October Gold: Adventures and Situational Awareness

A view of tall trees in fall colors from across a body of water. Deep oranges, yellows, and green reflect brilliantly on top of the water.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

October heralds the peak beauty of autumn’s colors; that alone makes this month special. We are in the season of crisp morning air, fast-moving clouds, clear night sky and the last blooms of meadow wildflowers. It’s a month of roaming raccoons, woolly bear caterpillar, owls hooting, coyotes yipping, hyper-active squirrels scurrying, restless bucks in rut and osprey departing. October means scarlet sky sunsets, first frost and sudden outbursts of short-lived snowflakes. October is truly the golden month for those that love nature’s way, and perhaps the very best time to hike and explore the wilder side of Oakland County. Continue reading

Nature’s Almanac At The Dawn Of Autumn

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Forget for a moment the temperature soaring into the 80s all week; today is the first full day of autumn. Summer officially ended at the exact moment the sun crossed the “celestial equator”, and the crossing of that line in space only occurs twice a year.  The September equinox happened at 10:21 EST yesterday.  Get ready to celebrate the season of apples, pumpkins, hayrides, fall festivals and hikes under kaleidoscopes of color.  Oakland County Parks, our Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and dozens of other parks in our towns and cities are ready for outdoor autumn adventure.

Even with our unseasonable warmth, seasonal changes of autumn are easy to see, and sometimes hear, in the parklands, wildlands and trails that span the county. One of the most noticeable signs is the wide array of fantastic fall fungi that is spreading their spores to expand their kingdom. Moist woodlands are spawning the rapid growth of the stunningly beautiful Fly Agaric, better known by its scientific name Amanita muscaria, a toxic species, and The Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), a delectable edible delight.

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POISON IVY: Fight the Itch with Wildwoods Wisdom

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Poison Ivy in full sunlight takes on a bushy form

A walk through shady woods or a sun-soaked meadow is the perfect way to embrace the wonders of summer. It’s healthful, relaxing and has endless rewards, some for the eyes and some for the taste buds. Juicy black raspberries are ripe, blackberries are almost ready and in hidden pockets of more northern landscapes, blueberries please the palate. Yet, hidden in plain sight for those that are not in the know is Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy. The summer of 2015 has produced a bumper crop of this plant of itching woe, a plant that triggers a painful itching, blistering and sometimes oozing reaction. This extreme reaction happens when Urushiol, the sap of the plant, makes even the slightest contact with the skin. Continue reading

Outwitting Fall Foliage Poison Ivy

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As the days shorten and the nights cool, the woodlands of Oakland County are transforming into kaleidoscopes of color. Golden hues of sugar maple, the deep crimsons of sassafras and the scarlet-red shades of red maple are the dominant colors on nature’s autumn palette. However, there is one troublesome plant that hides in the showy mix, a plant dressed in alluring shades of red: Poison Ivy.

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Poison Ivy In The Waning Days of Winter

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Thoughts of spring may remain buried under blankets of snow yet cycles of nature on the wilder side of Oakland County continue unnoticed.  One day soon choruses of spring peepers and wood frogs will add music to silent wetlands and woodland flowers will enrich sunny hillsides with delicate blossoms. But first the snows must melt.  We wait for that day. We dream of that day.   And no one is thinking about poison ivy.

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