Poison Sumac: Tale of a Toxic Trailside Beauty

red poison sumac

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the crisp days of autumn draw near, I increase my explorations of the wondrous world of our wetlands, swamps, and marshlands. They take on a special peaceful splendor in the waning days of summer, especially in the dawn’s early light. The wetland-embracing trails on the wilder side of Oakland County lure me in as surely as honey bees fly to flowers for nectar and pollen. However, this year as in the years before, I will be watchful for and ever wary of one wetland plant in particular. This plant presents a clear and present danger to humans that have the misfortune of making physical contact. Even touching or brushing against any part of this toxic trailside beauty may lead to a world of woe and in some severe cases of exposure, a visit to an emergency department follows.

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A Sunrise Paddle on the Wilder Side

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Summer is firmly taking hold on the wilder side of Oakland County. It’s a time for exploration and discovery, and without a doubt, it’s the perfect time to greet the sunrise while most of the human world is sleeping and the air is still cool. And so last Saturday morning, just a few hours after the last of the fireflies flickered in my meadow, I strapped my kayak into its carrier and headed for East Graham Lake in the Bald Mountain State Recreation Area. Although the drive took only twenty-five minutes, it felt like I had escaped to a far away hideaway. Continue reading

The Great Skunk Cabbage Swamp

Just the very word swamp can conjure up images of danger lurking behind every tree, venomous snakes slithering over logs, gators hungry for human flesh, monstrously large spider webs slapping against faces and squadrons of blood-thirsty mosquitos almost making the air too thick to breathe. I prefer the words of Henry David Thoreau, “I enter the swamp as a sacred place.” Continue reading