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Entries in wildflowers (11)


Getting back to nature

Michigan spring is always iffy, but this year has been particularly offensive. In late February we were enjoying highs in the shorts range, and the warming trend continued, albeit sporadically, so as to fool us all into expecting a warm, early spring. The tree buds were early, the tulips were early, the grass was already greening. Then good old Mother Nature ripped the rug right out from under us and sent us, not even beautiful late snow, but nasty, wet, cold, cold, cold weather. The kind of cold that doesn't necessarily nip, but absolutely chills you to the bone. Plus drizzle, and ice rain, and sleet, and slush. It didn't help that we were, once again, battling respiratory crud, thank you public school experience. So only in the past week or two have we ventured back to our favorite birding spots and daydreamy woods spots, with the late morning sun just beginning again with the promise of warmth and rebirth.


[a very splendorous place unnamed]

We are just back from our (almost) annual summer trip to [a park that shall go unnamed]. Almost, because we were frightened off last year by the promise of grizzly weather, and unnamed because in the five years since we started camping there it has become so popular that it is now nearly impossible to book sites without babysitting the bookings on the freezing January midnights when they become available for reservation. We may actually have to try that this year.

It is because of this popularity that we found ourselves camping in what I consider to be the earlier—the iffier, the chillier—side of the summer. But, while we did spend a full 36 hours huddled against high winds whipping bitingly out of the north, the majority of our trip was sunny and completely enjoyable. There's a part of me that lives for sweaty summer days, but the low-seventies were perfectly pleasant with the sun, and the icy early-summer water didn't deter the boys from swimming. Not much, at least.

There was hiking—almost mosquito free thanks to a dry summer and chilly weather. There were ice cream afternoons in town, fried perch at our favorite hole-in-the-wall bar, and putt putt on our way out of town. There were fires, and s'mores, and whittling, and doing dishes with the good old camping 2-pan system. There was snuggling up together in the tent to read at night, the lantern swaying as we were buffeted by an insistent wind. There was sand construction, and rock hunting and skipping. There were pancakes on the camp stove, popcorn over the fire, and a nip of Scotch under the stars after lights went out in the tent. 

And on our very last morning, as we enjoyed a final coffee by the lake, Calvin playing with a new friend soon to be left behind, we saw an eagle tracing overlapping circles in the air, gracing our final moments with a natural splendor. 

Until next year, [very splendorous place that shall go unnamed].


Hiking Tawas Point

If cool, wet weather isn't great for beach going or campfires, it does not ring the same death knell for hiking. In fact, it is much easier to be happy and protected from poison ivy, biting flies, and ticks when it is cold enough to warrant the donning of long clothing and multiple layers.

We hiked every day on our camping trip, although some of those hikes might more accurately be called brisk walks. We hiked between rains on our first night, in a brilliant morning sun on our first morning, and in a varying degree of cloud cover every other time.

Tawas Point State Park is a fairly small peninsula, and seemingly shrinking. The park is a little over a mile long, and about a quarter as wide, so even though the trail was not well maintained, and parts of it seemed to be gone altogether, getting lost was neither a problem nor an option. Still, the park is teeming with relatively tame wildlife. There were so many frogs—leopard frogs, to be exact—that walking near any shore caused the ground erupt in leaping. The deer prints were equally plentiful, but it took us until our final day to actually spy a handful of deer. It was also on our last night that we met our first skunk—a very cute baby that was checking out our neighbor's site. Birds were plentiful, of course, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we'd caught the front end of the fall warbler migration.

leopard frog

leopard frog

common garter snake

common whitetail

greater egret

great blue heron

american toad

cooper's hawk

white-tailed deer

eastern chipmunk

black-throated green warbler (fall plumage)

yellow-rumped warbler (fall plumage)

cape may warbler (fall plumage)


A wild bouquet

Summer is in full bloom. The meadows and prairires are full of robust, vividly colored blooms and the soft sound of buzzing everywhere. It's 4H fair week for us, but we took a break from the plentiful activities at the fairgrounds this morning for a meander through field in search of posies as part of the Junior Naturalist program. The quiet was a welcome reprieve, and even the heat was enjoyable amidst so many delightful sights and sounds: the hawk overhead, the song birds hiding in the brush, the bees busy at work, the butterflies flitting from petal to petal.