A mourning dove flutters across my line of vision as I settle in at Ham Lake for the summer. I often hear the doves but seldom see them.

I use the word “flutter” because that seems to describe his flight. There is nothing elegant about it. And he seems to need to murmur as he passes by, as if Nature has imposed upon him to make him move from one place to another. Or perhaps he was surprised to discover me not 6 feet below him.

He lands in a thick cluster of poplar branches about 20 feet from the ground. He fusses about among them. Is this the kind of place where he nests? I must learn to know about his habits and nesting.

I can’t help remarking upon one other characteristic of this beautiful bird. Have you noticed that they have the same song as the meadowlark that you hear in the fields.  It was something that I noticed many years ago, perhaps when I was a child.

Oh, I know. You’ll say, how could Jim be more wrong? One bird sounds like singing at a festive jubilee celebration, and the other sounds like he’s burying someone. That is true. However, they both have the same descending sequence of three notes.

Unfortunately the meadowlark has become scarce in my experience in recent years, and I miss that beautiful bird. Has his habitat changed? Has the spraying of poisonous insecticides and herbicides affected him?

Speaking of insects, it’s good to see my little friends out and about again. I miss them in their three season disappearance.

A little white moth flits by in front of me. He seems to disappear, as he dives in among the broad leaves of the forest ground cover. But I’m on to him. He is clever at clinging to the underside of leaves, so he seems to disappear. I can well imagine he would be a “sitting duck” to a passing hungry bird who saw that white against green in the woods.

The horse fly comes by. He doesn’t do much more than perch on me awhile or on my writing board, and then fly on. I must not be on his menu.

Mosquito stops by to see me. She is elegant, with her rounded wings that fold neatly along her back as she rests on my hand. I nudge her a bit to make her move across my hand. She resists me at first, at finally hops sideways a bit grudgingly to a new spot.

On some days she lands and just walks around a bit on my arm, checking me out. Or she lands on my writing board and walks about, and then finally flies away.

A quiet settles in upon the woods this July day. Even the quaking leaves of the poplar are still The pungent aroma of the greenery fills my nostrils. It is so fragrant.

James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.


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