Environment & Outdoors

Hosta (Pinterest), peppers and pumpkin (Park Seeds)

It's a little early in the season for the really serious cabin fever to set in, but Tom Kasper is making plans with the fevered enthusiasm of your average Minnesotan in late February.

How will his garden grow this summer? With Komodo Dragon Hostas, Atlantic Giant Pumpkins and Ghost Peppers, all in a row.

Copyright JR Kelsey. Used with permission.

So far, January has been cloudy and warm.  In fact, Larry says if we keep it up, we're on pace to break the old record for the warmest January on record set back in 2006!

But the clouds mean sound is amplified.  The warmish temperatures mean you can walk slooooowly and really take in what you're seeing.

And Larry is encouraging folks to follow the example of Duluth's JR Kelsey and get out there and take photographs!

Fresh Energy

And now for a little good news:

Minnesota has reached the public eomment phase of its draft Clean Cars Standard.

Copyright Bob King. Used with permission.

So much going on in the skies - if the clouds would just let up so we could see it!

Saturn and Jupiter and going their separate ways these days, but Mercury is waiting in the wings to console us for their loss.

We've intercepted a radio transmission from Proxima Centauri - communication or not?

Otter photo Jason Mandich. Used with permission.

Maybe we're not quite at the point where we're crediting Mother Nature with actively looking out for us, but for those searching for rhyme, rime, or reason in these strange and terrifying times ... it's right outside.  

Winona LaDuke

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has no fewer than three requests to stay the Line 3 construction project, pending further consideration of what Frank Bibeau calls "the substantive issues."

Tom Kasper. Used with permission.

The 2021 Vegetable of the Year is the pea ... but even though they go in early,  it's a little bit yet before you can start planting.

However ... you can get started on your own mini-African violet farm right away.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Need a new hobby? A reason to get some fresh air in the woods? Want to help Minnesota’s forests grow healthy and strong? The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an opportunity for you. The DNR needs hundreds of bushels of black spruce cones within the next few weeks to meet state and county spruce seed orders for spring 2021 reforestation efforts. Seeds from the nursery are used to reforest about 6,000 acres of black spruce in Minnesota each year.

Library of Congress [public domain]

December's full moon, the "cold moon," arrives tonight, though in our area it may be obscured by clouds and snowfall. However, if the clouds hold back on Sunday morning between 4 and 6 a.m. there will be a good chance of seeing the Quadrantids, an annual January meteor shower, radiating from a point above the handle of the Big Dipper. If the waxing moon to the west is too bright, Astro Bob recommends standing on the eastern side of a building to give yourself a good opportunity to see them.

Pleuntje [via Flickr]

Tom Kasper suggests, in this pandemic era, that many lovely gifts for the garden would be very lovely for a friend, like new gardening tools, some soil, or a gift certificate.  But consider offering your time helping them in their garden as well - a great chance to visit and enjoy the fresh air while also staying physically distant.

December may give us the shortest days of the year, but it's packing a whole lot into those short days.

International Maritime Organization/Flickr

Invasive species are particularly hard on Minnesota, wreaking havoc on outdoor recreation, pumping stations and other infrastructure, and costing the Great Lakes $200 million a year.

But the EPA's proposed new ballast water standards, intended to limit the damage of invasive species but released in October to a mere 30 day public comment period, give lakers a free pass from having to treat ballast water.