Arb Talk

  • A trail in the arb covered in snow.

    Arb Notes for January 19 - Don't Hibernate!

    January 25, 2011 at 9:15 am

    It is winter and we all know what that means at Carleton; short grey days, biting cold, and lots of snow and ice. Those of us who live in the complex are thanking our lucky stars and those of us who don’t are, like badger, telling our friends that we are really ‘busy’ and so cannot walk to the other side of campus to visit them. But what are all our neighbors in the Arb up to these days? And what kind of company do they keep?

  • A muskrat on ice in the arb.

    If you’re getting the winter blues, come out to the Arb . In town, winter is a nuisance - sidewalks are icy, everything is gray and white, and the wind whips your face. Winter feels like an ordeal, something we’d all be better off without. When you go outside to the Arb to see the trees and prairie, it’s clear that the land needs the cold weather- winter isn’t punishment; it’s as beneficial as any season.

  • Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) seedhead in arboretum prairie

    Arb Notes for November 12 - McKnight Prairie

    November 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    The Arb. Hopefully you’ve explored (at least a little bit) by now. Perhaps you go there to run, to cross country ski (if it ever gets cold enough), to stargaze, to complete work for a biology lab, to spot wildlife, or to clear your head after a long ninth week full of looming due-dates. In general, the Arb has a comfortable place within the lives of most of the student body. However, the Arb is not the only piece of natural land Carleton owns. McKnight Prairie is a 33.5 acre prairie fragment purchased by the college in 1968. One of the few remaining prairie remnants after most of southern Minnesota went into agriculture, walking into McKnight is like taking a trip back in time, showing us how current farmland looked before corn and soybeans took control.

  • A photograph of a wolf spider, image found on flickr and reproduced with permission of photographer.

    With Winter Term approaching, it’s time to review your hibernation strategies. While we hole up in heated buildings, the burrowing wolf spider digs a den below the frost line to protect herself from the snow and cold.

  • A coyote on a road, photo taken by Emdot on flickr and reproduced with permission of photographer.

    Arb Notes for October 29 - Coyote Dens

    November 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Friday evening approaches and with it the event during which more people on campus will be paired off then at any other time in the year. Set up your roommate is tonight and, whether you are wondering who your roommate could have set you up with or wondering what they will think when they finally find the cookie to their milk or the Piglet to their Pooh, you might also want to take a moment to wonder about one of the potential pairings in the Arb. A den which Arboretum Director Nancy Braker found this past week suggests that there is a pair of coyotes in the area.

  • Lyman Lakes

    In addition to Professor Dan Hernandez’s fences, the stakes that indicate Professor Mark McKone’s plant community studies and the bird count posts there is another set of very interesting, but often overlooked markers hiding in the Arb.  In at least two spots, it is possible (though not always easy) to find markers that correspond to early land surveys of Rice County carried out around 1850!

  • Compass plant in the Arboretum prairie restoration

    Arb Notes for October 15 - Indian Summers

    October 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

    The term Indian Summer has many proposed origins but the earliest to date gives credit to a letter written by Frenchman St. John de Crevecoeur in 1778. He described an Indian Summer as having a “tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness” following a period of cold before the true winter sets in. The term now most commonly and more formally describes a stint of warm weather in the fall, usually occurring just a few days after a frost. As it turns out this can usually be explained within the common fall meteorological patterns.

  • Flooded road after the Fall 2010 flooding.

    Arb Notes for October 8 - Fish in the Flood

    October 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

    While the Cannon River flooding gave us many unique sights (the Great Wall of yellow sandbags, a soggy Froggy Bottom’s, and Carleton’s football-field-turned-toxic-swimming-hole, to name a few), one sight that you may or may not have witnessed was what washed up after the floodwaters began to recede—many of the river’s fish.

  • The old cattle tunnel into the arb flooded after the September rainstorms.

    Arb Notes for October 1 - A Flooded Forest

    October 4, 2010 at 11:50 am

    The flooding in Northfield last weekend was bad for Froggies, but good for the Arboretum’s floodplain forest. In lower Arb river and forest ecology depend upon periodic flooding events. Some of Carleton’s floodplain tree species include:  cottonwoods (Populus deltoides), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), and willows (Salix spp.). Flooding is also an important disturbance event, leveling trees or other vegetation leaving bare soil for new seeds to colonize. In this way, it works much the same as the Arboretums burning of the tall grass prairie.

  • Arb Crew gathering seeds in the prairie.

    Arb Notes for September 24 - Summer in the Arb

    September 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    If you get out to the Arb once in a while, you may have noticed some changes since you left last spring. That’s because while you were sitting inside looking at a computer screen, working some important internship, playing video games or going to the beach, this summer’s arboretum crew was wreaking death and destruction upon the invasive species of our beloved Arb.  Armed with a variety of cutting implements and herbicides, six Carleton students boldly stepped out to wage war against the buckthorn, honeysuckle, thistle, and wild parsnip that has plagued us for too long.

  • Emerging dragonfly

    Arb Notes for May 28 - Dragonflies

    May 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    With the end of spring term upon us, the familiar sights and sounds of summer have returned to the Arboretum: the singing of birds, the chattering of squirrels, the raucous yelling of bonfires from the Hill of Three Oaks. But there are other things that we notice more passively, like the flight of dragonflies, for example. Many of us will be familiar with the sentry-like flight of dragonflies over open areas on a summer evening, but few of us are familiar with the Odyssean struggle taking place in our lakes, ponds, and rivers that allow dragonflies to enjoy a brief moment of terrestrial sunshine at the end of their lives.

  • American Crow

    My alarm went off too early on Saturday morning; I groped for my clothes and shoes in the dark before embarking on the chilly ride over Lyman Lakes. As shouts and blasts of music from Rottblatt floated through the morning air a smaller, more sober and considerably older-on-average group of Carleton students, alums, faculty and Northfield residents gathered in Saturday’s dawn to complete Carleton’s annual bird survey.