July 1 – Finding Nature in the City

marie's walk 2017

It was a very nice and sunny day on the bike path in Montague, and very pleasant in the shade.  About 35 walkers, including children, decided to see what nature they could find in the city, with the help of local plant enthusiast Marie Johnson, and her sister, Chris.

Marie started off by expressing her views on observing nature. “This bike trail is one of Michigan’s “Rails-to-Trails” and Montague is fortunate to have this right in town,” she told us.  “Wilderness areas are nice to visit, but they require effort to get there. “Nature is as close as your front door! Observing nature is rewarding, as the rhythm of the seasons become familiar and comforting.”  She also made sure to point out upcoming sesquicentennial events planned for the city of Montague’s 150th birthday celebration.

Marie told us of her love of plants, and then we were all off on the path.  Well, most of the time anyway!  There were quite a few bicyclists, so we had to move off onto the grass, sometimes very quickly!

We found that there were many plants along what first appeared to be a rather uninteresting path.  We saw sweetfern.




monarch on milkweed bike path walk 2017 jg

Milkweed and a monarch!

There was lots of milkweed along the path. We were excited when one of our walkers spotted a monarch on one!

There was bladder campion, mullein, and a small pink flower, Deptford Pink, one of Marie’s favorites.

Deptford pink

Deptford Pink

After a while, we stopped in the shade and discussed the difference between tree-of-heaven and black walnut trees.  The key is the bark.  And, tree-of-heaven has a very unheavenly scent!


Tree-of-heaven vs. black walnut

And along that line of thought, we also saw skunk cabbage.

On the wetland board walk, we looked out at the water and saw very green duckweed, some phragmites, and surprisingly, no purple loosestrife!  In some areas in West Michigan, Eurasian beetles have been released to help control purple loosestrife.



We turned around and walked back slowly, enjoying the sun and shade.  Marie told us to be sure to take the path again, like she does, because things change constantly.

marie's walk heading back.jpg

Heading back!

Thanks to Jerry Grady for the photos in this blog!  See more at Watershed Wildlife!

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