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Monday, October 20, 2014

Autumn Olive Bonanza

 
I've been wanting to try the traditional method of making fruit juice on autumn olive berries for a couple of years, but picking the fruits is kind of a pain. Unless you stumble across a bush that is loaded like this one!

autumn olive

I cleared this one bush and in about a half hour had a gallon of berries to take home. I had stopped to take pictures of the sunset and discovered several bushes that were loaded. Since this is really a garbage shrub/tree, I'm sure no one cared that I was stealing the berries. Everyone thinks you are nuts when you explain that they make good food.

autumn olive

Yesterday afternoon I turned them into juice. I did pick through the tub to remove the woody sticks and leaves. I'm really glad I did this because I don't think the three Asian lady bugs, the cutworm and the stink bug would have improved the flavor of the final product.

After I boiled the berries, I strained and squeezed the fruit in a jelly bag.

autumn olive juice

I ended up with five quarts of juice. Here are four of them.

autumn olive juice

I still have to put this in canning jars and process them, but I can do that tomorrow or the next day. I'll be posting more about this on Grazing the Ditches, but overall, this still isn't my favorite juice. The berries have a nice tartness to them, but that is lost with both methods of juice making. You end up with something more like fruit punch. The milky texture is a little weird too, although that is only an issue of looks. It's not strange in your mouth.

At any rate, that's my big kitchen project for the week.


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lost in the Fungal Labyrinth

 
I found two interesting fungi on my hike yesterday. The first is an earthstar. Supposedly these are common, but I've only ever seen them three, maybe four times. This one is fairly large, about 3 inches across, and already kicked loose of it's unstalked moorings by some other walker.

earthstar

I think this is Astraeus hygrometricus, or the Barometer or Water-Measure Earthstar. But if so, then I think I mis-identified the ones I showed you in Barometer Earthstar. Or maybe that post has two different kinds. Sigh... this mushroom stuff is just hard, unless you only listen to the stories they tell. It looks more like it is getting ready to stand up and walk away than to tell me the moisture content of the air.

earthstar

But at least I can get that one in the right group.

I also found these beautiful little orange guys.

thin walled maze polypore

For once I remembered to look at more than the tops,

thin walled maze polypore

The undersides are stunning! I thought identifying them would be a snap with that unusual pattern.

thin walled maze polypore

Well, hmmm... it helped. It does narrow down the choices, but even so, if it's what I think it is, orange is a bit of an unusual color. Nevertheless, I think it's Daedaleopsis confragosa, the Thin-walled Maze Polypore. And, yes, that is named for the mythological guy, Daedalus, who created the maze on Crete that held the Minotaur.

There aren't very many fungi with that kind of gill pattern, so this is my best guess.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Wagon Road, AKA Bass Lake Blvd.

 
It was an awesome day. I thought about making this post "An Awesome Four Hours," but there would have been WAY too many pictures. Tomorrow may be more fungus fun. Today, I'll stick to the Wagon Road. This is the old Bass Lake Boulevard, but now it's only a seasonal route. It's the former road into Pentwater.

You've seen this route before, but you'd never know it if you followed the link at the bottom of the post. This time, I started from the south end, beyond where Ellen and I went before, and of course the season was different.

My day started at 2 pm. I managed to sleep really well after work, and that's always a huge plus, meaning that I didn't feel horrible for the rest of the day.

I wanted to be sure I knew how to find the south end of this trail (it's now used mostly by local hikers and walkers), and I did find it. There were some downed trees to get around at that end, but most of the trail was clear.

Pentwater Wagon Road

I discovered really soon that it was easy to be lulled into taking the wrong path and to end up in the cemetery. I'd never been back in this old section with lots of family plots. That would be a neat place to explore.

Pentwater cemetery

But this error was easily corrected. Basically, any time your aren't sure what to do, just stay at the base of the hill, between the hill and a wetland area that borders a small creek (unnamed, or I don't know its name) that flows into Bass Lake.

There were a few mud puddles after the week's rain, but I got around them with dry feet. They made nice mirrors for the trees.

reflections

This is by far the best picture of the day. It looks like I did some hi-def playing with it, but this is exactly how it came out of the camera. It was just that kind of afternoon.

Pentwater Wagon Road

For the most part the day was overcast, but just for a minute some blue sky opened up, allowing this picture with strong primary colors.

Pentwater Wagon Road

Even these drying leaves have enough natural oils left to make the remains of last night's rain bead up.

water drops

And as the sun got lower and lower, the views through to the creek became more dramatic. I love shots like this one.

Pentwater Wagon Road

More fooling around on the way home. But I think it's back to bed now for a while. Still, I've become very grateful for any Saturday that I don't feel like... well... you can guess.

See The Wagon Road
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Peak Color

 
I know everyone is showing fall colors right now, but I can't help it! This is what makes me joyful today, and that's what this blog is about. I think today was probably the peak color. It started raining mid-afternoon and that will bring the leaves down quickly. In fact, the last four pictures were taken in the rain, which should give you an idea of how great the color is!

This one is about two miles from my house. The main road has quite a few places with great mixed trees. I think this kind of stand is my favorite.

fall colors

Even an ordinary city street looks great with natural seasonal decor.

fall colors

The next two were taken on Nurenburg Road on the way to Nordhouse Dunes. No, I didn't get to go play. I had a case to do out that way. But it is all wooded, and really, you could just take a picture every 50 feet and they'd all be good. I picked a couple that came out best given the rain and the light.

fall colors

The monochrome effect is always awesome. This next one is softer, but I like the way the road opening glows.

fall colors

I stopped and went back to catch this stand of willows swaying in the breeze.

fall colors

While I was taking the pictures a donkey serenaded me. Immediately an old Girl Scout round popped into my head that I hadn't thought of in decades! "Sweetly sings the donkey/ at the break of day./ If you do not feed him / This is what he'll say / Heehaw, heehaw, heehaw, heehaw, heehaw." That's my intellectual contribution for the day.

Finally, This is in by my own driveway! Not bad. Sumac and grape vines.

fall colors

I head for work in a few hours, and hope to sleep away most of tomorrow. See you then. (Although I hope to sneak in a tiny adventure in the afternoon.)

See Fall Teasers
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Take the Back Way, Find the Great Lakes

 
One of the things Ester and I particularly like is to follow the philosophy to always take a back road, whenever possible. Thus we followed our instincts as we started home, at least until it got dark. We were driving through a section of the Mackinac State Forest and pulled in at an historical marker to eat our "picnic" (leftovers) dinner.

We learned that we were at the site of Camp Lunden, a CCC camp. The camp was in operation from 1933 to 1936. The men built roads and firebreaks, planted trees, dug trout ponds, and cleared the land for the Atlanta (MI) airport.

But that didn't tire these guys out. No siree. They got fed up with living in tents so they built their own barracks, a mess hall and some other unspecified buildings. I'm guessing there was a privy or two, eh?

Still not tired from digging and building, they decided to become the helpers of Pecos Bill in the north. They dug the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes model

See, there's Ester standing in Gary, Indiana. An elevated viewing platform would have been helpful, but you can figure it out. The state of Michigan shows up pretty clearly here.

Great Lakes model

The ponds don't look as if they had any water in them this year. Originally, they were fed from an artesian well. I had to go visit Scottville.

Great Lakes model

This may be the last of my posts about our trip, but it sure was a great adventure.

See Ocqueoc Falls and More
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