Since 1908

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Pastor's Blog

A Short Story

September 24, 2020


During the permafrost melt that was in the process of releasing three gigatons of methane into the atmosphere, Bill lit a cigarette.

The End.

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The Crossing Part 2

September 15, 2020


Determined to see if the Sedge Meadow (snowmobile) Trail connects the northeast corner of the Navarino Wildlife Area to the rest of the area, two Fridays ago I drove past the mud compound to the end of the road, and started walking south.  The first half mile of the trail had been mowed, the grass-eater having chewed up and spewed out one of those lovely new snowmobile trail signs.  It made me laugh. 

The grass-eater veered west and left me wading south through the fall flowers and into the cattails and grasses of the Sedge Meadow.  There are, by the way, as many species of grasses as there are kinds of dragonflies.  Some grasses are sticky; some are sharp enough to lash my hands with paper thin cuts.  Some grasses turn red.  Some bear seeds that droop like heads of wheat.  Some seeds are embedded in my socks and shoes scratch me still.  Phragmite seeds completely coated the sweat on my arms.  How easily they travel; how hard it was to brush them off where they I had been dusted by them.

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The Crossing Part 1

September 8, 2020


The Crossing, Part One

I made four forays into the Navarino Wildlife Area three Fridays ago.  The first was from the trailhead just east of the Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church, founded by Norwegians who had crossed the Atlantic on "sailboats" to come to the U.S. in the years following the Civil War.  The first Norwegian worship service in Shawano County was conducted in a home on what is now Highway 156 in 1869 by the Rev. E. J. Homme.  Another was held a month later, with Pastor Homme promising to offer two services a year from then on.  In 1870 and '71, however, Pastor Homme offered 4 services each year, and by 1873, two congregations were meeting every other month.  One of the two congregations became the present day Navarino Lutheran Church; the other became Jerusalem Lutheran, which was officially organized in 1874.  Eight years later, Pastor Homme established an orphanage in Wittenberg which, as a ministry of Lutheran Social Services, still serves young men with a history of trauma who need help to "overcome their past and live out their potential" as they cross from adolescence to adulthood.

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The Lobelias

August 18, 2020



I knew the word referred to a flower, though I was, for some reason, thinking lobelias were the kind of flowers you can buy at a greenhouse to plant every year in a hanging basket.  I wasn’t thinking they’re wild flowers.  I had never seen a lobelia: not in a basket, not in the woods.

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The Old Man of the Woods

July 28, 2020


I had cut the grass last Friday and started my walk out at the Navarino Wildlife Area a bit tired out and without a lot of enthusiasm.  I stopped to chill with some mushrooms who have started to appear.  The trail I took turned out to be one of the lovely dead-end trails at Navarino, the first of two I explored Friday, the second also being a previously flooded trail that had dried up enough to walk on.  The second trail had, interestingly enough, been cleared using some kind of lawn mowing beast.  Why the Navarino authorities cleared a dead-end trail is a mystery to me.  Maybe they didn’t know it was a dead end.  It’s not like it’s on a map.

There were lots of mushrooms freshly sprouting.  Those on the first dead end trail had red brown caps.  They were fairly large for being so young, and their stems were barely visible since they were still pushing up from layers of leaves.  I wanted a picture of the whole mushroom (not just a red cap), so I knelt down in the mud to remove a leaf or two from it, and reached down with the camera to about a half an inch from the mushroom, so the camera could see under the mushroom.  The stem, I discovered, had the texture of a sponge.  Which, after a long search back at home, was the only thing that eventually helped me identify it.  It has recently been given a great new name: exsudoporous frostii, because its molecular make-up accounts for one feature that makes it stand apart from its previous family: it exudes amber droplets from its pores.  Hence the name exsudoporous.  Only three other species have been identified in the world in this new family of boletus mushrooms.  The weird skin on the stem of the mushroom bruises easily and turns blue. Its previous name, boletus frostii, was given to it by a Unitarian pastor in honor of his mushroom scientist friend, Charles Christopher Frost, who had published a survey of bolete mushrooms in New England in 1874.  Frost, to return the favor, named one of the mushrooms in his survey after his friend.

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The Purple Martins

July 15, 2020


“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:5

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The Oldest Leaf

July 8, 2020


I’m reluctant to admit that I was glad to see that the trail through the recently clear-cut woods at the Navarino Wildlife Area had been re-opened.  Why tidy up all those limbs that had been hacked off living beings and strewn about?  Through a killing field, I’d rather stumble and stagger than stride. No longer shall the trees of that field clap their hands. 

I happened to have read on one of the educational signs along the way last Friday that the practice of clear-cutting sections out at Navarino helps keep the forest young.  What’s wrong, I asked myself, with an old growth forest?  In some circles, old growth forests are extolled, admired.  Here, inexplicably, not.  I guess we do live in a social order where young revelers are oblivious to the fact that infections picked up at their COVID parties might find their way to the innumerable places where they come into contact with vulnerable elders.  Like grandma.

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Another World

July 1, 2020


Another World

I know it’s getting to be old hat, but last Friday I was lost again at the Navarino Wildlife Area.  I was following one of the two parallel trails leading south from Town Line Road. There are a few east – west trails connecting them, so Friday, I thought I’d take one I had never taken before. 

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The Marsh Calla

June 26, 2020


Earlier this spring, I saw this striking plant out at the Navarino Wildlife Area at the edge of the southwest corner of Pike’s Peak flowage, one of the flowages that has a trail around it that’s actually on a map.  I didn’t see this plant anywhere else around Pike’s Peak flowage, nor did I see it at the edge of any other flowage out at Navarino. Like a lot of plants I see out at Navarino, I’ve never seen this one before in my life.  You’d think I didn’t grow up in Wisconsin or that I spent my entire life locked up in a basement. 

You’ve probably seen a thousand of these. You probably know all about this plant.  After about an hour of research which I could have avoided if I would have called you up at 4:00 a.m. yesterday morning, I decided this is a calla palustris which is the scientific name for bog arum or water arum or marsh calla or wild calla.  You probably know it by an even more common name, and if you do, please let me know. 

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The Young Coming of Age

June 16, 2020


Last Friday at the Navarino Wildlife Area: the young were coming of age.

The monarch caterpillars steadily devouring the small milkweed plants looked every bit like zebras last week at a half an inch as they’ll look next week at an inch and a half.  Fully mature, they’ll be, of course, something altogether different. 

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