In March and April (and May) of 2014, as the winter dragged on, I kept a vision in my head. A wish, if you will. I kept imagining myself sitting on my back porch, wearing short sleeves and sipping a cool beverage. Right now I type to you from that very place. No biting bugs. A sunburn ripening. Slight sweat beading on my temple. We yoopers finally get our chance to enjoy the weather. This whole weekend was unbelievably beautiful.
It's almost as if spring lasted for three days. Last week, when I got back from North Dakota, some plants were starting to bud, grass was starting to come up and the early flowers started to bloom. Now most of the tree leaves are about half way out. The area is just gorgeous, and we can sit out in shorts and bask in the sunshine with, I repeat, no bugs. It's a little slice of heaven.
Good thing I kept notes throughout the week because there's a lot to tell you!
I found some hepatica and trailing arbutus earlier in the week, and forget-me-nots are just popping. I find myself roaming the woods with my eyes out for anything green or with petals. Here are some pics of the beauties.
Hepatica breaking through
Arbutus, I smell you!
I bet I know what you're thinking. "Oh, boy. Now I get to hear about all the flowers again. Just like last year and the year before..." Well, you're probably right. I fricken love wildflowers and wild edibles. I am enamored with their beauty, variety and uses. So much so, that I have a surprise for you.
But first, I have to tell you that I found trailing arbutus, a Michigan protected species, in five new places this year. I don't know if it's blooming better this year, or if I just have a better eye for it. If you are up in the next week and you want to see some, come find me, and we'll go.
That rightfully leads me to my my first surprise. The Keweenaw Adventure Company has asked me to guide nature tours! One of them will be, what I describe as, a Wildflower and Wild Edible Identification tour. I get to take people out to teach them about one of my favorite parts of summer! How awesome is that??? I can hardly contain myself, I am so pumped.
I also get to guide one of my other specialties: a Creative Writing through Nature tour. If you are in the area from June 12th to early September, and you're into that stuff, come take one of my tours! Click this link for more information on those.
Let me segway with a picture of the Isle Royale Queen IV back at her dock in the Harbor.
The Queen is back in action
Right now she's running Mondays and Fridays. It's nice to hear the horn again. Speaking of boats, I've been watching the CGC Alder, the ship that took my bell buoy last fall.
It was stuck in Duluth Harbor for a while, as lots of ice chunks blew in with the last eastern winds. It got out Saturday, and I watched it yesterday. However, I neglected to look today until this afternoon. Here's an image of the path it took by the time I checked.
The CGC Alder's latest path
Wha-wha-WHAT? When did that happen? From the looks of this, that boat went into Portage Canal, where I believe the buoys are stored, dropped off at Eagle Harbor then dropped off at Copper Harbor. I was on the Keweenaw Ridge today, but only thing I heard from the lake were fog horns.
Well, I grabbed my binoculars, hopped on my bike and coasted down to the Harbor Haus dock. Laughing at the still lingering fog bank, I didn't need those binoculars. I bent an ear and listened. I listened so hard for that familiar sound. Perhaps I heard a faint tinging out there, but I couldn't be sure.
As I rode back up the hill, Aaron, who was just out kiteboarding by the lighthouse said he didn't notice it out there. So it was a bit of a mystery... until the fog lifted. Then there he was, floating tall and proud. I heard him dinging on my way up the hill the second time. Welcome back, bell buoy.
Some friends and I also got to see a pelican out past the east end of Porter's on the rock island where all the seagulls hang out. I thought it was an ice berg until it flapped its wings. That's a huge bird. Nice to see it up this way!
Let me bring you back to land. I ate my first fiddlehead yesterday and my second today. But today's fiddlehead must have had a bug in it. It stung my upper and lower lip. Yeouch! I spit that sucker out in a hurry. I will check my fiddleheads for bugs before I chomp them. Let that be a lesson to us all!
Fiddleheads and thimbleberry bushes progressing
Bilberries progressing with leaves and flowers
As an update, Touring the Tip, my latest adventure guidebook, should be ready by early June. Not quite Memorial Weekend like I hoped, but everything happens for a reason, right?
And Memorial Weekend was busy. Man, I saw boats and ATVs and bicycles and Harleys and families and dogs and campers and people up the wazoo. It was like a taste of summer on the most gorgeous weekend.
And now the town is quiet again. See you next week!