Friday, August 29, 2014

Wilbo Cycles the Lakeshore Trail After Dark and Discovers Flying Creatures.

Animals live along the Lakeshore trail. On my cycle to work during my lunch hour, I glimpsed two small turtles, sliders, sunning themselves on a floating length of driftwood, wood floating in a shallow marsh created by shoreline restoration efforts. The trucks and back hoes and steam shovels cleared away all matter of rubble and junk that made it hard to access the water. The shoreline was softened by digging and clearing. The turtles can easily walk into the water and then clamber back up on land. Sliders are a bit on the rare side, and so I was delighted to see them. The restoration was working.

Mute Swans swim along the shoreline in good numbers, and the invasive species from Eurasia thrive too well. On White Lake, a short drive north of Muskegon Lake, animal control went to work last summer to reduce the number of Mute Swans. The mutes outcompete the more desired Trumpet Swans, a species I have not knowingly seen an example. I'm just happy to see swans.

A brown squirrel carried off what I thought to be a green acorn, although when I saw him I looked around unsuccessfully for an oak tree. I saw a black squirrel dive into the scrub and failed to see what food was clamped in his jaws. I appreciated most the large dragon fly that nuzzled my chest as I pedaled rapidly, trying to avoid a cloud burst falling from a cloud with colors of gray and white in turbulence. I hear a dragonfly will catch a thread thrown into the air, so I am guessing it liked the fabric of my shirt.

I cycled for a few minutes in the cloudburst, enough to leave raindrops on my pants. Then I locked up my bike at work and left that sensuous experience outside. Work is fascinating and yet the office has few breezes and lacks natural light.

This stop marked the latest I stopped at this small picnic shelter on a point, near the bike trail. However, the Mosquitos have a habit of working late and each musing thought was costing me a drop of blood. So I swatted, and pedaled onto a dim trail, the twilight failed, the blue hour ended.

That's when a "wonk! wonk! wonk!" alerted me to the descent of a great bird. I didn't want to scare it off. I could see its head through shoreline weeds and drawing closer, it struck me as the tallest Blue Heron I had seen in my life, with a neck of astounding elongation. I kept still. It kept still, the better to put minnows at ease. I remembered a friend who watched a Blue Heron stalking the shallows of Ruddiman Lagoon after midnight, in the moonlight. I regretted having less patience tonight.

The fireflies had started searching for love with their tails of lava light, glowing on and off. Until this now departing month of August, I hadn't heard crickets singing, and these musical insects were making up for lost time in the rough. No-see-ums pinged against my lenses, and my inhalation pulled a tiny unidentified flying pest into my throat, and I coughed to free it, vainly. I swallowed, glad it hadn't flown down my windpipe to give me a lung infection. Surely I had enough acid in my yet unulcerated stomach to dissolve Mr. Invisible upon impact.

I couldn't see the flocks of birds my passing bicycle scared up from the grassy shore near Kirksey's Landing. I could clearly see launches of candle lanterns arising over the calm surface of Lake Muskegon, probably sent aloft by wedding guest at the Frauenthal Theater.

Will Juntunen

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