Thursday, January 1, 2009

Beautiful outdoor experiences to remember

Josh Baughman and Bud
Gord Cooper

Pitcher plants

When you live in this wonderful wilderness all the time it's tempting to take the beautiful panoramas and stunning sunsets for granted. They really do, after all, happen every day.

It's often our guests who remind us how special the country really is. They see the landscape with new eyes and soak up every detail.

In these days of winter when the mercury withdraws into the thermometer while the sun visits the other end of the world I have time to mull over forgotten outdoor scenes and see them anew.

As I look over photos in my collection, I'm struck by the beauty that also exists in tiny fragments of the Boreal Forest which is also the world's largest, wrapping around the entire northern hemisphere.

Take for instance, the vertical world of a stand of identical jackpines that have all grown up simultaneously following a forest fire 60 years earlier.

That's our son, Josh, and our old black lab, Bud, walking through an area between Middle Bay and Pipestone Bay. Sunlight came through the erect trees in a strobe-like fashion as we followed a GPS course back to our boat that day.

The forest fire in 1936 that spawned this stand of trees also burned down many of the frontier gold mines that once dotted our end of Red Lake. They included the Cole Gold Mine on Pipestone and the May-Spires Mine on an island in Middle Bay.
It was the end of many people's occupations since the mines never were rebuilt but it was the start of life for these trees.

The second photo shows a micro-ecosystem near Trout Bay that my brother-in-law Gord Cooper and I came upon while moose hunting in October one time. This little seasonal lake was carpeted with carnivorous pitcher plants that grew below the deciduous conifer species called tamarack. Needles of this tree turn golden in the fall prior to dropping off for the winter.

Another interesting feature of tamaracks is that you are warned never to burn them in a woodstove because they burn so hot it can melt the metal.

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