Friday, April 19, 2013
Spring can be a bit bleak in northern Michigan. They got heavy snowfall a week ago and remnants of it lay like a dirty, crusty mantle across the shoulders of the roads and in low-lying areas. Back home the trees are tinged with green, but here the woods are painted in monochromatic colors – shades of gray and brown. Only the evergreens provide a splash of color relief.
I put out the feeders first thing this morning. It took about an hour for my first feathered friends to arrive. Even they are monochromatic; white-breasted nuthatches and chick-a-dees. (And a bit later a red-breasted nuthatch, too.)
The wind is blowing cold and fierce and the sky is iron clad. Our road is a muddy quagmire and when we step out on our porch we can hear the rumble of trucks, the buzz of saws and the shouts of men who are Ferngullying the forest a couple of miles away. I truly despise the way the DNR manages the woodlands here. They allow far too much clear-cutting that leaves the land looking like the killing fields of WWI. That is not an exaggeration, I’ve seen pictures. It looks like they have plans to cut along our road for a good distance. Needless to say, I’m heartbroken about it. Just after we bought our place, they clear-cut across the road and it took nearly 10 years for the scar on the landscape to heal.
[Author’s note: when I use the terms “Ferngullied” or “Ferngullying” it’s in reference to an animated movie from the 90’s titled Ferngully. It was about clear-cutting of the rain forest. When I see places up here that have been clear-cut, I always say they’ve been Ferngullied.]
Our outdoor thermometer reads 40 degrees. Mark was able to get the pump running on the first try and water came out of the taps with no leaking pipes anywhere – hurrah! Mark has always said the plumbing in this place is the bane of his existence. He stoked up the wood burner first thing after he got up, so we’ve stayed cozy-warm with that and the two electric radiant heaters.
After breakfast we bundled up to take the dogs for their walk. By the time we went to load them in the FJ Cruiser, it was snowing/sleeting/raining. Thankfully that didn’t last long. Since there is so much standing water/flooding we decided to drive to Elk Valley to hike higher ground. One section of our road was completely flooded over for a good 20 yards. Thankfully the FJ navigated through with no trouble. Didn’t see anything of great interest on our walk, but the dogs were sure happy with the exercise. Cold, wind and wet doesn’t bother them a bit.
We took a ride into Atlanta to see what’s new – we really didn’t expect there to be anything! We were surprised to find a new “junktiques” store where we purchased several cool items, including an awesome refurbished vintage cabinet/china hutch for our dining room back home. Of course, we didn’t bring the truck this time, so it won’t get hauled home until next trip up.
Just before dusk we loaded up the dogs and went for a combination ride/hike to search for wildlife. We headed over to the DeCheau Lake area hoping to spot some elk but the DNR did a controlled burn of the rye fields at the north end of DeCheau Lake Rd. and nothing was moving in there. There is a huge meadow way back in at the end of this two-track off Meaford Rd. where we have seen large numbers of elk before, so we headed there, only to find out that it, too, is being logged. We parked near the start of the trail and walked the dogs through several rye fields. Scared up small groups of deer in each field, which drove the beagles crazy. They were yipping so much I figured they were scaring off whatever might be in the far meadow.
The logging equipment, rain and snow had made an absolute mess of the two-track but Mark was undaunted, put it in 4-wheel low and soldiered on. (He lives for roads like that!) Unfortunately, there wasn’t a thing to be seen in the big meadow. We stopped one last time along Mills Rd. to walk the dogs again. It was supposed to be a short jaunt but we walked back farther than we had anticipated and then decided to climb a small ridge to see if we could spot the road, which we did not. We struck off cross-country and finally hit the road, quite a long way from where the FJ was parked. Scared up a lot more deer as we walked the road but by then it was too dark to count. Milo, despite his age and weight, held up like a champ!
All tolled I think we saw at least 40 deer, as we saw many more on the drive back to our cabin, and two turkeys. We also saw huge tracts along M33 where they have clear-cut. I swear the state won’t be happy until they have denuded Montmorency County of every last tree. Mark commented that DNR must stand for Department of Natural Revenue. And please, don’t give me a lecture on habitat management. You will never convince me that clear-cutting is good for anyone except the people raking in the dough from the lumber.