Hark! Who goes there in the swamp?

Sandhill crane flies overhead

  Do you remember yesterday’s dilemma?  To seek the wild morel mushroom in the woods or sit at home with a headache?

 You will be pleased to know that I opted for the morel hunt.  Headed out for the sacred grounds and found…one lousy morel.  One.  That’s all.  It is sad.  We shall saute that lone mushroom with other vegetables tonight.  It will taste like chicken amidst the brocoli and peppers.  But you will have to chew very carefully to catch the single morel amidst the array of sizzling vegetables. 

 One of these years we shall find twenty or thirty morel mushrooms again.  (But, Kathy, don’t give up hope yet!  It still might happen this year!  Don’t lose hope so easily! It still is early in the spring.  It is.) 

The Elusive Morel Mushroom...don't blink. You won't see it again.

 Since the morel mushroom venture did not pan out (literally!) I opted to drive to a nearby swamp.  Let’s visit the springtime swamp and sit there amidst the red winged blackbirds and contemplate Life.

 The first gift the swamp offered:  a flapping of wings as the great sandhill crane flew overhead.  YES!!  And the camera actually caught its grace!  I was happier than happy.  The swamp is a lovely place to visit.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 I headed toward a good Sitting Place.  You know the qualities of a good Sitting Place.  It’s a spot where you can survey the watery landscapes without getting soaked. 

 If you find such a spot, settle down and let your thoughts wander for a while.  Be thankful the mosquitoes or black flies aren’t out yet.  (This is why you always visit the swamp in the spring!)  

Hark! Who goes there in the swamp?

  Suddenly, from the midst of your Swamp Meditation you blink!  What’s that in the nearby waters?  What is paddling toward you?  Is it an otter?  Is it a beaver?  What animal comes there?? 

It's a beaver!

 Ohmygoodness, it’s a beaver!  Your heart is suddenly pounding in delight.  A beaver has graced your afternoon!  And now it will grace the afternoon of everyone who stops by your blog.  You grin from ear to ear.  In the midst of your grinning, the beaver suddenly hesitates.  It smells something strange:  human.  Danger!  It turns quickly and heads off in the other direction.

The beaver's home...his den in the swamp

 That’s when you–I mean, me–suddenly have a wild and crazy urge to strike off into the swamps.  To wade through the swampy waters, following the beaver wherever it may lead.  Perhaps to even swim through the swamp waters! 

 When suddenly I remembered myself and thought, “No, Kathy, are you crazy?  We are certainly NOT wading and swimming through the swamps.  NO.  You are a civilized human being.  Instead let’s try to penetrate the swamp on top of the grasses.  C’mon, let’s try!”

So I followed the swamp grasses, oh-so-carefully, penetrating deeper into the swamp, careful not to fall in until—OOPS!  Kind of slipped!  Wet foot! But, looking ahead, there is the beaver den.  And there is the beaver again, swimming out of his home!  Oh, it’s a wonderful day to be alive.

What you bring home from the swamp...

 I want to tell you what I brought home from this visit to the swamp.  (OK, not all of them came home.  Most of them were picked off immediately.)  You know “What goes there in the swamps?” 

 Wood ticks.  Dozens of them.  Hundreds of them.  Thousands of them.  Enough to give you nightmares.  I picked off somewhere between 20 and 35 of the crawling little fellas.  I stripped and bathed afterward but it wasn’t enough.

 One attached and bit my tummy.  It’s still itching today…  Alas.  Spring in the Upper Peninsula…

 But it was worth it to see the sandhill crane and the beaver!  Don’t you think?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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40 Responses to Hark! Who goes there in the swamp?

  1. fountainpen says:

    Yes, indeed, Kathy, worth a few tick bites to get a look at the
    sandhill crane and the beaver…..saying a swift hello to you as they
    decided to go on into their journeys…..

    It take such a patient soul to just be….to just sit and wait and watch
    and wonder and when something happens! To be ready….really ready
    to catch it up and hold it, respectfully, reverently…in camera lens, in
    heart, in memory…..To become aware all over again that we are sisters and brothers of all species of the earth….is that going too far?….well, then, we are connected, somehow, deeply irrevocably connected, and how best to honor that connection than to almost “go wading” in a swamp???


  2. Sue says:

    A perfect day!

  3. The price one must pay for our blogs. Well played, Kathy. You do know how to spin a tale and turn a swamp into a place of adventure.

  4. holessence says:

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful post and I get to do it tick-free through you, Kathy.

    A technical question …
    How are you dangling the enticing little blurb in the email that tells us you have posted a new blog? Rather than the whole shootin’ match, we get a little sneak preview, a dangling carrot. I’d like to know the magic behind that please.

  5. Colleen Lloyd says:

    Hi Kathy
    Sandhill cranes, a beaver, the Swamp and best of all…a good Sitting Place! I just love this idea. It seems that a good Sitting Place is surely the common denominator in all of life’s best adventures, whether they are in our own back yard or on the other side of the world. Right now I’m happy to have one right here, in front of our computer, going on a virtual walkabout in your Swamp. Not sure about all of those woodtick’s though!!!

  6. You are the Winnie the Pooh of the UP!. I had a similar tick experience 2 years ago when I was with Mom in May. A blissful day to draw in the woods…when, what? is it raining? No, the sky is blue…but what are these things dropping on me? It was raining lentil sized ticks!!!! Yerks! Get me outta here. I stayed to draw a little bit and picked ticks off myself for hours. They seem sort of magnetically pulled to body heat and seams in clothing, you get a grip on one and it slides towards a hard to reach place.
    I love the photo of the crane. I am thrilled you walked out in to the woods and the swamp. I feel like you take me with you every time. I posted after my walk yesterday. Time for new batteries in my camera today.
    I am off to Miami for the weekend, me and my camera and traveling art kit.
    Hugs to you! S

  7. Breland Kent says:

    Great blog, thanks for sharing 😉

  8. ramonakent says:

    Great little creatures, Otters, you should come to Louisiana and experience Nutria Rats, Gators and Cottonmouth Moccasins…Oh yeah, we have ticks too!!

  9. Andrea says:

    Lovley post. I remember encountering a few of those wood ticks too. I tend to cover up thoroughly now. There’s something amazing abut following nature isn’t there? Mezmerizing, and amazing. I love the Bridle Trails area out here, and the wetlands too. So much to see and do. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

  10. barb says:

    Luckily you had two great finds until the ticks found you! One of my friends was bitten by a beaver when she was carrying her bike across its dam – I guess it didn’t want any trespassing! I have never seen a Morel in the wild – I definitely wouldn’t pick it to eat even if I would see it! (I know, I know – they’re a delicacy.)

  11. Snoopykg1 says:

    Absolutely engaging and extraordinary!

    I especially enjoyed coming along on the journey and walking in your shoes a little, virtually.

    As for the ticks…I probably had enough to last me lifetime in Minnesota growing up….but would welcome the danger again to see other things in the wild like you did today.

    Happy traveling to your next adventure.



  12. Emma says:

    Hooray for the beaver! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  13. Sarah Baughman says:

    I’m so glad this blog was featured on the homepage! I live in the northern lower peninsula and love Michigan’s “great outdoors.” Good luck with the morels– my husband and I are about to embark on some hunts this weekend.

  14. bookjunkie says:

    gosh you live in such a beautiful place. Your photography is amazing too 🙂

  15. Gerry says:

    Oh joy for the Sandhill Crane! Oh delight for the beaver! Surely they trump the woodticks, even in their abundance. Blast the woodticks. Blast the mosquitoes.

    Someone told me it is supposed to snow this weekend. While I would not welcome that, it has one advantage. The. Mosquitoes. Will. Die.

  16. melanirae says:

    Mushroom picking is very big here. People are crazy about it and protect their ‘spots’ with near government secrecy!

  17. Songbird says:

    Great nature shots!

  18. Definitely worth it for the beaver. The morilles are out here as well, though no-one is prepared to say where exactly!

  19. Moranna says:

    Girl after my own heart! Lovely blog and photos. Its amazing what you can see if you’re quiet and patient. I live in one of the foothills of a mountain range and a couple of weeks ago I was alerted by plaintiff bird cries. Looking up, I saw two eagles enjoying the sunlight in their mating flight. What a pleasuren to watch.

  20. GraceKay says:

    Great blog, thanks for sharing! I’m not a fan at all for the ticks, been there done that, they always end up in spots we can’t mention… But definitely worth it to see animals in their natural habitat like it was meant to be. Great pictures!

  21. Cindy Lou says:

    Adventures abounded, hey? My heart beat a little faster for the treasures of your day! I like Gerry’s perspective on the upcoming snow – will it kill of the ticks, too?!?! Hmmm….they seem to be worse on your side of the bay than on mine!

  22. Kathy, do you know that you made it to the Freshly Pressed page? Congratulations 🙂

    Now let me read what it is you had to tell us…

  23. P.j. grath says:

    Cranes are a beautiful thought, ticks NOT! I get a little paranoid about ticks. As for morel weather here in Leelanau, we haven’t given up hope yet, either, but we may get snow by Saturday night.

  24. holessence says:

    Oh my gosh, Kathy – you’re on the Freshly Pressed Page of WordPress — WHOOHOO! Congratulations!

  25. Kathy says:

    Hello, everyone! Thank you for stopping by for the swamp adventure. 🙂
    The beaver, sandhill crane and, yes, the wood ticks are all delighted to be on Freshly Pressed, yes they are. It was an utter shock last night to discover the crane flying across the home page of WordPress. Kathy would be 100% happy if her tick bite would…just…quit…itching! (And who among us dared utter the word SNOW? Yes, the weather forecast does say snow. May fun in the Northwoods…)

  26. janet says:

    great swamp shots Kathy! as I was recently in the southern swamps, I was looking for an alligator head to appear, not a beaver 😉

    that morel was really a beaut’ ! I’ve never been good at finding them, but have truly mastered eating them.

    sorry you were tick’led…

  27. Raul Alanis says:

    beavers have to be some of the greatest animals…


  28. Monica Hess says:

    Gosh, that was fun! I don’t care much for ticks, though!

  29. Amy says:

    Kathy, if it makes you feel any better…my father-in-law ‘smushed’ a huge morel in my secret spot while spot spraying weeds in or orchard. He also decided to spray the whole ‘morel’ area. ouch…my little morel babies…all gone. I had a secret morel spot a few years back and it was FULL, full I tell you, of GIANT MORELS…the ones that are 12″ high! I filled buckets and pails of them. Alas, the land was rented by another farmer and now it is their spot. )-: Time to find a new secret spot. There is still time. Morel Hunters Unite! (-:

  30. Kathy says:

    Again, thank you, Readers! I have another half dozen swamp photos; maybe will get them published later today. The weather is turning sooo cold with 3-6 inches of wet crazy snow forecast for tonight into tomorrow. No morel hunting this weekend. Then, again, maybe no ticks either!

  31. Trudie says:

    We won’t see it again, because you ate it! 😀 There may be others though. . . if we’re lucky.
    I’m still here. Still reading. Just not always commenting! Thank you for your awesome sstories

    • Kathy says:

      I’m glad you’re still reading, Trudie. And that you enjoy the stories. I love telling stories. Love, love, love telling stories! (Can you tell?)

  32. rubiescorner says:

    Wow! I read every bit of your adventure and the comments. Thanks for putting this on the web to see and share. Awesome!

  33. Kathy at last I got to follow you into the swamp. So happy to see a live beaver, and the sandhill crane is beautiful. So too morels and ticks. I don’t like ticks but not repulsed by them. Their animal medicine is powerful and useful.

  34. Carla – You’re absolutely right about their medicine being powerful and useful. I had a beaver totem for almost 20-years (it’s a Kestrel now). That energy helped me to build my business.

    Laurie Buchanan

  35. Kathy says:

    Carla and Laurie, I would like to have had you sitting quietly in the swamp honoring the medicine of the animals. If all 30-some people who commented were in the swamp together, though, we probably would have been too noisy. Better to have shared the medicine of the animals virtually…we can all now benefit from the gift of the sandhill crane, the beaver and the–err–blessed–wood ticks.

  36. holessence says:

    “Virtual” is also good when there’s SNOW! The weather is certainly topsy-turvy. We may reach a high of 46-degrees today. Most people down in my neck of the woods wait until Mother’s Day to plant. I don’t think that’s going to be the case this year …

    Enjoy your workshop, Kathy!

  37. Pingback: Don’t take me too seriously. « Lake Superior Spirit

  38. Pingback: Thank you for four wonderful years of blogging here. | Lake Superior Spirit

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