Green Thoughts: Hen of the Woods, LEDs, Green Gifts & Dryads

Green Thoughts: Hen of the Woods, LEDs, Green Gifts & Dryads

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By Rebecca Hammond

MICHIGAN HIKING TRAILS HAVE great displays of fungi in Autumn, with specimens here in Ferndale as well. Look up the USDA’s website on Michigan fungi. No matter how geeky this sounds, the names alone make it worthwhile: Hen of the Woods, False Tinder Conk, Swamp Death Angel, and one seen here in Ferndale, Dryad’s Saddle – one specimen can produce 100 billion spores.

One of the best parts of living in Michigan is constantly discovering things to do along roadsides. Some become favorites.It’simpossibletoignoretheviewfromtheCutRiver Bridge on US 2 in the UP, but I wonder how many people know it’s also a great stop. The east side has one of Michigan’s ubiquitous long wooden stairways; down, down, down to river and lake level. The views of the bridge, the rapids, and the lake change with each step. You can head up a path on the west side, and can return to your car across the bridge. Stone stairs on the bridge itself take you underneath to cross to the opposite walkway. Opened in 1947, the bridge is 641 feet long and 148 feet high. We’ve enjoyed a good leg stretch there for years.

And there’s Bruno’s Run. A 9.25-mile loop trail buried in the Land O’ Lakes that is the central UP, it’s a true slice of Michigan, wandering through a varied forest and along numerous small lakes and a river. If you like feeling far from people, find Bruno’s Run. It’s south of Munising on H-13. There’s trailhead parking along Moccasin Lake.

What seems to be a mere rest area along M-28 west of Munising on Au Train Bay is really a treat, with Scott Falls across the highway, and Lake Superior steps away. The lake is often a rolling and thunderous place here if the wind is from the north, pushing waves across 150 miles of open lake before they pound the shore at your feet. A small pictures rock rises to the right, not too visible from the highway. In October the beach was dotted with almost perfect sphere of grass, some eight inches across and weighing a pound (yes, I took one home), formed by the pounding of the grass-filled surf against a small sand bluff.

Considering that one milkweed pod can hold 300 seeds, the fact that the Ferndale Monarch project has given away almost 250 pods could mean as many as 75,000 seeds distributed. A green gift idea for a butterfly lover would be some packs of seeds, milkweed and maybe coneflower and d goldenrod, along with a book about butterflies, or a shirt or poster. Try Monarch Watch’s gift page for some lovely choices. They also certify as “monarch waystations” places that have a required number of monarch-friendly features. That could be a great gift (you can order a sign) for those who have already planted butterfly gardens. Check out Library or King Books for butterfly or guide books. Visit The Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop in Berkeley for the mesh cages designed for raising caterpillars.

You may have noticed new LED streetlights along Detroit freeways. They use far less electricity than the orange-ish sodium vapor lights that often preceded them. The Detroit Free h Press and Forbes Magazine have had articles listing the advantages of LEDs, and one is enhanced night-sky viewing, even in urban areas. Forbes showed before- and-after pictures of LA, and the difference is striking. Glare is reduced and the new lights have better coverings, directing light downwards. The artificial orange haze that crowned LA and our city, visible from miles away, seems all but gone. Detroiters report feeling safer. Stars blaze on a darker, bluer background. The morning sky lately has been stunning, with a crescent moon rising, Venus blazing in the east, and Jupiter and Mars nearby. Orion is often due south when I arise, morning west through the early morning hours.

Michigan has three “dark-sky” preserves. House Bill 5023, sponsored by Peter Pettalia, seems to have cleared committee as of this writing. It would “designate the state-owned land encompassing Rockport State Recreation Area, Negwegon State Park, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park as dark sky preserves.” Michigan was, in 1993, the first state to set aside a dark-sky preserveL Lake Hudson in Lenawee County. Most of us who travel north come home with a common rhetorical theme: the stars.

The 60-year old Enbridge Oil Pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac is still under scrutiny, a rupture there having the potential to cause an economic and environmental catastrophe. Representative Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor has introduced bills to gain more state oversight on pipelines, with more inspections, access to reports and plans, and higher standards for permits. This seems reasonable for a state with 3,200 miles of shoreline alone for Great Lakes. So far these and other bills have not made it past the early phases.

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Rebecca Hammond sews, writes, and teaches oboe in Ferndale. Find Funky Ferndale Crafts on Facebook

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