Paint Creek Traverse

Paint Creek, from Lake Orion Village southwest to the mill ruins in March flood.

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Tributary

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It says “Please Add”. Took me awhile to get it.

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They don’t call it Paint Creek for nothing.

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And a last year’s spent puffball.

By the Brook Today: A Foraging Adventure

By the brook today, I had such a fruitful and thoroughly representative comedy of errors I decided it was worth more than the usual tweet.

I arrived at the brook with my foraging kit (bag, basket, camera, knife) not expecting much. It had rained a bit that morning, not enough to get my hopes up.

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So I started with a visit to the nettle patch. The brook is Paint Creek, so called because the textile mills used to dump industrial dyes in it. That was 150 years ago; it has been cleaned up–but not so much that its environs don’t remain very obviously a post-industrial landscape. The Grand Trunk Railroad used to run a stone’s throw away; now it’s a bike path. The nettles are native—they’re native practically everywhere—but here they’re fighting a pitched battle with invasive garlic mustard, acres of it, so much there’s no hope of getting rid of it. Still, the nettles hold their own. I help as I can, ripping up the garlic mustard by the roots before I harvest the leaves, harvesting only the top few leaf pairs of each nettle so they’ll grow back bushy. I get stung. I don’t mind.

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Then I climbed over the brook along this branch. I had figured out this was possible (and really very satisfying, though it’s touch and go there in the middle) back in the fall. I’d never done it with my foraging kit, but I wasn’t worried. There’s another way back, hopping across the graffitoed bridge ruins a quarter mile downstream; I always go back that way, it’s less acrobatic, and safer, as long as the water isn’t running too high. Much less risk of losing any found riches.

I forayed upstream a bit, then cut uphill to the top of the ravine and then back downstream again, not looking very hard for mushrooms because I didn’t expect to see any. I never expect to find morels. I’ve never even seen one in the flesh. And like I said, it was relatively dry. So I made it to the bridge ruin, I skipped across, dropped off my nettle and garlic mustard harvest at my bike, then lingered by the brook a bit more. And that’s where I came across the dryad’s saddles, growing in profusion out from under this old, burl-ridden willow log dragging its roots in the brook.

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Polyporous squamosa, lovely, tawny-textured on top, hexagonal-pored white underneath. Considered a poor consolation prize for the morel hunter, but I love them. They’re best when young, which these were, brand new, some no bigger than a quarter.

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Gleefully, I reached for my knife…but it was gone. Lost! The precious! It had fallen from my pocket somewhere. A sinking feeling. Then a stubborn resolve. You have no idea how often this happens to me. I drop things in the woods. Important things. Wedding rings, garage door openers, phones. I’ve had remarkable luck finding them. I retrace my steps. I search, keen-eyed.

Back around through the nettle patch I went. Had I left it when I went to pack up my basket? No. Two other possibilities: I’d climbed a black cherry tree up above the ravine on the far side. Or there was that branch across the brook. But if I’d dropped it there, wouldn’t I have heard the splash?

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In fact it appears I would not have. Yay! Finding of lost things streak sustained.

On my second trip up and over the ravine and down, I paid more attention. I was tireder, slower. I saw this:

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False morel, Gyromitra brunnea. Easily distinguishable from true morel by lack of a hollow central cavity in the stem.

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Never seen one of these before either. Wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t dropped my knife. I call that a win.

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Broken arrow. Took it home for propping up tomatoes.

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Sweet woodruff, Galium odoratum, naturalized European ground cover; flowers widely used in Germany for flavoring May wine.

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And then again across the graffiti bridge and back to harvest the dryad’s saddles.

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Quite a gratifying and productive day in the woods, I must say. And that’s not even counting the wild mint I picked up on the bike ride home.

Marchflowers

They’re like March Hares, you know.


Rue Anemone, Thalictrum Thalictroides, moist oak ridge, Ortonville, MI


Some variety of flowering sedge I am unlikely to ever identify. Sandy trailside, mixed deciduous woods, Ortonville, MI


Donwy Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, mixed deciduous woods, Ortonville, MI


American Fly Honeysuckle, Lonicera canadensis, oak and pine ridge, Ortonville, MI

After all these years of photo blogging I finally caved and started using the convenient “web 2.0” image upload features of WordPress. So much easier! Why am I so stubborn.

Broken My Fairy Circle Ring


Conifer mulch under hemlocks, Hemlock Hill, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA. I’m not going to be able to positively identify the species… best guess is the deadly Galerina marginata.

O I am so neglectful of posting…these are from the end of May, nearly a month ago. I’d say I promise to get better, but it’s busy times. No dancing in fairy rings for me, not these days. Not that I’d do that. It would hurt the mushrooms.

Someone has drained the colour from my wings
Broken my fairy circle ring
And shamed the king in all his pride
Changed the winds and wronged the tides
Mother mercury
Look what they’ve done to me
I cannot run I cannot hide

—Freddie Mercury, “My Fairy King”

Ephemera


Wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, West-facing cliffs, Mt. Toby Reservation, Sunderland.

My camera died. Rest well, Sony Cybershot DSC-F717. You came from the factory with all kinds of defects, your autofocus algorithm was dated and finicky, but you were good to me. You let me recollect beauty in millions of colors. One time you pretended to be a handcannon to protect me from poachers. Curse the loose screw that killed you. I wish I had treated you better.

My old Powerbook G4 12″ has gone the way of the dire wolf and the dodo. Funes, you kept me alive. You ate through rechargeable batteries like a radio-controlled Mechagodzilla. Your touchpad didn’t work for shit, forcing me to wield a retro-aesthetically superheroic rubber ball mouse from my original iMac 233 circa 1998. I was ridiculously, unhealthily attached to you. I am beside myself at the prospect of letting you go—but all things must pass. With any luck, you will only sleep awhile and return from the shadows, like the coelecanth or the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Now I got me a handed-down white dual 1.8 MacBook, christened Ilom, for which I shall remain eternally grateful to parties who know who they are. It stands out less from the coffeeshop crowd than poor old Funes; on the other hand, it can run Illustrator and iTunes at the same time without destroying itself and has carried me forward into the video age. Will I ever learn to love it as much? That’s a question best put to Time.

“They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is the way in ours.”

—Robert Frost, In Hardwood Groves