The Peaceful Moon

The Peaceful Moon

Last night's moon looked rather peaceful in the clear May sky. With all of the unrest here on our planet, it is reassuring to look skyward to see something familiar and stable in our midst. The moon is in the Waxing gibbous phase, on it's way to June 5th's full moon. 

Reflective Stream

Reflective Stream

Warm, sunny mornings along the Lake Michigan shore often remind me more of a tropical environment than a Midwest one. The blues and greens common to the waters of Lake Michigan are amplified in the morning sunlight; combine them with the steep wooded dunes on either side of the steam, and you feel as if you were thousands of miles from Chicago

It's also difficult to imagine this place is so close to a major metropolitan area home to millions of people (of course during this pandemic, even downtown Chicago is deserted), and only a few miles from a city of 31,000.  Yet, walking here I feel removed from all of that, and I actually am.  Occasionally, I hear a train, or airplane, but the dunes do a great deal to shield out the noise from civilization. And at night, the skyline of Chicago, which can often be seen 45 miles across the lake, is a silent gem on the horizon.

The Indiana Dunes National Park is growing in popularity, even before it was a national park. Visiting a few of the more "hidden" areas makes me wonder why it isn't even more popular. But then again down inside, I hope nobody else discovers these places - I'd like to keep them all to myself.


Rolled Up

Each Spring, the plant life of the Indiana Dunes National Park begins to emerge after a long winter absence. I look forward to the changes seen at this time, especially in the wetlands in Cowles Bog. While the area is known as Cowles Bog, it's not a bog at all, it's an area of wooded dunes and it includes a large wetland - part of the Great Marsh of the National Park. The Great Marsh is a wetland about nine miles long by a quarter mile wide, on the leeward side of the dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan. While a lot of the marsh has been filled in or drained, much of it still exists.


Following the emergence of skunk cabbage, these ferns seem to be the the next interesting plant to begin poking through the wet soil. As they begin sprouting, the ferns produce a fiddlehead about the size of a nickel. They slowly unfurl over the next couple of weeks into ferns almost two feet in length.

An interesting thing about the fiddleheads I found, is that inside the round head, you can see tiny leaves that look exactly like the mature fern leaf. And as they unfold, these leaves grow into the individual parts of each fern leaf. They each seem to unroll just as the entire leaf unrolled from the fiddlehead.


The Dunes Wrapped in Fog

Distant Fog

I don't happen to visit the Indiana Dunes too often when it's foggy, but when I do, it's a completely different atmosphere.  On some occasions, it was so foggy, it was difficult to navigate the dunes - obviously easy to follow the trails, but not so easy to figure out where you were, and which trail you need to take.  This is also when you can only hear Lake Michigan, you can't see anything over the edge of the dune, it's almost as though you are thousands of feet above the earth.

Dune Fog

On this morning, the fog wasn't so dense, but it did add a bit of ambience (some spell it ambiance) to the hike. Knowing the area quite well, I was interested in reaching certain points in the hike, just to see how different things looked in the morning fog. The only thing I was hoping for was the sun breaking through the fog, but that was not to be.  Nothing beats seeing the fog burning off slowly with the increasing sunlight.

Foggy Horizon

A slightly rough Lake Michigan can be seen in the distance, churned up by the high winds of the previous day. It's quite interesting to me how Lake Michigan can be a monster with 15 foot waves one day, then a day or two later, it's calm as glass.  The calm waters generally happen when there is a slight breeze blowing from the shore toward the water - on those days, I'm sure it's wavy across the lake in Wisconsin.