A Night to Remember

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A spectacular sunset accompanied by the primordial symphony of Sandhill Cranes settling in for the night was the crowning and most memorable moment of my spring-embracing adventure last Friday evening. That “wilder side” adventure however started four hours earlier in the Goose Meadow parking lot of the 5,900 acre Highland State Recreation Area in White Lake Township.

Flashback four hours. Continue reading

Stage Nature Center – An Oasis of Wildness

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“The wild requires that we learn the terrain, nod to all the plants and animal and birds, ford the streams and cross the ridges, and tell a good story when we get back home.” That sentence comes from The Practice of the Wild, a captivating book of essays by Gary Snyder that shares his thoughts on wildlife, wilderness and the world. It often came to mind on major nature-embracing adventures such as the ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, a week of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, or a month on South Manitou Island. Last Sunday morning it came to mind in a place I would never have expected: the City of Troy, the 11th largest city in Michigan by population and the largest city in Oakland County, a region I equate with office buildings, upscale shopping plazas, landscapes of flatness and the constant din of traffic. Continue reading

Oakland County’s First Week of Spring

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Sandhill Cranes signaled me it was time to ignore the weather naysayers, for after a hard-fought weeklong contest, spring has won the annual duel with old man winter. Signs of spring are everywhere if one just takes the time to walk a trail, stroll through a woodland, embrace a swamp or just go outside and look about.

Today I share fourteen confirmations that spring is here to stay, starting with Sandhill Cranes. These red-crested beauties have returned to the wet meadows, fields and marshlands of Oakland County and often enliven the mornings with their magnificent rolling, trumpeting sound. Hikers who walk slowly and silently along wetland embracing trails may even be able to witness their magnificent courtship dances that proclaim spring is here to stay, a wonder of nature I have observed at Rose Oaks County Park, Addison Oaks County Park and Indian Springs Metropark. Continue reading

Sap’s Still Running in Oakland County!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Legends crediting Native Americans with the “discovery” of maple sap flow into our history as easily as sap drips into a bucket on a sunny day on the dawn of spring. My favorite maple sap legend embraces the ways of nature, and salutes the keen observations of the first Americans. It goes something like this: Squirrels licking at sap, dripping from broken sugar maple twigs, in the waning days of winter attracted the attention of Native Americans. The liquid was collected to use in cooking and the process of evaporation sweetened the sap. The rest is history. I accept that as factual, for I often note “sapsicles” forming from broken maple twigs as the duel between winter and spring accelerates. I have also witnessed squirrels lapping at this gift of nature. When hiking in the early days of spring, I follow the behavior of squirrels and sample the trailside treats.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

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