top of page


I sat watching the sun coming up over Olson Lake, or, as everyone who lives here calls it, the slough.

The sky was a pastel riot. High overhead, wisps of white clouds dotted the soft blue expanse, then changed to peach the closer it got to the horizon, and finally burst into vivid orange as the sun crept upward. The color shifted back to blue beneath the horizon, blue with a smattering of white as various birds floating on the water came into focus.

The ice went out a few days ago. We’ve noticed geese, ducks, seagulls, swans, and one flight of puzzled pelicans. Right now, all outside looks tempting, but when I let the dog in last night there were snowflakes in the air, so I am not fooled.

The black birds are back. I saw a half-dozen perched in the top of a giant ash tree. Around twenty of those trees grow scattered throughout the ten-acre grove - the remnants of trees planted by my great-grandparents. Just as many stumps too big to put my arms around also remain, broken off twenty feet in the air by a harsh north wind that put a little too much pressure on their aging trunks. Purely by accident, I’ve worked out a lovely arrangement with the woodpeckers and owls. Because I’m not ambitious enough to stay caught up with cutting firewood, the wildlife has some terrific habitat in the standing dead trees. I read somewhere that ten acres of trees can heat your house with wood forever. I’m willing to believe that’s true, because after a few decades, there is still an abundance of wood, and four rows of trees I’ve planted are reaching maturity themselves.

The occasional towering tree makes also makes a handy perch for bald eagles. I don’t think I saw a bald eagle in the wild until I was forty years old. Now I see one every day, making all the critters ten pounds or under a little nervous about death from above. On a fairly regular basis, I hear people say something like “all government is bad.” But if it were not for government requirements, there would still be mercury in the air and DDT in the soil, and bald eagles would be extinct. So, there’s that.

I’m trying to keep my gaze elevated, because I don’t want to see the muddy mess which is my yard. There’s so much I want to get done outside, but no way to really start because Mother Nature is telling me she’s not ready to let up. She’s done this to me before. If the past is an indicator, we’re going to go from snowflakes in the air and morning frost on the ground, to tee shirts and sweat in a matter of days. I’ll just need to be ready.

My coffee cup was empty, and I had to move on to the day’s tasks. The glorious sunrise was no more.

But it will be back tomorrow.

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson


bottom of page