Another beautiful bitterly cold winter sunset is preparing to call it a day.
The sunsets in the winter show each and every branch of each and every silhouetted tree. The dimensions are hidden in the blackness. The night’s canvass becomes the pigments for the backdrop.
I am presently attempting to type my column with some sort of speed because the ideas come faster than the fingers can fly over the keys. I lack the skills.
Because of my ineptness my eyes wander out the window at the birds enjoying the blocks of suet. I was pleasantly surprised and fortuitous to see a red-bellied woodpecker holding onto and poking away at the feeder.
“Well, I’ll be! Look at that!” I said. And with those words the bird looked right at me with its long beak and two black eyes. He regarded me a moment and flew away (it was a “he” because he had more red coloring on his head). I was impressed by my visitor.
If you live in the country, I’m sure the howling from scores of coyotes has been heard at your house. My goodness and good golly! Some of the howls sound as if they are right in our backyard peeking in the windows hoping for a rerun of “Call of the Wild” or “Lassie.” The high, piercing yaps are in surround sound… all around the house. When the chorus completes the crescendo, an eerie silence commences with no echoes or patter of feet.
I did learn that this laughing and wailing occurs during coyotes’ mating season, so apparently, they have a purpose to this madness.
One evening, after some close caterwauling, my large, black lab started barking and barking and barking. I thought he probably wanted to come in the house to sleep on the sofa, like he had done when it had been so cold outside.
Turning off all the lights, like we were in bed, did not suspend the continuous barking at all. At 1 a.m. I am still awake with the dog… counting barks to fall asleep. I gave up. Assuming he was afraid of the coyotes, outside I go in my pajamas and slippers to bring the dog in with me. Instead, he takes off at a full gallop to the front of the house.
Great! Now, I am standing in the cold, by myself, wondering what new kind of fool I am. Then, I hear something. Yes… It is! The hooting of two great-horned owls down in the woods where a lot of trees have been removed… hooting to each other. One hoot is low and the other a bit higher. What frisson and exhilaration in the early hours of the morning.
My dog finally returned and ran in the house to his place on the sofa for a restful night’s sleep. I, on the other hand, was wide awake with the cold and the excitement of my early morning owl patrol.
Trout fishermen gather your lures and poles and head to one of the 33 fishing spots in Kansas where thousands of trout have been released for the catching. The Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism says a special trout permit for $14.50 will allow you to have some winter trout fishing fun.
There are no released trout in Miami or Johnson counties. Travel to Garnett to Crystal Lake, or Fort Scott to Gun Park Lake, or to Lawrence to Lake Henry at Clinton State Park. Even Emporia State University’s King Lake received 1,000 trout in hopes of bringing in more interest in fishing to the area.
I’ve been trout fishing several times. Once, I used fancy lures in a roaring creek of water with absolutely no luck of catching anything. Another time, salmon eggs were the recommended bait with no luck. We watched some other people catching trout after trout on some miraculous material.
I finally asked the other fishermen, and they told me it was canned corn. We tried it, and sure enough, it worked.
Have some fun trying your luck at the lakes in our area.
All of you fishing fans listen up! There is a long-awaited National Fishing Expo in Kansas City this weekend — Jan. 20-22, at the KCI Expo Center.
There will be hundreds of booths with all sorts of outfitters and boats, rods and reels. I am certain there will be loads of tackle and different apparel too. There will be 60 different seminars you can attend.
There is also a 5,000-gallon fish tank filled with fish. A professional fisherman stands at the edge and demonstrates how to catch certain fish. It sounds like a lot of fishing fun for the whole family.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Keystone Pipeline oil spill in Washington, Kan. This pipeline break is the worst of the 22 other land spills in TC Energy’s past. An earthen dam was built four miles downstream of the break, but traces of chemicals are being found beyond that.
But the oil in the pipes is known as dilbit, and its thick and gooey properties are like that of peanut butter, it was written in the TWN Website from the British Columbian Government.
Dilbit oil doesn’t float like other oils. It sinks, making it more difficult to clean. On the KCUR public radio website that attended a December meeting, the TC Energy and KDHE say that the water poses a threat to animals, but not to humans. How does this work?
A spokesperson said, “Contamination levels remain below a level for acute harm to aquatic life but could hurt wildlife that ingest the chemicals through the food chain.” (the chemicals are benzene, toluene and other organic compounds). I find this frightening… it is OK for fish, but not for the rest of the food chain. Yikes!
Five acres of oil-soaked soil has been stripped and hauled away to Topeka to monitor for leaching. Erich Glave, from KDHE Environmental Field Services, told the Kansas Water Authority, “The good thing about this sticky oil is it didn’t migrate through the soil.” The good thing?
No one has been allowed to see or visit the area…no one. Lawmakers, politicians, mayors, journalists, landowners, no one. A little suspicious to me.
At one point, TC Energy established a no-fly zone over the oil spill. Even for drones. What?! Why?! TC Energy said it was for safety reasons. “Crews are working around the clock on the incident and need to be distraction-free.” (kansasreflector.com)
Earlier in January, TC Energy decided to divert Mill Creek from an upstream location, pumping the water above the ground in an attempt to bypass the oil spill. I am glad they are still trying and have not walked away leaving the mess to farmers and Kansans to mitigate for ages.
I am an optimist. TC Energy, don’t let me down.