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A New Way of Looking


Fri, May 4th, 2001
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Monday, April 16, 2001

The first bones belonged to a cow and her unborn baby. I found them near a small wetland by the South Fork of the Root River. I trudged back up the hill to my house carrying a huge pelvis that looked like a primitive mask. I planned to return later for skulls, vertebrae and clavicles.

My impulse to collect bones came from Georgia O'Keefe, an artist known for her paintings of southwestern scenes and objects, including variations of a cow's skull and pelvis. She said,

I have picked flowers where I found them--have picked up sea shells and rocks and pieces of wood where there were sea shells and rocks and pieces of wood that I liked. When I found the beautiful white bones on the desert I picked them up and took them home too. I have used these things to say what is to me the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.

Once I began to look for bones, I found them everywhere. It became an obsession. Even my interest in birds took second place. I followed animal trails off the Big Woods road into the limestone bluffs where I found clavicles that looked like musical instruments, vertebrae that looked like hammers, hollow bones of hawks, and skulls of raccoons, deer, opossum and fox. I cried when I found a paw and a leg in a steel leghold trap. I frequented hollowed-out places in the bluffs that coyotes use for dens. I knew coyotes were there by the large piles of scat on nearby ledges of rock.

About the same time that I began to visit coyote dens, I read Tom Brown's "Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking", Berkley Publishing Company, 1983. From him, I learned it was possible to walk silently on dry leaves. I learned to crouch low to the ground like an Indian or a coyote. I learned how to see differently. Brown wrote,

Mark off a single square foot of ground. First, look at it from a standing position. Notice what you see, and describe the area. Then kneel down and describe it from that vantage point. Notice the things that you missed when you were standing.

When I followed his advice, my eyes picked up faint footprints where before were only shadows. I found tiny ribs, legs and vertebrae where before were only twigs or small stones. I found indigestible skulls of mice and voles left behind by their predators. Up there in the bluffs my borders blurred. I became something different. I was more agile than usual, more patient, less self-conscious and more alert. I liked .....
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Hoffman Stables

Return to Weaver - Field Report

Fri, May 4th, 2001
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Monday, April 30, 2001

Early Spring 2001

Regular readers may recall my article on the Blanding’s Turtle research project at Weaver Dunes near Wabasha, Minnesota, which appeared in the August 14, 2000 issue of the Fillmore C ..... 
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Spring Cleaning for the Garden

Fri, May 4th, 2001
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Virginia CooperMonday, April 30, 2001

After a little rain last week and a lot of sunshine the flowers are really exploding out of the ground. Tulips and daffodils have been making a beautiful show. I have a few Forsythia bushes that are covere ..... 
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Math Class

Fri, May 4th, 2001
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Monday, May 7, 2001

My father was a mathematical marvel. He could figure stuff out in his head faster and more accurately than anybody I ever knew. I dare say I did not inherit either his good common sense or his ability to figure. That is not ..... 
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“It’s all about roads”

Fri, May 4th, 2001
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Monday, April 30, 2001

“The only thing the county board is concerned about are roads,” one person commented to me a few weeks ago.

And the way in which she said this implied that this was not necessarily a good thing.

About th ..... 
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