MARQUET — “They are fine the last days of May,” –Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser
With chokecherries, spring beauties and wild strawberries in bloom, May has come and gone – already.
In a frantic whirlwind, out of the breathless agony of winter, she brought the robins home to build their nests of grass and mud – under the eaves of old houses and barns or among the gnarled branches of old trees.
With the new, as the old structures crumble at an almost imperceptible rate towards the earth. The old patriarch and matriarch trees – many of whom have lived to see this nation’s greatest changes – have developed another ring.
Soon, if not already, these robin nests will themselves contain and support clutches of pretty, shiny greenish-blue eggs – a characteristic mark of spring in this northern paradise known and fondly remembered by all from small children to parents and Grand parents.
Even when cracked and sunk to the ground in half or quarter pieces, these beautiful and precious eggshells are as welcome as the gentle spring showers.
May also brought them, in some cases, in unexpected quantities to clear ravines, turn grasses green, and dig up worms and other food, helping them into streams for trout and other fish waiting patiently with hunger for food. a winter.
There have been a few days this month where the mercury hit unprecedented territory for this time of year. The heat has helped burst the buds of countless trees and bushes across this rugged countryside.
Rising temperatures have also melted ailing hearts in the spell of a longer-than-desired winter, tempering the steely stares and flat frowns in softened eyes and relieved smiles on otherwise worried faces.
Deer spawned more frequently in locations closer to me. A doe carries a fawn or two. May prepares a shady, green place for her to rest and, later, give birth.
The chains of ice attached to the wrists of rivers, lakes and streams have melted. Can release and float pack ice to the mouths of rivers or, in the case of thousands of lakes, ponds and beaver dam backwaters, reduce ice where it has lain still and silent, a blanket opaque, glazed pudding skin.
With all the panoply of spring unfolding around me, I kept a slightly dazed or giddy conscience. It’s the season.
There is so much to see, hear, smell, taste and touch – seemingly all at once – with a great awakening of my mind to get out and go do that I don’t perceive much of what is happening in front of me .
I don’t want to do it, but it seems inevitable.
In the same sense, other components of life unfold without my necessarily noticing it. A good example of this would be our artifice of time – a method of reminding us of where we are in our walk, both the blessing and the curse.
In May, it seems that we have only arrived at the great spring festival and have not yet tasted the punch or enjoyed a single merry dance, and yet it is already a quarter of June, almost half of the year itself.
There were other comings and goings. If I don’t make special arrangements to watch or listen to them, I know I will miss these events entirely.
I speak now of the social trappings of life – the news of the day, the procession of peoples, governments, political boundaries and all things popular from discovery or emergence to apogee and prosperity until the eventual decline, obscurity and non-existence – at least in a physical sense.
The news on TV and radio is almost always bad. It’s so hard for me to take in much of it these days without soaking up a deep, dark blue depression.
I have more luck trying to understand what crows and blue jays are shouting at each other, beyond the fact that they constantly feel the need to announce me when I appear at the edge of a forest or in the garden.
I wonder if the birds that usually sit in single-file flocks on utility lines pass news to each other like cedar waxwings share berries?
If they do, are they like human beings in that the moment something one of them says travels the length of the “telephone line” it has almost completely changed in meaning and form?
I guess there must be at least some of that.
“I heard the sparrows are back.”
“Well, that doesn’t surprise me.”
“You know how he is.”
“She you could at least talk to.”
“I heard she was flying everywhere.”
“My sister said she ended up in a birdbath west of Ishpeming.”
“She also took more than a few sips.”
“Have you ever watched them eat?”
“I heard them, but I can’t watch.”
“It’s nothing a goldfinch would do, I can tell you that.”
I remember at least a few occasions when I came to town after a trip to the woods, completely unaware of something newsworthy that had happened. I now see those moments of ignorance as time that spared me knowledge, albeit temporarily.
I try to follow the news of friends who are dying. There are some that I would never want to miss the opportunity to pay homage to.
Once upon a time, I was a print journalist for at least two decades.
At the time, I first heard that the newspaper’s obituary section was among the most popular with readers. I never understood that, especially with all the work involved in collecting and delivering news to help keep the public informed.
My dad used to read the obituary section first every day to his loyal readership of the “The Upper Peninsula’s Largest Daily.”
Now, all these years later, I understand more than I would like.
I find myself doing the exact same thing.
I recently had the pleasure of being out on the trout stream with the Coaster King, which had spent much of its time over the winter recovering.
Its last appearance along the grassy shores of our favorite waterways was last September, about a week before the end of the season.
That day he caught a nice speckled trout which he brought back to shore and I caught it for him.
I know he spent over two days over the winter staring at a picture he took of this fish, dreaming of his chance to get back there to wet his line.
His return to form was favorably marked by a catch of trout for both of us.
It was a wonderful day just to be outside. The temperature was about 20 degrees warmer there than it had been when we left the house.
We both had more than a little rust to knock the fenders off since we last hit the water – a few errant casts, our backs getting tired sooner than we’d like, the usual early season complaints .
There were also biting midges, mosquitoes and at least a few black flies. I found a thorn bush with my bare forearm and drew blood.
We don’t care about any of that.
I was delighted to see and hear chestnut-sided warblers and American redstart warblers in the alders along the banks, all those cherry blossoms seemingly everywhere and everything turning greener by the second.
But the best thing I saw that day, all month, all year, was the king casting his fishing line in the stream along the edge of the trees.
It was great magic to watch him do something he learned to love many years ago – something that is in his blood and has helped shape him into the person he has become.
All hail the triumphant return of the Coaster King.
And then came the last days of May.
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Outdoors North is a weekly column produced by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on a wide range of topics important to those who love and appreciate the world-class natural resources of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.