Can’t move fast enough

I doubt everyone reading this can identify with what I am about to say, but I have a strong inclination to believe many of you will! Remember the first snow as a kid? Or perhaps a really big one that canceled school and left you with an entire day to play? Remember how excited you were? Your heart pumping faster, your mind moving about twice as fast as your body could keep up? Perhaps it was a struggle to put on boots and a jacket, or maybe you were fortunate/unfortunate enough to have to wear a snowsuit or bibs to keep your legs dry? In any case, you just could not make all that had to happen occur fast enough to get out and play in the snow.

I had a case of that this past Friday, when the cold rain changed to snow and started to accumulate around here. It was right around sunrise and I was still in the midst of finishing up my morning work. I didn’t have too much to do, but it did need to be done before going out to play! So I did my best to hunker down and keep my nose to the grindstone, but could not help but to look out at the beautiful flakes falling from the sky from time to time.

When it first started, it looked like temps would be too warm for it to accumulate on anything and I was also worried about it changing back to rain, so that only heightened the desire to be out in it and take some pics. I did manage to get all my work done and then my “snow suit” on in time to get out while it was still falling and to my delight, it had started to accumulate on a few things, like the truck.

Bleau had gone to school with Nora and Grace, so it was just Huck, Millie and I out in the snow, but we had fun walking around in it and watching it fall. With the rooftops turning white, I figured I would take a front of house shot, the first of the season with snow in it! A few minutes later, much of the ground had begun to turn white as well. I really love it when the first snow falls during the color season. The mixes of green in the evergreens, the reds, yellows and oranges in the hardwoods combine so beautifully with the white of the snow.

I missed Bleau’s first experience with snow, but Nora reported that he loved it and trounced around in it like a bucking bronco! He sure is a cutie. Still aboard the slow train to being potty trained, but at least he is not headed in the wrong direction! He is learning very well to come when called and responds to me saying “no” pretty well, but still struggles at times to think Nora and Grace are being very serious when they say it. All will happen in time.

There is an interesting game of strategy going on between him and “the big dogs”. They have accepted him in to the pack, but still want to keep him in his place. Bleau is very strong willed and tries his best to assert himself, but always ends up backing down when Huck or Millie decide to give him the stink eye. The other day, Nora tried to get Bleau to go into his crate and stay there while we ate. She did this by putting a toy inside the crate, but not forcing Bleau in or locking it shut. Bleau went in, played with it for a minute or so and then got bored and came out. Only he thought he would outsmart the big dogs and close the door. He cannot latch it shut, but did a good job of closing the door. Pretty impressive. About a minute later. Millie came along with another toy in her mouth, dropped it right in front of Huck who was laying down about 6 feet from the crate. Then went over to the crate, opened up the door in a nonchalant manner, grabbed the toy inside the crate, walked right past a defeated Bleau and took it into the other room to play with it.

It will be fun when Bleau is big enough to play with Huck and Millie. They will still attempt to play with him from time to time, but he still thinks that he is the Roman and Huck and Millie are the lions. They just never have been good at playing in a gentle manner.

The other main event this week was the arrival of Nora’s brothers to bird hunt. This is the 3rd or 4th year in a row that they have come up to hunt and Nora loves to join them. I am not a hunter, so usually stay back and tend to the homestead. This year, they were joined by Grace, who is not old enough to shoot a gun, so she brought her bow and arrows along instead. I really thought that they all would get skunked, as we have not flushed a single bird while being out in the woods in the past 2 months. Turns out, they were able to flush quite a few and while they did not get any while on that hunt, Nora’s brothers did get two in an earlier hunt.

I joined the hunt on Saturday. Not as a hunter, but as a observer and “flusher”. We headed down into the Jacobsville area and it was a nice day to be out in the woods. No sun, but no rain and temps in the low 40’s. The colors were near peak and they were not the only amazing sights we saw on our romp through the woods. We came across this maple burl that might make some decent veneer someday. There were also a number of species of mushrooms growing, including these that looked a lot like ice crystals or coral. Might have even been coral mushrooms.

It was also clear that lightning had been a frequent visitor to these woods recently. Here were a pair of charred poplar trees. I could not determine if it was one lighting strike that got both or two different ones. My vote would be one, as it is somewhat rare to have lighting strike a regular object like a single spot in a forest, but without a more thorough investigation, the world will never know. Here is another popular that took it on the chin, or should I say trunk? Among the less violent creations of nature was a little field of moss, quietly growing amongst the pines. It looked like the perfect place to take a nap!

There are several nesting pairs of bald eagles in the Jacobsville area and here is one of their nests. In previous visits to this spot, we have found the bones of small animals on the ground, directly below the nest. Eagles must keep a clean house, but seem not to care about their yard. We did make it to the waterfront to relax for a bit and watch one of the woodland creatures climb a nearby tree. She sure loves to climb trees and rocks and just about anything else that can be climbed!

The colors in our woods are very near peak. I have not ventured too far from our house, but would suspect the trees south of Houghton in the higher terrain to be at or even just a tiny bit past peak. It looks like we will hit our peak in 2-4 days. We have not had much sunshine, so I have not taken too may pictures specifically of the colors, but on yesterday’s adventure, I did come across this single maple leaf standing out and showing off it’s autumn outfit.

Speaking of our adventure yesterday, it consisted of checking out a waterfall that is probably the closest to where we live geographically, but also one that I have never been to and is a bit hidden. I would suspect that only about half of the locals have even been to it and very few visitors to the area. Anyway, a friend of mine from northern IL was up visiting with his two boys and stopped by to say hi. We got to talking and he had mentioned they were waterfall viewing and had tried to get to the falls near our house, but turned around. So I said that I had never been to them, but knew how to get there and so we hopped in his Jeep and headed out into the bush.

We got out of the Jeep and walked a bit and in a short time were able to hear the sounds of the falls. A bit later, we came upon the river flowing through the woods, which made for a beautiful photo itself. We were not 100% sure of where the main falls were, but I speculated downstream, as that is where I knew the terrain change was greatest. So we picked our way through the woods, following the stream through the oranges and yellows and were soon upon the main falls. We really lucked out, as I have seen other pics of these falls during the autumn and the water flow is typically much lower, but with all the rain we have had recently, the river was flowing at a good clip and made for a very dramatic sight. The kids had fun playing on the rocks, we all went downstream a bit more to see what we could see and then turned around and hiked back to the Jeep.

All in all a very fun trip and one that I think I will be taking more often, as it is about a 5 minute drive from my house and another 5 minute walk or so. It is on private property and I do not feel comfortable giving more info, which would be considered permission by some to go and check them out. There are a number of spots where one false step could get a person into some trouble, which doubles the importance of not opening the door for folks without permission from going. The good news is that one of the most dramatic falls in all of the Keweenaw will soon be open to the public and I believe will even have handicap access. It is the Douglass Houghton Falls between Laurium and Lake Linden. The owner of the land these falls are on has just recently signed the land over to the state of MI and they will be developing an access trail to them. For now, the falls are still off limits, as they are very dangerous, but in a year or two will be another part of all the wonderful reasons to visit the area!

Well, I am out of pictures and things to say, so I guess that means it is time to sign off. Until next week…
Good night from the Keweenaw..