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Great white birds and hope for a troubled world


Fri, Nov 6th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

To brighten an overcast, cold and windy November, try a short trip to the eastern edge of Houston County along the Mississippi River where you may join hundreds of people observing the spectacular tundra swan migration. The best places to watch the swans are a large observation area that the US Fish and Wildlife Service opened last year a few miles south of Brownsville and an observation deck a few miles south of that.

Every fall in mid to late October the swans begin arriving on the Upper Mississippi from their nesting grounds in the Alaskan or Canadian tundra. During their peak concentration in November, they number in the tens of thousands. Most will remain until the water freezes, resting and eating wild celery, arrowhead tubers and other plant roots in preparation for the remainder of their journey to wintering grounds along the East Coast near Chesapeake Bay and in the marshes of Virginia and North Carolina.

Every November for more than 20 years, I have traveled at least once to the River to attend this migration event. Every year I realize how very different it is to see and hear the swans than merely to remember them. Their presence, as predictable as the seasons, reassures me that something is still right in this troubled world. I marvel, along with whoever has accompanied me and other observers who don't seem like strangers, at the large white bodies with black faces whose long slender necks dip and curve like the flowing of an oriental dance. We marvel at the cacophony of hi-pitched whooping that reaches something old, deeper than our ears. We watch parents, who mate for life, swimming with their grayish-blue offspring, who will stay with them for about a year, and we think of our own family groups.

A flock of swans comes in for a landing, each bird cupping its wings downwards, dropping its landing gear in the form of black feet and floating in a rocking motion to the water. Others dig tubers up with their feet and tip upside down to grab them with their beaks. At the same time, several swans take off by facing into the wind and running along the surface of the river, flapping their long wings and beating the water with their feet until they gain enough speed to fly.

Often my husband and I offer looks through our spotting scopes to a steady stream of people on an observation post We answer questions about the swans and thousands of ducks-canvasbacks, pintails, wigeons, common goldeneyes, hooded mergansers, gree .....
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One moment, please...

Fri, Nov 6th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

On some occasions, I have a variety of subjects to cover in my weekly column. This week, there happens to be two thoughts relating to Harmony, Lanesboro, Preston and Rus ..... 
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Health Care & Confusion

Fri, Oct 30th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

I admit that I am confused by the overwhelming assault on the senses regarding the health care debate in Congress. One can't read the newspaper or watch TV without seeing some reference to some aspect of health care. The consensus is that changes ne ..... 
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It's time to govern the flow of political money

Fri, Oct 30th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

There was a time when I believed that the best way to curtail the impact of money flowing into our political system was to monitor it. Make sure that campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures were reported quickly and accurately, I reasoned, ..... 
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Journal Writing Project

Fri, Oct 30th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



I can still remember my first day of high school, walking into the gym with all the upperclassmen. The thing that sticks out the most in my mind that day in the gym was our principal, Mr. Olstad, saying that "high school flies by." I was thi ..... 
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Local businesses: use them or lose them

Thu, Oct 29th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

The benefit to our economy by using local businesses is significant. Minnesota Department of Revenue gross retail sales data showed that for every $100 spent at a chain store, only $12 is circulated back into the local economy. Whereas that same $10 ..... 
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One moment, please... Fillmore County's fertility drug

Fri, Oct 16th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

Since I began my crusade in late August in search of new business developments evolving in the past 12 months in Fillmore County, I have made seve ..... 
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Grown-up in the room

Fri, Oct 16th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Lewiston-Altura Schools are in a legal battle regarding bullying. They are not unique. Bullying is an issue in every school hallway and lunchroom and, for that matter, every workplace. I want to apologize, however, for how prevalent this has become. ..... 
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Find the center ground

Fri, Oct 2nd, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Every ten years as provided for in the US Constitution the Census Bureau gathers data which will be used to determine how many of the 435 US representatives each state will have. Next year the 2010 census data will be gathered and provided to the st ..... 
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