Groundhog Day and Signs of Spring: Fallacies, Facts, and Fun

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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THE BIG DAY IS ALMOST HERE! Crowds will soon gather around televisions for the final countdown. When will he appear? What will he do? Punxsutawney Phil, the furry weatherman from Pennsylvania has been slumbering in his hibernating den since late autumn. But on February 2nd Phil will stop procrastinating and make a statement at Gobblers Knob in front of an array of cameras. As crowds surge forward for a better view, he will yawn once or twice, and then without further ado will predict the weather. If he sees his shadow, he dives back into his den and we have six more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow, he lounges topside and that signals that spring will soon embrace the countryside. It’s a great tall tale, and Phil always has a 50% chance of being right.  Continue reading

Rose Oaks on the Dawn of December

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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“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.

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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.

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Glacial Erratics: Landscape Boulders or Something More?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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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.

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Saddle Up And Ride On The Wilder Side Of Oakland County

 WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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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.

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Protecting the Saginaw Bay Watershed & the Headwaters of the Shiawassee River

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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The Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail presents a seven mile, nature-embracing, Oakland County stretch that takes paddlers from Holly to Fenton through woodlands, meadows, and farmlands.  Nearby, Great Blue Heron’s stalk their prey, around sunning turtles and over very small rapids. Paddlers also have the pulse-raising excitement of slipping over a small beaver dam, passing through large culverts that go under an active railway, and perhaps spying a passing Bald Eagle. Continue reading