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Friday, April 30, 2021

Spicebush 2 - Fooled Again

  You would think I'd learn, right? I like to learn things. I like to retain things I learn. But when presented with this shrub I pretty much know, in a place I didn't think it grew, I just rejected it as a choice. Where is my botany logic, eh?

This was growing in the old rail bed through the bottomland hardwood swamp Loren and I hiked yesterday. spicebush

Did I remember the spotted bark? No. At least I looked at the spotted bark. spicebush

Did I think about the fact that small yellow blossoms so early in the spring almost HAD to be spicebush? Yes, yes, I did. But then I said, "Huh... there isn't spicebush here." Talk about pre-conceived notions. spicebush

Did I break a twig to smell it? That would have given me the answer in a flash- the spicy scent is distinctive. But, no... I didn't do that. Shame on me.

Did I notice whether the leaves were going to be toothed or entire (smooth edges)? Yes, I did. The answer is entire. OK... another thing right. spicebush

So, I'm going to try to not be fooled the next time. I'm going to try to remember that my choices for shrubs with spotted bark are pretty much elderberry, speckled alder, and spicebush. Elderberry has opposite branches. I DID rule that out on site. Alder has distinctive "cones" and catkins, so I knew it wasn't that. But why, oh why, didn't I accept that my mind was telling me spicebush?

Perhaps I have now embarrassed myself enough that I won't be fooled again.

In other news: I edited like crazy and finished one job. I did some other volunteer work.

See Spicebush

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Trail Work Day

  Loren and I walked my adopted trail section today to do regular spring maintenance. Corky and Koa helped. hiker with two dogs

OK, maybe they didn't help much, but there was nothing serious to do, so they didn't hinder, either. We did basic lopping and sawing of small branches, and clearing the treadway. I replaced some stickers on posts. There was one tree down that will need a chain saw, so I reported that. I repainted all the blazes last year, so those are all in good shape. North COuntry Trail

Leaves are just beginning to pop out. Caught leatherwood, Dirca palustris, at just the right time. It's beautiful and distinctive. I was pleased to see how much of this shrub is in this swampy area. It's very difficult to spot among the other vegetation later in the year. leatherwood

Even got the flowers! leatherwood

This is why botanists should carry a hand lens. This is a little blue violet, but which one? Even though it was small, I thought it might be great-spurred violet. But a very close look reveals that the two lateral petals are bearded (fuzzy), which means it's just common blue violet. Viola papilionacea. But now, I'll know to check for which petals are bearded to help with the ID. common blue violet

I got to do one of my favorite things driving home- take a really back road. This is Townline Road at the south side of Gun Lake. curving dirt road

And I'm ending with my back yard from last night. The sun came out, and it's hard to believe this is spring colors rather than fall, but it is. I just love the shades of the trees as they get their leaves. spring trees

Five miles of hiking. North Country Trail miles for 2021 ia at 237.

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI, Freesoil Trailhead to Tyndall Road and back. 5 miles

In other news: I edited, I did some odds and ends, and I was interviewed for a podcast about my books. I'm ready to relax.

See Leatherwood

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Mrs. Phoebe Gets Cozy

  This year, Mrs. Phoebe did more than visit the deck. eastern phoebe

Why does she keep looking up? eastern phoebe

Because she built a nest on top of the light box. No peeps emanating yet. phoebe nest

There was also a trip to Riverside Park for an interview. Spring is coming along nicely now! Compare to the same view in March at the link below. Pere Marquette River

In other news: Marie left early in the morning, and I went back to bed for a while. The trailer door did not leak. I chained myself to my computer and edited all day.

See Phoebe Rules the Back Yard
See Hello River, My Old Friend

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

My Trailer Redo - Day 117 - Improving the Door

  I can't say the trailer door is 100% fixed, but it is improved, and it may be as good as it's going to get. Anything else requires cutting the door itself apart and reforming the curve on the bottom edge.

Marie and I really wanted to get this done while she was here because it absolutely needed two people. Step one- remove the door. trailer door

Here's what it looked like before removal- it looks worse than it was because of the foam I had crammed in the edge to keep it from leaking. But it DID keep it from leaking trailer door

That mess all had to be removed. Marie scraping trailer door frame

I removed the old wood backing plates which had dry rot, filled the old bolt holes for the top hinge with fiberglass, and put on new wood plates. Then we held the door in place to mark new top holes (the bottom ones were OK), and drilled those. All the fiberglass steps are slow because things have to dry between each one. Gunk had to be peeled and sanded off the old hinges. Then we could try to align the door better and mark where new holes were to be drilled. bolts through a fiberglass trailer wall

Here's the result. trailer door

Did we improve it any? Maybe a little. This compares a picture from when I first brought the trailer home with the old one colorized so you can see which is which, and then I laid them side by side. Old is left- green. New is right. It seems a little straighter. It does latch a little better. trailer door

Sigh- a lot of work for only a little improvment, but those backing plates had to be replaced anyway.

Had to take one more selfie- it's our last night for this visit. We love the little trailer! friends

In other news: This was mostly it. We did have to make a store run, and we cooked one main dish to put in portions in the freezer. We played a couple games while fiberglass was drying, and I forgot to go to bell choir practice again. I should just be shot. Apparently I can't hold two projects in my head at the same time any more. <Eye roll>

Marie leaves early in the morning. No comment.

See Day 116- Window Bracket Rollers
See Index for Trailer Refurbish

Monday, April 26, 2021

Dead Horse Marsh Dry

  Marie and I went for one more hike today. It may be the last of this visit. We'll see what happens tomorrow. friends

We did another six miles on the North Country Trail. This time we went through the Dead Mule Swamp section. Last year, you might recall, the water was very high- it was a pond. Pics of that in the link below. This year, it's more dry as normal. Plants will soon begin to sprout, however. Dead Horse Marsh

As I predicted, the jackpines along the boardwalk will mostly die, and that is fine. The nature of this area is to flood occasionally and preserve it as open. Birds and certain types of wildlife love areas like this. Dead Horse Marsh

We met a hiker grad student in Microbial Plant Physiology! We talked about some plant stuff and exchanged contact info. But the most interesting thing was that he was hiking with a kitten! He was approached by this very thin stray the first day he was out, and she has attached herself to him. She was a pretty black kitten with white whiskers and four white boots, about 6 months old. I forgot to ask him if it was all right to take a picture of them, so you have to settle for only the story. What fun!

Then we came home and chilled. (Although, in a literal sense we were already chilled. After enjoying the beginnings of spring, the morning was back to very cold. I even wore my winter pants!)

My North Country Trail miles for 2021 are at 232.

North Country Trail, Mason County, MI, Tyndall Road to Taylor Road and back- total 6 miles

See Dead Horse Marsh and More

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Spring Arrives at Hodenpyl

  Marie and I drove to do the piece of North Country Trail along Hodenpyl Dam Pond today. We waited for a blue-sky day so the water would be beautiful. It was chilly, but the sun was perfect. Hodenpyl Dam Pond

And the real surprise? This is north of me, and yet the wildflowers seem to be ahead of what I see right near home. Well, we are not going to complain!

Dutchman's Breeches dutchman's breeches

Cuckoo Flower
Cuckoo Flower


Common Blue Violet (but a very pale one) violets

Marsh Marigold marsh marigold

Shadbush looking like sparkles against the blue water. shadbush

Trout Lily trout lily

And the trilliums are just beginning. This one was the most open that we saw. trillium

But soon, there will be a white carpet- lots of buds! trilliums

The shadows were starting to fall as we finished. See link below for this same view in winter. We also saw Toothwort in bud and a couple other sedges, but pictures aren't very good. Hodenpyl Dam Pond

We went to Porcupine Junction (a trail crossing) and turned around, for a total of 6 miles. Porcupine Junction

What a great hike! This route never disappoints, but so much nicer with blue sky and water.

North Country Trail miles so far in 2021 is 226.

North Country Trail, Wexford County, MI, Hodenpyl Dam east along the pond and back for a total of 6 miles

In other news: We totally goofed off. We played our game, and did a little sightseeing on the way home from the hike.

See Hodenpyl Dam Pond in Winter

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Happy Birthday to Me!

  We started right out on a hike on my favorite trail with two friends, Marie and Cathy! We did 6 miles, going across the Big Sable River on the Vince Smith Bridge and back. hikers on  a bridge

The hole in the ground from yesterday? We recovered my old fire pit, which was new for my 50th birthday. Built a fire and cooked up a batch of hamburgers to enjoy now and later. hamburgers on a grill

Instead of cake, I made a cherry pie! Yum, yum. cherry pie

Then Marie and I played a new card game she just learned this year. playing cards

The trees in back of my house are in full spring coler. I love them at this stage! springtime trees

A very, very nice birthday. Thanks to everyone who sent me wishes on Facebook or in email.

Miles on the North Country Trail in 2021 is at 220.

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI, 5 Mile Rd south 3 miles and back

See Cherry Pie II

Friday, April 23, 2021

Get Outa the Way!

  You know what they say- "Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way! One should definitely get out of the way of an engine! Several trains went by today- seemed like more than usual. This is Marquette Rail- the line that goes in back of my house, but we were in Scottville when I took this picture. Marquette Rail engine

It was a busy day on the home front. It was probably good to stay out of our way too. We were on a roll! The hiking was limited to a walk to Scottville and back. We went shopping at three stores, planned tomorrow, and did three loads of laundry. I know I show you clothes on the line almost every year, but it's one of my favorite spring milestones. Of course, the new ropes all stretched, but we'll tighten them up later! clothes on a line

We visited with crafter friend Chris, and Cathy. We cleaned out the cars. We thought we would start a trailer project, but didn't get to that except for getting out the extension cord and discussing it. However, we did start another little project. Stay tuned. Will reveal all tomorrow. hole in the ground

And that is enough for one day! Tomorrow is?... some of you know.

See Crash
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