Wild edges and flowers

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Our place is in one of bays on the east side of the upper part of the lake. We’ve been there for ten years now. This is the first year we’ve noticed some erosion at the water’s edge. At first we thought it might be a muskrat. Actually it might be. But it also seems to be that speedboats and jet skis come into the bay and create wakes a lot more than they used to.

We decided to try a natural border at the water’s edge to see if maybe some hardy grasses and whatever popped up might help. The alternative, a rocky divide or a breakwall requires permits. A true natural shoreline is a wonderful goal and we might try it in the future. Check out the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. But there’s a neatnik in our family and she might have a hard time leaving everything all natural and messy. We are very careful, though, that we don’t end up putting chemicals in the lake. We don’t use weed killer on the lawn. Actually, if we did we’d mostly not have any lawn. Especially this dry summer the weeds were about the only green stuff in the lawn. And we even powerwash the house and docks without using any soap in the powerwasher. Even the biodegradeable kind takes more trust in chemistry than we have.

Here’s another view.

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I’ll be darned. Look at all those wildflowers.If there were a wildflower that put fear into Canada Geese it might almost be perfect.

Steve picked a bouquet of wildflowers and a number of them came from our little slice of natural.

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So, it looks like Queen Anne’s Lace. I’m no gardener, but I don’t think it it is. I think it’s actually Water Hemlock, with its plant clusters squashed some to fit into the vase. Water Hemlock is a perennial native plant. Common in wet pastures and along roads and ditches. It’s a member of the carrot family and has a long taproot that smells like a carrot and tastes like a carrot. Except, if this really is Water Hemlock, don’t be tempted. It’s described by Stan Tekiela in his book on Michigan wildflowers as “by far the most poisonous plant in Michigan.” Something quite like this did in Socrates and you don’t want to go that route. A more benign identification is that it might be Water a/k/a Cow Parsnip. Nah. I like the Water Hemlock ID better.

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This big yellow guy, with some of its glory faded, is a Black-Eyed Susan. I think. Some call her Brown-eyed Susan, which would be more appropriate. Susan is in the Aster family. Nobody seems to know who Susan was. Or why this sunny plant bears her name.

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This purple delicate flower is another tentative identification: Spotted Knapweed. If so, it’s a non-native nasty. It aggressively crowds out other plants and may even change the chemical nature of the soil to keep away the natives and favor its own seeds. That would make it an allelopathic, a plant that releases toxins to inhibit the grown of plant competitors. Steve managed to find one of the prettier views for photographing this one. The bract under the flower, that sort of holds the flower in place, is a primitive looking ugly thing.

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This one, I believe, is Sweet or Spotted Joe-Pye Weed.There are a number of Joe Pyes in Michigan. They are a native plant. As the flower buds open, these small, fuzzy-looking delicate blooms appear. They are are hardy plants and the bloom lasts a long time. So, who was Joe Pye? All of my flower books say Joe Pye was a Native American “medicine man” in the 1700’s who travelled around New England teaching the settlers about the medicinal use of native plants. Joe Pye said his weed was a cure for typhoid fever, kidney stones, burns, and inflamed joints.

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The one flower Steve and I know for sure is Dandelions. We are experts on Dandelions. So, I don’t think he was picking Dandelions for his bouquet. I’m not sure about this one, but I think it’s a Common Sow Thistle. Sonchus Oleraceus. They are common along roadsides. Their stems flow with a milky juice. But Steve doesn’t remember if the thing slimed him or not.

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Next up is the lovely named Yellow Goat’s Beard, another member of the Aster family. They also go by the name of the Western Salsify. Who the heck makes up these names? We caught this one at just the right time. The flowers soon turn into fluffy big globe-shaped seed heads, like dandelions, and that’s how this plant spreads.

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Those little clusters of yellow flat button flowers are Common Tansy, Tanacetum Vulgare. It’s another member of the Aster family. I like their nickname: Bitter Buttons. Apparently its leaves have a strong bitter smell. I have quite a few allergies and decided not to do too much sniffing around the bouquet, so I can’t personally verify that. It’s a non-native. One of its folk uses is for, ahem, ridding folks of intestinal worms. It’s worm-fighting prowess is maybe why it was packed in funeral winding sheets and why people would get buried with tansy wreaths. My goodness. After this research we may leave the Common Tansy out of future bouquets. Also the Water Hemlock. Definitely the Water Hemlock.

Dishcloth critters

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This is “Who Owl Help Cook & Clean,” another slip stitch dishcloth pattern by Amy Marie Vold (CornucopiAmy on Ravelry). I knit this pair in Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream.

What a hoot!  Here’s a closer look.

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Amy’s mosaic cloths are such fun to knit that I find I can rarely knit just one. And I do much enjoy doing them in pairs, switching the colors.

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“Frog Prince of the Pad” is another of Amy’s patterns. And again I used Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream.

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These make excellent dishcloths. A number of little ones in my vicinity like to use them at bathtime too. I didn’t quite have enough yarn for a second one, since I’d started with less than full skeins. So this Frog Prince is knit in Knit Picks Dishie. Dishie makes for a slightly more refined look. Well, if a dishcloth frog can ever be even slightly refined.

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My cloths have been hooting, ribbiting, and now comes the purring. This is a pair of “PurrPETual Domestic Supervisors,” another of Amy’s patterns.

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These lovelies are knit in Knit Picks Dishie.

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Why dishcloths? What ever possesses a knitter to knit dishcloths? This subject has come up before on my blog. They are quick knits. They are useful. My family likes to accept them from me. And combine all that with these clever slip stitch/mosaic patterns…at times I simply get addicted to them.

Good thing that the knitting universe is big enough to accept all manner of knits and all kinds of knitters.

Long Lake Great Blue Herons

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This is one of Long Lake’s Great Blue Herons, probably bedding down for the night, since Great Blues do tend to sleep in trees. Down south, where our herons migrate to, this makes good sense because that way they won’t be some alligator’s evening meal.

This heron’s bed is the dead pine on the west shore of the lower lake, in the first bay south of the narrows.

If you watch the shore closely, in our lake’s most secluded spots, you will sometimes see the herons stealthily hunting. They walk, slowly, watching for fish that swim by, or frogs or small snakes. They hunt by sight, including in dim light thanks to having an extra dollop of rods in the back of their eyes. They don’t hunt by smell at all. In fact they have a very weak sense of smell–which is probably a good thing, considering the somewhat smelly stuff they eat. Fish are heron’s main food. They stab them with their sharp beaks. Then they have to make sure to swallow them head first, so that the scales and fins don’t get stuck in that long esophagus.

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This Great Blue looked a bit worse for wear when we spotted it a few weeks ago. We suspect that he (or she) was in mid-molt, but we’re not sure. Speaking of not sure, he and she herons look alike and are sized alike. Herons can sort it all out. But for human observers, that’s basically impossible.

We also wondered if this individual was a juvenile. If so, it was already full size. And, speaking of size, these guys are big. They have a wingspan of 5.5 to 6.5 feet.

Here’s a look at a heron wading in the shallows in front of our cottage, looking for breakfast.

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Great Blues are shy birds, easily spooked. This next one flew off and gave us a good look at the deeply bent wings in flight and those trailing legs.

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Forest for the trees towel

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This is Amy Marie Vold’s new pattern, “Forest for the Trees Towel.” It’s meant to commemorate the centennial celebration of the National Park Service. The Service was created by the joint efforts of lots of folks, even though President Teddy Roosevelt is who we mostly remember. Yep. August 25,1916 was the big day. We have commemorative coins this year and we have Amy Marie’s pattern. I know which will be more fun for me.

The pattern provides lots of knitters’ choice. Amy Marie charts and gives line-by-line directions for six slip stitch tree motifs. The knitter chooses which to knit and in what order. I selected four of the six for my towel.

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I used Knit Picks Dishie in the Kenai and Swan colorway and ended up with a 25 by 12 inch towel. Dishie isn’t as beefy as the Sugar ‘r Cream the pattern calls for. There would have been more width with an Aran weight kitchen cotton.

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Ever since completing this piece, as one of Amy Marie’s test knitters, I’ve been daydreaming about putting the pattern on steroids and knitting a slip stitch throw for the cottage. You couldn’t get too much more “up north” than snuggling up under that on a chilly evening.

Knitting Elephants

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This is Lorraine Pistorio’s Baby Elephant. No, wait, this is actually Baby Evelyn’s Baby Elephant. Evelyn turned 1 this summer. And she started walking. So, I suppose this is really Toddler Evelyn’s Baby Elephant.

It’s funny how you can take a zillion of your hours to knit something and people will mostly mention something like, “Wow those are really beautiful buttons.” With this elephant, almost everyone (except Evelyn) looks at this elephant and say “I love the toes.” Actually, I like the toes too. That’s mostly because I am a very poor embroiderer and these toes came out quite the way I intended.

Here’s another view.

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A little slouchy. Better to cuddle with. In all my years of knitting toys, this is the first time I used safety eyes. They are very solidly in place and I feel comfortable giving this to a young one.

Speaking of elephants.

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Yep, an elephant purse, with the second set of safety eyes I’ve used. This is a Morehouse Farms Kit. It was a hoot to make. What do people who see it say first? “I really love the tusks.” Sometimes, apparently, it’s the little touches.

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The purse is very lightly felted, which stiffens it a bit. Knit on!