According to something I read on the internet, in Michigan you’re never more than six miles from a natural water source. Four out of five Great Lakes prefer Michigan (I totally stole this from a bumper sticker that I’d like to have as a t-shirt) – giving us about the same amount of coastline as the US Atlantic Coast – in addition to more than 11,000 inland lakes.
As a state, we are waterlogged – a fact that is difficult to appreciate fully. It’s relatively easy to picture numerous lakes and streams, but what you might miss is all the drainage basins and wetlands (swamps and bogs) that surround all these natural water sources.
Lakes and rivers have an easy-to-appreciate beauty. Swamps are tougher. As a passerby, you might only notice some occasional sitting water and an inordinate amount of dead cedars toppled onto their peers. Swamps are uninviting. Plus, I’m still scarred by Atreyu’s demise in The Neverending Story. If you get a chance, though, arm yourself with a couple gallons of bug spray and venture in. You might be surprised.
Prepare for even a cleared trail to be squishy and spongy and close…but you might be delighted by impressive clarity of a languid stream and the cloned cedars that grow over it, or by the soaring canopy of bordering trees.
You might notice a pop of fall color in a sea of vibrant June greenery.
You may spot some moss worthy of a southern Live Oak, or discover velvety “flowers” in a non-flowering tree.
Take your time and look for the wildflowers that change with the seasons. You might find something you’ve never seen before,
or you might come across some old favorites.
You may enjoy a typical plant in an atypical color.
And if you’re really lucky, you might spy a lady slipper orchid, which are nearly as ephemeral as morels.
But if you miss all the little details that encourage me to return a few times a year, a wetland overlook is rewarding even on a day when rain threatens. Now that we’re in high mosquito and deer fly season, I’ll stay away for a few weeks, but do you want to come back with me in the fall?