Friday, May 4, 4:25-5:20 p.m.
Sand and clay, unpaved, this section of road is rain-braided after yesterday’s downpour. Warm sunshine has brought out birds and insects, all busy about making their respective livings here where a tributary of Houdek Creek is crossed by the lowest point of the road. This tributary creek, very small and easily overlooked at this point, takes a winding and circuitous path, not directly to nearby Lake Michigan but joining Houdek Creek to debouche at the north end of Lake Leelanau, the nearest inland lake.
This small scene resists simplification. Every tree limb has its complicated branching, every branch its complex leafings and buddings, and the ground beneath is thick and rich with last year’s dead grasses and weeds, in the midst of which this year’s green shoots spring. At the edge of the road are horsetails, in their small, ferny stage. Sapless stalks of old cattails, brittle and sun-bleached, stand, lean, and lie all about. A small willow clump leafs out in the streambed. Red osiers mix with cattails, and tamaracks sprout this year’s fresh, young green. On slightly higher ground are birch and cedar. Up the hill, maple and beech.
A song sparrow sounds almost like a mechanical bird, as does the nearby rooster over the hill. A call note sounds: Cheet. Cheet. Cheet. Another bird has a song of two notes, Tee-oh! followed by a chirpy trill. A honeybee lands on a blossomless, leafy branch--clambers, tumbles, rests, and moves on. An ant makes its laborious way across the white page of sketchbook, then runs nervously, helter-skelter, toward more familiar footing. On the surface of the creek, water striders jerk and drift, jerk and drift. Sun flashes blindingly on the water.
Green blades, flat and narrow, stream like long hair in the flow, and shadows of air bubbles and small pieces of debris race along the sandy bottom. When the surface trembles in the breeze, even ripples cast shadows. The creek’s quiet song, small and near, is easily lost in the louder sounds of birds and even background noise of a jet overhead or a distant tractor, but the creek goes its own way, uncaring of the rest of the world. More narrow, green blades along its bank lean in graceful curves, striped with sun and shadow.
The sun is warm, the breeze slight, cool, and refreshing. A redwing blackbird calls.