Patti Rudolph on the Lakeside Cemetery Road in Old Mission | Jane Boursaw Photo
Patti Rudolph on the Lakeside Cemetery Road in Old Mission | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(Editor’s Note: Rudy and Patti Rudolph take a spring walk in Old Mission. Yes, there are signs of spring afoot. -jb)

April 14, a cold day after a brief warm spell in Old Mission that tantalized us with visions of spring. We know it can’t be far off because Old Mission Bay is completely ice free for the first time in two months. Not even a “burgy” bit to blemish the sparkling surface now.

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And, it is noted with pleasure, that the banks of snow piled up behind the house by Michael Weatherholt’s wonderful plow, have finally succumbed to the relentless impact of solar energy. Thus, we surmise that the woods are also clear of snow and a brief excursion by Patti and I to Lakeside Cemetery proves this theory to be true. Spring indeed. And welcome indeed, indeed.

Our stroll brought us to the amazing sight of a woodpecker cafeteria, not too far from the cemetery. One can only suppose that deep within the confines of this dead tree lived a colony of carpenter ants happily waiting out the winter. Somehow they were sensed by a master demolition expert who proceeded to carve out their living room, kitchen, bedroom and den, devouring the hapless inhabitants along the way.

Woodpecker Cafeteria | Rudy Rudolph Photo
Woodpecker Cafeteria | Rudy Rudolph Photo

It is an amazing bit of natural sculpture, and the pile of chips at the base of the tree demonstrates the zealousness of the hungry woodpecker as he put his heart, soul and massive beak to work on the project. You can see the fine chisel marks of his work, on close inspection.

The Sculpter's Marks | Rudy Rudolph Photo
The Sculptor’s Marks | Rudy Rudolph Photo

And there, high in the tree top, is the master sculptor, Mr. Pileated himself. He appears to be working on a new house. Another sure sign that spring may be coming along soon. I sure hope he has his garage doors on order already. I can attest that there is a long lead time on these items.

Pileated Woodpecker in Old Mission | Rudy Rudolph Photo
Pileated Woodpecker in Old Mission | Rudy Rudolph Photo

A little farther to the east is Bagley Pond. Patti and I have seen and heard the geese and swans exploring for nesting sites for the last week or so. They have been walking on water, though, because the ice has persisted there until today. Now, Bagley Pond appears to be ice free once again. Although we can’t see them from this vantage, we can hear the geese honking away, and splashing too. Good luck, friends, and don’t forget there are turtles about, so watch the kiddies when they hatch.

Bagley Lake | Rudy Rudolph Photo
Bagley Pond | Rudy Rudolph Photo

Crocus and daffodils are pushing up in front of the summer house on Old Mission Bay, but not much is happening yet in the deep woods. But wait, there along the shore of Bagley Pond, can you see the green sprouts?

Can you see the green? | Rudy Rudolph Photo
Can you see the green? | Rudy Rudolph Photo

Won’t be long now, I think. A few warm days and oh, there will be mushrooms, if you know how to find them. Good luck with that. I have concluded there are two kinds of mushroom hunters. I’m the kind that can step on them without seeing them. Then there is the other kind that comes out with bags of morels and tall tales of finding them everywhere. Jealousy is not a pretty thing, is it? Oh well, it’s still nice to be in the woods.

And then, as we head back to the house, we spot a squirrel lunch box in a little thicket. For 75 years I thought squirrels existed to demolish nuts, and that was the end of the story. The Lord knows we have an abundance of acorns here in Old Mission, as well as multiple opportunities to raid bird feeders, which squirrels exhibit particular adeptness at, by the way.

But, to my surprise, I find that our Old Mission squirrels seem to have an appetite for the bark of young maple saplings, and even for the bark of smaller limbs high in mature maple trees. What is that all about? Are they in training to be miniature porcupines by chance? Is this how the Native Americans clued in to the making of maple sugar from maple sap, by watching our Old Mission squirrels at work?

Anyhow, this particular poor little maple will never grow up to be an adult, I am afraid. The squirrels have completley done it in. RIP, young tree.

Squirrel Lunchbox in Old Mission | Jane Boursaw Photo
Squirrel Lunchbox in Old Mission | Jane Boursaw Photo


A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. Rudy, I was taught porkies strip the bark off pine trees. I hadn’t heard of squirrels doing that,too.
    We made a trip over to the family cottage yesterday. The squirrels have nipped thousands of pine branch tips off. The woods floor is carpeted in the bits of green. Day lilies are starting to send green shoots up around the flag poll. A flock of ducks landed on the West end of the lake in the area where several nested last Spring. Spring surely is trying to step forward.
    I enjoyed your musings.

    • I thought that too Barb, but I have actually seen the little buggers munching on the maple bark. Who would have thought?

      • We’d lose phone service many years ago when we lived in East Lansing. The squirrels would chew the phone line coating off, exposing the wires to water. We always knew what had happened when our phone went out.

  2. Regarding those stripped trees, it is not the Pileated’s or the squirrels, but the Whales from the E & W bay’s migration. Everybody know that!


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