by Jill Ryan
In recent weeks I have had the pleasure of leading a few kayak trips on the waters of beautiful northern Michigan. What a reminder of why we do what we do! I often find myself spending summers busily working to protect our waters in the quiet surroundings of my office, as the magnificent summer season quickly passes. While our efforts to protect and restore waters are so important, I believe it is equally important to renew yourself with some pleasant retreats to the out-of-doors — spending time visiting your favorite water resources.
One of my latest trips took me to the Indian River Flats, a 1,200-acre marsh adjacent to Mullett Lake, Michigan’s fifth largest inland lake. In the days preceding the trip, I was hurried and rushed, preparing both for the trip and being away from the office for a day. Upon arriving at the put-in, I was greeted by smiling faces, some expert kayakers, some plying their way for the first time, all eager to find some adventure on the water. My day began to brighten. The weather was perfect, cool and calm, and the group of fourteen couldn’t have been happier.
As we prepared to launch our boats, a young mink, apparently curious about these strange animals entering its water world, greeted us. Then, plying this beautiful tangle of submergent and emergent wetland plants, careful to respect wildlife and their nesting areas, we were treated to sights and sounds only “playing” in nature. Caspian terns fishing near our boats, osprey nesting on a platform, swans caring for young, bald eagles fishing to supply their chicks, state endangered black terns noisily chasing intruding birds from their nesting areas, loons calling in the distance, and the list goes on. My hurried mood had melted away during this four-hour tour, and I felt calm and inspired as we packed our gear in preparation for our return to the rest of the world.
As this summer begins to cool down and make way for fall, I encourage you to make time to get on or near the resources you work so hard to protect and restore. Enjoy the water, the sounds, the sights, the smells, the plants, and the wildlife. We all need to be renewed at times, and what better refreshment than enjoying our wonderful water resources?