Saturday, April 5, 2008

Springtime in Porcupine County

Ruby the Wonder Dog sniffs for an elusive skunk last Friday.

It's April 5 in Chicago, sunny and in the mid-60s, but they're still digging out up in Porcupine County on the shore of Lake Superior. Steve Sundberg, this blog's chief Porky correspondent, sent this dispatch today. It is lightly edited for space.

"Spring is definitely on its way up here. The snow banks have been reduced noticeably and bare ground has appeared in the paths that were blown out during the winter. Total snow this year is around 260 inches, a bit above average, and we have a chance of picking a few more the next couple of days. The attached picture shows Ruby the Wonder Dog yesterday as we were preparing for a trip to Houghton. Notice the bare patch of ground and the open water lead out on the lake. Yeah!

"The sap is starting to rise and folks have put out their taps in anticipation of boiling down some maple syrup, or "sugaring" in the local parlance. The folks I've spoken to over the last week say that the sap has been very slow this year and the quality of the syrup may be questionable. We were very dry last summer and by the time the fall rains came the trees had already pretty much shut down.

"I'm not tapping this year, so I lent my collection barrel (a great barrel made of food-grade plastic with a bottom spigot that I picked up for $2 a few years ago) to the local prosecuting attorney. He has about 40 taps out and should end up with a few gallons of syrup. Maybe he will give me a couple of pints for the loan of my equipment. . . .

"Spring has brought changes in the animal patterns too. The wolf that was lurking around the neighborhood hasn't been seen in a few weeks. I hear geese honking but haven't seen any large flocks moving yet. Robins have been sighted and the squirrel population, much to Ruby's consternation, has begun moving around. I went to let Ruby out yesterday morning and soon as I opened the door I was knocked over with a strong skunk odor. Instead of letting her run on the shock collar I put her on the leash and we went looking for the creature. We didn't see anything and the odor quickly evaporated but it did inspire me to write a little poem.


"I opened up the door this morn
And the smell of skunk was strong
Was he lurking close at hand
Or been gone very long?

"There is something about the smell of skunk
That sets the heart aflutter.
Is it out upon the porch
Or dead out in the gutter?

The dog stuck her nose out
And drank the odor in.
To her it smells of heaven,
To me, where Satan's been.

I dare not let her out
To frolic and run free.
She'll chase after her newfound friend
And then come back to me.

"So keep your skunk kit handy,
Peroxide, soda, Dawn.
The skunks are out a-roaming,
You will need it before long."

"I hope and your families are all well. Have a nice Spring!"

Where else but in the Upper Peninsula would the prosecuting attorney (called a "state's attorney" down here in Chicago) go a-sugaring? Thanks, Steve. You can bet this is going to end up in a future Steve Martinez mystery.

No comments:

Post a Comment