Winter’s Artwork

One reason I like winter is the beautiful natural artwork created by weather. When the sun’s out, the sky’s cloudless, and the foliage and outdoor objects receive “brushstrokes” from an unexpected snowfall, the results are nature’s perfect art.

Despite the frigid temps, shock to the budding spring foliage and nest-building squirrels, and the traditional packing away of winter coats and gloves, the handful of days we get in Michigan during April’s (and May’s sometimes) late-winter white stuff bursts can be beautiful to admire. By afternoon, as typical, little evidence of this Winter Rockwell “painting” will remain.

To view larger photos, click on any to start a slideshow.

Fairy Landing Pads

I posted some Instagram images yesterday of mayapple plants that come up each spring, and how to me, they resemble fairy army tents in an encampment of some sort.

Today, on a typical April Michigan day, it was cold and showed! But the magical moment came after the perfect alignment of newly spun forest spider webs, the right temperature, and a snowfall of very tiny snowflakes.

So extending my metaphor from yesterday, seems to me like the fairy air force is setting up landing pads throughout the forest. Wonder if something’s afoot in the fairy world? (Click to open larger images.)

Sallymander

On today’s forest walk, I happened upon a mother and her two young kids. I’d seen them a couple times on different parts of the path, always stooped over with the mother explaining fungi on a fallen log or a footprint in the mud. The last time I walked past them was over by the pond, where the little girl was carrying a small green plastic box with something dark inside.

“Whatcha got there?” I asked.

“A sallymander!” the little girl said proudly.

“Where’d you find it?”

“Over there by the pond under a log!”

“What are you going to do with it?”

The girl paused, looked down at the salamander when her mother interjected, “We’re going to return it to the log where it lives.”

The little girl looked up at her mother, then down at the box, and finally saying (but not happily), “Yes, we’re going to put it back in the mud.”

I think the little girl hoped to take it home as a pet, and I’d asked the question hoping for Mom’s answer. Nature’s cool but its denizens belong in nature, not in a home container. Besides, I think salamanders are getting less common, so all the more reason to let it go.

We talked a bit more and I asked how easy it was to find these. “Pretty easy” mom said, as she lifted a few logs on the forest floor, with the second log having the other salamander above.

These particular woods by my house are ones I use for walking, rarely stopping to examine anything. Instead, I’m always moving forward to keep my pace up and hit my distance goals. When I visit other forests, I’m more apt to meander, or sit quietly and listen to nature’s sounds. I’ll often stop to meditate or journal, but there’s always time to stop and explore interesting things.

Today’s stop in the walking routine was a pleasant break, catching sight of a couple of salamanders and two kids excited about nature. A good day, all in all.

Down the Middle

Down the middle
Photo by Stanislav Vlasov on Unsplash

Not sure exactly when I started my odd practice of preferring to walk down the middle. During my adolescence, I remember doing this much to the delight of my friends (and horror of my parents if they knew), but can’t remember why I did it. I enjoyed being different but never wondered why I bent the rules this way. Maybe it felt more natural to be in balance with both sides of whatever was there.

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Gold From The Sky

Today was a beautiful, clear sky 70-degree day in the sunshine. I spent several vitamin-D soaking hours walking the trails of the University of Michigan’s (UofM) Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, a place I’ve not been to before. Felt so good after the long winter, and these first days of such spring weather truly feel like there’s gold falling from the sky.

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