"How can one help marveling at the voyage we are making
on this planet? One has to lift one's self up and use one's
imagination to see that it is a voyage, and that our course
lies through the star-paved abysses of infinite space. Few
of us ever see it or realize it in all its awful grandeur. But
sometimes, as we look up at the night sky, we are surprised
out of our habitual stolidity and blindness; the mind opens
for a moment, and we see the Infinite face to face; the veil
is withdrawn, and the rays from myriads of orbs penetrate
to the soul. "
Both quotes are from The Summit of the Years
( 1913 ) by John Burroughs they were chosen
to celebrate the fact that Helen has purchased her
8 inch Celetron Telescope and next year she can
enjoy watching the dance of stars above the slough.
During our 2 weeks at the cabin we were able to take the canoe
out several times and the photos that follow are combined
from all our trips. Like so may people we choose our future
retirement paradise (non-winter ) based on a proximity to water.
In this case a slough or prairie pothole. A definition follows but
basically they are ponds or marshes in which the water can
fluctuate wildly over the years depending on the long term
weather patterns. Within the last decade we have seen
a drought which reduced many of these sloughs to a fraction
of their former size and currently, our present situation where
our slough is as high as anyone within the family can remember.
This also means that we have gone from almost no beavers
and lots of trees to lots of beavers and a lot fewer trees.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources claims on
average one beaver can take down 260 trees but I have read
higher averages elsewhere and of course you rarely have
just one. Changes to the water level also means that our normally
fish-less slough has fish (many sloughs freeze entirely in winter
eliminating fish this however helps the population of amphibians
with less predation of their young).
One thing we did notice was that on our trip in May there
were a number of pairs of Bufflehead ducks displaying, chasing etc.
However on this trip we basically saw no ducks of any kind
on our slough. We initially though they might be molting but
when I visited other sloughs in the area they had mallards, teals
etc. in plain sight and much closer to the road
so I have no idea of the cause of this.
“ Prairie potholes (sloughs) are water-holding depressions
of glacial origin in the prairies of the Northern United States and
southern Canada. Water is supplied to the potholes by precipitation
on the water surface, basin runoff, and seepage inflow of ground water.
Depletion of pothole water results from evapotranspiration, overflow,
and seepage outflow. Since potholes generally do not overflow, seepage
outflow is the principal way in which dissolved salts can be
removed. Salinity of pothole water is therefore a good indication
of the seepage balance. Net seepage outflow results in fresh
to brackish waters that constitute ephemeral to semipermanent
ponds, whereas net seepage inflow results in brackish to saline
waters that constitute semipermanent to permanent ponds.”
From HYDROLOGY OF PRAIRIE POTHOLES IN NORTH DAKOTA
by Charles Sloan GEOLOGICAL SURVEY PROFESSIONAL PAPER 585C
One unexpected consequence of fish is fishers. I saw
Kingfishers on several sloughs including ours.
Our slough is crescent shaped so this
Great Blue Heron would fly into the other
arm only to see us come around the corner
I have noticed in several places on
the property the beavers will almost entirely
denude a spot but then leave a tree or two;
to paint the sky with bird song?
On this trip it was a green green world, a world of
reflections, a world of mirrors.
"How wonderful that the globe itself should have
been born out of the nebular mist — the cosmic
world-stuff in the womb of the great sidereal
mother; that it should have had its fiery and turbu-
lent youth; that it should have sobered and ripened
with age; that its mantle of fertile soil should have
been wrought out of the crude igneous and stratified
rocks; that it falls forever around the sun, and never
falls into it; that it is so huge that we cannot span
it, even in imagination, but can picture it to our-
selves only by piecemeal, as with a globe of our own
making; and yet that it is only as a globule of blood
in the veins of the Infinite; that it is moving with
such incredible speed, and yet to our senses seems
forever at rest; that the heavens are always above
us wherever we are upon its surface, and never
under us, as the image of a globe might lead us to
infer would be the case at times — all this, I say
and more, fills me with perpetual wonder. "