Michigan Nature Monday: Vernal Pools

From time to time we will share articles found out and about on the internet. Articles that have special interest to our lives.

This is one of those posts.

Vernal pools provide critical habitat for certain animal species that rely on these fishless habitats for their survival and/or reproduction.

Michigan Nature Association
https://www.michigannature.org/

My wife and I found land to build a home in our pursuit of the American Dream.
In a little rural town near family and good public schools: the priority.
The commute to the workplace and larger cities is made short by highways and roads in good order: a bonus.
The town’s locally owned grocery store and a lumber yard were holding their own amongst the onslaught of big box stores: convenience and Hell Yeah!

Though many things had changed since I lived here in my younger days,  the all grown up “City” still, a great place to set roots and raise a family. And with a newly signed mortgage, house plans, and a trusted contractor, we were ready to get out of hectic urban shenanigans and prepared to get started.

The carpet of violets struck me the most!

the day I fell in love

I pulled up to a for sale by owner sign posted on about 60 feet of road frontage framed by some elderly maple and boxelder on the west property line and a catalpa matriarch surrounded by scotch pine to the east. A dense growth of some vine on both sides, climbing the hurricane fence to the west making a fine privacy feature, and the low trees and pines to the east, in a battle for survival.

I pulled into the sandy two-track path between two existing homes and motored slowly down the trail. A patch without trees, where brambles heavy with fruit, past a small junk pile just a way in, and from there, the path encased in a canopy of higher trees flanked with some elderly oaks on the property line. The neighbor’s plots have been untouched over the years and are in a new late succession phase. Wildlife flittering and my mind, with the feeling of beauty and privacy, imagined.
The two-track meandered down a gradual slope to a lower elevation, slightly damp here, and almost immediately began climbing upward again to an open area where someone had fallen a bunch of Ash trees.

The clearing was full of “hell bushes” (The evilest spikey things I have ever encountered) and the fallen timbers of ash, but the view in the more undisturbed areas of the land was parklike. The southern wood line featured giant shagbark hickory and a few youngsters with feet in a carpet of violets, reaching into the clearing and guarding the entrance to the stand of mixed hardwood that was the rest of the property. The ground underneath them is clear and covered with leaf litter out to the far south property line. A line of larger oaks and maple divides this property from a farm field in fallow. I was anxious to make my claim! My head was again filled with dreams of privacy and nature—an image of a lavender-colored lawn, watching the wildlife with my morning coffee.

That day I fell in love with this property. It was a lovely early summer day.

Huston, we have a problem!

I need a Canoe!

Fast forward to the day, our contractor was out to lay out stakes for the building. This day was a delightful spring day!

The long two-track easement that would send electricity and cars to the central portion of the land and build site is impassable for two-wheel drive vehicles. A swampy finger along the building sites, high and dry, hooked around into the driving access and created a bottomless obstacle for machinery, men, and tools to the west. To the south, a Michigan silver maple version of a cypress swamp crept into the farm field past the massive trees on the property line and wetted our boots as we supposed the house’s location. To the east, I swear I saw my neighbor watching through his window with a knowing look and shaking his head.

We stood scratching our heads about how in the world we would get into the building site. We had to dry this out!  We had a building permit from the township but not from Mother.

My family, friends and I set to work! Good old-fashioned American determination, we set out with a backhoe, bobcat, and chainsaw to drain the spring rain and winter runoff, created by the area topography that drains to my backyard from every direction. Over 900 feet of ditch winding along the easement property lines doing everything I could to save as much of the nature that existed along the way. (Unknowing that the power company was to require that nearly everything in that easement was to be clear-cut.) In a couple of working weekends, we had a hell of a flow billowing out into the roadside ditch, running straight to the Flint River. Mission accomplished!

Thank goodness for friends and family

Hindsight can give you black eyes… and this is one of those times.

At the time, I was a green-minded, tree-hugger, treading lightly on this planet kind of guy. Then, I was doing the best I knew how. But then… I did things I wouldn’t do now. This Permaculture thing is, as my comrade in arms Mike Hoag says, is a “A Transformative Adventure” and its insights have done at least one thing for me, developed a deeper understanding of nature and the impact I have in it. I was a spectator.

Through my study, I have discovered patterns in nature’s big ole swirl. I learned to step back and attempt to look at the whole patterns in that swirl. This bit is the bit that was missing in my tree-hugging youth. Looking and seeing a “Whole” and attempting to understand my place in it.

As It turns out, our flooded backyard was a critical microclimate struggling to reestablish itself in the big swirl! A little turbulent in the eddies of the river of life, affecting the diversity of life on this planet.

I did not know a thing about Vernal Pools, but I did know about crawlspaces, the difficulty of excess water inside the home, and through my construction labor experience, how horrible it was to work in it. And today… I would never have built what or how I did. But I did… and as per the Prime Directive of Permaculture, I am moving forward.

For all the extra effort we went through in our attempt to preserve the natural beauty of this place,  we still had to make compromises for the utilities, make essential changes in the landscape to achieve building codes, and keep the house footings out of water. Even in our effort to be gentile carving out a place for ourselves in tranquil nature… we still carved out the flesh of mother earth, Life itself. She will need time to heal again… and that is why I will never stop yammering about this stuff. Permaculture gives us a pretty good set of tools to find our place on this planet, a place that is more cooperative with her, and I feel like there is a reward for doing so. She has been working these things out much longer than we have, and in one fell swoop, I have nearly undone the healing in progress from previous doings here on this land.

So get to walk about with a shiner. Especially these days as I declarer myself as an activist for what might be Permanent Culture.



Moving forward with the Prime Directive I will have to study this little swirl. My impact on it already pretty dramatic. How will I encourage it to “Be what it wants to be” and still have a place for myself in it and for others in the future? That is the question to all of us as we look at our impact on life on this planet.

Enjoy this article at Michigan Nature Monday featuring Vernal Pools in the link below as I set out to understand this whirl of life and engage it beneficially to both myself and mother earth.

This week’s Michigan Nature Monday features the amazing natural habitat of vernal pools. The Michigan Nature Association has been a lead partner in the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership for several years, and we are proud to have added to that commitment this year with a dedicated staff member – our Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership Coordinator–and the production of the Ephemeral video, produced in partnership with the award-winning videography team of […]

Michigan Nature Monday: Vernal Pools
Help Us Help Critters and Right Livelihoods with our Billboard Ads 😀👍 Find out more

The lawnmower 🤣

If you could un-invent something, what would it be?

A question asked as a writieing Prompt in my wp dashboard

Poaking at my WordPress phone app during a break at work… I couldn’t resist the temptation to answer this “Writers Prompt.” A new feature intended to help break writer’s block by WP.

The lawnmower I must admit wasn’t the first thing that popped into my mind, it was the plough! But it might be the path of least resistance chucking my thoughts out there into the internet. These crazy perspectives on the pattern that is our culture. I mean, at least I have an “In” with the beast that is the lawnmower. Not many of us enjoy the routine maintenance of mowing a lawn!

This brings me to a question. Hey! Flint River Watershed! are you aware of anyone in the lawn care industry doing “Lawn Care” better? There IS a place for mown grass in a permanent culture obviously.

***Edited from the orignal post to ad a snip from a FB conversation where I did a bit better job discribeing what I hope to do with our Billboards area***

From the conversation:

So let’s get on with it!
Long before I even heard about Permaculture, I learned of these fellas doing lawn care. Some fellas that work much like the lawn care professionals we currently can identify. Tending the traditional grassy expanse that the dominant culture seems to favor, but without using said pesticides and fertilizers. Not that they didn’t have a foot in economic patterns that we can see negative embedded energy. If I remember correctly, they sold lawn equipment as a side gig or vice versa.
They use organic amendments like compost layers, alfalfa pellets, and molasses flakes to give the soil life a sort of energy drink to create the lush green grassy space everyone loves. Using higher grass-cut heights to discourage “weed growth” and other tactics much “Less damaging to the planet,” I can’t remember the radio show now. But even this is “Better” just like solar and other “Green Inititivetives,” popular in the growing new economies. Even at this level, the “Lawn Care Profesional” pattern is a good start.
I think it would be a good startup business, even in our area, as folks become more aware of the compounding toxicity of lawn care as promoted by profiteers. I would seek to support this better pattern in efforts in my blog and master plan to overtake the world! The Billboards area of my website’s storefront is that effort. The blog is my attempt to undermine the dominant dream and world conquest lol 🙂 The Antilawn!

From conversation on the Facebook Group Permaculture Design Michigan

IS THERE? a business not polluting our water and dismantling the diversity of life on this planet with pesticides and toxic fertilizers? And would that person advocate and help care for a productive landscape vs a barren monoculture of grass, and ornamental plantings of exotic plants? And… are there folks out there wanting or needing to hire a business that would do such work? Remember, this blog is about turning our culture’s current pattern onto more sustainable paths, with an aim toward practices that are “Regenerative to Life .” From lawn care to agriculture, from the workplace to the checkout counter. And if you are out there! We want you! And if you are reading this? PLEASE GO HERE! LINK LOL Thanks 🙂

As far as the un invention of the lawnmower… For now, I want to introduce you to my favorite tools for keeping the advances of nature from taking over my place in it. (in the meme to the left and to the right part of the lawn maintained with them) We will discuss the details of the “Antilawn” and this seemingly ridiculous Meme in the future.

Meh Tools to the left of me, my lawn to the right! Here I am! Stuck in the middle with you
Visit the “Right Livelihoods” in the Flint River Watershed

Cats and Crows

One fateful day about ten years ago, we began helping transition unwanted and distressed critters to forever homes. Our family fosters a handful of the many creatures of Lucky Day Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. Primarily cats, and sometimes dogs when the moon aligns. Many animals have come to our home through Lucky Day Animal Rescue and Sanctuary during this time. Many wonderful memories, stories, beautiful people, and animals have filled our lives with this collaboration.

It is a labor of love for us Crows, and although quite a set of tasks to take on, it is undoubtedly, one of the most rewarding responsibilities in our life as a family. My wife, Dodie, does the lion’s share of the dirty work. She is the main pooper-scooper, nail trimmer, matt extractor, lead malady diagnosticate, and medication administer, who also functions as a member of the Board of Executives at Lucky Day, offering her inputs to fundraising events for the outfit. Of course, the rest of us lend a hand around here, but our function is loving and socializing the critters brought in. You know the “hard part!” I joke, but It can be quite hard sometimes. Some animals are wild or damaged or both when they come into our care and take a bit extra. It is truly remarkable when all goes well, but that said, it is never easy when our work turns out differently than we had hoped it would, and it happens.

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Well! Lets Get Started!

Over the past months…. I have been tinkering with this here website. A blog space and eCommerce platform with a little twist.

A brain that behaves like a squirrels, grammar, spelling challenges and discovering how to use WordPress has been a bit frustrating lol

This web is my second go at blogging. The first was abandoned due to platform and server quirks, making use quite tedious. Of course, the distractions of this modern life had nothing to do with it, nor did anxiety around the results of a well-wasted early education.

I also discovered that the old name held negative connotations toward indigenous peoples, which iced the cake for me to ditch the URL and server. So! from scratch, here we go again!

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