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Woods, water & worse/Jim Junttila

Jeepers, creepers, how’d you get those peepers?

April 15, 2011
By Jim Junttila

"You're really dating yourself if you remember the words to that old song," said WW&W meteorologist Verna Equinox, "but you give good double entendre with the lyric referring to peepers as eyes, while you're talking about my precious peeper frogs you hear peeping their little hearts out at sunset these days."

She was right about the peepers on both counts, plus I haven't had a regular girlfriend for some time, so I am dating myself.

"Good thing you've got me and a brothel of correspondents to hold you 'til the right girl comes along," Verna demurred, "but this column doesn't write itself, I have to help you make up enough stuff to create the illusion."

"I love it that a fan wrote in asking what I look like and calling me his First Lady of Spring," she added. "I sent him a picture so he can see I how much I resemble Jessica Rabbit in the Warner Brothers movie classic "Who framed Roger Rabbit?" except she makes me look like a boy."

Winter seems to have finally relaxed her icy grip on the Keweenaw, but if there's one thing Yoopers know for sure, it ain't over til it's over. The opportunity for one last blast looms beyond Easter to Mother's Day, and horror of horrors, Memorial Day. They're predicting snow tonight.

"You're not the only one in the wooing mood," said WW&W spring rain correspondent April Showers, whom they say brings May flowers and the anadromous fish running. "That's why the smelt and steelhead runs can dilly-dally into early June," she explained, "piscatorial passions are peaking for coho, browns, walleye, menominee whitefish, northern and suckers," she added, "they're either staging off the mouths of Lake Superior tributaries or already surging upstream to spawn."

I love seeing a robin perched optimistically on toppa streamside snowbank, hoping it's true what they say about the early bird getting the worm, and picking up big juicy crawlers dropped by steelheaders.

With Verna and April both on the case, it won't be long before Yooper ponds, lakes and wetlands, still frozen over but wet around the edges, come alive with their Spring serenades. The peepers are already peeping.

"The birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees are all waking up and shaking off the winter doldrums, yawning and spawning in their own way,"?Verna teased, "and who can forget the moon up above and this thing called love?"

We've gone from not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, to peepers jumpstarting the Woods, Water & Worse Orchestra; then comes the clicking trill of cricket frogs, bullfrogs bringing up the bass with their deep-throated "jug-o-rum," squawking sand hill cranes and honking geese, building to a crescendo with ducks quacking, woodpeckers pecking, partridge drumming and woodcock tweeting to beat the band.

The raucous "konk-a-ree" of red-winged blackbirds gets pretty boisterous cheering on their beloved Red Wings during the NHL playoffs.

Other subtle little signs of Spring emerging are creepy, crawly nightcrawlers, amphibians, crustaceans, salamanders and snakes.

"The entire food web is waking up," April announced. "With ice-out, hydra, leeches, mussels, crayfish, snails, frogs, fishing spiders, water boatmen and whirligig beetles are appearing in ponds, and the caddis flies, dragonflies and mosquitoes will soon be buzzing," she added, "turtles, minnows and mudpuppies are also on the move; I saw my first newt today, and I don't mean Gingrich."

"It won't be long before the woods are alive with trailing arbutus (Mayflowers), Spring beauties, crocus, trilliums, bloodroot and rue anemone," Verna waxed floral. "Hepaticas are among the first harbingers of Spring, then adderstongues, ladyslippers, Dutchmans breeches, wild orchids, and let's not forget those scrumptious morel mushrooms. Other wildflowers on their way are partridgeberries and marsh marigolds. Have you ever seen a cowslip under a fence? How about a trout lily on a trout stream?"

I know women with equally interesting Spring-sounding names like Arbutus Peterson, Violet Rintamaki, and I kid you not, April May June.

"I don't call it the vernal vortex for nothing," Verna Equinox cautioned. "We're still between winter and spring, there's remnant groundcover snow in the woods, my sweet maple sap is running, and sugarbush sapsicles lazily dripping in the afternoon re-freeze when the sun goes down. They're nature's swizzle sticks, but they don't last long in rum or vodka."

No matter where he is, Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@chartermi.net.

 
 

 

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