“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and places to pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir Rose Oaks County Park is that kind of place.
An early morning walk through this 640 acre protected wildland in the northwest corner of Oakland County at the dawn of December offers rich rewards, reaching beyond the obvious benefits of healthy hiking and fresh air. Solitude, natural beauty, and a chance to embrace silence without distractions are three of them. The radiant glow of morning sunlight on trees enriches forest stillness, and warms the human spirit.
As the leaf fall of November accelerates and leaves bare their hiding places between the trees, rock forms from the north are being spotted along the back country trails of Oakland County. These rock forms have actually been existing quietly among us for a long, long time. I encountered my first one when I was about five years old in rural Connecticut. During the warm months I would climb up and sit on the massive formation. In the winter I would hike with my two sisters to pay homage to my glacial erratic. It was fondly called, “the boulder” by my sisters, but I knew better. Glacial erratic was most likely the first science related word combination I heard, learned, and finally understood thanks to my dad who fueled my passion for all things wild.
Foggy and sometimes frosty October mornings, kaleidoscopes of autumn leaves, majestic trumpeting of Sandhill Cranes, and hot pink muck buckets: they all signal it’s time to saddle up and ride the multi-use equestrian trails managed by Oakland County Parks. Although I am not a rider, I answered the call of the equestrian wild. For the next few days, I’ll be camping with horses in the woods of Addison Oaks County Park as a boots-on-the-ground observer and guest of the Addison Oaks Trail Riders for their fourth annual Camp’ N Ride Event.
The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is the largest frog species of Oakland County, or for that matter anywhere in North America. Some specimens weigh over a pound and may be 10 inches long. They are a meaty mouthful for many predators and a slippery handful for a naturalist. Several years ago I encountered a Goliath of a bullfrog along the West Bloomfield Trail, a beauty of a beast, blocked from its wetland by construction screening. After a quick photo shoot, I carried him to freedom and have been a fan of these beauties ever since.