes. And of course it's those latter dunes I'm reminded of whenever I hike out on Minnesota Point.

Today I needed to buy some postage stamps and found them selling the latest in their Nature of America series. What is it? Why, Great Lake Dunes of course, showing a scene from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. (And, parenthetically, wouldn't it be great if the world was really booming with the dense concentrations of biodiversity shown in these stamp panels? Well . . . maybe not, considering there's a mouse as big as a fox in this latest scene.)

I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes back in 2000. I'm guessing at the year because I remember we had homemade Nader signs in the car windows. Or that may have been a completely different trip; I was spending a lot of time in Michigan back then. I'm sure I have notes in a journal but since I've thrown out my collection of old calendars, it's hard to find exactly when events happened.

Whenever it was, I remember the legend of the bear and her cubs. During a huge forest fire, the three bears were forced into the water to survive. The mother made it back to shore but the two cubs drowned. North and South Manitou Islands represent the cubs and the large dune on the mainland is mom waiting for them to return.

The sands are shifting beneath us all these days; many of us will be buried, some will learn to ride the sandworms.

Last week I went to see a local weatherman's lecture under the impression he was going to speak about ways in which local weather might be altered by climate change. Instead, during the hour I was there, he went over the usual graphs and statistics of rising carbon dioxide, etc. Never mentioned before I left was a handout listing how you could affect your climate which included a section on food but no mention of eating less animal products, only variations on the local and organic themes: a double failure of an evening.

I left you hanging with my last post. Did it blizz? Yes, but not as much as forecast. We got about 9 inches of snow followed by a deep freeze. On these well below zero mornings, the Lake is invisible, hidden beneath its own rising breath. Now that breath is forecast to turn into some Lake effect snow overnight and indeed we had a little this morning, the snow too small to be recognized as flakes, appearing as flashing pinpoints of light in the faint sunshine.

I've written of the rabbit(s) living in the brush pile opposite my window. Tracks have been appearing since the weekend snowfall. Today I couldn't resist any longer and climbed through the snow to see where they converged. There's a clear entrance formed by branches, looking a lot like one of the mine entrances you see in old westerns. Although imagining Watership Down and wishing I could set up a warren-cam to follow what's going on in there, I only got close enough to see the entry and then returned to my own lair.

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