The water in the swamp is almost a foot deep. It’s clear, the submerged grass stalks take on a deep green, their color enhanced by the clear water. It’s only a matter of time before the plants die, rot, and the water takes on the murky tea color that swamp water should have.
I’m standing near the edge of the marsh I’ve been watching for these last several months. A storm system has been pounding the Midwest, but here in Michigan we are just at the northern edge of the system, so we are only getting hit with glancing blows. Nonetheless, that means wave after wave of heavy thunderstorms, pounding rains, and hours of steady drizzle.
The drought has been defeated, at least locally. Seemingly overnight, the local papers have switched from hysteria over the drought to hysteria over excessive rains and possible floods.
Walking through the abandoned farmstead, and touring other areas within the Allegan Forest, I’m amazed at the transformation that has taken place in a few short weeks. The sandy fields are green again, and suddenly I’m encountering small frogs and toads, a real rarity in the open fields. The bee balm, which a month ago seemed to be withering before it even bloomed, is now back in force – spice bush and red spotted purple butterflies visit it frequently.
The dragonflies are undergoing their seasonal change over. The ruby and whiteface meadowhawks are now common everywhere. Saddlebags can be found more frequently, and blue darners – who seem to be among the first to appear in spring and the last to leave in autumn – lumber through the air. But the Halloween pennants, club tails, widow skimmers, and ever the ubiquitous twelve spotted skimmers are more and more rare, soon to be gone altogether.
Well, the marsh has endured for another year. It would be impossible for me to walk out to the heart of the marsh now, like I did last week, because the mud and water is just too thick and deep. The dried cracked mud is a thing of the past – and maybe, if we’re lucky, next spring will bring a wave of spring peepers and other frogs.