Entries to Win Afghan

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Monday, May 31, 2021

More Blazing and Signing

  The primary project of the day was some more blazing of Andrea's trail section with her. We met at noon and did blazing until 2 pm. I drove in as far as the trail on the dirt road I explored last time so that I only had to carry the heavy post driver a few feet instead of over half a mile. Stay tuned.

The greenery is fully leafed out, and we had to do quite a lot of lopping in some places to clear sight lines to the blazes. This tree was really surrounded by saplings that obscured the blaze before we cleaned it up. Nevertheless, we got one more mile done in one direction.

blue blaze on a tree by a trail Then, I continued to work on my other trail work project- getting the stickers and Carsonite posts up to date. The person who had the post driver delivered it to my house yesterday. Today I put in two new posts at the dirt road I followed last week. It gets a fair amount of traffic- enough that it's not a literal two-track, but a road, so it really should have posts on each side. Now it does. See the one on the other side of the road? Carsonite posts at a road crossing on the North Country Trail Once the posts were in, I put all the correct stickers on. Top is the NCT triangle, next the Forest Service emblem. Then the new 8-state strip sticker, then the use stickers. In this case, that means no horses, but bicycles are allowed on this section. Since the words on the strip say "closed to motorized uses" we only add the no ATV sticker in places that might be problematic, like where our trail crosses a motor trail.
Carsonite posts at a road crossing on the North Country Traill

In the middle picture, this is what you see as you approach a road crossing. Just the NCT triangle, and the name of the road. That long line of stickers is what you see as you enter the woods on the other side of the road.

I also fixed all the stickers at 5-Mile Road. This included removing one extra Carsonite post, and adding Carsonite backing strips with the correct stickers to the sides of the 4x4 post that is there. Some of them were correct. Some were not.

In other news: I did odds and ends before and after the work outing.

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 316

See Headshots

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Clear Springs Again

  This is becoming my "go-to" hike when I'm driving home from the Muskegon area. I had a vendor event this afternoon, and it was just after 5 pm when I reached Montague, which is where this nature preserve is.

Sometimes Carleton Creek is littered with pollen or catkins because it's very slow-moving. But today, the pond was quite lovely.
Carelton Creek pond

I was interested to see what flowers were in bloom. The Canada mayflower, Maianthemum canadense, is opening up everywhere. Canada mayflower

And this preserve has a lot of maple-leaf viburnum, Viburnum acerifolium. Very common, but an attractive native shrub. These buds are not quite open all the way yet, but you can sure see why it is called "maple-leaf." maple leaf viburnum

My personal favorite of the day is wild or false sarsaparilla, Aralia nudicaulis. Although this can be a substitute for the flavoring, it's not the primary source, which comes from a different plant. wild sarsaparilla

The flowers are just opening. They are "fireworks" balls of blossoms beneath the leaves. wild sarsaparilla

Artsy polka-dots on a maple leaf. This is probably caused by a fungus. spots on a maple leaf

And finally, one more reflection in Carelton Creek. The late afternoon light was good for reflections. It was cool and calm in the nature preserve. Even though it's pretty close to the freeway, it feels quiet and peaceful. I was really tired when I started to walk, but felt rejeuvenated when I finished. I think I walked about 3 miles.
Carelton Creek pond

The vendor event went pretty well. I did about average. Can't complain about that!

Montague County, MI, Clear Springs Nature Preserve. 3 miles

See Clear Springs at the End of the Day

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Flowers are Always Good

  Vendor event all day, and I did really well. That means really busy. No time to take any pictures, so enjoy some more flowers from a couple of days ago. First up is Dame's rocket, Hesperis matrionalis, alien, invasive, but so pretty. Lot's of people think it's phlox, but this only has 4 petals, and phlox has 5. dame's rocket

Here we go with something of much higher quality. This is false Solomon's seal, Smilacina racemosa. This is native. The leaves look the same as Solomon's seal, but the flowers extend from the tip in a raceme rather than hanging beneath the leaves. false Solomon's seal

This one is also native, but much more common. It's one of the wild morning glories. This one is hedge bindweed, Convolvulus sepium. I didn't get a good picture of the leaves, which is really important for ID. This one was close to home. Maybe I can get back there again while it's blooming. hedge bindweed

There is no other news, but I'm not done for the day. There's another event tomorrow and I have to refill book boxes, and count the money, and print more flyers. Tired, but a good day.

See Mower and More

Friday, May 28, 2021

Getting Acquainted

  By afternoon, in spite of the chilly temperature, the grass had dried out, so I decided to get acquainted with the "new" mower. As expected, there are some things about this one that are better than my old one, and some not as good. But it was definitely a great deal for me. mowed lawn

Mostly, I concentrated on getting comfortable with where the various controls are. I'd had the old one so long I didn't even have to think about how to make it do what I wanted. Not quite there with this one yet. mowed lawn

As you can imagine, by this late in the spring, the yard looked more like a hayfield. But I got the part down by the road hacked off. Now it looks like a short hayfield. That's about half of what I mow. mowed lawn

Before I could even start this, I had to go pop out a bunch of autumn olive saplings. 27 of them, to be exact. They are the worst thing about the years I don't manage to keep things mowed. They just sprout overnight. It seems that way, anyway.

In other news: I had a headache this morning, but mangaged to putter at some bookkeeping kinds of things. Got groceries in the late afternoon. You can tell it's a holiday weekend in a tourist town. Traffic was nuts. One major disappointment- I did not get a book award that I thought I had a good shot at. O well.

Tomorrow is a vendor event.

See Mower and More

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Mower and More

  Big day today! Sue and I drove to Shelby to pick up my "new" lawnmower. It's been really well taken care of. This is such a great deal for me! lawnmower on a trailer

Then we went out to eat at the Brown Bear in Shelby. Brown Bear restaurant

This was what we elected to take home. We'd already eaten half! Good food. restaurant meal

We were parked right beside the Hart-Montague Rail Trail. We were stuffed and needed some exercise, and the doggies wanted a walk. Perfect! Hart Montague Rail Trail

Two happy little sniffers. We walked a total of four miles. Hart Montague Rail Trail

Best event of the walk? Spotting a rufous-sided towhee! rufous sided towhee rufous sided towhee

On the way home, I saw a northern harrier hawk too, but no picture. And on the way down, we took a peek at the Pere Marquette river flats because there were reports of a flock of migrating white pelicans. Pretty sure we saw one straggler. Great birding day, especially since I'm not a very good birder.

In other news: I had a meeting tonight. I didn't get any mowing done, because it was starting to sprinkle as soon as we made it back to my place, and then it actually started raining.

See First Bike Ride 2017
See Half an Accomplishment

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Bedstraw Bonanza

  And, here's a third kind of bedstraw for this year. This is rough bedstraw, Galium asprellum. Not surprisingly, it is rough to the touch. But first... the similarities to others. There are whorls of leaves around the stalk. Many of them are weak and reclining, and this is one.

The first thing to do for identification of these is to count the leaves in each whorl. Most of these have 6, some 5 or 7. rough bedstraw

The second thing to do is touch the plant. Is it smooth or rough. How rough? This one is slightly rough. In fact, you might say it feels sticky. Look closely at the stem and you will see a bunch of little "prickers." But they are soft. They don't hurt your fingers at all, but they do keep it from feeling smooth. Another important fact is that rough bedstraw is going to grow where it is damp. rough bedstraw

The flowers of almost all are insignificant. These are just opening. How they are arranged can help with the ID, but mostly they are just little white flowers. rough bedstraw

Now, compare it with the frangrant bedstraw, Galium triflorum, that I showed you two weeks ago. It looks just about the same, but you can instantly tell them apart if you touch the plants, because this one is smooth. And, if you can catch the flowers, that "triflorum" is a clue- there are three tiny flowers in every cluster. fragrant bedstraw

And the other Galium of this spring is Galium circaezans, wild licorice. Definitely different. Upright, with four leaves in each whorl. There are some others with only 4, but these are broader, like a lozenge. And, they taste like pungunt licorice. That said, when I tried some two weeks ago, it didn't taste like anything. But a larger one that I sampled yesterday was very bite-your-tongue licorice! wild licorice

There are 21 bedstraws that have been found in Michigan. That said, several are garden escapes or only found in one county, ever. If you can learn the common 5 or 6, you're in good shape. Maybe I'll find some of the others this year to show you.

In other news: I was SO good today. I wrote my column in the morning, and did all kinds of bookwork things this afternoon, walked to the bank and post office. Good beyond belief. But I need to do those kinds of days from time to time. It would be really good if I did them more often.

See Blazing and Botany

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Little Things

  Cathy and I went for a 5.5 mile hike today on the North Country Trail. It was hot and humid, but there was a pretty strong breeze that helped when it wasn't blowing dirt in our eyes.

This was a fun find. It's either Pig Ears fungus, or Fireplace Cup. It's dark for the pig ears, but the Fireplace Cup usually grows in burned soil, which this was not. pig ears fungus

There was quite a lot of it. This is a sampling. pig ears fungus

And the wind had brought down a lot of Oak Apple galls. All the ones we saw were smaller than usual. oak apple gall

I cut one open so Cathy could see inside. The structure is really easy to see when they are this small. oak apple gall

Were you wondering about the little things on my deck? Yup... proud papa mostly perches on a bracket, and mom stays busy. baby phoebes

In other news: I did some editing and odds and ends before hiking. But the 3 hours of sleep I got last night has about run out now.

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 317. Cathy is at 42.5

North Country Trail, Manistee County, MI, Hamilton Rd north 2.75 miles and back. Total 5.5 miles

See Oak Apple Gall
See Mrs. Phoebe Gets Cozy

Monday, May 24, 2021


  This afternoon was a mixed bag of activities. I went to pick up something from a friend. She's an avid birder, and there was a red-headed woodpecker at her cabin! It was also at her cabin where I got my only local sighting of a yellow-bellied sapsucker a few years ago. I also saw two pileateds today, but they are so shy, it's really hard to get a picture. red headed woodpecker

The one and only one benefit of humid weather is that my hair curls. Since I needed a new, good picture of me, I wore decent clothes (OK, only on the top half), and had her snap some pictures. What do you think of this one? Best one taken in a while, anyway.
Joan H. Young author

Then I changed and headed to the trail to do just a tiny bit of work. Two Carsonite posts needed to be removed. They were 1.5 miles in. So I carried the shovel in, dug them out (they have a flap that makes it so they can't just be pulled out), and carried them and the shovel back to the car.

It was really miserably humid by then. But here's another red-head, the wild columbine. I used to have tons of it growing here at my house, but it's all disappeared. wild columbine

I got a little ahead of myself on the story. Part way back to the car the trail crosse a 2-track that is not on any maps. It clearly is being driven a lot, and we need to put two posts in at that location instead of where they were. Today, I temporarily stashed the old posts and shovel in the woods and walked that road in both directions with the "tracker" on in my app so I could see where it goes.

Along the way something jumped in front of me. Can you see it? camouflaged toad

My guess is, probably not. I had to hunt for it and I was right there. It's a nice big toad! camouflaged toad

We had enough rain this morning that the trees were too wet to paint blazes. But I was hot enough anyway that I didn't feel like walking 2 miles back out with the paint kit, even if things were dry. So I called it a wrap for the day.

However, I did drive home on a back road. It was not a new route to me, but one I haven't taken recently. Mostly just straight, but here is one bit of a nice place along the way. It's hard to explain how happy it makes me to just putter home on dirt roads. dirt road in dappled sun

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 312.

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI, north of 5 Mile Road, and an unnamed 2-track. Total 4.5 miles

In other news: I tried to get my head back into writing this morning. I only managed 364 words, and I may end up trashing them anyway. It's just more talking, and I think I need something to HAPPEN. We'll see. Maybe they only need to be moved. Anyway... I'm trying to get back on track.

See Friends and Footsteps

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Some Fun from Yesterday

  Sure, mostly I was trucking along knocking out the miles. But I had to take a few fun pictures.

How about the tree with octopus roots? tree with roots like tentacles

This stump isn't humorous, but I continue to be fascinated by the trees that grow in a helix.
helical growth in dead tree

This is one of the northern maidenhair ferns just opening up, but it has sort of an insect-ish, grasping kind of look- maybe like too many praying mantises. Total contrast with the cool, soothing aspect of the fully opened ferns. northern maidenhair fern

Finally, there was this passive-agressive mushroom that couldn't decide whether to bite me or hug me. mushroom with a face

I felt pretty good today- only a little stiff. I went for my 3-mile road walk just to keep limbered up. I will admit that I slept like a log last night! Spent part of the day starting to gear up to get back in the writing groove.

See 20 Miles
See Helical