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The elusive Blue Racer


Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, July 24, 2000

In an edition of this column published earlier this year (Fillmore County Journal Vol. 15, No. 34, May 29, 2000) we briefly examined how the physical geography of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, in combination with the past geologic history of the Blufflands, has created a topographically rich mosaic of interconnected but different habitats throughout much of southeastern Minnesota, and how these habitats in turn harbor a diversity of reptile species unrivaled anywhere else in the state.

Although not strictly confined to the Bluffland region, one of the more spectacular of these local reptiles is a lean, mean, fighting machine of a snake commonly known as the Racer. Not just any old Racer either mind you but the Blue Racer, uniformly light grayish blue dorsally as an adult, which is certainly an unusual color for a snake indeed. While beautiful, the animal is unfortunately only rarely seen, at least by those of us residing here in Minnesota.

Such is not the case elsewhere in North America, however, where the “Blue” is just one of as many as 12 to 14 currently recognized geographic varieties or subspecies of Racer. In fact, the species may be found in at least parts of all 48 contiguous states, as well as in southern Canada and through Mexico to at least northern Guatemala, making the Racer one of the most widely distributed reptiles on the continent. In many regions the animal is often exceedingly abundant as well, with Racers frequently being the single most commonly encountered snake species as one progresses southward throughout the eastern and central United States.

As might be expected from an animal with such an extensive distribution, a significant amount of variation in both size and coloration is evident among the various geographic populations, a fact that is typically reflected in the local common names for the species. In addition to our Blue for example, such basic appellations as Black, Tan, Yellowbelly, Brown-chin, Black-masked, and even Buttermilk, sometimes in combination with directional terms like northern, western, etc., are frequently used to descriptively differentiate most of the 10 or 11 Racer varieties found within the United States.

Despite this variability in color and size, overall appearance, habits and habitat preferences are remarkably similar throughout the Racer’s geographic range. Generally most active during daylight hours except in hotter more arid areas, a .....
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Vanishing America

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, August 7, 2000

Ever since I read about Lilly and her general store in his book, Jailhouse Stories, I’ve been asking Neil Haugerud to take me over to the little burg of Amherst for a visit.

"You’ve never met Lilly?" Neil always ..... 
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Hauling

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
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My family and I went to a wedding in Wisconsin on a recent Saturday morning. The wedding site was straight east of our place about one hundred twenty miles. There was no good way of getting there due to the negligence of the last glacier that failed ..... 
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The accidental artist

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
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For Hong Kong native Peter Mak, the journey to Lanesboro isn't as far as it seems. You see, Mak's exhibition of art work at Cornucopia Art Center has a local connection. Mak's wife is Barbara Tammel, the daughter of Marilyn and Donne Tammel of rural ..... 
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What I do when I can’t find anything to do

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
Posted in

It helps if I make a list of things to do when I have the time. I think of all the nice things that I might be able to do for the people less fortunate than I am; such as giving advice to those in need of it and time to the timeless.

When the ..... 
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Journal Profile # 76

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
Posted in

Name: Tamara Hamlett
Home: Trotwood, Ohio
Profession: Domestic Engineer
Family: Husband Anthony, four daughters: Autumn-20, Candice-18, Olivia-13, Carmen-10, and one son Charles-8
Personal Hero: Laura In ..... 
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Meat Loaf Pie

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
Posted in

1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup ketchup
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon diced oregano
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese< ..... 
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8/7/00

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
Posted in

Max, Maxxximum, Madcap, Cartoon, Food for thought, Fud 4 thot

Monday, August 7, 2000

Sun, Aug 6th, 2000
Posted in

To the Editor,
The 2000 Fillmore County Fair is history. I think it will be remembered as one of the best county fairs here in decades. Not only was the weather perfect, the good mood and attitudes of those exhibiting and attending was unparalle ..... 
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