“First Day” in a Swamp of Beauty and Mystery


“Live in each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” – Henry David Thoreau. Those timeless words set the mood perfectly for my “First Day Hike.” January 1st has come and gone, but I still smile about a hike under a spectacular crisp blue sky on the first day of 2020.

First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. That creative program began in Massachusetts in 1992 and went nationwide in 2012 under the leadership of the America’s State Parks alliance, a strategic alliance formed in 2010 that includes state park systems in all 50 states. They tend to be large gatherings on easily accessible trails that are billed as a healthful and fun way to connect with families, friends and communities, and that they are. The hikes are led by park staff and nature knowledgeable volunteers from supporting agencies. The closest official Michigan Department of Natural Resources First Day Hike for 2020 was at nearby Island Lake Recreation Area, but this year I opted out and instead headed to one of my very favorite places of solitude, peace and beauty to welcome the New Year on the Wilder Side of Oakland County. A swamp. Continue reading

Nature’s Way Almanac 2020



January is the month that some lament the onslaught of winter storms, but for those that love the ways of nature, it’s a month of grand adventure and discovery. It’s a time to hike and breathe deeply under evergreen trees and, if Mother Nature cooperates, snowshoe on backcountry trails. It’s a refreshing time of renewal. Pileated Woodpeckers, our red-crested forest giant and the largest woodpecker of North America, chisel deep rectangular shaped holes into dead trees in their search for carpenter ants and other meaty morsels. January 10th bring us the wolf moon. There are no wolves in Oakland County, but listen for the night howling and yips of eastern coyotes that have adapted to our ways on that full moon night. January is full speed ahead for cottontail rabbits. Some scrounge under bird feeders for food while others stay hidden under shrubs, venturing about after dark in a world full of predators. Continue reading

January Business Workshops  

2020 new year goal,plan,action text on notepad with office accessories.Business motivation,inspiration concepts

Begin this new decade on the right track by starting a new business or expanding your current one with the help of Oakland County’s One Stop Shop Business Center. Start your new year off strong by attending one of the low-or-no-cost business workshops this month and let the business center experts advise you on small business loans, understanding cash flow, more. Continue reading

Winter Solstice Wonders


The arrival of astronomical winter, the Winter Solstice that occurred on Saturday, December 21st at 11:19 p.m. EST, reminded me that the phrase, “the dead of winter” is an oxymoron. Winter is never dead, a fact that comes to life with excitement for those that make an effort to enjoy the wilder side of our county during the days of diminished daylight, days when even those that do not arise early can watch spectacular sunrises at 8 a.m. Winter brings treasures of nature to be discovered, from sparkling ice under clear blue skies to eastern bluebirds fluffed up against biting winds, and of course the deep soft hoot of Great Horned Owls, sometimes accompanied by the yips and howls of our “song dogs,” the eastern coyotes that have colonized our county.

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Meet the Wary and Watchful Red Fox


Winter’s approaching and with the changing season, a seldom seen predator with luxurious fur, a large bushy tail and a reputation for “craftiness” accelerates its stalking of fallow farm fields, meadows, parks and yards in its endless hunt for mice and meadow voles. Easily recognizable by the stunning contrast of its rusty-red coat against snowy meadow backdrops, the red fox is well adapted to life in Oakland County. Over the years I’ve captured a few photos of red fox in the wild, as well as images on my trail cameras, but none are even remotely as stunning as the image above. It was shared with me by Ann Brokelman of the Coyote Watch Canada Outreach Team who photographed this beauty at Algonquin Provincial Park in the wilds of Ontario. Continue reading