Saturday, July 21, 2012

It is Saturday, 21th of July, 32th day of summer. On the day of the Coho Salmon, you have 62 days for the summer course nature planned for you, with a September return to an autumnal home.

I don't want to compare you, dear reader, too much with a coho salmon. The coho returns to the West Michigan tributary where it was released, finds its point of introduction, spawns and passes into the great unknown. I wish you "spawning" without any downside and many trips up and down the Muskegon, White and Grand Rivers, for scores of years to come. You have a preordained life of summer exploration, and the route was written into your soul before your birth. I cannot prove this assertion, but if you follow it onto the beaches and tiki decks of Muskegon or Pentwater, you'll see it for yourself. You will do well to swim a small fraction of the swim time of a coho salmon.
The coho lives a life in the big lake and the steam of its birth, eating alewives and insects. When about to spawn, it develops a hooked nose, which makes the salmon part of its species easy to indentify. Some stupid coho, called "jacks", come up the stream in the second year of life, spawn and die a year ahead of schedule. What's your rush, jack cohos?
Although there is a record of releasing coho salmon into Lake Michigan in 1873, the effort to keep a population of coho in the big lake continues. 325000 of the species were released into Michigan waterways in 2010, and releases must continue until the coho salmon can sustain themselves in the Great Lakes. This may never happen. The coho compete for habitat with the brown trout and the steelhead.
I saw my coho in the aquarium of Little River Casino last night, a immense freshwater tank above a bar, and largemouth bass, steelheads and perch swim from left to right as women on "no boys allowed" weekends drink martinis and wear matching tee shirts.  I notice all the "no boys allowed" tee shirts at Little River Casino. My favorite is the "Tour of the Ta Tas", hand-lettered by Sandy Bottoms, fluorescent green tee shirts with each woman having a nickname, including Rookie and Golden Goddess. On group from  Wellston thanked me for noticing and pressed their howling wolf buttons in unison. The pack of eight women looked up at an imaginary moon and howled along with their howling wolf buttons.That's about all the fun one can have with a pack of women wearing "no boys allowed" tee shirts. It might look wild but its all about returning home, posting the pictures on Facebook and invoking the Vegas rule. Forgetting about everything. It's not necessary to purposely forget. The beer and shots handle that.
I admire what the Little River Tribe of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians are accomplishing with aquaculture. The tribe has expended great sums of investment to make the sturgeon sustainable in the Manistee and Kalamazoo rivers. The sturgeon has sustained itself in the Muskegon River, but I think the dams starting at Newaygo have to go before the sturgeon's fate has been stabilized. The aquarium at Little River doesn't identify its fish. The aquariums at Bass Pro Shops provide ample interpretive remarks and fishing guides even demonstrate artificial worms by casting into their waters. Last night, I saw a black fingerling, which might have been a catfish or beloved bottom feeder. But would the tribe introduce a precious sturgeon fingerling into that public aquarium?
I'll admit, I am sure I was looking at a salmon, but not a Chinook Salmon. I have a friend who thinks the mink in my creek sounds like a fisher. I am not sure if my mink could actually be a shrew, untameable. I am seeing little about shrews hunting in water, though. I am just trying to draw closer to nature by watching and writing. I can always correct my mistakes. I feel I have given the cormorant and turkey vulture short shrift and must find time to talk about both at length.
Watching nature is a source of endless fascination. I saw a fawn without spots sneaking through the bulrushes on the west shore of Cress Creek, but the fawn moved so fluidly. I thought I was watching a Key West deer. On the way to Grand Rapids, a friend and I passed under a transmission line with thousands of birds perched on the wire, the most I have seen on a wire in recent memory. I counted my second possum dead in the roadside collection of kill. I photographed a snake, but I couldn't identify the flat, dry as beef jerky corpse at the corner of Grand Haven and Hilt Roads.
Source of a picture of a Chinook Salmon.

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