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Distracted by Shiny Objects

While out wild asparagus hunting the other day, the asparagus wasn’t up yet so I kept getting distracted by shiny objects.

Okay, and not so shiny objects, but objects none the less.

Let’s just say I’m easily distracted.

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A Walk in the Woods and the Water

With a weekend where both days were at 80 degrees, a walk in the woods and the water seemed to be called for. Spring days like this should be taken advantage of.

On March 12th I had waded down to the mouth of a creek and on the point where the creek meets the river was a nesting goose. That’s the blurry shot at the top of this post. I thought this was far too early, but what do I know about geese. I do know I haven’t seen another one on a nest till a couple of days ago.

Saturday I thought I’d go check out the goose. I had made the decision to fish my way down to the point, but the fishing got boring and I decided to just stroll. Off in the distance I could see a goose in the water below the point and swimming around it were little yellow objects. As I got closer they all jumped up on the point and when I got to the point, all I could see was a goose head and neck sticking out above the brush keeping an eye on me. I’m sure the gosslings were tucked up under the goose.

Turning around, I became very aware that I was being watched. This one was giving no ground and I gave it some distance out of respect. Those that have followed this blog along for a few years have probably seen the stories about my run ins with nesting geese in the past.

I had no interest in reliving those moments.

I wandered along a shore and took a gratuitous shot down the river on a nice day.

As I started to wander down the shore again, I heard a low hiss. I immediately stopped in my tracks. My previous run ins with geese have burned that hiss into my memory. I stopped a few feet shy of stepping on this.

I’ve seen that look before too. I didn’t have much time to get out of the way before all hell broke loose.

Sunday I decided to go wander a big flood plain on a small creek to see if the Virginia Bluebells and other wildflowers were in bloom. If you like to wander around in the woods and you know a place where the Virginia Bluebells cover the forest floor like a carpet for as far as you can see, next weekend should be perfect.

Today there were a few blooming, but most were still thinking about it. An unknown little white flower was less shy.

And no, I won’t tell you my spot. As far as I can tell I’m the only one that goes there. For well over a decade, I’ve never come across another foot print and I like it that way.

On the way out I walked along the base of a steep hill, I guess you could call this a bluff, it’s that steep. Flowers on the hill caught my eye. I’ve never noticed this before, but there’s a good chance I’ve never walked along the bottom of this hill in the spring before. I’ve never seen these anywhere else and they were only growing on this steep slope.

I have no clue what they are and don’t have a clue on how to even start searching for what these might be. I’m hoping somebody that sees this (ahem, Walt Franklin) will know right off the top of their heads.

I’ll be back here next week and expect to see the bluebells in full bloom. That weekend I’ll also be making my first foraging foray for wild asparagus. If time allows, I’ll also be checking out a potential treasure trove of fungi, morels and chicken of the woods.

Funny to me, I have your typical full time job and with commuting and working, I’m gone twelve hours of the day. If I were to retire tomorrow, this time of year my wife still wouldn’t get to see me for twelve hours a day.

I’m sure I would be out wandering around somewhere.

Every day.

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At Least I got a Fishing License

At least I got a fishing license, even though the rod hasn’t been put back in the car. Had to take it out a couple of weeks ago and it never made it’s way back. At least the trunk is still loaded with everything needed. Now to put it to use, maybe.

The Fox River is doing it’s usual spring high, fast and muddy thing. Catching smallmouth bass out of the river under these conditions is easy. Fish close to shore, fish close to obstructions. It’s called dabbling and after many years of doing that every spring, it’s got old.

Decided today to just go for a walk in the woods, but I also figured I may as well go check out four nearby creeks while wandering the woods. Unlike the river, they were all crystal clear and in perfect shape. Still went with the walk instead of fishing.

The main reason to head out to the woods was to see how the undergrowth was coming along. No leaves on the trees, plenty of light getting down to the forest floor, makes things sprout. Today is the last of the colder days. From here on out, supposedly, it’s all uphill temperature wise. Or so they say.

For now, things are trying to grow. The next couple of weeks should see a dramatic improvement.

The woods I walked today run along two of my favorite creeks, so I was killing two birds with one stone. I got to enjoy both.

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What was once an easy stroll down the creek has changed over the winter. It’s now an obstacle course. Will be interesting to navigate this when I get to it.

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I’ve seen this creek clear like this many times and it’s nice to go to spots where smallies get caught. From a different vantage point, it’s easy to see why.

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Birds, waterfowl and tree dwellers were everywhere. I was grateful when these two chose to ignore me. Faithful readers of this blog will recall my run ins with nesting geese on creeks.

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Many Aprils over the years have been spent fishing this creek with this one pool consistently producing every time. I wondered if I’d come back again this month to find out if it’s still consistent.

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Wandering along the creek I came across a found object, if you want to call it that. I tend to call them Shit I Trip Over. Considering where I am, it makes you wonder how many decades it’s just been sitting here all by itself.

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The signs of beavers on these creeks are everywhere, though the beavers themselves are seldom seen. Finally figured out that with the bigger trees, they just use them for sharpening their teeth.

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I found this interesting at the time, not sure why.

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Headed off to another creek with the intention of wandering the woods along it’s banks, but I was met with more of the same under growth waiting for more warmth. While walking over the little bridge over the creek I noticed that the suckers were making their migration upstream. That I didn’t expect. I assumed like the plants, they would be delayed by a couple of weeks too.

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Mixed in with the hundreds of suckers were hundreds of shad.

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This next one may be difficult to see. I almost didn’t see it, but my shadow spooked it and it moved. I could see the distinctive bars of a northern hog sucker. Pretty good size on it too and it looked to be a good 16 inches. I’ve been told it’s rare to come across them, but coming across them is a good thing. I’ve been seeing them in these creeks on and off for years and apparently they are a sign of high quality water.

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I’m sure this week I’ll put the rod in the car and next weekend I’ll be met with a conundrum.

Do I wander around taking pictures and fishing or just wander around like I did today.

It is kind of nice not hauling around all that fishing shit.

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An Hour Earlier There Were no Clouds

I had no intention of going out at sunset on Sunday because an hour earlier there were no clouds.

While doing dishes in front of the west facing kitchen window, I saw clouds building on the horizon and moving fast.

No time to go far, so I chose the barn spot ten minutes away. Good spot anyway. Highest spot on the ridge with a nice sweeping view to the west.

The winds were still intense, but not as bad as the day before and at least this time they were no where near as cold.

In the shots, this time, that’s rain coming down.

Colder than I thought it would be.

But at least I could get next to the east facing wall.

The wind would die completely, I wasn’t getting pelted by rain and if felt down right balmy out.

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When the Clouds are Right

When the clouds are right, it’s hard to go out and not get half way decent photo’s as long as you include part of the sky.

Today the clouds were right.

But the wind wasn’t.

25 mph winds with gusts up to 50. Temps in the upper 30’s with wind chills in the low 20’s. If you don’t know what that’s like here in northern Illinois, it could best be described as unpleasant.

I knew this when I headed out the door and decided to drive the back roads in the lower Fox Valley, but I saw it as an opportunity to explore areas I haven’t been to in years and mentally mark them for further exploration at a later date.

Preferably when conditions might be better described as pleasant.

Controlling the car in the many open areas became a challenge. Wind gusts would hit the car and staying between the lines wasn’t easy. Luckily few drive these roads so traffic wasn’t an issue.

Pretty much all of the shots below are out the window shots. Of course a few times I had to get out of the car to get a better angle on something and I quickly realized what a mistake that was. Even at 200 pounds I’m no match for wind gusts of 50. Standing out in the open and trying to hold steady was next to impossible as I got pummeled. Even in the car it was difficult to hold the camera steady. A car parked on the edge of an open field and getting buffeted by high winds tends to rock back and forth, a lot.

In some of the shots, that’s not rain, it’s snow.

And not snow flakes, but snow pellets.

And by the time they were near the ground they were going nearly horizontal at anywhere between 25 and 50 mph.

And if you were stupid enough to be standing outside the car trying to get a better angle for a shot when one of these blew through and they hit what little exposed skin you had, it stung like a sonovabitch.