Nature’s Way Almanac 2020

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

January

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

Nature’s Way Hidden in Plain Sight

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

You need not go on an epic journey to discover, explore and enjoy the ways of nature in the sultry days of summer. You need not leave the county or even leave the city or suburbs. Just walk to small bodies of water with vegetated edges and the subtleties and secrets of nature’s world unfold, often just yards from pavement and manicured lawns. Continue reading

Summer Solstice – Nature’s Way

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The summer solstice officially arrives in Oakland County today, June 21st at 11:54 a.m. EST. This annual astronomical phenomenon heralds the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and conversely, brings the shortest night. The longest day of the year, and all the days of summer that follow, are ideal for exploring the ways of nature in the wilds, and the not so wilds of Oakland County. The Farmer’s Almanac may be a great resource to follow seasonal changes and weather predictions, but just a simple walk in the woods and on the trails of Oakland County will confirm that summer is really here, and so today, I share some of my favorite natural confirmations of summer. 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

Why Hike Now? Why Not! Here’s Why.

An asphalt path winds through a wooded area

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

If you aren’t a hiker, you may hold unanswered questions as to why your friends seem excited about meandering through the woods for an hour or two on a chilly and overcast day, or look forward to spending a week trekking backcountry trails with a backpack tugging at their shoulders. Perhaps it’s the words of T.S. Eliot that drives the latter group, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” Today’s nature ramble however will focus on those that want to get started in the nearly cost-free, extremely healthful and lifelong, often nature-embracing, activity of hiking. Continue reading