“To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.” — “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds



FOR EVERYTHING THERE really is a season and that season right now, is spring. With snow falling a few days ago, one might have argued that we were still waiting for spring, but as happens virtually every April, snow will fall. It doesn’t change things. Spring happens.

Spring is, of course, for new things. It is a time for the return of favorite friends like ducks, geese, swans and cheerfully-singing songbirds. It is a time for perennial flowers, wild in the woods and tame grown in gardens, to spring forth from good rich soil to begin another season of growth and flowering.

It is a time to celebrate seeing the first robin, the first mallard and a little later, the first newborn fawn or bear cub of the year. It is, more than anything, a time of rebirth; a time to celebrate being free to roam in the woods and waters which bring us so much joy.

I have been celebrating spring for several weeks now, though at times, it was difficult to celebrate or even recognize the season as spring. But little by little, snow cover retreated and walks were extended to open areas that melted off first; smelling the rich, sweet smells of balsam boughs, thawing earth and in the case of the dogs, scents of partridge and other wild critters that might excite them.

Where water runs fast, like at the point where Plum Creek leaves Plum Lake, I saw my first Canada geese of the year at a time when deep snow still covered the woods. They are still there, although now free to swim all the ice-free water of Plum and West Plum. They have been joined there by mallards, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, swans and loons, a veritable waterfowl heaven for waterfowl lovers such as myself.

My wife and I, along with faithful companions Gordie and Molly, enjoyed our first spring road trip last weekend and what a road trip it was. As all road trips should, it began with a stop for an early lunch. This time, it was at the Wild Turkey in Conover where I enjoyed perhaps the best smoked brisket sandwich I have ever had.

From there, it was on to Watersmeet, Mich., and thence, east to check out one of my favorite little Upper Peninsula of Michigan lakes for camping and trout fishing. The side road to Imp Lake was still covered in places with patches of hard-packed ice and snow, but with four-wheel drive, who cares?

While the dogs ran happily over what was mostly bare ground at the campground, I slipped down to the water’s edge where I watched mallards in a thin slice of open water drift silently past. As I looked out across the lake, I remembered camping weekends spent here over the years, some which resulted in a tasty splake or two in the frying pan, some with nothing but hot dogs for supper, all with a heavy dose of peace and quiet.

Our next stop was at Bond Falls. We have visited the falls many times, but for some reason, never early in the spring. During our past summer or autumn visits, the falls have been a treat, especially to a waterfalls addict like me, but during those visits, the volume of water cascading down the sheer rocky walls would probably be best described as simply pleasant.

This time, they were awesome. From the time we opened our car doors at the top of the presently-closed road to a spacious parking lot until we reached the falls, we could hear a continuos roar of falling water. I say a continuos roar, although that word does not adequately express the thunder that rolled continuously as a raging express of water careened over a rocky precipice.

A kiosk at the parking lot has information on it that said during peak spring runoff there is often 50,000 gallons of water pouring over the falls every second. Impressive, but with my keen mathematical mind, I calculated in my head using the width and height of the falls, along with the alignment of the moon and stars, and the tilt of the earth’s axis that on this day, surely 60,000 gallons were spilling over the rocks every second. Hey, prove me wrong.

Continuing our trip, we headed north to Bruce Crossing, Mich., and then west to Bergland, Mich. From there, it was south to Marenisco, Mich., with a stop at the state park on Lake Gogebic. At a park abandoned now, but soon to be filled with campers and fishermen, the dogs got another good run while I wandered the shoreline simply enjoying the view.

Down to Marenisco we went, purposely turning west on Highway 2 instead of taking the shortcut into town so we could see just how high the Presque Isle River might be running. It was high, very high. Over the banks on both sides, it spread out probably at least 200 yards each way, coming up not all that far from the road itself. I contemplated a ride north of town on a gravel road to check out Yondato Falls. Not knowing what shape the road would be in and guessing, probably correctly, that the river would be overflowing part of the trail to the falls, I opted to wait for another day when I will be able to not only enjoy the falls, but perhaps catch a few beautiful brook trout from a stretch of the river where I have done well in past years.

Back in Wisconsin and through Presque Isle we were in familiar territory on the way to Boulder Junction. Mallards and wood ducks were enjoying several of the roadside ponds that are numerous along that stretch. Ducks and ponds; a veritable paradise for such as I.

One final stop was at Allequash Lake, where the dogs ran and I surveyed what I could see from the boat landing dock. Two Canada geese and a brilliantly-colored greenhead mallard drake greeted us, getting the dogs a little excited and me excited a whole bunch.

Our trip concluded, it was back to raking leaves; me raking and the boss telling me, alternately, how to do it and what I was doing wrong. 

It must really be spring.