Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Naked Beauty

I stopped by Banning State Park on a Monday afternoon at about 5 p.m. I arrived at the landing at the head of the rapids to find a camper with Missouri plates parked in the turnaround near the boat launch. I then noticed that the camper's owners were demonstrating why Missouri is the "Show Me" State, because they were standing in about six inches of water totally naked.

After they left I returned to the landing and found this Turk's Cap Lily, Lilium superbum. I wish I could say that the bathers had superbums.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Saturday Visit to Jay Cooke State Park

I visited Jay Cooke State Park today to see if I could get some good photos of Pink Showy Ladyslippers, which were in bloom, but definitely on the way out. I suspect this will be the last weekend that they are in bloom. It was so windy that it was difficult to take any photos, but I did manage this one.

I hiked the Silver Creek Trail and saw a few plants of interest, including some beautiful bindweed and what appeared to be a mint of some kind. The wind kept the flies and mosquitos down a bit, but still managed to get bit pretty good.

I hiked back to Lost Lake and a remote backpack campsite. On the way saw some very large White Cedars. Next time I'll visit the Spruce and High Trails, but it was late too late in the day this time.

The highlight of the park is the St. Louis River, which bisects the park. You can only cross the river by using the Swinging Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge that must be 60 feet or so above the river. The crossing is at some steep, rocky rapids and is really a beautiful sight. It's amazing to think that this park is only about twelve miles from Duluth.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Explosions on the Prairie

Minnesota's first scorcher of the year in the Twin Cities area came on July 6. I visited one of my favorite nature parks in the metro area, Crow Hassan Park Reserve. The park is part of the Three Rivers Park District and is bordered on the west by the Crow River. It is about 2600 acres and has many areas where prairie restoration has been underway for years.

Even though temperatures were in the low 90's, I decided to give the park a chance. When I got there I experienced one of the oddest things. I heard these loud popping noises. At first I could not figure out what they were. I eventually figured out that I was hearing Lupine seeds exploding from their pods. The sound was quite loud and pronounced. It sounded a bit like being in a popcorn popper!

The racket reached its peak about the time I noticed this cluster of Asclepias tuberosa, also known as Butterfly Weed.

Ten Recommended Classical Recordings: A Sampler for Those New to the Classical Scene

The following is a list of classical recordings that offer a variety of classical genres: opera, symphonies, keyboard, violin concerto, solo cello, piano concerto, and oratorio. Though it is mostly mainstream with respect to the represented composers, it reflects a variety of interesting sounds.

Because the list is intended for someone who is starting to explore classical music many of the recordings are now budget issues. If you have thoughts on the list or would like to pipe in with your own, please do!

1. Mozart: The Magic Flute; Sir Colin Davis, conductor, Staatskapelle Dresden, orchestra; Rundfunkchor Leipzig, choir; Moll, Schreier, Price, Serra, Melbye, Venuti; Philips Duo, recorded in 1985, released on CD in 1994.

2. Beethoven: Symphonies No. 5 and 7, Carlos Kleiber, Wiener Philharmoniker; Deutsche Grammophon, recorded in 1975 and 1976, released on CD in 1996.

3. Bach: Keyboard Pieces, Toccata, BWV 911; Partita BWV 826; English Suite No. 2, BWV 807; Argerich; Deutsche Grammophon, recorded in 1980, released on CD in 2000.

4. Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D; Brahms: Violin Concerto in D; Jascha Heifetz; Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; RCA, recorded in 1957, released on SACD in 2005.

5. Panorama—Edvard Grieg, two discs of various piano and orchestral works; Deutsche Grammophon Panorama, recorded on various dates, released on CD in 2000.

6. Bach: Six Unaccompanied Suites for Cello; Yo-Yo Ma; Sony, recorded in 1983, released on CD in 1990.

7. Mozart: The Great Piano Concertos, Vol. I—Brendel; Sir Neville Mariner, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; Philips Duo, recorded in 1972-82, released on CD in 1994.

8. Handel: The Messiah; Sir Colin Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra; Philips Duo, recorded in 1966, released on CD in 1994.

9. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Martha Argerich, Philips, recorded 1982 and 1980, released on CD in 1995.

10. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-4 (separate disc one); and Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 5-6 and Orchestral Suite No. 1 (separate disc two), Neville Marriner, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; EMI, recorded in 1985, released on CD in 2004.