St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

An Ode to Spring

A skunk cabbage in the springs along the St Croix River north of St. Croix Falls.  The plant gets its name from the smell that comes from crushing the leaves.  Cows, horses, and wild animals leave it alone.  No one uses the crisp bright green leaves in their salads!

Much of the St. Croix river has springs running year round down the banks, especially from the Hwy 70 bridge south and again just north of the dam at St Croix Falls.

These springs keep the temperature warmer in the winter and the plants that grow in them have a micro-climate that is much more moderate than a few feet away.

Right now, skunk cabbage and marsh marigolds are most prominent, in these wetlands that naturalists call seepage swamps.  We have our own personal one on the small knoll next to the lake below the cabin where the spring seeps out of an area about 100x100 feet and collects into a tiny creek running into the lake.

Our spring doesn't have any skunk cabbage.  I am sure it would grow, but am satisfied with the flowers!  All year round, animals come to the shallow pool that forms where the bulk of the spring comes out of the ground.  Deer and turkeys are the most common..

Water cress grows in the spring, and Mom used to have us gather it often for salads.  However, with the animals and beaver, one year she got giardia, and that was the end of cress salads.

In winter, the spring forms a very small open area in the lake where the oxygen rich water attracts fish and makes fishing just back of it good.

We drink pure spring water at the cabin.  Our water comes from a sand point driven into the ground about 6 feet deep adjacent to the spring.  Our water, naturally cold and full of healthful minerals is why we are so cheerfully lively every day!

In the old days, people tried to locate their homes near a spring where they could have an abundant supply of fresh water to drink.  Grandpa and Grandma lived along the St. Croix near Nevers Dam and had a "spring house" sunk into a hillside spring where the milk cans were cooled, butter, cream and other food was refrigerated and of course, a dipper was handy for a fresh cold drink for us boys.

Living on a lake is quite wonderful.  Having your own spring is like the frosting on the cake!