Things are moving a little faster as summer approaches. New life is begging to appear as the fledgling Great horned owls and young robins take their first flights. Curious young woodchucks are starting to explore their new surroundings and baby bunnies dart in and out of the tall grass. A mama wood duck swims in the grassy backwater, followed by seven downy youngsters. Already their lives have been an adventure—this morning they leaped into the new world from a hole in a tree trunk thirty feet from the ground. They bounced like a rubber balls but remain unharmed and immediately follow their mother on a journey of a quarter mile or more to get to the backwater pond. They will stick close to mom even after they are big enough to fly.
The Morel mushroom season is winding down but a few can still be found on the north slopes. There are a few other edible mushrooms to be found, including some nice new Oyster mushrooms. The many skunk cabbages grow close together and their large green leaves cover the wet ground near the stream. They look good enough to eat but nothing could be further from the truth.
Now is a good time to plan to pick blackberries, as the white blossoms show me where to find them in about six weeks or so. A fat American toad peeks out from under the dry leaves under the berry bushes.
The pretty white flowers of the May apples are in bloom—a single flower under a green umbrella. The Sweet ferns, with their dark stems, huddle close together and make a feathery green bouquet. Ferns of all kinds are unfolding and reaching to the sunlight that filters down through the trees. They make mushroom hunting a real challenge as they spread out above the ground and hide the little treasures.
Saturday was a perfect day to take a short trip over to the Mississippi River and have some fun in the canoe. There are few places on Earth more beautiful than the view form the high bluffs that border the Big Muddy.
There seemed to be beaver signs everywhere. Oh, they live here all right—lots of muddy slides on the banks of the river where the beavers slide down into the water. In the Mississippi River bottoms, beavers are free to do what beavers do. There were lodges in the banks and lodges in the flooded willows. One impressive lodge was twenty feet across and seven feet tall.
A magnificent Bald eagle soared over our heads and lazy turtles basked on half-submerged logs. The lush trees were full of the songs of orioles, flycatchers, and song sparrows and excited Red-winged blackbirds flew out to greet us.
The river definitely has a way of adjusting a person’s attitude. The faces of all the happy canoeists are reflected in the moving water. Now it’s the river who sets their pace and it’s nature who leads the way. Now they must slow down and join the rhythm of the real world around them. Why must it be any other way?
At the end of the day we watched the sunset from a park, high above the river. What a beautiful place to relax and reflect on the day. The scenery from a canoe was made for memories and my thoughts returned to a flock of white pelicans that soared in a great circle high above us. We were in a place where all life lives in the moment and were finally falling into place with the current. A walk down nature’s trail may be only a canoe ride away.
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