It’s been hot and humid in the Great Lakes State.
We’re canning peaches, plums, and apricots and seeing the first apples harvested.
Birds, bees, and butterflies are at their busiest, storing away food and fat reserves for the coming cold.
It’s the time of yellow flowers.
It’s the time of frogs.
And this year it also happens to be the time of floods.
The pond at Fenner Nature Center looks to be a foot higher than the last time I was there, and on our trip there Friday, the boy and I spied little schools of minnows swimming across the deck.
Frogs have taken to floating lazily at the surface rather than sitting on their customary rocks, which are now submerged.
In a few months the teasel will be brown and far less forgiving to the touch. Leaves that are currently melting will be crispy and skipping along the ground.
Already the international students are moving in at Michigan State University (and disregarding stop signs in the Meijer parking lot while I walk across with my seven-year-old). The rest of the college students will be back by next week. You know how people in the South blitz their grocery stores when the forecast is predicting an inch of snow? I kind of feel like I should be prepping before the U-Hauls start arriving in town.
As always, by this time I’m largely done with summer. But we have a couple very busy months coming up, so I’m trying to relish what’s left of it.
Sunday afternoon I took in the last bits of June at Fenner Nature Center’s restored native grassland area. I strolled among innumerable flowers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and a few mosquitoes (They’re finally here. Hooray.) and listened to birds trilling and wings buzzing. It was the perfect summer day — the one we remember from childhood — with blue skies and time stretched out in all directions.
About halfway through the afternoon I was joined by a friend who seemed content with my company for a while.
We eventually went our separate ways, I to the pond to look for frogs and turtles, she to another patch of grass.
It was a lovely time away from people and the Internet, though I was disappointed that I could still hear traffic and some kids screaming in a nearby backyard. It has me looking forward to quiet July mornings on Lake Louise before the campers drag themselves out of bed and hiking through Pigeon River Country State Forest in October with my sister.
I asked my husband if he ever feels the pull to be completely away from people and all people-related things. He never has that he can recall. If I don’t get that kind of alone time in the natural world, I start getting anxious. We are both reluctant suburbanites. He would prefer to live in a high rise in New York or Chicago or Boston. I’d prefer to live in a log cabin on a remote island off the shore of Lake Superior. The day after I shot these pictures, he and our son spent an impromptu day in downtown Detroit, riding the People Mover and checking out the skyscrapers.
When I think about it, this is practically the only difference between us anymore. We’ll have been together 20 years this October (since I was fifteen), and in that time we’ve grown up and into one another so that we really are one, as we should be. Our culture so prizes individuality that I think this notion is rather quaint these days. But when it works, there’s nothing better.
Common Name: White Clover
Scientific Name: Trifolium repens
Habitat & Range: sunny fields and lawns statewide
Bloom Time: spring, summer, and fall
About: Clovers are non-native plants brought over form Europe for pasturing livestock and now, of course, they are found absolutely everywhere. The White Clover is the one that will occasionally produce a four-leaf clover. Butterflies and bees love it for the nectar. Rabbits love to eat the leaves and the flowers. And as a child when I was stuck out in left field during my first year of Little League, I’d eat the flowers too. Just because I could. And I was bored. Good luck controlling these in your yard. It spreads by creeping and by seeds that can lay dormant for years before germinating.
Reference: Wildflowers of Michigan by Stan Tekiela; Adventure Publications, 2000
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