In Which We Gallivant and Relax

Four years ago, Tony and I had just completed the 1,000-mile journey from our former home in the north Georgia mountains to the lake riddled sandscape that we now call Narnia. Home. Narnia and Home. Because it is profoundly both. Despite long, cold, lonely winters and hordes of summertime mosquitoes, this place is surprisingly magical, and I have never felt more at home any place I’ve lived (that’s Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and Michigan if you’re counting). So for us, this weekend was one for memories on a few different levels, and we commemorated in the way that best seemed to fit us.

Friday night we geared up for the much-anticipated Camelopardalid meteor shower. We nestled ourselves along a rocky outcropping on Torch Lake, and waited. Except for the chirping of wetland critters, the stillness of the night was absolute. The lake sat in waveless tranquility, reflecting the overhead constellations, making it a choice whether to gawk at the sky or the lake’s mirror surface. In almost two hours, I spotted a couple of meteors, and Tony saw one good one. Otherwise, we simply enjoyed the starry night and the bit of the Milky Way that peeked over the eastern hills before heading home.

See the constellation Cassiopeia? And how about that meteor the camera spotted off our back patio? (There’s one more coming soon from the lake)

Side note/rant: My above depiction of night on the lake is what life Up North is generally like. It’s a peaceful place, full of natural wonders. It also happens to be a place where there was still ice on the lakes (down here…there’s still a lot of ice on Lake Superior) earlier this month. This. Month. At about 1:30am, a party of hooligans came stumbling out onto the Alden Marina. I can only assume they were hooligans, because we could hear their drunkenness a quarter-mile away. They let off fireworks amidst shouting, clambered aboard a boat, and then rocketed out of the marina with boat engine screaming. From my word choice, you know where I stand on this, but aside from the mind-boggling rudeness (and at the risk of sounding like a complete prude), they were far too cavalier about safety. There’s no way at that speed and in that dark they could have seen anyone else on the lake…which is only about 40-degrees (4C). Allow me to conclude my venting with: argh and sigh.

Saturday morning arrived before I was quite ready, having gone to bed sometime around 5:00am. But it was a beautiful, clear day, and the mushrooms called. We’re training Petey to help us find them. So far, he’s doing a great job:


The real story is that Petey doesn’t stay still in the woods for more than a breath or two. He isn’t frantic, but he is “terribly busy.” Tony and I hunt and chatter, and Petey notes when we hone in on a place and he comes to check it out. He has a knack for walking just over our morels without setting his paws upon them, but that’s the extent of his skills.

My photo was taken after we discovered a patch with 38 beautiful mushrooms. Petey’s was taken after some excavation. Not sure who was happier ;)

The rest of our weekend was not so adventuresome, though we still did get out. We toured the Old Mission Peninsula seeking cherry blossoms, dropped by Petoskey (fodder for another blog, as those photos are still on the camera), and picked up a few plants from the nursery. A very busy, relaxing weekend with ample opportunity for reflection and strolling down memory lane.

Spring Is Happening!

We are finally, finally in the full throes of spring, and I just cannot get enough of it. Fortunately, my husband is very understanding about my need to be outside, and my dog might have cabin fever worse than I do. It’s a close call, though ;)

These past weeks, we’ve spent oodles of time outside, which means a fair amount of off-leash time for Petey. We’ve learned that he gets easily grass-stained, and that he does enjoy the water (weren’t so sure there for a while – he gave wide berth to any puddle we came across in the winter). The beach is particularly nice after a hot hike, because even on a warm day (I’m talking low 70’s/20C) the water is cold (38F/3C).
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Those who know me or who’ve followed the blog for a while know that most of our outside time has been spent in the woods. We’ve done hours of mushroom hunting, and haven’t been too successful until tonight. We’ve found a few, but we’ve been far more successful at finding cool things in the woods to look at. It’s not a bad deal. If I’m not going to find dinner, it doesn’t hurt to find pretty things. When you’re intensely focused on details like you must be to find morels, you tend to notice the details in other things. That’s how the teensy-tiny orange mushrooms grabbed Tony’s attention. And how cool is that teal wood? I have no idea why it’s that color, but that’s how I found it. Speaking of blue, how about those fungi on the tree? Such cool stuff out there, I tell ya!

Such cool stuff, and such scary stuff. Yes, scary stuff. Yesterday was one of the most glorious days a person could hope for. I took Petey for his morning walk, and just wanted to call in “Can’t focus – too pretty out.”


I didn’t, but I wanted to. And Petey wanted me to, too, because he kept going to the back door and plaintively looking back at me. Eventually it dawned on me that it would be a perfect day for working on the patio. I grabbed my laptop, phone, and some water, and opened the door.

Less than 100 feet away, over where the deer occasionally bed down, a cougar sprang off into the woods. A Petey-sized (he’s 67-lbs now) cougar. I am 99% sure of it. I’m leaving a 1% chance it wasn’t a cougar because I have no photos or other evidence, but I know what bobcats look like and I know what coyotes look like, and it was not those. And it certainly wasn’t a deer. It might have been a Bigfoot, though.

Seriously, it was a cougar. In my yard. The funny thing is that cougars are far more elusive than morels, and I’ve looked for years to find one of those on our property. I should have looked for a big mountain lion, because here’s the ironic thing: when we went over to see if it had left any tracks, I found a morel.

It’s on the right. I included the left shot of some poisonous lookalikes for fun.

Not all our days have held such excitement. We’re still mostly reveling in not dressing in layers and in all the green. And I’ve been enjoying the simple act of capturing a sunset that happens well into the evening. It’s enough, and I’m happy with it :)

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A Beautiful Birthday

Happy Birthday to Me! Another year’s passed, and they really do seem to be going faster. I don’t feel any older than I did this time last year, but the days are adding up, and I can tell I’m getting old. If there are no other signs, I am obviously more mature have more grey hairs, so there’s no denying it. Not that I’m bothered by it; aging is a pretty good alternative to my other option, and I’m not so sure I’ll look bad with grey hair ;)

I think Mother Nature finally took pity on me, and treated me especially well for my especial day. The weather couldn’t have been fairer, and Tony was of a like mind with me today so we spent most of the afternoon doing what we do in the spring. (That’s hunting morels if you’re unsure.)
TC

Because Father Winter lingered long past his welcome this year, Tony and I haven’t been our usual eager selves to check the progress in the woods. We know there’s not been nearly as much as one might expect by this time in May. However, my neighborhood walks with Petey have indicated that it’s time to start hitting our spots checking for morels.

While I love eating the mushrooms, my heart is really in the hunt. A friend and I swear it’s what’s actually behind the Easter egg hunting tradition. If you’ve ever delighted in finding Waldo, then you have an inkling of what morel hunting is like. Nature’s tastiest nuggets camouflaged against a gorgeous backdrop of rustling leaves and vibrant, ephemeral wildflowers. You get to walk amidst it all, enjoying the simplicity of each passing moment so that even if you don’t find any mushrooms, you’ve still won a great prize.

We didn’t find a ton – we brought home twenty that were acceptably large – but we found some: The season is afoot! Even if we hadn’t found any, I’d still have counted today as a gift. This way, there’s no doubt it’s going in the books as a perfect birthday celebration.

We did not pick the tiny mushroom, I just included it for funsies.

Surprise Morels and a View

We made plans to hike the Empire Bluffs trail with our friends yesterday. We most recently walked the path back in super-snowy February, but Jim and Jess (and Jackson too) hadn’t been since the fall, and yesterday’s temperate weather seemed perfect for the short trek. Continue reading

Travelers and Tribulations

“If you don’t like the weather…just wait a few minutes.” Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, was referring to New England, but he just as easily been discussing May in Michigan. In the same week we’ve had hot days with sunburned skin along with freezing rain and snow. This past week we had several splendiferous days of 60-70, light breezes, and clear skies. This weekend we broiled under 80-degree skies, and then shivered in cold rain. Yesterday morning I woke to a pall of fog. More rain flooded soaked grounds today, but then blew away on afternoon breezes leaving a threat of frost in its wake. Continue reading