Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The year was 1948

The year was 1948. We're at the intersection of Hudson Road and Earl Street on the East Side of St. Paul, Minnesota. One block behind the photographer, who is facing south, is the apartment where my parents and I lived during World War II. In 1946 we had moved upstairs into my grandparents house,  which lay about 7 blocks straight
 south on the bluff high above the Mississippi River. The Hudson Road proceeded east less than a quarter mile where it reached the edge of the city, then  turning into U.S. Highway #12 as it went on to, naturally, Hudson, Wisc.  To the right in the photo was a Rexall Drugstore and Johson Bros. grocery. In the mid fifties that grocery store was rebuilt a little further east as a "supermarket" and provided me my first job when I was in high school.  
I'm not sure what this building was on the southeast corner of the intersection.  I do remember though riding the streetcar line into downtown St. Paul.  After several years living with my grandparents we move to a brand new house on Point Douglas Road about 5 block east of this intersection.  At a rather young age I was allowed to take the streetcar downtown to the big public library. You can see it coming down the track heading onto the turn west on Hudson  At the downtown library  I would meet my Aunt Pearl who worked at the First National Bank and  always took me to Bridgemans for a malt before we headed headed home to the Daytons Bluff on the streetcar. I forgot to mention that around the corner from the drugstore lay two of my favorite places, Bastas bakery where I became addicted to Bismarks and donuts and the Mound theater where Saturday matinees for a dime were a big attraction.
And then it all changed. Everything.  Hudson Road became  four lane divided highway U.S. #12 cutting through the east side.  Eventually it became part of the Eisenhower Interstate highway system.  Half of the cozy little neighbor commecial area was demolished.  It's on the left with the movie theater in the foreground as you face east towards Chicago and points beyond. Our new house was over that first dip in the distance.
Here is a much more recent view of the same intersection.  I hardly recognize the city and neighborhood I grew up in anymore.  The road, now freeway,  still heads east from this point thru mile after mile of suburbs and over 3 million plus people who now live in the metropolitan Twin City area.  We've lived for almost 50 years one hundred miles to the south in rural Minnesota where Mrs T and I taught school and raised a family. We both grew up in St. Paul and have fond memories of those days long ago before the freeways made suburbia possible and changed everything.....


Sunday, May 26, 2013


To him who in the love of Nature
holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language.
                        - William Cullen Bryant, "Thanatopsis"


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Turtle

Early in our brief spring Baron and I headed over to Myre-Big Island State Park near Albert Lea, Minnesota for a hike. Unfortunately,  a recent heavy snowstorm had pulled down many trees blocking and closing many of the parks roads and campgrounds. I left my truck at the entrance ranger contact station and we hoofed it a mile along a road to one of our favorite hiking trails. As always there were a few adventures along the way.  You
might note Baron is wearing a red collar. This is a electronic training collar in lieu of the required leash.  I don't allow him to chase deer.  The alternative is a large dog, dragging a man, on the ground,  while chasing something else....:) 
Baron spotted something moving on the road ahead. He is an investigator at heart....
"What is it boss?", he said. Then touched it with his paw.

Sniffing the creature who refused to play Baron quickly lost interest and we head on toward the Great Slough skirting around all the fallen trees on the road. It was a beautiful day and we had the huge park all to ourselves.  A small creek drained the slough into Albert Lea lake and Baron spotted a ruckus going on. It turned out to be a bunch of large and spawning fish. In the midst of the turmoil we spotted something unusual. Look carefully....
Just another day with Mother Nature for a man and his dog....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Giants Of The Earth?

Recently I was stumbled upon  the inner mechanics of my blogs and came across a tab named “statistics.”  I tried it and found something called “page views.”  And thereby discovered a ranking of my posts over the years.  As an ex teacher I try to make my book review and nature blogs informative and even, shall we say, educational. I rarely take the low road to humor or entertainment values for their own sake. J Thus, it was a huge disappointment that by far (17,000)  the most viewed post I ever wrote was the following. Sometime you have to wonder at the taste and values of the American Public…….

(July 23, 2010)  I'd never seen them before but they are all around us this summer. They're called earwigs. Oops wrong picture.
They're creeping crawly things, usually found, for example,hiding underneath Baron's water dish. They slither off at the slightest exposure and also try to sneak into the house.

They reportedly tunnel in thru the ears and nest in the brain. Take my word for it THIS IS A MYTH. They also DO NOT CARRY DISEASE.

With a rear mounted pincher they are scary to look at though. When I saw my first ones, my imagination got the best of me. Thinking they were babies, I recalled similar looking giant creatures in a movie, marauding through the streets of Japan & America, laying waste the countryside.
Thing Rod Serling....

Size: "1" 
Shape: Long, narrow

Color: Dark brown
Legs: 6

Wings: No
Antenna: Yes

Common Name: Earwig
Kindom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Dermaptera
Family: Forficulidae
Species: Forficula auricularia

Earwigs feed on leaves, flowers, fruits, mold and insects.
Mrs T has proposed dousing the house foundation with a pesticide. Being the "Green" member of the family, I've resisted that idea. Earwigs. Harmless, cute little bugs aren't they?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mothers Day

On this special day for Moms, I think of the mother of our two sons.  Who grew into fine young men under her care and tutelage.
And my own mom who raised three sons and  closely guarded the eldest (Troutbirder) while allowing him to run free...... 

Thursday, May 9, 2013


When our boys were small, overtired, slightly sick &/or cranky, we used to take them for "rides." It was a miracle cure. It had a calming, soothing effect that left them quickly asleep and ready to bring home and put to bed. All these years later it is still one of our favorite things. In any season we just head off for parts unknown. A new road, town, café, scenic vista and we now find ourselves to be calmer and refreshed. Oh and in spring, summer and fall we like to bring picnics along.

Some recent examples from last year -

We found the Houston, Minnesota Nature Center at the terminus of the Root River bike trail. It functions both as a nature center and as the trailhead facility for the Root River Trail in Houston. Here you can camp, take a shower, enjoy the hands-on nature displays, meet Alice the Great Horned Owl, walk through the prairie, take in a Saturday evening program during the summer, or enjoy recycled bike art

An old mill at Lake Mills, Iowa.

A view from the ridge at Balltown, Iowa looking east to the Mississippi and Wisconsin.

Cranberry farms in Wisconsin.

On a minimum maintenance road it's best to take the four wheel drive Chevy truck....

A round barn along the way

Of course, a day trip is never really complete without a picnic. Here we are with friends Rick & Loretta at Big Island State Park.

Then it's Minnesota :"Country Roads Take Me Home..."


Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer Plans

I went down to the county fairgrounds to get my Coyote Camper out of storage.  Everything checked out  just fine. It's ready to go!
Then I charged the battery on my lawn tractor to get ready for spring lawn clean up.

 The fishing boat got a good vacuuming and the trolling motor was checked out as well.
I headed up to Rochester and Gander Mountain to replace my leaky waders for trout fishing.  Baseball is also definitely on my mind. 
Perhaps a few more games to be taken in this year as the Twins might be making a comeback with an improved pitching staff.  My little garden seed packages are on immediate standby and it will be a great summer for flower gardening.

Oh just one caution. The way things have been going this so called spring, I’m predicting rain, sleet and snow in a couple of days!!!! Grrrrrrr!