Wandering out of winter into spring

The dog and I were walking through the complete and absolute middle of nowhere on a cold and snowy day when out popped Mr. Beaver, gesturing insistently with one webbed and furry paw for us to follow.  I should have been more suspicious. After all, I’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia more than once, and could have predicted that we’d end up at the Castle of the White Witch. 

I will admit that the castle was impressive. Pillars of ice at least 100 feet tall clung to the side of a basalt cliff, and when I leaned in and peered more closely, I could see the green of ferns and moss, encased beneath the ice but growing slowing even so. “Your son has COVID,” the witch pronounced with a sneer, “and by the end of the week, you will have it as well.”

With that, we turned and wandered back out of the woods, hopeful that the trail we followed might be the one that eventually leads to spring.

Sunset over the frozen St. Croix River. Is this the path that finally leads to spring?

To me, every February feels like Narnia – always winter and never Christmas. Yet, the logical side of my brain tells me that spring is actually just around the corner. Beginning next week, local conservation partners are offering a variety of online and in-person workshops to help you transition from winter into spring, and, hopefully, create a more environmentally sustainable landscape in the process.

Dana Boyle lives in Woodbury and converted her traditional lawn to native sedge. She and other neighbors will share their native landscaping projects at a workshop on Feb. 22.

Sustainable lawns and gardens – Grow Native! Feb. 22 (6:30-8pm) – Learn how to create a low maintenance, environmentally-friendly urban ecosystem at this online workshop, co-hosted by The Grove Sustainability Project in Woodbury, Great River Greening, Washington Conservation District and South Washington Watershed District. In addition to presentations, several Woodbury residents will share their native landscaping projects. Head to www.mnwcd.org/events for a link to join the session next Tuesday.  

Also on Feb. 22, Barbara Heitkamp will give a talk for Stillwater Public Library about how to conserve groundwater resources.

Water Conservation: What Can I do? Feb. 22 (6-7pm), online session hosted by Stillwater Public Library. Learn about water conservation and what you can do to protect our water resources in this talk by Barbara Heitkamp from the Washington Conservation District. Register here.

Spring Gardening for a Healthy Yard and Watershed March 16 (12-1pm) – March is the perfect month to begin planning spring and summer gardening projects, but there are common mistakes people make in the spring that can actually harm plants and wildlife in your yard. During this Lunch and Learn, hosted by Wild Rivers Conservancy, I will talk about resources to help you create a wildlife and water friendly yard and offer advice on spring gardening “dos and don’ts.” Register at wildriversconservancy.org/event/lunchlearn316.

Bumblebee on anise hyssop.

2022 Best Practices for Pollinators Summit: March 1-3 (9am-2pm) – This three-day online conference will offer presentations on land stewardship practices that promote pollinators, climate resilience, clean water and lands. Summit topics provide practical knowledge and innovation on pesticide reduction, habitat installation, soil health and more. Cost $30. Register at www.pollinatorfriendly.org/events.

Forest and woodland landowners are invited to attend the 2022 Wild Rivers Forestry Conference.

2022 St. Croix Forestry Conference: March 24 and 25. The 2022 Wild Rivers Forestry Conference offers a full day of educational presentations on sustainable forest management (presented virtually), followed by in-person hikes on Friday, March 25 in Scandia and other locations. Cost $40. Register at https://wildriversconservancy.org/event/forestry22.