Of bugs and books

June 25, 2013

no mosquito sign

I’m a glass-in-half-full kind of person. I acknowledge that and I also realize it can be annoying to other people. A silver lining outlook drives a lot of people nuts. But this past week has driven me dangerously close to becoming a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal.

And the reason can be summed up in one word: Bugs.

We are currently overrun with bugs, namely mosquitos. We had a wet spring (really more like an extended winter) and there’s still a lot of standing water around. Ideal mosquito conditions. If we had wind this wouldn’t be a problem, since mosquitos have no ballast in wind, they’re just swept away. But we don’t have wind. This past week has been overcast, foggy, drizzly … and NO wind. And those mosquitos are lovin’ it. Normally this wouldn’t be that big a problem. I live in the north woods, it’s not like I don’t know (and accept) bugs.

But here’s the other thing that’s threatened my half-full outlook: Books.

I have spent the better part of a week inside a large gym helping to promote and sell books, and sign my own. And I use the term “gym” loosely – this was the Student Development Complex at Michigan Tech and the “gym” was actually four regulation size basketball courts, with extra space on the periphery to accommodate food vendors and ticket takers.  It was noisy and full of artificial light. Great event – Finn Fest – wonderful people, a good time. But still inside – under artificial light, with no exterior windows – for the better part of a week.

To be blunt, I want to go outside and those friggin’ bugs are making it impossible. I don’t care about the fog or the drizzle – that’s gorgeous and enjoyable in its own right. But there isn’t enough Off in the world to stave off those mosquito attacks. And since they’re the size of flying beer bottles they can bite through anything. This week it’s “Bugs – 10 …. Humans – 0.” They’ve won, no doubt about it.

So for all you people missing the great north woods, wishing you were here walking the beach or picking berries … this week you can count your own blessings. May your glass be half full.

                                                                                                          — Lesley

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looking out over the tip of a kayak on Lake Superior

Lake Superior over the tip of my kayak.

As Laura recently pointed out, things have been busy around here. Not just at Mudminnow but with everything else the three of us do. Hence, the unintended hiatus of Musings from the Minnow.  But, work or not, I’ve had a new kayak sitting in my garage for the last three weeks and because the weather finally cooperated I took it out this past week – several times. I suppose I could have taken it out earlier but it would have involved hauling it over snow and then paddling through icebergs. And honestly? My love of kayaking does have its limits. I’d rather work than haul a kayak through snow.

But the first place I headed was a couple miles down the beach to check out the bald eagle nest. The nest is still there, but there were no signs or sounds of eaglets in there. On one visit there was an adult hopping around on the rocks nearby, and on another visit there was one soaring overhead. But neither was exhibiting territorial or protective behavior. And on the last visit, no adults were visible.

And that’s kind of the tell tale sign – the lack of adult eagles around the nest. If there are eggs or eaglets in a nest there’s usually at least one adult eagle very nearby. But this year the nest is just part of the northwoods scenery.

Which brings me to the title of this blog. In the years I’ve been watching that nest, there have always been eagles there. I didn’t think I did, but obviously I took it for granted that I would always paddle down there and see eagles tending their nest and young. And there are plenty of eagles around here – the other morning I stepped out on the beach and there were 6 soaring overhead. There was one sitting on the rocks this morning. There just aren’t eagles on “my” nest.

It’s easy to forget that it’s a rough world out there for so many of our fellow creatures. When a spring snowstorm dumps on us, we mutter “Damn! I have to plow the driveway again? Aren’t we done with winter?” But for nesting and migrating birds it’s not an inconvenience … it’s deadly.

I’m hoping I’m wrong, that the next time I paddle down there I’ll hear squawking and see adults around. But sad as that, apparently, empty nest is, it’s also good to be reminded: Things change, treasure your present moments.  

                                                                                               — Lesley

Spring is in the air

April 2, 2013

Immature eagles on the beach at Eagle River, Michigan.

Immature eagles on the beach at Eagle River, Michigan.

Literally. In the land of 15 foot snowdrifts the first herald of spring is rarely a crocus. It’s usually birds. They don’t care if there’s three feet of snow on flat ground, they’re on their own personal navigation systems. And those systems say “Go North!”

At my house, the first heralds are usually eagles. Lots of juvenile bald eagles. Bald eagles are around all winter. All they need is open water for fishing, and since Lake Superior usually has plenty of that they hang around. But in the spring they show up in flocks. The increasing sunlight and slightly warmer lake temperatures bring the salmon and trout fry swarming to the surface close to the shoreline and the eagles eat them – like little sushi bites.

This morning six immature bald eagles showed up in front of my house. The photos aren’t good because I was shooting through a screened window with an iPhone. I’d have loved to stand on my balcony and take pics but I couldn’t get out there because of the snowdrift in front of the door. Spring … it’s all relative.

— Lesley

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