Timberdoodle Tales

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

I know of a field with heirloom fruit trees (a location I shall keep secret), where Timberdoodles hide in plain sight to incubate their eggs and dance in the sky. That’s where this wilder side tale really begins a few months ago on my spring hunt for morel mushrooms. Now you may ask, what do morel mushrooms have to do with Timberdoodles (American Woodcock), one of the strangest appearing birds of Oakland County you may ever encounter? More than you may think, for “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” a quote from John Muir that so often comes to life for me. That day in May was no exception.

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Entries Now Open For ‘Oakland Together’ COVID-19 Safety Video & Art Contest

YOUR art has power. Art can save lives & bring us together.

Oakland County is looking for residents of nearly any age who have an artistic flair or video-making chops to create original art or a video to promote the continuing importance of practicing COVID-19 safety.

The ‘Oakland Together’ COVID-19 Safety Video & Art Contest is a way to encourage residents ages 10 and up to offer creative ways of sending the message that practices such as wearing face masks or social distancing continue to be critical components of fighting the pandemic.

“I know first-hand how creative and imaginative the residents of our county can be. This isn’t a new message, but it remains an important one. Wearing a face mask does make a difference in stopping the spread of the virus; washing your hands makes a difference and so does social distancing. You’ve heard me say it many times. I’m certain there are a lot of creative minds out there who can deliver the message that COVID-19 is still with us and it will take all of us working as Oakland Together to beat this insidious virus.”

Oakland County Executive David Coulter

The contest has two ages divisions: 10-17 and 18 and above; and video or visual arts/2D categories for each. There is no limit to the number of times a person may enter but each entry must be done separately. Entry deadline is July 20 at 11:59 p.m.

The contest is open to original artwork submitted by the original creator, including but not limited to video, painting, drawing, photography, illustration, and printmaking. Artwork should promote and encourage COVID safety, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State of Michigan protocols.

A panel of judges will select the top three entries from each age group and category. Criteria include creativity, overall artistic impact in communicating safety during COVID-19, and the skill in mastering of the chosen medium. Coulter will announce the finalists on July 28th, whose creations will then be displayed online for a vote of by the public to determine the order of finish.

Every finalist will receive $100 each; category winners will each be awarded an additional $250 for a total of $350 combined with their finalist prize.

The winning entries will be considered for a virtual exhibit on OakGov.com, the county’s website and featured on Oakland County’s social media accounts and promoted in OaklandCountyProsper.com, the county’s bi-weekly electronic newsletter. They will also be considered for use in upcoming public service announcements. The artists will be given credit if their creations are used.

The contest is only open to residents of Oakland County. A complete list of rules and details on how to enter the contest are found at www.oakgov.com/covid/contests.

Northern Water Snakes – Facts, Fiction and Phobias!   

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

When a large northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) swims alongside your canoe and then suddenly looks straight at you on a sultry summer day, one thing is certain; it has your undivided attention. Northern water snakes are one of the most common snakes of Oakland County and are frequently encountered as the days of summer sizzle on and we relax and recreate near ponds, lakes, marshes and rivers. They are often under-appreciated, and at times heavily feared because of their appearance and bold, opportunist behavior. Herpetologists and nature lovers in the know are enthralled with their behavior and patient observation helps to better understand their ways and coexist peacefully. Sadly, some people “know” they are venomous. They are not!

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Nature’s Wonder – While We Stayed Home

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same fields, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

It’s not easy to compress an entire season into 1,000 words but I’ll give it a try in today’s Wilder Side of Oakland County. Taking place the day before the first day of summer, consider this a phenology flashback to the ways and wonders of nature while we mostly stayed home the entire season of spring.

Phenology! It’s a word that devoted followers of nature’s way know well. Phenology is the calendar of nature’s “whens” —  when trillium blooms, when gray treefrogs first sing, when monarchs migrate, when sassafras leaves turn red, when snapping turtles cross roads, when honey bees gathered first pollen, when turkey vultures return. In more scientific terms, the Aldo Leopold Society describes phenology as “The study of periodic life-cycle events in nature that are influenced by climate and seasonal change.”  That critical sentence confirms nature’s calendar changes – sometimes slightly, sometimes dramatically. Attentive eyes note the change.

Spring was truly a beautiful season of renewal for those with a love for nature and the ways of the wild. I meandered my woods and meadows as well as few nearby wildlands armed with my camera and abundant patience almost every day from late March until the middle of June. I found peace, pleasure and endless excitement in nature’s way. The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, which I cited above, were my guiding light of exploration; for even common flowers and wild creatures take on special beauty when we pause long enough to watch, listen, discover, and learn. Perhaps they were your guiding lights of comfort as well?

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