Thursday, morning, snow coming down pretty good and projected to continue into tomorrow. Gray sky and white falling stuff puts me in think-back mode, so I went through some old pix I want to share. One is from DNR files, picture of state patrol cars when officers finally stopped driving their own vehicles, and a shot I took while on foot patrol near Joe Louis Arena last May. The Detroit photo is a beauty. Talk about weird sights conservation officers get to see!
News came a few minutes ago in an email from my pal Colleen in Idaho : Glen Sheppard, legendary publisher and editor of The North Woods Call, our state’s in print-conscience and junkyard guard-dog for conservation since the 1970s, is dead. A Korean War vet (US Army), Shep never backed away from duty, a good cause, a nasty fight, or a friend. He spoke plain language anyone and everyone could understand and he appreciated people who defended their own positions.
He loathed toadies, dandies, and politicians who’d never held jobs outside politics. And he loved the people of Michigan who thought sitting in a thick wet swale listening to Pats drum the equivalent of a Mozart symphony.
And he loved his dogs, and his cats and basically any critter that insinuated itself into his life through whatever route.
And despite his courage, oft displayed, Mary Lou was the commandant at home. And a damn good one, he would say.
He loved Conservation Officers and they him. Sometimes he beat up on them when he thought it was deserved and he had his brogans up the keesters of top DNR management too many times to count. But he was always ready to listen. He didn’t go around claiming he was fair and balanced because the only value he used to evaluate things was the cost to our environment and what it would mean for the legacy to our kids and grandkids. When it comes to our natural resources he drew a line in the sand. Beyond here, we do not retreat. Damn he’ll be missed.
Last year Rusty Gates left us, now Shep. Two close friends and pals for as long as I can remember and Shep was devastated by
Only good thing: I can see the two of them already looking for a spot on a river bank to wait out the hatch, maybe puff a nasty old cigar while they wait, swap war stories.
Ask me, every person in this state ought to got off their asses and onto their feet and stand at attention for a minute while Taps play on every radio and TV station in this state. But it won’t happen.
Shep didn’t mince words or suffer fools and he treasured this state for what is in our hearts and dreams, even when politicians were trying to hawk it away like two-bit carnie vendors. Our condolences go to Mary Lou and the family, which frankly we might well count into the thousands or more. A giant walked among us and we are poorer today than any economic recession could make us. I was his editorial cartoonist for about a decade and sometimes I’d send in a ‘toon and sometimes he call me with an idea. The calls would go something like this.
HIM: Hey, Shep here. Got an idea, bucket of water with a wire across the top, little dowel piece on teh wire, peanut butter on the dowel. Mouse goes out on the wire, dowel turns, spins mouse into water and he drowns in the bucket. Mouse trap, get it? Next week okay?
ME: Ya sure. You catchin any trout?
HIM: Who the hell has time, but I got some dandy mushrooms and no, I ain’t tellin’ you where.
Or, Shep here. You ever fish the Black in the PRC?”
“You got to. I’ll tell Joe J (PRC Honcho)you’ll be walking in around Blue Lakes. Gotta go. Have fun and leave some for me. Click.
I am going to miss that contankerous sonovabitch. More to the point, so is the entire state. Who will step to the plate in his place?
God knows. Literally.
Shep was 74.
I was looking through history disks from the DNR and ran across the one shown below. Not long ago I had a CO show me how a bobcat’s back leg under certain conditions could be seen as a tail and make the wildcat look like a cougar. Back when I was in college at MSU in the early sixties there were occasional stories of mystery cats around the state. The following photo is intriguing only in showing that cat oddities have been around a lot longer than me. Personally this looks like a plain brown envelope bobcat to me and I suspect it was ignorance of the editor who wrote the photo caption that even raised the specter of cougars. But who knows? Enjoy. Over.
All through December we had 2-3 birds slamming into the sliding glass door in the studio on a daily basis. Apparently they ate berries off a bush by the dining room window — berries that had fermented– thereby getting themselves a little buzz on, couldn’t set their gyroscopes set quite right, lifted off, and Bap! This morning, the first monday of 2011, the sun is out, an inch of fresh fluffy snow on the ground, the air cool and BAM! a much louder than usual crash, a Cooper’s hawk pursing drunk prey, which somehow managed to zig and the hawk didn’t and whacked the door, dropped to the deck, shook his head, hopped up into the maple tree to clear his brain pan of fuzz, and after a minute of so, winged his way to greener pastures so to speak. Hey, hunting for subsistance ain’t easy and this is a good thing to remember when old folks start talking about the good old days that weren’t so good in a lot of ways. Happy first week of the new year! Over.
The attached photograph is of a very healthy male brown trout netted from a very diminutive stream in west michigan, not one of the famous big waters further north, and this gorilla is one of the reasons I feel no real need to leave the state to fish for trout. We have more here than I can ever catch: browns, bows, steelhead, brookies. How many days till the opener? Whew! Over.
Happy New Year to each and all. How long will it take to adjust to writing 2011 instead of 2010? That year went by on a rocket sled and last night celebrated by watching the New York Philharmonic with pianist Long Long, as we dined on Moroccan lambe stew with apricots, raisins and pears. Very aromatic and tasty, all washed down with a bottle of 2005 Margaux — definitely a recipe I put in Grady Service’s kitchen for a specail occasion. My old computer bit it as the year’s end closed in and I am now using newer, updated (not necessarily better) programs. Ergo I can’t find animal counts from past year, but I will continue to search. However, I can provide my annual count for 2010, animals randomly observed while hiking, driving, fishing, working with the DNR, everything. (A + after the number means I saw more but was unable to get an accurate count):
SANDHILLS CRANES: 970+
DEAD DEER: 490
GREAT BLUE HERON: 124
BALD EAGLE: 102
GOLDEN EAGLE: 4
REDTAIL HAWK: 132
PILEATED WOODPECKERS: 36
COOPERS HAWKS: 20
LESSER YELLOW LEGS: 19
REDBELLY WOODPECKERS: 95
FLICKERS (DOLLAR-BUTTS): 15
SNOWSHOE HARES: 9
GREAT HORNED OWL: 1
BLACK CORMIES: 3
SCARLET TANAGER: 2
SPRUCE GROUSE: 2
GR. NORTHERN HARRIER: 1
0755 this a.m. we got a little terra firma-
shaker here, from a 5-point something quake centered about 50 miles north of Big Nap. The weather bashers are calling for temps in the high 40s tomorrow, possibly into the 50s. Ah, Michigan, America’s economic Third World Nation. The birds have been going bonkers with the weather change, even yesterday when ice fog painted all the trees with hoar frost and the chill factor was +8. Nice Christmas here with kids and five dogs. Photos follow for you enjoyment. Happy New Year, Over.
Faith in The Time Of Twatoos
Reflecting on Send-Times when all,
Digital devices in hand
Texters coming in at rates of Mo’ thin
Nine thou, month, some
Surveys insist, which makes
Me sweat with a telecomic mist
I do declare Scarlet of mein
marvel as to how anyone
Ever in the history of history,
[which we’ll later address]
Could have that much to propound
To anyone, even to god.
Finger-pecking across all bands,
Propelling drivel by hand through time
Across unnamed unwired space.
Time to duck this telecommunistic race
[silicomers want us all to have all the same stuff]
That night we just may sit alone,
From beepers and phones,
Undocked on the couch downstairs
To watch Times Square’s ball Pfall
Like a damn mass play-time
For alleged adults too thick
To imagine entertainment
As a solo undertaking
My apologies to Patton
Who slapped boys upside their heads
Roughing them up in dressing stations
On account he would brook no cowards
[Only lunatics, we grant in retro
Hymngrateself not knowing PTSD was real]
unt having apologized grudgingly,
Beloved General Wronghead
was plethorally decorated
And publicly acclaimed
The way Self-Declared Greatest Generation Heroes
Were done, so to speak.
Still, I suppose we must long for heroes
As people always have,
Soupcon with faces and names
Think Shagsper’s bear: Sackerson
Spoken of, never seen on stage,
A name Elizabethans knew
As we do Lady Gaga, Madonna,
[Even out in far Montana]
Oft-baited, never defeated
Capable of magnificent rages,
Great Bear Defiant, Hound-Killer
[Like Sam Grant in his prime,
The Big Blue Spear honed, boned, oiled,
And pointed one way: Sudsud,
Burn em all, burn em all
The long, the short, and the tall]
C’est une saltimbanque grande
Performers for hominidal
Crowds of baying homunculi,
Gawking cultural mouth breathers,
Such as today might well believe
Easter Bunny drives Ford trucks
And mankind is only five thou in
Birthday candle of age-ness,
Here in the Time of Twatoo Art
Argumentum ad populum
Reigning over hard science
Ursus regnum faith trumping
Higher maths and miles of fossil records.
[Were dinosaurs hatched in movie
Studios like moon landings?]
By majorily manority
Opined on cable by clerisy
[we who badmouth Eyerainians for same]
To hail as Emo’s Evo Equal
Which sounds like a texting plan
We can’t afford to decline.
This fellow called here one day,
Not so long ago,
Announced The Holy Spirit
(female historians insist until the fifth cent)
How HE performed 27 miracles
In November alone, fueled solely by local prayer,
But no names or facts available,
[No police report equiv on God’s beat, except
where we want to extract revenge on those
who dare disagree on the unverifiable]
In this local case,
The minkyster having said
faith and privacy must prevail
over factual public knowledge,
Language of a sort I seem to remember
From our Cold War days,
When blackblackblack meant black,
And whitewhitewhite meant Lone Ranger,
All of us in lock step all lip-synching
(even the media) total faith
That sitting under our first grade desks
Would keep us free
Of fallout from Soviet radioactivity.
Granted, not Sam this time,
But verification was then partner to faith
Paramount where nuke bombs
Were at issue crost PointeeTalky-Tables
Where Uncle Sammers and Russky-buskers
Not like now, when faith alone
Is supposed to carry water
[Bucketless if your faith be strong]
Ten was one helluva year as bad years go.
Michigan southeast of home
Yesterday former Spartan LaxmanTed Swoboda looked out on his deck long enough to get his camera clicking to capture a bluebird, which was apparently driven off by the other words. Ted notes how bright the bird’s plumage is for this time of year, even on a gray December day. First bluebird ever at his feeders. Enjoy. Over.
Happy Holidays to each and all and thanks to all of my readers and supporters. Hey,did you hear that our outgoing governorship signed a law to authorize a moose hunt? The DNR doesn’t even know for sure how many animals there are and in the 52 years I’ve been going up to the Yoop (and I mean ALL OVER THE PLACE) I’ve never seen a one. Been close, but still waiting to see my first. Makes me think perhaps this deal is premature anda touch ass-backwards. Shouldn’t the way this happens be our biologists would declare — based on empirical data — that we have a herd that needs culling for biological reasons, THEN ask political operatives to put in place a season to take care of the biological needs? But hey, what do I know? Be safe and be happy. We’ll re-open the Worry Ward after the first. Go State, kick Nick Saban’s miserable butt. Over.