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Randy's Ramblings: There are wild things in North Hudson, too

Wild turkey on deck railing. Photo by Randy Hanson

The death of the author of the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" got me thinking about the wild things in my own neighborhood.

Not the imaginary monsters that populate Maurice Sendak's 1963 classic (although I'm familiar with some of those, too), but the wildlife that inhabits our North Hudson back yard and the stormwater pond beyond.

I arrived home from church on a recent Sunday to find a turkey perched on the deck railing. That solved the mystery of what had been leaving goose-size droppings on the deck.

The big hen had defied gravity and flown a dozen feet or more above the ground to reach the sunflower and safflower seeds in the birdfeeder that extends from the railing.

She wasn't anxious to leave, either, but stood there stretching her long neck from side to side, trying to look through her reflection in the patio door glass, while I took photos.

The mallards have been back for more than a month. First there were two couples the pond. After a while, the hens disappeared and we saw only the drakes -- joined by two newcomers.

Then on a Sunday morning one of the hens reappeared, surrounded by an armada of fuzzballs that paddled this way and that on the water.

My wife and I have witnessed the same scene every spring since we moved to our place on 10th Street No. eight years ago.

The ducklings quickly disappear. We assume they come to a bad end -- maybe dinner for the neighborhood ravens or a visiting hawk.

This year proved to be no exception. That Sunday was the only day we saw the dozen ducklings. The hen hasn't reappeared, either. I'm hoping that when we weren't looking she and the ducklings walked out of the pond and made it to Lake Mallalieu or the St. Croix River.

The purpose of the pond on village property is to allow sediment to settle out of stormwater before it continues its course to the St. Croix River. Judging from the amount of sand and vegetative debris at the mouth of the pipe that feeds the pond, it's doing its job.

A side benefit is the enjoyment that my wife and I get watching the wildlife and people the pond attracts.

It reminds me of the pictures of ecosystems that I saw in my schoolbooks all those years ago. An amazing menagerie is drawn to the pond.

It's source of drinking water for whitetail deer. Red-winged blackbirds nest in its cattails. The past couple of summers, muskrats have made it their home, though I haven't seen them so far this spring.

And there are the frogs. Oh my Lord, the frogs. If they were human, they'd get cited for disturbing the peace. Their nightly parties are so noisy we shut the bedroom windows to get some sleep. We close the patio door in order to hear the television.

They've got us surrounded, too. A couple of small but mightily loud tree frogs have taken up positions in the shrubbery next to the front porch and side windows.

Sometimes neighborhood children wade the shallows of the pond with empty coffee cans and nets, hoping to take a frog captive.

In the winter, it's a skating and hockey rink for the neighborhood kids, thanks to the parents who faithfully clear the snow after each winter storm.

Tykes with wobbly ankles have learned to skate on the pond by holding onto the back of a chair and shuffling across the ice. Now they're nimble skaters and puck-handlers.

Some of the best entertainment we get is outside our back windows.


Nature sure smiled on last weekend's Yellowstone Trail Heritage Days. The weather was perfect and brought a noticeable increase in attendance at the celebration events.

Dave Swanson of North Hudson deserves some credit, too. He recruited the street rod and classic car owners who brought their vehicles to town for the Friday night show on Locust Street and the one on Walnut Street on Saturday.

Both the quantity and quality of cars exceeded that of past Yellowstone Trail events, thanks to the participation of a large number of Minnesota Street Rod Association members.

I finally took in part of Saturday's Willow River Cemetery Walk and am glad that I did.

County Board Chairman Daryl Standafer did a fine job portraying Charlie Ward, Hudson's larger than life citizen of his day. Wearing a Stetson hat, bolo tie and cowboy boots, Standafer bore a resemblance to Ward, too.

I think he belongs on stage at The Phipps, and told him so. His self-deprecating reply was that some people would like to see him on a stage out of town.

I don't know about that. I disagree with the chairman on a few issues, but I appreciate his community service and friendliness.

Hudson High School students Zoe Vnak and Brian Erdrich gave touching performances as Mary (Moffat) and John Hughes, the colorful residents of the Octagon House from the late 1800s until their deaths in 1912 and 1913.

Kellie Burrows as Miss Anita North, Hudson's first millionaire, and Lynn Stafford as Jennie Humphrey, artist and wife of Congressman Herman Humphrey, also were informative and entertaining.

Work responsibilities called me away before I could finish the cemetery walk.

I ended the afternoon with a piece of pecan pie 'a la mode on the lawn of First Baptist Church.

Hudson in springtime is a great place to be.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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