Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sutherland Nature Santuary

A cool breeze was blowing, the clouds were drifting across the sky, and the early September morning was turning out to be perfect for a nature walk as the Bryson and Sauvé families met at the Sutherland Nature Sanctuary in Hadley Michigan. We had been invited to come for a hike by our mutual friend Mr. Reiche, who helps to manage the 75 acre sanctuary. Just before we started out we had the privilege of meeting the friendly chief caretaker of the property, elderly Mr. Ed Dunsmore. He was there when Mrs. Sutherland first bought the land and decided to make it a nature sanctuary 40 years ago.

Once our walk was begun it didn’t take long for the “Oohs” and “Aahhs” to start. Our first wildlife discovery was a handsome common Garter Snake which I caught and we all admired.

As we continued our trek, we came upon many beautiful spots, including a pond, meadows, a little stream which was home to numerous frogs and creek chub, and our favorite spot where the path ran down a long corridor of tall straight pine trees planted in rows.

Another area of interest presented itself where a tornado had touched down recently. Huge trees had been uprooted and we children had a great time climbing on the roots and trunks of these former “Skyscrapers of the Forest.”

Timothy Bryson and I were able to play “elevator” on one of the many saplings which have plenty of room to grow now that their giant neighbors have been laid to rest.
“Elevator” is a game only for those who are not afraid of heights and are capable of shinnying up a small tree. To begin, you must find a suitable tree that is able to bear your weight without bending immediately, but is also not too stiff. Then, simply shinny up until you feel the tree beginning to bend. Go up a little farther and then, holding on with your hands, let go with your legs and “WHEEE” you will come gliding down to the ground. Upon setting foot once again on “Terra Firma,” release your hold of the tree and it should spring back into place. But now back to our nature walk.
The highlight of the morning was another wildlife wonder which I discovered during the first half of our adventure. I was walking along just ahead of everyone else when I heard, and soon saw an anxious mother Cardinal flitting among the bushes. Looking around, I quickly discovered the reason for all the fuss!

An adorable baby Cardinal, who was just getting his feathers, was sitting on a branch just a few feet off the trail.

I quietly called the others and we were all laughing at the funny looking little guy with his hilarious hairdo.

To sum it up, we all enjoyed ourselves immensely and are looking forward to going back as often as possible. Many thanks to Mrs. Sutherland for establishing such a wonderful nature sanctuary and opening it to the public, and of course the biggest thanks to our Lord for His beautiful creation which we enjoyed that day and hope to enjoy many more times in the future.
~Josh Sauvé