A peep in the woods.

No question about it, spring is well under way and we have left winter behind us. Not really that unusual of an achievement for this time of the year, but seeing how just a little over 2 weeks ago it looked and felt like the dead of winter, a welcomed feeling for sure. We have been regularly getting into the 60’s and even some 70’s for highs and with night time temps remaining largely above freezing, I have taken the step of shutting down the heat in the shops. It only takes the flick of a lever to turn it back on, should we somehow have a cold snap, but for now…no more propane is being sucked out of the one tank.

The woods are coming alive as well. Yesterday I saw my first deer in our neighborhood. It has been around 5 1/2 months since we have seen them. Robins have arrived and while I have not seen any bear, I am sure they are lumbering around as well. The other morning, I let the dogs out to go potty. It was just after 4 am and I was getting started for work. The air was somewhat mild for that time of the day, so I stood out on the front porch while they did their thing. As soon as I opened the door, one of the surest signs of spring hit me. It was not a smell or a sight, but a sound. The peepers were out!

For those of you that have spent a spring living here, or visited during the spring, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those that have yet to experience the peepers, I have a treat for you. Nora, Grace and I were down by one of our beaches on Friday afternoon and there is a wetland area not far away and the sound the peepers were making was almost deafening. So I walked up to the edge of the woods/wetlands and shot this video so you could hear what a peeper sounds like. It was shot with my phone, so the recording volume is a bit low, but I may see if I can just grab the sound from that video, copy and past it end to end and create a nice long recording to fall to sleep to.

I know many of you that live in the country are thinking…that’s no big deal, we hear sounds like that all the time in summer. Perhaps even in more urban settings, the insects will make a somewhat similar sound, but these are unique. They do not hang around all season long. I believe the noise is the male frog calling out for a mate. Once I learned that, it was a bit of a head scratch to me, as there sounds to be literally 1000’s of them all doing it at the same time and they all sound the same. So what is going to make the female choose one male over the other? I am not going to question the effectiveness of it, as they seem to have no problems reproducing and greeting us with their songs every spring. Plus its a whole lot cheaper (and easier) that having a big house, fancy car and attractive physique! Its a whole lot easier to hear them than see them. I have tried numerous times to find one, but they can sense when something is coming and go into hiding. Plus, I believe they are not much bigger than the tip of a thumb. For those wanting to do a bit more reading up on the spring peeper, here is a link to the Wikipedia page.

It’s been a busy, but productive week up here. The warm temps has allowed just about all of the snow to melt and the lack of rain has allowed almost uninterrupted opportunity to be outdoors. So Nora, Grace and I have been both playing and working a lot outdoors this week. On Friday, we took a trip south to Jackobsville to do some fishing. The ice finally came out of the water way down there and Nora has been chomping at the bit to try out her new rod and reel she got for her birthday a few months ago, so we made a stop to a party store, got our licences and then head down to wet our lines.

It was not too windy at our house, but when we arrived at the intended fishing spot, the wind was blowing so hard that it was difficult to cast and the water was really churned up. It probably would have been a good evening for walleye with the murky water, but we did not cast too long before moving to a different spot. That also proved to not be too appealing to us, so we just decided to keep the gear in the vehicle the rest of the evening and take a walk.

The beach was calling, so we headed over there for our evening stroll. The beach area was nice and protected from the stronger winds and there was still enough warmth being provided by the late day sun to make conditions about perfect for a spring walk on the beach. In addition to the enjoyment of being on the beach, the other main objective was to hunt for beach glass. Nora and Grace love to do that and have quite a collection going. I will help out from time to time as well, but am not a dedicated a hunter as they were. We all were feeling a little guilty that we did not bring the pups, but we thought we would be spending the evening fishing and it is a challenge to keep track of them and fish at the same time.

We made it down to the far side of the beach, found some driftwood to rest on and just took it all in. What a beautiful evening and spot. Not a soul in sight. Even though we are fairly active in the winter time too, it is such a treat to be able to be in the great outdoors and not be all bundled up and also be able to spend as much time as we want, without worrying about getting cold. Grace was even brave enough to dip her toes into the water on the way back. She actually went in further than that, but we stopped her short of getting her clothes wet. Once the camera was out and pictures were taken, her theatrical side came out and she struck a few poses, such as her explored pose and surfer dude pose.

As mentioned, we did do some work as well. Saturday lots of yard work got done. I did some touch up painting and did my best Tom Sawyer to get Gracie to join in and it worked! Truth is, I don’t mind painting too much and Grace did have fun doing her part as well. Nora got her raised garden beds all cleaned up and ready for planting. They started seeds inside earlier this week and will likely get them in the ground in around 2-3 weeks. She also did some yard work and her and I put up fencing to keep the deer out and pups in. We’ll see how all of that goes!

Today, my first project was to take the blower off of Big Red and mount the loader arms. Things went relatively smoothly and with a bit of help from Nora all was done and Big Red is now ready to perform all of its summer chores. Some more yard work was done and Nora and I also cleaned up all of the construction mess left over from building the utility room. I had finished that project just as the snows hit last autumn and then it got too deep right away to do any cleaning up. So now that all of the snow is gone, we cleaned up that mess. I still have the siding to put up, but it goes up pretty quickly and will get done before summer arrives.

I have to say that it is nice to have so many of the spring chores done already. Things are looking good and to not have to worry about doing them as the days get even nicer is a pleasant thought.

We did get out for a stroll in our woods this afternoon. There are still some pockets of snow left in the woods. Not enough to play in, but enough to cause us to take some re-routes on our walk through the woods today. It also provided the pups with a place to roll and cool off, as well as get some free snow cones. Looking at the satellite imagery from this afternoon, there is still enough to play in if one headed to the higher terrain of Keweenaw County.

We made it out to visit Old Granddad. I believe you all have seen Old Granddad enough that I did not need to take a picture of him. We have also named some of the other trees in our woods. I have introduced you to Big Piney and the Maple Twins. On the way back, we took a different route and passed by Old Grandma. I do not think I have introduced you all to her, so here you go. She stands around 100 feet from Old Granddad, is a bit smaller in stature and also has a nasty battle scar on her north side. Hard to tell what caused the scar, but she seems to be able to cope with it pretty well.

When we got back, I snapped a shot of the playground so you all could see how the snow melt around it was progressing. Still about 18″ on the ground around it, but here is the shot of it I put in the journal just two weeks ago.

The Laurium Glacier has also been melting, but still has a way to go. I would say probably another 3 to 3 1/2 weeks before it finally disappears for the season.

Looks like that about does it for this one, have a great week and…

Good night from the Keweenaw..