Tag Archives: wild flowers

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.

Fischen Scheiße Nebenfluss

At least that’s how a website translated the title into German. I have no clue if it’s correct, but I like the way it sounds.

The majority of the day was spent meeting deadlines. Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait. Me working from home and them sitting at the corporate headquarters of a major company in some northern Illinois suburb.

I knew we’d be done by 3 PM. It was the Friday before a holiday weekend. Nobody that works for a major corporation would stay till the end of the day right before a 3 day weekend. If they had bothered working at all.

Sure enough, at 3 PM we were done, bye, have a great weekend.

May as well go fishing now.

The rain of the past couple of days was substantial. My preference was to go fish a creek, but I already knew they were all blown out. I went out of my way to verify this while on my way to a Fox River high water spot. Sure enough, high, fast, muddy and not even worth going near. I had no choice but to employ high water fishing techniques on the river, which I’ve come to despise.

High water fishing reminds me of bank angling. Can’t stand doing that. I feel like an idiot standing on shore and fishing. Luckily I know the areas I fish well enough that I can still walk around in the water a bit even when it’s high. Up to a point. One incident of almost getting sucked under a log jam has me a bit leery, so now I keep a respectful distance from log jams.

Easy enough though, cast out to current seams, bring your lure in keeping it tight to shore (at your feet) and wait for a hit. Watched the first fish of the day hit a couple of times before I was able to hook it. I offered it up to the fishing gods, but they said it was too small.

Not for me.

The next one was a little better. The gods were pleased and spirited it away.

I wound up catching a half dozen of them. This time of year between the spawn and some pretty aggressive eating habits, the fish can start to look pretty beat up. Every one of them had something going on with their heads. Scratches, raw open wounds and most had fins that looked like they had been chewed on.

There was one stretch where I wasn’t comfortable being in the water. When that happens and I wind up on shore, I get easily distracted by my surroundings and go wandering off to find things to photograph, interesting or not.

I thought they were interesting at the time.

Then I would go back to fishing. In case you never noticed, in the pictures I take I try to show the cover or structure where the fish hit. I think this one is pretty obvious.

I’ve noticed that the big floodplain along this stretch is getting used more. So far the trash that comes along with use, especially the mountains of beer cans, has been concentrated in one area. But off in the woods someone is doing some exploring. Or just bored. Or building themselves someplace to live. I’ve built bonfires out of railroad ties that were bigger than this.

Eventually I got bored with the fishing and wandered around the floodplain. Sections of it were covered in phlox. Pretty much the last of the wild flowers that I could find. I could smell them before I could see them.

There were a few other flowering bushes in the area and it smelled like perfume in the air. At the house my ex now owns and my kids get to enjoy, I landscaped all around the house to take advantage of this spring perfume. Outside the kitchen window I planted a lilac bush. Under other windows I planted a variety of wild flowers, phlox being the most predominant. It’s scent seems to carry the furthest. In the spring, the house would smell wonderful.

I was going to hit another high water spot on the way home where I’ve been having a fair amount of success, but decided to just go home instead. Saturday will be another day. The creeks will be blown out, the river will be high. I’ll need to go out fishing, but I can’t do that again.

Instead I’ve decided to test my limits. I’ll be heading to a crystal clear lake that gets a tremendous amount of fishing pressure. I’ll walk the shores and fish, and I’ll catch fish. I know I will.

Maybe I’ll bring a lawn chair. A six pack of cheap beer. Throw the cans around when I’m done. Leave a worm container laying on the ground when I leave. A massive tangle of fishing line or two.

Nah, I’d have to have a lobotomy in order to behave like that.

But it will be a nice test. I know I’ll catch fish and then I won’t do it again till next spring.

Fishing like that once a year is more than enough.

More than that would require a lobotomy.