It's like this nebulous thing...post-summer...pre-fall...The days are somewhat chilly, the nights quite a bit chillier. The trees are just barely starting to turn over in color--I've watched the subtle and slow bronzing of canopy across the lake--and yet the fall blooming flowers are out in full. Aster. Goldenrods. Turtlehead. I noticed the buds of the witch hazel starting to form (and am already looking forward to its lovely November exhibition). I could walk around this place in circles for hours and hours and never care about anything else. Sometimes I do just that. Some of you might have noticed this by now.
Tomorrow I am giving some students a tour of the forest. They will be doing some research on improving the educational value/experience of the SNRE properties, but particularly this one. Saginaw Forest is the most well-used of SNRE's research plots, being so near to downtown. I don't think that much will happen in the remainder of my time here in terms of big projects, but it's exciting to discuss them nonetheless. I do still continue my desperate "battle for the barn" and volunteer tools. One hinges upon the other. I am persistent but not hopeful.
Give us a wave if you are around the woods. This is a happy time.
Between students coming out to do research and classes starting up, bodies have been busy here around the moss house. Some of you may have noticed this weird contraption out on Third Sister.
I refer to it simply as the "robot boat." But really it's an interesting project being tested by a group of engineering students. Their goal is to design a new and improved method of measuring evaporation on the Great Lakes (current measuring tools are land-based, not real-time). Different versions of Robot Boat have come and gone from our waters as they tweak the design (leaking seemed to be a problem).
A more permanent installation has been put in place to monitor the flash floods of Honey Creek, just behind the outhouse.
Classes are going to start using the site soon as well. Soil Ecology, Woody Plants, and even the class I'm the GSI for--the first year landscape architecture studio. I'm really excited to be working with a class taking on a design project out here. Talk about a perfect opportunity for all involved. I've been gearing up for the influx of activity with meetings, clearing honeysuckle/buckthorn, mowing, and collecting tools. This is an exciting fall.
The weather wreaked havoc on tree branches here last night, as I'm sure those of you in Ann Arbor can believe! But I do love this place post storm. It takes my breath away every time.
I've been bad about blogging. I spent two weeks in Alaska working on my masters project, and although I had many things going on in the woods before and after these travels, I completely failed with the reporting. I'll run you through a few of my activities.
Alaska, ooo baby.
Major developments prior to my departure can be attributed to the outstanding help I received from a friend of mine. Chris assisted with meadow mowing, porch enhancements, and clearing trees to the fence line of the berm road. Lots of work done in a short period of time! It was very exciting, and I'm eternally grateful for the time he put in out here. It was a hot week, too.
Cutting 'em back.
Other pre-trip activities included tool maintenance--chainsaw sharpening and cleaning and a lawnmower tune-up. Everything is working spectacularly, which makes my job much easier.
Right before I returned home, the drive-way was finally regraded! No more broken shocks for me. I can't tell you how nice it is to not have to hold my breath inching over the enormous chasms in the road.
Since getting back, I've been out and about mowing, pulling purple loosestrife, clearing back overgrowth on the trails and boardwalk, and telling people to stop fishing. I missed home, and have loved every minute of being back on the trails with my loving partner, Leto Little-Wolf.
Today I'll be up on Liberty clearing back honeysuckle obstructing the view of the road. See you all around...
Penstemon digitalis appeared. In my "yard." Right there. As I made abundantly clear in the last post, I get pretty geeked about flowers. I wasn't expecting this one so it's given me the giddies through and through. If you happen to walk through my front yard meadow, check around the edges for this beauty and take a peak inside the corolla tube--the stamens are curled around the inside, almost like a floral ribcage. It's totally neat.
If any species of lobelia pops up anywhere, at any point this season, I might just poop my pants.
I took advantage of the raininess this week to get all of the power tools in prime working order. The chainsaw blades are sharpened. The lawnmower is getting treated to a full tune-up. In the meantime, I'll be doing the same 'ol same 'ol: chopping honeysuckle and buckthorn (emphasis on the berm road), and walking about looking for trouble.
"I must have flowers, always, and always." --Claude Monet
As you might expect from a Landscape Architecture student, I love flowers.
So it has been a lot of fun to see what's popping up month after month. June is a joy because one of my favorite native wildflowers, Columbine, begins it's annual display of awesome. I don't know if you've ever taken the opportunity to look at it up close, but it's such an amazing little piece of architecture. Dual colored; long, graceful nectar spurs; the crazy cluster of stamens...Aquilegia canadensis, you always steal my heart. The best of the Ranunculaceae!
Geranium and False Solomon's Seal are on their way out. Spring Beauty came and went in the blink of an eye. The days spent cooing over the little white flowers of Blood Root have passed, and with it my interest in painting red lines all over my face with the plant's colored latex.
I can't wait to see what comes next.
A flower you will see in abundance right now is Dame's Rocket. Please feel free to pull it up--it is invasive and we want it out of here!
Yesterday I cleared a tree, sharpened tools, and mowed. Today I pull Dame's Rocket. See you out there!
Last week was b.u.s.y. After doing some honeysuckle/garlic mustard removal early in the week, the weather hit--and didn't stop. The saturated soil brought down trees left and right, to the point where I lost count of how many I cleared and how many I had to go. On Saturday, I was up early to clear a big one before my volunteer work day. When nobody showed at 9, I was disheartened--but at 10:30 I scored two very able-bodied hard workers!
Since there were only three of us, I scrapped the original workday plan of clearing the shrubs along the berm in favor of pulling garlic mustard. We did good work--a lovely and productive morning. Thank you, Diane and Gayle, for the four bags worth of weeds!
I have a bit more tree clearing to do--what was left was "low priority," and I needed a break. Weather is beautiful now, though. Hopefully it will stay that way for when I get home from work!
3 of them are cleared. Please bare with me on the fourth, I'm tired from the prior 3 and I have to go to my other jobs, too! I cleared some of it (a big multi-brancher), so it's not quite the disaster area that it was originally.