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Nature’s Gifts by Scot Stewart

An ice formation is shown. (Photo courtesy of Scot Stewart)

In his book “The Journey Home”, Edward Abbey describes walking this way: “There are some good things to say about walking…Walking takes longer than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. This it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and therefore more interesting. You have time to observe the details.”

It seems those details of nature are so often overlooked. Getting outside and using all the senses are becoming a bigger part of our lives, and being surrounded with sounds, smells, textures and other signs of life, and maybe even the taste of a mapsicle, an icicle of frozen maple sap hanging from a broken sugar maple branch, is way better than being stuck in a car wondering if the light is going to change before you get to the intersection of Front Street and Lakeshore Blvd.! In the car, those other details go by just too fast.

Big storms during colder weather like the one a week ago, and good old fashion thaws have created some great eves droppers – icicles. Some great jagged teeth of ice bore out of the edges of boulders on the Black Rocks at Presque after that storm, a unique one for this time of year because the waves and wind came out of the north. One of the rare sets of icicles dangled from the bottom of a huge rock covered in a wavy layer of ice. The icy covering added an extra, delightful layer of to a boulder already wearing a speckled yellow coat of lichen.

The sounds of a slow drip are usually welcome if something is dripping in spring. It can mean there is a broken branch in a maple tree when the sap is running and is racing to a dead end. On cold mornings it could be an icicle of sap frozen during the night and now melting. An icicle like that often has a faint tint, leaves a sticky residue and definitely has a sweet, maple flavor. It takes 40 quarts of sap to make a quart of syrup, so the maple taste and sweetness is delicate, and delicious. It has a gently sweet taste that will get you in the mood for spring.

The splash of Lake Superior waves or a rushing river current can create spring icicles also hoping to melt in the warm spring sun. Like pendulums on a grandfather clock they hang down over the water waiting to be enjoyed. Slow down, and look along the edges of Whetstone Creek, Orianna Brook and Lake Superior for some of these one-day wonders for the details of the daily splash.

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