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The Indian Pipe, One of Nature’s Many Wonders

In today’s post, Stan Tekelia explains the Indian Pipe, also known as the Ghost Flower, one of nature’s weirdest plants. There is nothing better than spending a late summer morning walking the woods in search of whatever interesting items you can find. Lately I’ve been out wandering the thick, cool forests on the lookout for familiar natural objects such as squirrels’ nests, various mushrooms, migrating birds, colorful wildflowers, all of which I consider to be old friends. One of the more interesting things in the woods at this time of year is the unusual Indian Pipe (Monotropa unifora). Also called the Ghost Plant or Corpse Plant, the Indian Pipe grows late in the summer season and is found on the forest floor. Standing only 4-9 inches tall, you might overlook this unique plant. But what sets the Indian Pipe apart from all other plants in the forest is that it is pure white...

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World War II Book Honors Fallen Minnesota Men

Why is World War II so compelling? Is it because there were so clearly “good guys” and “bad guys?” Is it because we came together as a country—as a world—and vanquished evil? Whatever the reasons, the Second World War is source material for countless books and movies. These stories are almost always dramatic and entertaining, but for the most part, they allow us to keep the tragedies of war at arm’s length. However, a new Minnesota history book changes that. Little Minnesota in World War II takes those tales of valor and heroism and makes them real. It is powerful and moving, without trying to be either. The concept behind this coffee-table book is brilliant. Authors Jill A. Johnson and Deane L. Johnson came up with it while working on their first book, Little Minnesota, in 2011. That project brought them to many of the smallest towns in the state, where...

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Fall is Mushroom Season

Fall is mushroom season; in today’s post, Stan Tekiela shares with us his knowledge about fungi. Late summer and early fall are the best times for mushrooms. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been out and about searching high and low for all sorts of mushrooms. I find peace in the simple act of walking in the woods and being happy with whatever I find. About 25 years ago, I wrote a book about how to find wild edible mushrooms. The book highlighted six common edible mushrooms that didn’t have poisonous look-alikes. I am updating this book now because there’s a renewed interest in the subject. Finding and collecting edible mushrooms might seem like a daunting task, considering that there are an estimated 5.1 million different kinds of fungi in the world. Compare that to about 10,000 species of birds and only 5,000 species of mammals. With more than 5 million different...

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Favorite Tuna Hot Dish Recipe

In Minnesota, there are hot dishes for different occasions. Here is a recipe for a yummy Tuna Hot Dish. The Minnesota Hot Dish is something most other folks would call a “casserole;” either way, it is a great recipe the entire family will enjoy. Ingredients 31/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked 3 minutes less than package directions and drained 2 (4.5-ounce) cans solid tuna, drained 1 (8.5-ounce) can small peas, drained 1 tablespoon minced onion 11/4 cups crushed potato chips, divided 1 (101/2-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted 11/2 cups whole milk Preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine macaroni, tuna, peas, onion, and 1/2 cup potato chips in a buttered 2-quart glass baking dish. Bring soup and milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; pour soup mixture over macaroni mixture in baking dish. Top with remaining 3/4 cup potato chips. Bake, uncovered, 35 minutes or until hot. Serves 4. Note: Theresa’s husband’s Aunt Mollie served this tuna hot dish to her when she first came to Minnesota as a bride. Aunt...

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Marsh Wrens Are Busy Nest Builders

In today’s post, Stan Tekiela shares with us his observations of Marsh Wrens. Every now and then I’m surprised at something in nature. I get a little thrill when I see something for the first time or learn something new. Recently I was out photographing Red-necked Grebes and their cute zebra-striped babies when I came across several very chatty Marsh Wrens (Cistothorus palustris) in a large cattail stand. I’ve seen and photographed Marsh Wrens in the past, so this wasn’t new, but what I found interesting were the nests. The Marsh Wren is a small brown wren with darker wings and back, plus a dark cap on the head and a thin white line extending through the eye. They have a long, thin bill that’s slightly curved downward. They have a long tail, which is often cocked upward, pointing straight up or over the back. The male claims a small territory (quarter acre)...

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Board Book Series for Babies and Toddlers

A child is never too young for books, and a board book is the perfect type to get into your little ones’ hands. Adventure Publications currently has six titles for the earliest of book lovers: Bird Color, Bird Count, Floppers & Loppers, Paws & Claws, Peepers & Peekers, and Snouts & Sniffers. There are plenty of reasons to introduce them to children. Following are just a few of the benefits of these wonderful books: They’re Educational When it comes to babies, any kind of reading is good. They’re beginning to learn that words have meanings. However, the best books for toddlers are the ones that add an extra educational component. Of course, books help teach kids to read. But, at the same time, the content can and should be a gateway to even more knowledge. The Adventure Board Book Series presents everything from colors and counting to facts about animals and their...

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Discover Five Amazing Birds of Wyoming

In Wyoming alone there have been more than 400 different kinds of birds recorded throughout the years. This is an impressive number of species for one state! These bird sightings were diligently recorded by hundreds of bird-watchers and have become part of the official state record. In his book Birds of Wyoming Field Guide, Stan Tekiela describes 134 of the most common and easily seen birds of Wyoming. In this post we share with you five of our favorite Wyoming birds. Ospreys are in a family all their own. This is the only raptor that plunges into water feet first to catch fish. It can hover for a few seconds before diving, and it carries fish in a head-first position for better aerodynamics. In flight, wings angle backward. The Osprey nests on man-made towers and in tall dead trees. Recent studies show that Ospreys mate for a long time, some perhaps for life. Once almost extinct, they’re now doing well. They build...

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Hurricane Harvey and Your Children

My heart goes out to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and my thoughts and prayers are with them. Closer to home, I find myself asking, “What should I tell my children?” My family lives 1,000 miles away from this tragedy, so it’s tempting to say nothing at all. But I want my children to be socially aware, and I feel that they deserve to know what’s happening in the world. Besides, with summer vacation ending, they’re going to hear about it at school, and I’d rather they hear it from me first. So what should we parents tell our kids about Hurricane Harvey? There’s no simple answer, but here are a few things to keep in mind. Know Your Child No one knows what your child can (and can’t) handle better than you. Tailor the information so that they understand what’s going on without becoming afraid for their own safety. For example,...

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