JD Allinder

Dolph Nature Area

In Posts on May 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm

What a beautiful weekend! It felt more like fall than spring (which is, obviously, fine by me). It was blustery and cold – not just chilly – with intense wind gusts (50mph?) and sub-freezing night time temps. Just lovely enough to put a spring in Jane’s step and keep me in a perpetual good humor.

If only the whole spring and summer could be so desolate and dramatic. The aforementioned winds blew all day Saturday and took down many trees in the wild as well as a sizable branch of an ailing crabapple tree in my back garden. (Which actually saved me the trouble of pruning. Thanks, Mother Nature.)

After cleaning up the yard debris, Jane and I went to Dolph Nature Area in Ann Arbor near the corners of Jackson and Wagner Roads. It’s a 57-acre plot with two lakes – First Sister Lake and Second Sister Lake – and a large pond. There are several wetland areas bordering the lakes and a mile or so of wooded trails featuring both hardwoods and evergreens. It was our first visit. (We tried visiting once in the winter, but there was suspicious activity going on in the parking lot, so we didn’t stay.) Jane loves novelty, so she enthusiastically checked out every nook and cranny. I even perched myself in a pine hoping Jane would tree me, but she just gave me that puzzled look that dogs give their human companions when they’re acting out of character.

I’ve been told by a friend that the water and land at Dolph are heavily polluted by industrial waste, but I can’t find any documentation to support that. It certainly looks fine, but I kept Jane out of the lakes just in case.

Unfortunately, Dolph is too small to warrant another visit any time soon. Jane and I combed the entire property – twice – in about an hour. The trails are unchallenging, and I couldn’t get the thought of toxic waste out of my mind the entire time we were exploring. I’m glad we checked it out, but it’s definitely the kind of place to check in with once per season.

We finished our afternoon at the lush and pristine Saginaw Forest across the street. We had the entire place to ourselves, and Jane ran freely and beautifully minded my commands. The sky spit rain on us from time to time, but the showers were always followed by blinding bouts of sunshine and cold breezes. I would have sworn it was late October had it not been for the foot-tall dandelions, the at-their-peak trillium, the almost-there-but-not-quite-yet lilies of the valley, and the absolutely exploding honeysuckle. Large swaths of trail were practically engulfed by honeysuckle, and I was almost overwhelmed by their fragrance. (I can’t imagine what they smelled like to Jane whose olfactory system is 1,000 times greater than mine.) I broke off a small branch of the flower (after asking the shrub for permission and subsequently thanking it) and carried it with me for a mile or so, smothering my face in it, becoming nearly intoxicated. I thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jane smelled like honeysuckle?” I asked her if she’d like that, and she responded by laughing at me and immediately rolling in the fetid and rotting carcass of some less fortunate quadruped.


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