A Michigan Meditation

An epiphany occurred a few years ago when I realized I was never going to to see it all no matter how far and wide my travels took me so perhaps a more satisfying approach would be to strive for more intimacy and dig a little deeper in familiar places closer to home. With that in mind for the past ten plus years we’ve travelled to Michigan’s Rifle River Recreation Area. A wonderful way to mark the passing of time, things gained and things lost, and to embrace change in seasons of the year and in life. The areas major draw is that’s to my knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio, where nesting loons can be observed.

Grousehaven Lake overlook.

Other than the ample food supply and clear water that makes it easy to locate, the reason loons are found here is that their nests are built right at water’s edge where they can easily access them with a short slide as their legs are located too far back on their body to facilitate walking. This makes the nests venerable to motor boat wakes but no motor boats are allowed within the park resulting in happy nesting loons. The relative quiet resulting from the lack of motors whether on the lakes or trails results in a great place to observe nature. A significant added bonus is that the Ausable River and Huron National Forest located nearby offer many additional natural areas to explore.

By late August the immature loons are too big to ride on their parents back but still unable to fly they never stray far. In just a few weeks the adults will be gone and shortly there after the young will also take flight to ice free winter waters further south. The lakes and adjacent woods will wait quietly until next spring to again be graced by their haunting call.
The adults’ are busy making sure their young are well fed. in this case a little salad appears to be on the menu. (pic by Donna)
Exploring Huron National Forest

During time spent in the canoe other birds also enchant.

Kingbird along the shore of Devoe Lake, (photo by Donna)
Bald Eagle, Loud Pond, (phot by Donna)
Takeoff!
Caspian Tern with friends, Loud Pond
A closer look.
Trumpeter Swan family on Lodge Lake. When walking along the shore they allow one to get amazingly close, not so when in a canoe.
Another look.

In addition to the birds there are other things that establish a sense of place.

Kalm’s Lobela, (photo by Donna)
Alone the water’s edge no flower speaks of a sense of place better than the very common grass-of-Parnassus
Along the shore of the Ausable River’s Loud Pond we spot the much less common bottle gentian, It takes a strong bee to pry open the closed petals of this flower. (photo by Donna)
Indian Pipe
The always fascinating Turtlehead were seen in a number of locations, (photo by Donna)
Dolls eyes, (photo by Donna)
Water Lily
Blazing Star, (photo by donna)
A yet to be identified wetland flower. Any ideas?

While paddling yours truly couldn’t help but see if there was a fish in the area

Ausable River Smallmouth Bass. It went swimming after Donna took this pic.

Along the Ausable River we take a break.

Lunch stop. For those interested the canoe is a very light Bell North Star

The parks numerous trails offer ample opportunity to discover fungi.

Coral fungi.
A colorful mushroom, (photo by Donna)
Stinkhorn, something a little different.
Slugs on a mushroom. We often see the result of their visits on partially devoured specimens.
Along the trail

A few insects also caught our attention. Ever try to photograph a small insect from a canoe on a windy day?

The American Rubyspot likes flowing water, (photo by Donna)
A small Common Ringlet along the trail. Not a common sight in Ohio. (photo by Donna)

Stepping forward a week. The other day walking in a park close to home we were enchanted by the sight of a large colorful dragonfly.

Royal River Cruiser, Prairie Oaks MP.

A reminder that one need not travel even as far a Michigan to discover the magic.

Loud Pond

In a journey through space and time each year as we arrive we also leave. Should we be so blessed next year we will return to again be embraced by what has become a sacred place. The experience of this year is all the more precious as the place as well as we ourselves will never be quite the same as together we travel into the newness of the next.

Thanks for stopping by.

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