WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY
Summer is the season nature’s way may appear to slow, but that only holds true for those that do not venture out onto our trails or into our parks and wildlands. Walk alone in solitude in the dawn’s early light and the landscape will come alive with hidden secrets, or hike with your nature-embracing companion, and pleasures will increase through the art of sharing. Walk slowly, stop often, look, and listen, and a new world of nature will spring to life. I thought about and now share, some of my favorite creatures that thrive on the wilder side of Oakland County as the dawn of the summer solstice draws near.
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?
Wilder Side of Oakland County
Strange frothy bubbles are appearing on the stems of meadow wildflowers and garden plantings. They shimmer in summer sunlight and appear in mass along the uncut edge zones of sun-soaked trails, including the big three trail favorites of Oakland County: Paint Creek, Polly Ann, and Clinton River. Walk the shoreline of any lake in Oakland County that has a wild weedy edge and they are nearly impossible to miss. Little kids are not shy about describing what those whitish bubbles look like, or feel like, when inquisitive young fingers explore and poke into the mysterious frothy mass.
Giggles follow the finger poke and some take delight in squealing loudly, “It looks like spit!” They are right, it does, but the details of where that froth really comes from is something I sometimes refrain from sharing with little ones on the trails. The answer would make their giggles totally uncontrollable and confused parents might cringe and say, “Really?” I’ll save the answer on the creation of the spittle for the end.