Friday, September 2, 2011

Of Cities and Ecosystems

Beginning our walk, my colleague Scott and I corroborate a sighting: Twenty Canada Geese on the field at 9 am. Now's the time of year to look around for Canada Geese staging or look up for their V-shaped flight formations. Fall is settling in—just read the signs.

One such sign is seen on the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge.
What: A clothesline, punctuated with colorful scarves and hats, extends the length of the ramp on both ends of the bridge. Since June, The Swatch Team have called fellow knitters, crochet practitioners, and yarn bombers to unite! And last night, their row-by-row radicalism culminated in this guerrilla installation. A clothesline full of utilitarian, handmade textiles surprised the public with its unfettered generosity. Committed to 'yarn bombing with a message,' the flyer from last evening's give-away reads,
Help yourself to the warm items you will need this winter. If you would like to contribute, add a drawing, poem, opinion, or creative expression to this line. We are all connected!
Where: Bridge between the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Loring Park
Observers: Abbie and Scott
Date/Time: Friday, September 2, 10:20 am
Conditions: Partly cloudy, with a view of the park and the city

Once across the bridge we encounter . . .
What: A network of freshly paved paths. Scott explains how neighborhood groups, the Parks Board, and municipal entities agreed upon this new configuration to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists at this high-traffic corner. Scott, having attended Marcy Schulte's Community Walk About (presented as part of Living Classroom), relays a wealth of information about the park's history and its citizen advocates.
Where: Loring Park's southwest corner
Observers: Scott and Abbie
Date/Time: Friday, September 2, 10:30 am
Conditions: The dwindling summer season leaves just enough time for the project's finishing touches—signage and landscaping details.
Conversing with Scott is like paging through a neighborhood directory. His familiarity with area residents, business owners, and organizations prompts me to exclaim, "Here I thought this was the city, but it turns out it's a small town!" Listening to Scott talk about the neighborhood, the metaphor I'm imagining is an ecosystem, a network of interrelated parts.

Scott also calls my attention to the squirrels as a marker of ecological intervention. The ubiquitous gray squirrel was introduced to the area in the early twentieth century. And concurrent with the gray squirrel's introduction was the extermination of the red squirrel.

Before crossing Lyndale/Hennepin, our attention is drawn to St. Mark's beautiful lawn shaded by majestic elms. Scanning the lawn, we spot a blue tag on just about every tree trunk. Taking a cue from the Walker's free audio guide, Art on Call, Scott dials up "Trees on Call" to see who's on the other end of the line.

is to
as . . .

(Images courtesy 
Walker Art Center)

is to

What: Scott's call connects us to a tree specialist. The story behind the little blue tags is Dutch Elm Disease. Since nearby trees had been infected, the church took measures to protect these specimens by having a fungicide administered. Dutch Elm Disease (DED) is caused by a fungus, which in turn is transmitted by elm beetles. This makes the beetle the disease vector. And since this is a phenology blog, I speculate about the beetle's life cycle. September is the time that adult beetles make their way to the base of healthy elm trees to overwinter underground. Next year around mid-late April they'll emerge and fly to the elm's tree top to feed on leaves.
Where: St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral's front lawn
Observers: Scott and Abbie
Date/Time: September 2, 11:40 am
Conditions: Curiosity satiated (for the time being)

No comments:

Post a Comment