06.16.21: Big Bog, Minnesota

From the spot on the sand track where the showy lady’s slippers are thickest, it’s double digits of miles to the nearest pavement: even by my standards, this is really out there. I drive slowly with the windows down; if I keep it in 2nd gear, the mosquitoes mostly don’t make it in. Connecticut Warbler, a shy warbler with a very bold song, is my quarry—during breeding season, they favor those buggy boreal hells most people want nothing to do with.

We used to have breeding Connecticuts in Michigan, but don’t really anymore. Maybe that’s because of the way photographers saturated their territories with playback. Maybe that’s because a changing climate has made their homes uninhabitable. Canada Jays and Boreal Chickadees are harder to find now, too. But in Big Bog, Minnesota, all these still hang on. These—and the cottongrass peeking out from the spruce; the lady’s slippers; the male polyphemus nearing the end of his adult form—they’re delicate parts of a beautiful whole. Big Bog is the largest bog in the Lower 48. In its vastness, *I* feel whole; maybe that’s part of what this all is about—seeking wholeness. And wholeness becomes ever more elusive, like Connecticut Warblers in Michigan…

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