A Michigan Meditation – Rifle River Recreation Area

August brings quiet to nature in northern Michigan. The song and movement of birds in the nearby brush or forest canopy is less. At times not much seems to be stirring. But later, as we paddle a lake framed in lily pads, a faithful kingfisher proves us wrong as it continues about its business noisily taking flite from a nearby shore.

Belted Kingfisher, (Donna)

King birds, a constant menace to emerging dragonflies in June, are seldom seen now. Insects, particularly mosquitoes, are also not as common, and along with them the warblers that they attract.

Exploring Loud Pond, Ausable River

It is a time of year that one is often treated to views of young life.

Immature male Red-winging Blackbird
Immature Bald Eagle
An immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker entertains us at our campsite.
Immature Wood Duck, (Donna)

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Stopping for a moment in the quiet of the season draws one into the magic of the north woods.

Grousehaven Lake, Rifle River Rec. Area
Loud Pond, Ausable River, (Lori).

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During the short nights of June one can often hear the haunting call of a loon. In late August, with its longer cooler nights, the voice of an owl or the howl of a coyote can be heard, but only occasional is it accompanied by a loon.

Much further away from our canoes than the picture would suggest, a pair of loons keep us company.
The presence of loons is less obvious than in spring. Still, their call and the sound of their wings as they fly overhead is a lasting memory.

***

Gliding silently over “glass” we are drawn into wondering, what will be seen ahead?

Grebe Lake

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Flowers appear in late summer, like the beautiful Grass of Parnassus growing at water’s edge. Further along the wooded shore, if one looks closely, Bottle Gentian may also quietly announce its presence.

Grass of Parnassus
A close up, (Donna).
Bottle Gentian
Shoreline bouquet.
Cardinal Flower
Jewelweed
Turtlehead seemed to be in bloom everywhere.

It seems that the more time one spends in the woods the more one feels it’s embrace.

Donna hugs a White Pine
The delicate whimsical beauty of the Calico Aster makes them a favorite late summer wildflower.
Water Lily

***

With the sights, sounds, and fragrance of flowers and trees, being in nature on foot or in a canoe more profoundly unites us with something greater. As we breathe deeply, and muscles work to embrace the challenge of the place, we are taken deeper into that reality. Perhaps we can only truly arrive at such a place using the resources within.

Deep in the woods, a pond is home to more than we know.

Sometimes one is sure one knows what something is. A closer examination of the below dragonflies teaches that one must look closely. They are each unique.

Autumn Meadowhawk
White-faced Meadowhawk

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While hiking we’ve learned to be on the lookout for fungi. They often pop up when least expected and often cheerfully announce their presence next to the trail. Others, with distant foreboding, peer out from the darkness of the dense woods and speak of mystery.

Descent to Lodge Lake, Rifle River Rec Area.
Mushroom family perhaps Deadly Galerina, (Donna).
Donna takes aim.
Crown-tipped Coral
Emerging puffballs.
Some type of russula?
Spindle-shaped Yellow Coral
Yellow-orange Fly Agaric
Not yet identified.

***

Whether in the canoe, on the trail, or sitting quietly at one’s campsite, nature speaks through the reality of the moment. It is constantly changing, responding to light that silhouettes then illuminates, wind that sculpts the water’s blank surface or plays in leaves high overhead then leaves them still, then with little warning, the sound of distant thunder is heard, and the faint whisper of light rain grows ever louder. In those moments, if we allow it, change will occur within. If we are lucky, we’ll never be the same.

Rainbow, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Rec. Area.

***

Thanks for stopping by.

Whisper Of Spring

On some days in early spring the whisper of life is not heard above the howl of wind through still bare branches of waking trees. A warm embrace under sunny blue skies one day turns into a gray freezing flurried rebuff the next.

With it’s fits and starts spring makes doubters of us all.

The woods do not yet invite. A stark barren seemingly lifeless landscape is now revealed by the absent blanket of snow.

Against what feels like our better judgment we dress for the unexpected and journey into the woods. If we walk slowly and pause, look closely and listen we can discover in the season of expectation and disappointment small signs and voices of our larger being.

At a distance all is quiet.
But here and there a Snow Trillium break through last year’s leaf litter.
The Downy’s world is always open for business.
A bee takes advantage of the Hepatica’s flower
A Carolina Wren gets organized for the day.
Skunk Cabbage that first emerged through the frozen ground of February, begins to leaf out.
In wooded vernal pools Spring Peepers heard quietly in the distance deafen as one gets close.
For a short moment in time the tiny Harbinger of Spring welcomes the coming season.
A male Red-winged Blackbird unambiguously announces the season.

Nature seldom gives graciously to plant, animal, or us. It offers just enough. In early spring that just enough often leaves us with mistaken discontent wishing for more.

Thanks for stopping by.

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