Since 1908

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Pastor's Blog

The Trail

November 5, 2020

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Last Saturday, I tried the foot path heading north into the heart of the Cedar Swamp. Two pick-ups belonging, I assumed, to hunters, were already parked at the trailhead.  As the trail gradually vanished without any trace of them ahead of me, I marveled again at people who just walk into the woods following no trail whatsoever. 

The trail near Jerusalem Lutheran Church heading south into the Cedar Swamp was itself a swamp again.  Standing water.  In the month since I've taken that trail there has been significant rainfall, but it was as if an entire winter's snow had just melted.  As I returned to my car I met a fellow exactly ten years older than me who was just starting his walk.  Who had the proper foot gear for a swamp.  Who said, “Yes, that place has been a swamp for 50 years.”  Who said, “I love that place,” and who said he had hunted there for all those years and who then recounted several stories about the deer he had gunned down there.  Now, only his son-in-law hunts with him.  His children and their families, he told me, had all boarded a plane for Florida that very day.  He couldn't believe they had done such a thing.  “I'm not going to see them for a while,” he said.  “I could kick them,” he said.  “It's not about freedom,” he said, referring to a conversation with them about wearing face coverings.  “It's about the virus.  It’s about giving it to other people.  Like me.”

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The Hunters

October 27, 2020

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Two Fridays ago I found the West Branch of the Shioc River.

Not that it was missing. 

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The Heart of the Cedar Swamp

October 20, 2020

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Between the dead end of Wildlife Road and the dead end of Deer Lane is the northern portion of the Navarino Cedar Swamp.  To quote the DNR’s web page about the Cedar Swamp:

Navarino Cedar Swamp supports a diverse northern wet-mesic forest, a rare natural community type for this region. Pockets of the forest are dominated by large diameter northern white cedar whereas others contain a mix of black ash with smaller diameter white cedar. Areas of higher topography contain eastern hemlock and yellow birch. 

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In the Season When Each of Them Sing.

October 7, 2020

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M id-morning, two Fridays ago, a pileated woodpecker was hammering away at a dead tree in the Navarino Wildlife Area just north of the Sedge Meadow trailhead.  Usually pretty jumpy, this woodpecker was hidden by foliage and apparently enjoying a big breakfast.  He remained unperturbed even by the annoying sound of opening the Velcro cover on my camera case.  He stayed hidden though, and I never got a picture.  

The grass-eaters have extended the snowmobile trail right to the edge of the Sedge Meadow, where I almost stepped on a grouse who flew up in my face.

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A Short Story

September 24, 2020

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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

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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

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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

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Lobelia. 

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

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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

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“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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