Canada geese greet me from a distance. The weather is mild here at Ham Lake, but it is that time of the year when winged creatures think about moving south.

Downy woodpecker hammers away at a nearby Norway pine. He is a hardy chap. He will stay to keep us northerners company this winter.

Green heron squawks away from the top of a tall pine to my right, which seems to be her nesting tree for the last several years. What is she doing up there at this time of the year, surely not nesting. She is an enigma as far as migrating is concerned, for I still contend we’ve heard her voice up there in February.

Old Sol tries hard to break through a dense overcast behind me with his sunshine. I see his welcome sunlight on the reddish bark of the pines in front of me. Ah! There he comes again making his friendly sun patterns on the forest floor.

Now mosquito comes to stroll on the back of my hand. He doesn’t seem unfriendly, and after a long visit, he simply flies off.

He seems very small. Is he part of this year’s brood? Or is it this week’s? What is the lifespan of a mosquito? Is it a summer? A week? An hour? I know so little about the life length of this little creature that is perhaps the most (or nearly) well-known insect on the planet.

I recall reading that when we came across the newly formed land bridge from Asia into North America 10,000 years ago or so, that new bridge was covered with pools of water left by the receding Bering Sea and freshwater rains, ideal breeding grounds for thousands of mosquitoes. It behooved us to get across that bridge and get out of there. Those little fellows were well-known then.

My wife took a trip to Tibet, which has been taken over and claimed by China, which has posted Chinese guards or monitors about the country of Tibet. The local Tibetans call these Chinese  guards “mosquitoes.” So that little fellow, who just visited my hand, has cousins whose name is know across the planet.

I notice  an interesting development with the sun popping on and off today. I’m wondering if what I noticed is always true.

When I first came, the sky was clouded over, and the woods were silent. I attributed the silence to the woods life getting adjusted to this intruder (me).

Then the sun came out,  and for a few minutes the woods were bright and pleasant. Very quickly I began to hear the twittering of woods creatures all over in the middle terraces of the woods. The creatures were invisible to me, but very noticeable to my ear. After a short while the sun shut down and the twittering shut off. Does the sunlight have an effect upon the activity of the woods creatures?

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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