• Tag Archives Anoka
  • A Day of License

    Fall                                          Waxing Autumn Moon

    Got up at 7:10.  Left the house at 7:30 for Anoka County Driver’s License center to see if we could get Mark a spot for his driving test.  When we reached the site at 7:45, there was already a line of waiters:  teen-agers, Somalis, a couple of older, hard used men whom I imagined were back for a license test after a suspension for one reason or another, a housewife or two.

    Mark got in line and I went down two doors to the small diner that capitalizes on the License Department traffic.  It has a large cookie jar collection.  By large I mean a row the length of one wall and another and rows of them two deep over the counter area.  We’re talking lots of cookie jars.  None of them, I’m sorry to say, especially interesting to my eye, but you have to admire the determination.

    It also had a sign that only fishermen could love:  Have a crappie day.

    While I ate eggs and bacon, a shortstack of pancakes,  a young boy, maybe eleven, blond and the oldest of two others who looked much like him, spun a pancake his hands, flipped it in the air to his brothers’ obvious enjoyment.  Mom didn’t blink an eye.

    I’d only just got started on breakfast when Mark came in to say that he hadn’t gotten a slot.

    Let’s back up  a minute.  In June Mark went in and tried to get a driver’s license with just a knowledge test.  He could have done so if California didn’t purge its rolls every four years.  He had no record of having had a driver’s license so he had to get a learner’s permit.  At the end of the three month period, he could take a driving test.

    September 29th was the end of the three months, so, basically, he had yesterday and today.

    Not able to get a slot at Anoka we next went to Arden Hills, much larger facility off Highway 35 and very the exit for 610 we use to get home from downtown.

    Long story short.  We sat from about 9 am until 1:30 p.m.  Finally got a test.  Mark failed.  The examiner told him to come back in a week and he’d probably pass.  No joy there.

    He got his flight information and he leaves tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m bound for Riyadh.  Maybe next year.

  • Natural Capital

    Summer                                    Waning Strawberry Moon

    I’ve not written much about permaculture for a while.  Here’s a one-pager* from our landscapers, Ecological Gardens.   It defines a new term for me:  natural capital.  I’ve since discovered that this is a term with a larger history which I haven’t explored fully, but I like the Ecological Gardens version.

    Just imagine the kind of revolution we’d have if each person with land–in the whole world or in a whole city or in a whole county like Anoka County–committed themselves to increasing the natural capital of their land.  It’s a little bit like that old boy scout motto:  Leave your campsite better than you found it.

    We could, each one of us, take multiple unique tacks on the notion of natural capital.  Some of us might focus on small commercial crops, others might raise chickens for meat and eggs, still others might band together as neighborhoods and grow crops in tandem, some folks doing one thing, others another and producing a local horticultural economy.

    A federal or state program that made low cost loans or outright grants for the establishment of permaculture at the local level makes a lot of sense to me.  Like the 160 acres and a mule of yesteryear.  We need a horticulture and an agriculture that increases the carrying capacity of the earth, helps clean up the rivers, streams and lakes.


    *Would you like to:
    •   Maintain beautiful self-sustaining gardens organically?
    •   Pick fresh, nutrient-dense foods from your own backyard?
    •   Create habitat for the nature you love?
    •   Build resiliency into your landscape to help fight climate change?

    These are all products of natural capital. Our first priority at Ecological Gardens is to help you increase the natural capital of your land. This means assessing the unique combination of resources – sunlight, wind, water, and microclimates – and turning them into productive investments that will yield benefits today and for many years to come.
    Soil is the foundation for natural capital in our northern temperate climate. Healthy soil creates a condition for healthy plants, produces nutrient-dense foods for humans and wildlife, reduces water use, and minimizes leaching and runoff. Building healthy soil usually requires an investment since most soils are compacted and chemically treated.
    Plants are the primary producers of value on the land. They take up sunlight, water, and nutrients turning them into nutritious foods, medicines, fibers, fuels, oils, and wood. Increasing productivity on your land requires an initial investment since plants of low productivity tend to dominate the landscape.
    Your return on investment will vary depending on the size of your land and the configuration of resources but will increase exponentially as plant diversity and abundance grows.

    Short-term returns (1-5 years)
    •   Lower water bills (up to 30%) for yard and garden care
    •   Lower maintenance costs for fertilizers and lawn care products
    •   Lower food bills as you begin to harvest food, flowers and medicines
    •   Greater wildlife value (bees, birds, and beneficial insects)
    •   Greater beauty

    Intermediate returns (5-15 years)
    •   Lower energy costs for air conditioning and heating by strategically locating trees and vines
    •   Lower labor requirements as natural processes begin to work for you
    •   Increased property values due to abundance and beauty
    •   Increased food security as you provide more of your own food

    Long-term returns (15 + years)
    •   Lower fuel costs as you begin to harvest your own wood [for larger properties]
    •   Increased productivity as your land matures

  • Cooler, But Dry

    Beltane                                           Waning Planting Moon

    Ah.  Those of us who prefer the northern to the southern breathed a sigh of relief today as the weather pattern changed and the jet stream bowed to the south.  A dew point of 47 feels pretty good, too.

    No one finds drought as interesting as tornadoes and hurricanes and snow, but nothing impacts those of us who garden and care about our landscape as personally as drought does.  The yellow on this US Drought Monitor Map covers all or almost all of Anoka County.

    The state climatologist says:  “Portions of east central Minnesota are…depicted as experiencing Moderate drought. This is the result of long-term dryness that began in June of 2008. This long-term precipitation anomaly is responsible for very low water levels in larger lakes and wetland complexes across portions of Anoka, Ramsey, Chisago, and Washington counties.”

    A large portion of the Arrowhead has extreme drought conditions.  In fact, streams up there are at the 5th percentile for drainage into Lake Superior for this date.  That’s low water.  Superior is six inches below last year and well below historic levels.

    My vegetables have required some extra irrigation to keep them on schedule and able to endure the heat.