Other Responses

Here is a nature journal entry from my friend Donna, a math teacher: (pdf)

Instead of heading home after morning Jazzercise class, I drove to Broadford Park and pulled in near the boat ramp. Placing my folding chair along the shore, I snuggled into a blanket to ward off the 55 degree air and started to read. Three geese leisurely swam by.

A chapter later, the serenity was broken by a squawking “V” of geese flying overhead. They circled, broke rank, then angled down as each bird skimmed the surface of the water on running feet and dropped to a stop. As if responding to an alert, more battalions of V’s followed suit joining the convocation. Overwhelming noise echoed as each of the 150 to 200 birds tried to be heard over the others. What was the topic of the debate? Religion? The weather? Zoning regulations? The economic feasibility of environmental issues? Were they the Democrats vs the Republicans fighting over a bill? Did the Montagues confront the Capulets? For twenty minutes, the blaring tune they sang had indistinguishable lyrics. Being monolingual, I’d wished I could translate the language of geese. These foreign words had the power to captivate me, overshadowing the words in my book.

On cue, the flock separated into two assemblies. Each group paddled to a cove provided privacy by a copse of trees on the dividing peninsula. Were they breaking into committees to plan negotiations? Maybe this was a middle school dance with the boys and the girls seeking safe refuge. Their shouting continued to block out the stillness of the morning. A subcommittee of ten birds then swam to the beach, waddled through the sand to the carpet of grass, and took up residence there.

Unexpectedly, a hush fell over the crowd. Tranquility returned with deafening silence. Had they reconciled their dispute? Had they come to a peaceful compromise with the debate settled? Did they table the discussion until the next meeting? Or, did they just give up?

A lone goose flew in. Only one squawk questioned his tardiness.

Another kind of nature called. I packed up my blanket, chair, and book. As I walked to my car, I noticed a caterpillar on the picnic table and hoped that he would bear witness to that afternoon’s agenda in my absence.

Driving off, I could hear an occasional chirp. Someone else wanted a voice.

A response from Miles Milkovich (pdf)

Morning on the Manistee

Today I will visit the river known as the Manistee. This river was named by the Indians that were native to the area. The English translation of the Indian word “Manistee” is not clear, but a great many people believe that the symbolic name loosely translated means “the Spirit of the Wild.” I believe that is a most appropriate name for what I am about to describe.

I reach the area of the river I wish to view and park my vehicle. I take care not to slam the door so I do not disturb the peaceful quiet of the May morning. Before I take my first step, I look about me and tune in my senses to the sights, sounds and smells of magnificent river. The silence of the forest is subtle-yet in a way overwhelming. I think subconsciously I am attuned to listening for noise. When it is not present-the quiet stillness is a welcomed comfort.

I walk a few paces to find a trail that descends down a gentle slope to the river. Today this single path has been traveled by two Whitetail deer evidenced by two sets of tracks. The trail is surrounded by vegetation including wild grasses and flowers that glisten with drops of dew in the early morning sunlight. The flowers and grass eventually give way to Hemlock pines, jack pines and cedar trees and finally reeds and plants that border the water’s edge.

Now I am at the water’s edge and I survey the sight before me. I watch the water’s flow-notice the colors of the river-dark green and blue highlighted by the sun’s dancing rays. Upon the nearly still or slowly moving pools the sun has created shadow paintings of the tall pines and cedars on their surfaces. Just then another movement catches my eye-it is the pure crystal white flowing motion of the water rushing about protruding rocks that dot the Manistee’s surface all along it’s westward course. Droplets of water splash into the air about the rock and create a shower of tiny diamonds as they dance briefly in the sun before they again drop back into the ever flowing stream.

As it flows, if one listens carefully-the river seems to murmur a lullaby. To me it is melody of calm contentment-yet it bears a strong purpose. That purpose is these waters will be carried to their journey’s end where they will merge with the waters of Lake Michigan and the Manistee will flow no further. Miles Milkovich