Walk around the woods of northern Michigan long enough, and chances are you will find yourself momentarily gazing into the eyes of a white-tail deer before it bounds away, or listening to the jack-hammer song of a woodpecker at work. Coming face-to-face with wildlife is commonplace here, but being able to communicate with the creatures that dwell in the waters, fields and forests Up North? That sort of magic only happens once a year. SEE-North, a Harbor Springs-based nonprofit organization dedicated to Science and Environmental Education, serves as the community’s guide in animal discourse during their annual program, “Twelfth Night,” which takes place on January 15 and January 22 at Boyne Highlands Resort. We caught up with SEE-North executive director Cindy Blasius to find out more about this enchanted evening.
My North: During the Twelfth Night program, families come upon a variety of critters ready to strike up conversations. How on earth does that happen?
Cindy Blasius: Folk legend says that on the twelfth night after Christmas, animals are given the gift of speech. If you are walking through the woods and silent, the animals will emerge from the forest and tell you their story.
My North: So even though your programs are not technically occurring 12 days after Christmas, the concept holds true?
Cindy Blasius: Exactly. SEE-North has been doing this program for almost 20 years. Hundreds of families have enjoyed the event and are now bringing the next generation to enjoy it too. This is an educational program for people of all ages, so we don’t think the animals mind the extra talking.
My North: What kinds of things of things do the animals normally talk about during the Twelfth Night? Any good gossip happening in the forest these days?
Cindy Blasius: Well, families can learn why the pileated woodpecker pecks wood. They can discover how far a skunk sprays (definitely good to know). Learn where a barred owl lives and how to find him. Want to know if a bear dreams during hibernation? You’ll find out on your Twelfth Night walk.
My North: What else can people expect during this event?
Cindy Blasius: We begin with a sleigh ride to a candlelit trail, where people can walk through the forest and talk to the animals. There will also be indoor crafts and snacks to enjoy, and we will be featuring renowned local author and storyteller Simon Otto.
Tickets for the January 15 or January 22 Twelfth Night program are $10 per person. Children five and under are free Pre-registration is required. Call (231) 348-9700 or visit seenorth.org to register.