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Nature’s Gifts by Scot Stewart: Splashes of spring offer a chance to see something new

An up-close view of a tree’s bark is shown. (Photo courtesy of Scot Stewart)

Splash a little spring on me. We are starting the second week of spring and with the extra time and restrictions have thrown at us, we have new opportunities to explore outdoors, get some exercise, fresh air and sunshine. And a chance to see something new. Some of us now have more days we can to venture outdoors — weekdays as well as the good old weekends. It definitely makes getting out on those glorious sunny days easier, but also in the precious early morning hours when more birds are now singing more, and the warmth of the sun hasn’t erased the cool work of Jack Frost during the night. It is spring after all and perhaps the most moving season of the year as it rejuvenates spirits and brings inner beings back to life along with flowers, tree buds and over amorous chipmunks. They are all sights to behold!

Henry David Thoreau was mentioned here yesterday as someone who learned much from his time spent outdoors while living five years at Walden Pond. “Sometimes, …I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness…I grew in those season like corn in the night.”

Before “leaf out,” when buds on the trees begin to unfurl, springtime offers some special opportunities to experience the outdoors. One is a chance to examine the amazing detail of tree trunks — bark, old scars, lightning strikes, sapsucker runs across old maples and lichen colonies. Amazing details of past lives and past adventures of our arboreal neighbors. Before the leaves appear and snow completely melts, there is much more light under the canopy of branches opening entire vistas of tree trunks. Sidewalk edges, back yards, city parks and cemeteries offer a wide variety of American basswood, red, white and jack pines, birch, poplar, eastern hemlocks, ashes, northern red oaks, sugar, red and striped maples. Big bold trees with lots of character.

Marquette’s city and Northern Michigan University’s wonderful arborists have seen any other types of trees have also been added to the landscape. Gingko, Kentucky coffee, Ohio buckeye, American sycamore and white oaks are some of those introduced to town. The variety provides many chances to take a closer look at how they are wrapped and protected from fungi, bacteria and insects. Red pine bark is a favorite. With plenty of them at McCarty Cove, Presque Isle and Tourist Park, there are many to examine with their detailed mosaics of brick reds, browns, tans and grays. Stop and meet some of your other neighbors. They have lots to tell you and have nothing contagious!

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