Tag Archives: Upper Peninsula

March 25, 2017

Jerry’s and Glenn’s limited-edition letterpress print, “Lake Michigan Winter,” is available here and at Big Maple Press. If you’d like to receive early notification of the others in the series, including “Spring Comes to Lake Michigan” (due out in April)—as well as an array of other upcoming Big Maple Press prints, broadsides, books, chapbooks, and ephemera—click on this link and we’ll add you to the list….

Jerry is now Tweeting about books, nature, and the writing life; if you want to follow him, you can….

Many thanks to Keith Taylor and “Stateside” on Michigan Radio for the fine review of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom….

While we’re tooting our own horn, a 5-star review of A Walk in the Animal Kingdom came our way (and another, here). The three titles in the Wonders of Nature Series are available at our favorite independent bookstores. If you can’t get to an indie store, visit the newly revamped and user-friendly Big Maple Press website or visit the “Books” page here on the J.D. site….

This thoughtful and well-researched article in Traverse Magazine by Jeff Smith is an excellent overview of the issue about the aging Line 5 Pipeline that flows under the Straits of Mackinac. The Enbridge pipeline should be removed as soon as possible, before it ruptures and unleashes a disaster. We urge everyone who cares about the Great Lakes to visit  Oil & Water Don’t Mix and FLOW For Water and add their voices so that Michigan’s governor and attorney general will take immediate action….

We hope you’ll sign up at the bottom of this page for Jerry’s monthly newsletter, which offers observations on the seasons, updates on works in progress, and insights about the writing life. We promise your address is secure and we will never share it.

SPRING: LOON CALL

They say spring advances fifteen miles a day, the pace of a leisurely walk, which is why I could experience three springs last year. The first was in March, in Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay, where new grass was sprouting in farmers’ fields and clusters of broad-winged hawks circled overhead in kettles. I counted 200 broad-wings one day, but a local birder said they sometimes numbered in the tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands—whole galaxies of hawks spiraling slowly northward with the wind. In the marshes and woodlots were other early migrants—red-winged blackbird, yellow-rumped warbler, ruby-crowned kinglet, and a brown thrasher that perched at the top of a tree beside my cabin for an hour and performed tireless variations of “Here I am, look at me.”

brown thrasher

Brown Thrasher
photo by Steve Shelasky

Three weeks later, those same birds were showing up 300 miles north, near Traverse City. The snow was finally gone from the woods; forsythia and trilliums were in bloom. Suddenly morels were popping beneath the aspens and trout were gobbling mayflies in the rivers.

Then it was time for the third spring, so I drove north again, crossed the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula, and followed county roads until I banged up against the shore of Superior. I had the key to a friend’s cabin but had to shovel a drift away from the door before I could open it. Remnant bergs sat melting on the beach. Overhead the sky was stacked with hawks waiting for a south wind to carry them across the big lake.

Spring is the most complicated season. It arrives with reluctance, pulling its clanking train of machinery, and we recognize that the name we’ve given it is all wrong. It doesn’t spring, it creeps, two steps forward and one back—and often it backs off entirely and you have to wait a  few days or a week before it tiptoes forward again.

common loon

Common Loon
photo by Jerry am Ende

One morning I stepped from the cabin to listen to those clanking gears and turning wheels and caught the first warm wind of the season. A familiar warbling call sounded high overhead and I looked up to see a loon hurtling past, bound for Canada. Then came another, and another, each making its ululating call.

This was the clarion announcement, the very emblem of the wild north, a song that has always stirred something deep in the souls of those who value solitude and unspoiled places. It’s the music of mist-shrouded lakes and tannin-colored ponds, a boreal timelessness best heard from a canoe. But coming from the sky above Superior it was the sound of a different wildness, one in transit, like us, winging northward into the lengthening days of the season of hope.