Allan Bell’s Birch Bark Nature Notes revisited
I know you have heard of the Hiawatha Trail. I’m going to tell you what it smelled like to me and what I saw. I didn’t ride very far, just to Duck Point and back. My excuse? Short of time. Other commitments. Just so I wouldn’t get in anyone’s way, I started last. I would have ended up there anyway. My pace is the exact opposite of Greg LaMonde’s. My friend, Bill Walsh (same age) just biked 250 miles in nine days in Holland. It would take me until the next time the tulips bloomed.
Well, I crossed the old bridge (with memories of swimming there without the benefit of suits) to receive a smile and a wave from Tommy You-Know-Who. Come to think of it, he probably wondered how Rip Van Winkle got into Henry Wadsworth’s poem. It was at the start of the gravel on the causeway, when that wonderful, fresh, fragrant scent hit me in the big, red smeller. It was sweet clover. Right then and there, they day was worthwhile. I’ll bet I smiled all the way to Duck Point.
At my leisurely pace, there was no problem in observing the bounty Mother Nature had scattered along the path. Bushes along both sides, honeysuckle, I think, were covered with attractive, bright, red berries. The color yellow was represented by black-eyed susans, evening primrose, hawkweed, dandelions, St. Johnswort, tansy and hop clover. The white blossoms were oxe-eye daisies, fleabane, yarrow, alyssum, arrowhead, campion and dogbane. The only orange blossom seen was hawkweed. In the purple, pink and reddish spectrum were bergamot, knapweed, fireweed, milkweed and pickerel weed.
I urge you to take a walk or a ride on the trail. It’s for you. Take your time. There is no hurry. You don’t have to go all the way.
The trail crosses many roads – Highway CC, Mohawk Drive, Norten Road, Duck Point, Highway U, Muskellunge Lake Road and more. Just enjoy.
I have had a bird bath out in the yard for many years. Sure, there’s no water in it part of the time. I hear and read about all the birds that use other people’s bird baths. Not mine. Mine get used about as much as Scuff’s bathtub does. However, today made it all worthwhile. A male bluebird decided that it was Saturday night and proceeded to use it over and over. I may watch the water level more closely. It was quite a show!
It’s getting to the end of the nesting season for those blue beauties. The ones outside my kitchen window got tired of that dark old prison and took to the air. They must not be far away, because mom and dad still perch on the posts and poles and fly into the woods with their catches.
I’ll really miss seeing those blue flashes every day. So far, our nest boxes (mine and the bluebirds), have sent 35 new fliers aloft. There are a few more just waiting to take file flight plans. Then, that will be it for this year. Time to build some new, better houses and get them up before next March.
Late nature writer Allan Bell wrote this Birch Bark Nature Notes column for the Tomahawk Leader back on July 31, 1990. In revisiting some of his vast knowledge into our natural world, the Tomahawk Historical Society invites the public to stop by the Allan Bell Memorial Nature Trail located at the Tomahawk High School parking lot. The mile-long looping trail includes interpretive signs created by students and staff from the school that tell about nature and wildlife that can be seen along the route.