Coldwater Journal is a record of personal observations and reflections from visits to the Coldwater campus.

Please feel free to submit your thoughts and reflections about Coldwater for posting here on the FRIENDS of COLDWATER site via email.
Coldwater Journal is chronologically reversed. Newest postings first.
(click for 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 journal)
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Friday, 12.31.04
(Coldwater Spring) The flow at the spring is measuring 55 gallons per minute. Alarm bells should be ringing at the Minnesota Department of Transportation over destruction of the flow that averaged 80-100 gallons per minute before the Hwy 55 reroute-- but it's New Year's Eve. And it does appear that the pipe carrying water under the road is partially plugged because the reservoir is spilling into a ditch.

This has happened before, the water floods the ditch and oozes across the asphalt road and down the bluff. Only water going through the pipe into the monitoring station gets measured. So MnDOT actually measures the spring's flow, plus any surface runoff into the reservoir.

The new Coldwater Creek channel (first noticed two weeks ago) about 6-feet north of where the measured water is flushed, that new channel is cutting its path, eroding a proto island into the slope. The intelligence of water is amazing-- ripple and pool, ripple and pool, two habitats supporting a range of flora and fauna. From creek to river, the water runs moving debris into a pile that forces the water to change direction, allowing a slow backwater pool to develop.

Just south of the spring a frozen sheet of ice coats the road, by the metal warehouse with spring water coming out from beneath. It will be good to daylight that spring, get rid of the building.

Yesterday it was 50-degrees. Today it's half that with a stiff boreal wind that is making my eyes water and freezing the tears on my cheeks. Chapped cheeks.

More than 100 ducks are performing a duck ballet-- or a sort of duck drill around the Coldwater reservoir. Seems odd to see such a concentration of wildlife in one small pond.
– S.J.

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Friday, 12.24.04
(Coldwater Spring) The gate to the Springs was closed and locked Christmas Eve Day.

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Tuesday, 12.21.04
(Coldwater Spring) Solstice. 12:42 pm (GMT). The Spring is beautiful today, one of those cold, sunny days with a sprinkling of snow that are a joy in winter. Many ducks sit and sometimes fly about on the pond where a mist rises because the water is warmer than the air.

The Spring flows with even more power it seems today. Pine boughs and roses from the Sunday Solstice ceremony grace the edges of the spring house and the limestone layers around the Spring.

Standing on the hill at the entrance to the labyrinth and looking west the sky is clear blue with wisps of clouds that look like sugar, the brown of tree branches silhouetted in the blue, blue sky. Once again I am awed by the breathtaking beauty of this place, the stillness and peace in the midst of highway and city.

A friend comes by with someone who has never seen the Spring before, just to show him this beauty on this perfect winter day.
– Sue Ann Martinson, Solstice, 2004

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Friday, 12.17.04
(Coldwater Spring) The sacred spring is flowing at just above 70 gallons per minute (about 103,000 gallons per day). The flow is slightly up this Friday afternoon although it's been a very dry fall. Hydrologists tell us, don't confuse groundwater (which feeds Coldwater Spring) with rain water. The groundwater that outflows at Coldwater percolates for months, maybe for years, through Platteville limestone picking up calcium and magnesium. Drops of rain water move through seams in the limestone, the water follows fractures, always at the pull of gravity until it bursts out of the rock wall – the spring.

It is the movement of the water, the constant movement from cloud through atmosphere as rain, to ground, through ground, through minute slivers in the limestone, this continual journey of spring water that makes it "living" water. Still water loses its life-force. Boutique water is not as nutritious as pure spring water.

It's cold. It's finally cold-- in the low 20-degrees F. Above the shelf in the rock wall where Coldwater outflows a mist rises. Coldwater is 47-degrees, a warm breath of water into December air, the breath of living water. And more than 50 ducks sharing the reservoir, some with territorial attitudes.

There is new electrical wiring at the MnDOT flow monitoring station in the ravine below the reservoir. There is also a new Coldwater Creek channel about 6-feet north of the pipe where the monitoring station flow is dumped. Water is just pouring out from under a tree that is leaning about 40-degrees downhill.
– S.J.

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Friday, 12.10.04
(Coldwater Spring) The flow at the sacred spring is 70 gallons per minute (gpm) this afternoon. This same 70 gpm (100,000 gpday) will probably hold throughout the winter-- until spring run-off. Maybe 20 ducks are cruising in the reservoir, about even numbers of drakes and female mallards.

There is a chill northwest wind today but the temperature is surprisingly mild for mid-December. There's been no snow and the garlic-mustard (invasive exotic ground cover) is blooming again. In fact, people's pansies are blooming!

In the sky, blue shows between puffy low cumulous clouds; the sky is "moving" and changing by the moment. At the Coldwater Spring main outflow, I've noticed a slight change where the groundwater flows out of the limestone. The flow has moved slightly to the west – several inches. And more groundwater is dripping out of the grotto a few feet west of the main spring. This water is alive and changing the landscape it flows through.

There seems to have been some slight vandalism at the 7-circuit labyrinth here. The stones were replaced and the space cleaned before leaving. Some folks are afraid of sacred energy.
– S.J.

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Friday, 12.03.04
(Coldwater Spring) The flow is just below 70 gallons per minute-- the average since construction dewatering stopped. Twenty ducks are cruising the reservoir. With the lack of groundwater to the spring (from 130,000 gallons per day down to 100,000) there is a danger that the reservoir will ice-over because the water would be moving so slowly it would freeze. And the ducks would leave.

At 2 PM the sun is low, the shadows long. A few yellow leaves still hang on the lowest willow branches and indicate, with their dance, the gentlest of breezes. A huge flock of crows arrive in the trees below the reservoir around Coldwater Creek. Gabble-gabble-gabble! For ten minutes a joyful and raucous crow klatsch ensues and then they fly off, three one way, five another, away to their evening roosts. The crows give a settled feeling of the rhythm of the day, another twirl of the earth around the sun.

The partly cloudy day turns overcast as the sun's warmth withdraws. It feels cooler although it's a mild December day and the clouds will hold in the day's heat. More ducks are coming in to spend the night-- at least 35 ducks have come to Coldwater for a safe overnight-- because the little foxes do play at night and breed up the hill behind the spring.
– S.J.

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Friday, 11.19.04
(Coldwater Spring) It's raining. It's a soaker-- more than half an inch by this afternoon. Nobody's complaining. It's 10-degrees above "normal"-- a balmy 46 in November. The spring flow is high with rain run-off, 76-gallons per minute. No ducks, one bug, two dandelions today. Last Friday there were eight drake Mallards and six females.

At groundwater level where the spring water pours out of the rocks (the only place to collect safe drinking water), more water is coming from the back of the grotto. This living environment is always changing. None of the sage or tobacco offerings are visible today-- they were rained away, but a new red tie has appeared. It is customary to leave an offering before collecting sacred water Dakota spiritual elders have instructed.

Filling a jug with Coldwater water is a humbling experience. You have to circumnavigate the limestone spring house and climb down into the recess, then bend double to catch the water. The water pours and trickles and drips out of horizontal cracks in the Platteville limestone bedrock. Bending over today I could hear spring water issuing from the rocks and I could feel raindrops hitting the back of my rain slicker. When I straightened up raindrops on the reservoir made dozens of ripple circles. It was mesmerizing.

We had a fund-raising idea once of recording all the different water sounds at Coldwater and putting it out as a CD
– S.J.

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Friday, 11.12.04
(Coldwater Spring) The flow is 70 gallons per minute. The lack of recharge is despairing.

When the other sacred spring, the Great Medicine Spring in what is now Theodore Wirth Park, when that spring was sacrificed to MnDOT's road-building, the Minneapolis Park Board waited 10 years for the groundwater to recharge. After 10 years, in February 1999, they drilled down 150-feet and found-- nothing, a dribble. Treated city water is now piped into the wetland portion of Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden.

The I-394 corridor is permanently dewatered at the rate of 2 1/2-million gallons a day. Dewatering is done with underground plastic pipes with small holes where water drips and leaks in, and is piped out. This is how farmers "tile" wet fields. The I-394 dewatering is considered "permanent" because it will last as long as hard plastic piping survives. If tomorrow the plastic pipes were ripped out of the ground the limestone bedrock removed for the interstate corridor would prevent the pre-construction flow from resuming.

Two famous springs were destroyed by I-394, the Great Medicine Spring and commercial Glenwood Spring (still sold as "spring" water but actually perched underground well water). The pristine groundwater is gravity fed through a series of ponds from the intersection of I-394 and Hwy 100, northward into Bassett Creek and into the Mississippi. The spring water is mixed with dirty road run-off, sewer water, and piped under downtown Minneapolis collecting city stormwater. It empties into the Mississippi just south of 8th Avenue North (across from Boom Island) near a sign that reads: PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN UNDER 6 SHOULD NOT EAT FISH TAKEN FROM THIS PLACE.

When Chuck Howe, MnDOT senior geologist who designed the I-394 dewatering system, was deposed by watershed attorney Louis Smith for one of the Coldwater lawsuits, Howe said "What spring?" when asked about the Great Medicine Spring. In 1874 Col. John H. Stevens, considered the first white resident of Minneapolis, said the Great Medicine Spring was frequented by Indian people "who came hundreds of miles to get the benefit of its medicinal qualities." Now I wonder what was in that water in addition to the usual calcium and magnesium leached out of limestone bedrock. Clearly it was some kind of immune booster but what properties the water contained and how it worked in the mind-body are lost to us!
– S.J.

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Friday, 11.05.04
(Coldwater Spring) The anticipation of coming to the spring changes me. For 10,000 years spring water has flowed here – 10,000 years and I wonder about the next four years. Coldwater was flowing when Rome fell only 1,528 years ago.

Today the flow measures 69 gallons per minute. Before highway construction we could have expected a flow in the low 80-some gallons a minute. The small creek running out behind and under the warehouse just south of Coldwater is dribbling water into the reservoir. Water going through the measuring box contraption is stained like tea steeped too long, bitter with tannic acid from the great leaf fall. Non-indigenous, invasive buckthorn and garlic mustard are still green. Plants that aren't native here are out of cycle with the seasons. Garlic mustard is a seasoning herb used in southeast Asia; environmentalists urge eating this herb to control its spread.

The weeping willow is magnificant-- green and yellow and dancing in the mearest breeze on a sunny, blue-skied day. "Perfect" would be a modest description of this day. The grass is still green and a definite path is worn in the labyrinth where dandelions yet flourish!
– S.J.

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Friday, 10.29.04
(Coldwater Spring) Only 69 gallons per minute today, surprisingly little in view of the 2-inch rain yesterday. Rain run-off is entering the reservoir on the south end from a little creek, and all reservoir water, not just the spring water, is being measured. The ground is saturated.

The temperature is an unbelievable 75-degrees today at the beginning of Halloween weekend. Instead of predicting sleet or snow, a thunderstorm is possible with tornado warnings! The sun is out and the bugs are back: lady bug, big fly, box elder bug, no-see-'ems, unidentified flyers zip above the reservoir surface, and something flew in my eye. Despite all the insects, few birds are about-- they may have already migrated following reduced sunlight that is part of their travel clock.

Indigenous trees have pretty much dropped their leaves. The Spirit Tree is bare branched, the silver maple with the tipi opening at its base, considered a shamanic entry point into the underworld. But the great weeping willow still has a complete crown of leaves, perhaps half yellow, half yet green. If only non-indigenous people were as benign as the weeping willow. This is the finale of the months-long George Bush v. John Kerry presidential campaign; for 10,000 years, even under the last glacier, Coldwater Spring has been flowing.
– S.J.

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Friday, 10.22.04
(Coldwater Spring) The flow at Coldwater is right at 70 gallons per minute, down a shade from last week despite two days of fall drizzle and rain. It's warm for this time of year, the dandelions have flowered again but there are no insects. The grass is vividly green today, that spring-green that is so green the color almost makes your eyes ache.

One Mallard drake and female are munching duckweed in the reservoir. There is so much more green stuff growing in the reservoir than there was before construction of the Hiawatha reroute, before the flow slowed from 90 to 70 gallons per minute (a drop of about 30,000 gallons per day). In June, even before summer officially started, green algae scummed the surface.

We will have to wait at least another spring to see if Coldwater Spring will recharge back to its pre-construction level, according to the watershed hydrologist. The groundwater that flows out of this 10,000-year old spring comes mysteriously through limestone bedrock from the west, southwest and northwest. The flow is gravity-fed, all down slope. In theory the recharge area covers only a quarter to a half mile-- including the VA Hospital, the Army Reserve section of the Twin Cities airport, through the HWY 55/62 interchange, and parts of Historic Fort Snelling. 10,000-years of ever flowing water-- visiting Coldwater gives perspective to my little life.
– S.J.

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Friday, 10.15.04
(Coldwater Spring) A chilly fall drizzle is easing. Today's Coldwater flow is about 71 gallons per minute (102,240 gallons per day), the spring's flow augmented with rainfall runoff.

Bright golden maple leaves litter the ground turning the gray day cheery. Show-off sumacs display riotous red foliage at the top of the hill. One particular sumac is green, orange and yellow! Sumac is an edge shrub, thriving along the tree line where more sun is available. One teeny bug and one dandelion still brave the falling temperatures. You can see your breath.

A couple with a bundle are threading their way through the labyrinth slowly, the pace of Buddhist meditational walking. They stop in the center and perform a short ritual for a nine-day old baby girl. It is Breena's name day.
– S.J.

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Friday, 10.08.04
(Coldwater Spring) The flow is a surprising 76 gallons per minute (109,440 gallons per day). This is the highest flow rate (without rain) I've seen since dewatering stopped last winter. Hope it's not a fluke.

Very quiet here today.

Several elms are marked with day-glow red-death paint and a buckthorn crew has cut some of the large invasive, exotic trees rimming the reservoir. Still millions of buckthorn berries are hanging on bushes, tempting hungry brids. Buckthorn is a European medicinal fruit tree whose berries are used for constipation. Birds eat the fruit and get the squirts-- depositing viable seeds everywhere under perching branches. An understory tree, buckthorn shades out native plants and throws-off the food chain balance.

Collecting water at Coldwater Spring is a humbling experience-- climbing through or around the Spring House, down the weathered limestone wall, then bending double to the gift of water flowing out of rock. The teens from Heart of the Beast summer theatre were struck with the notion of giving an offering to the spring before taking water. In their musical play they called the Coldwater section "Give to Get."
– S.J.

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Friday, 10.01.04
(Coldwater Spring) Rain. A soft fall soak has increased the flow at Coldwater's measuring station to 80 gallons per minute. Storm runoff pushes the numbers up but it's great to see. The hope is rainfall will recharge the aquifier sucked dry with six months of pumping 350 gallons a minute out of the area in 2003.

The ducks are back! Two mallard drakes and a female appear to be staking out winter turf in Coldwater reservoir. Unfortunately another visitor left an empty fifth of 80-proof Karkov gin on the cement base of the old limestone spring house. A hard frost is predicted statewide tonight. The dragonflies and mosquitoes are gone. I startled a white-rump flicker. The birds are staging to follow the food south.

Comstock, the construction company for the Hiawatha section of the light rail transit, was supposed to be out of the Coldwater campus today. Comstock trucks, more than a dozen of them, are parked outside warehouses along with scores of cable spindles. The Veteran's Administration plans to use the warehouses for storage.
– S.J.

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Friday, 09.24.04
(Coldwater Spring) It's Fall Equinox, time of balance. Coldwater's flow is about 70 gallons per minute, 100,800 gallons per day. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, in court against the Minnesota Department of Transportation, established 90 gallons per minute (129,600 gallons per day) as a base flow before construction of the Hiawatha reroute. So Coldwater Spring's historic flow is down about 29,000 gallons per day. Development typically takes about a third of a resource. "Only a third," they say. "You've got two-thirds left." 'Get real' is the tone. Tell that to the water. Tell that to the children's children's children.

A few red and yellow leaves have already fallen. And the amazing red dragonflies are still out harvesting mosquitoes breeding in Coldwater reservoir. Peace reigns here.
– S.J.

(note: this is the first journal)

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