Monday, August 22, 2016
For the record, I very rarely buy white wine; even though there are many fine, supple dry whites in Missouri, I tend to spend my money on the dry reds. Since I don't have a refined palette for the dry whites, I can say that Vignoles reminds me most of the French whites I drank in summers in New Orleans: big, crisp, somewhat buttery (not like a Chardonel), more floral (but not quite so much as Traminette. Since I like flowers, I like Traminette above all the others), sometimes with notes of melon and even green apples. I generally like Vignoles with hard, strong cheeses like Asiago. My fellow Missouri wine-loving friend buys herself Nortons and Vignoles for her partner who tends to prefer the sweeter wines. It's a good gateway wine from sticky Muscat to the dry whites.
All of the rain this summer may make this year's vintage less concentrated as compared to, say, the droughty 2012. Grapes are fat and happy on the vines this August and we're one year away from the total eclipse that will be visible where I live where wine lovers will flock to the blufftop winery and enjoy bottles of Vignoles while watching the sky darken. Ste. Genevieve wine country will also be ground zero for the eclipse, so start booking reservations now....
Sunday, August 14, 2016
As reports came in from home this weekend, with unending rain in south Louisiana and no end in sight, I learned of thousands of homes underwater, many friends who lost everything, water rescues from rooftops a la Hurricane Katrina, rivers exceeding their flood stage by 6 ft. and more, and the rain still coming. Because I'm not down there, I don't know if the local stations are reporting about climate change and the direct correlation between these heavy rain events and the changing climates. Hell, my friends and family are without cell phone service with AT&T totally knocked out, so the prospect of major analysis is likely forthcoming, if at all. Hot meals are being delivered to the dorms since most of the roads are closed around major universities and, until today, there was a curfew in place. All because of devastating flooding.
Last month, I was privileged to read a private report (prepared for a colleague from another outfit) from climatologists from Missouri State University that included an analysis of rainfall events in Missouri since the 1950s. Because the report is not public information, I can digest it to explain that since the early 2000s, rain events in the Ozarks, especially the watershed in their study site, have become more intense. More rain over a shorter time duration, so more flash flooding. What this means for this particular watershed is that runoff is faster, more intense, with higher rainfall amounts that causes flash flooding on a regular basis. Perhaps this seems less like rocket science, like a study that shows that squirrels eat acorns, but it is a study on an Ozark watershed and I do hope that soon the information will be widely available (working on that...).
What this unpublished, non-public report shows is that heavy rainfall events have increased in frequency and intensity in the past ten years, corresponding positively to the increasing carbon levels. This huge, spinning storm that is causing catastrophic flooding in Louisiana is heading our way. Springfield has already received 3 inches of rain. Forecasts for the St. Francois Mountains country call for 9 inches of rainfall in two days. After the 10 inch-rain event in December that left Union completely underwater and caused our Ozark streams to become perennially polluted with every known and unknown sewage lagoon and pit latrine, while not forgetting all of the cattle grazing in the watersheds, this next round of flooding is less than desirable.
I'm glad I was able to visit the stream when it was still in good condition. Images from home of nice little rivers like the Vermilion and the Ouiska Chitto roiling like chocolate milk are heartbreaking. Mussel diversity was once high in these streams. The sediment and pollution spreading out throughout southeast, southwest, and south Louisiana are going to not only wreak havoc on homesteads but on wildlife habitat as well. According to weather forecasters, we should be prepared for more of this. The spinning storm is heading our way. Make sure your basements don't have boxes of books on the floor.
Saturday, August 06, 2016
Sunday, July 24, 2016
The relatively regular rain events in the northern reaches of the Ozarks this summer has resulted in a bumper crop of the beefy, much larger chanterelles, Cantharellus cibarius. On the steamy Friday afternoon, days after I had mentioned to my mycologist friend that I would gladly accept a donation of chanterelles this summer, we came upon a hillside chocked full of large, fresh, beautiful chanterelles. These weren't the small ones I first met, these are huge mushrooms, so large that it would only take two to cover a pizza. The serious mycologist carries paper bags and a knife on forays into the woods. We left the patch to finish our scouting event, and came upon two more hillsides covered in bright mushrooms, patches so large one could spot them many hundred feet away. We had to collect. I was giddy with excitement when my friend handed me a knife to cut the mushrooms at the base so as to keep the mud off of them (easier to clean that way). We filled three sacks on one patch.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Monday, July 04, 2016
Because this area is so secluded, there were no exotic species infestations, no recent logging evidence, just classic undulating dry chert woodlands, some mesic limestone-dolomite forest with green violets carpeting the area, some moist dolomite cliffs, and these great glades with thick cover, no major grazing here. The creeks had a little water, but lots of fish, crayfish and water striders; I feel confident that this entire rainy weekend brought some much needed rain to the watershed. It brought three inches to my basement.
I love knowing places like this still exist in private ownership. This family has been an incredible steward to this landscape. I know the birds thank them.