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White Wolf & Sweetgrass

Our final morning at the Grand Portage Hotel & Casino - the Great Rendezvous Place being only place to stay on the rez for our work - I caught the last peek of a stark white wolf as it crept east along the pebbley inlet shore not 20 meters from our hotel window! It was a wolf. A modicum of environmental integrity and inspiring balance. I know this definitively. My site manager saw it two days prior to my and my work roommate's sighting, and the site manager was only in the parking lot when the same creature of the woods stepped out and stared at him from the rim of the parking lot. That, and the person who called me to the window is also another conservation professional; she, my site manager, and myself are all college educated wildlifers. It was large, not so slanted as a domestic dog, and we all agreed the traits of a wolf slinking nearby lesser human inhabited (and remarkably forested) areas is not so uncommon in Minnesota. Fact is, the populations are rebounding enough to constitute their own hunting permits, though how long either of those statements will be a reflection of their accuracy is anyone's guess.

The moment of my first wild wolf did not allow for a photo, but imagine a reverse silhouette. A nearly glowing white wolf padding, head lowered with investigative attention to the blue-grey shoreline, against a panoramic outpouring of a Great Lakes sunrise. It was like that, but with hotel coffee smell where the crisp breaking of dew to the autumn's humidity should've been. By the by, can you spot the baldy (Bald Eagle) in this photo?

Sweetgrass is a hot topic lately, what with the holy accolade of Robin Wall Kimmerer's masterful ethnobotanical book, Braiding Sweetgrass. Interestingly, I recently spent a whole week a stone's throw from the US/Canada border, in Grand Portage, planting sweetgrass to the sum of more than 20,000 itty bitty individual plants! In the biz the wee plants from 3 inch greenhouse six-packs are called plugs, and man o man, did my crew plug away on that project. Fun fact, some of the legalize between the feds and Indigenous tribes are sprouting up to be enforced!

For example, when the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDoT) scoops out or otherwise causes the degradation of sweetgrass habitat, they have to plant new sweetgrass in the same spot! Lucky for me, as that contract trickled down to my restoration company, Boreal Natives, and six of us trekked four hours up the super scenic North Shore of Lake Superior with +20,000 plugs in tow to do just that. Funny, because sweetgrass is one of those plants that grows better from its roots sending up from shoots that turn into blades, which means that you don't actually have to put down whole plants. Just making sure viable, healthy roots are in the ground and watered enough to attach to the soil and generate new plants is enough.

I'd like to think no amount of sweetgrass, plug, root, seed, or sprig, will ever be enough. Enough for what? I am still unsure, I haven't finished the book, yet.

If you would like to check out Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, please consider buying your copy through this bookstore link! Rockosophy has joined DustyWords to create Toasty Press, our freeform publisher. The online bookstore in the link below was set up to support small, responsible book sellers and we have our Toasty Press page all set up and waiting for you!

With love & nothing else,


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