On rare occasion, Gayle and I like to get in the car and just start driving, with no particular destination. Last Wednesday was a sunny day and the fall colors were looking good, so we took off traveling north.
The fall colors are close to peak. In my notes, I have peak color in West Michigan averaging about Oct. 18. This year the fall colors are about a week earlier than the past several years. The temperature has been cooler and many areas have had at least a light frost. This maple tree was in Belmont.
We hardly passed a farm where harvest wasn’t in full swing. These are apples from “The Ridge”. Apples are harvested over a period of over two months, from the Paula Reds in mid-late August to the last Romes and Evercrisps in late October. My mother would always have apples out in a bowl, so we could grab one anytime. She made pies and cakes – even finely chopped them up to put in oatmeal. My father’s favorite was Golden Delicious and I lean in that direction myself.
I’ve watched this soybean field turn from green to yellow to tan. A couple days after this picture, it was harvested.
More soybeans are grown in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. Soybeans were used primarily to feed livestock until the early 1900s, when scientist George Washington Carver discovered that soybeans provided valuable protein and oil. Many countries now use soybeans as their main source of protein.
The soybean plant is a legume. It collects nitrogen from the air and releases it back into the soil. This is important for maintaining soil quality. Soybeans are a valuable tool in crop rotation. This means farmers can plant other crops in the space where the soybeans had been planted the year before and the nitrogen left by the soybeans will feed the next year’s crop. Fruit farmers may plant soybeans for a couple of years to feed nitrogen into the soil before planting new trees.
I happened to catch this large flock of birds (starlings?). You may have seen starlings flocking in downtown G.R.
We went for a walk at Wahlfield Park and came across this bent tree. It reminded me of the Trail Marker Trees that Native Americans used to mark trails north of Chicago where I grew up.
I passed at least a dozen wildflowers in bloom here in early October. I’ll just make a wild guess that these are daisy fleabanes. There were at least several bees on this plant. I saw the easily identified dandelions, purple and white clover, thistle, goldenrod and a couple of late-blooming chicory.
Every so often you could see purple asters. A black squirrel ran across my path.
Look real close and you’ll see this little rabbit in the center of the picture, who let me get pretty close to him/her before slowly and calmly hopping back into the woods…blends in well.
I did the perimeter walk at the park…probably walked 3 miles total before we continued on our way.
There were quite a few kids at the playground. Lots of happy sounds while I got hydrated after my walk.
This picture shows the blue sky (clean air) overhead and the smoke layer from the western wildfires in the distance.
Driving the back roads we happened on Grant. We decided to stop at the Depot for dinner. I hadn’t been here in a few years. I think I’m holding my mask. There was plenty of room to social-distance. Before you ask – we saw the train, thought it wasn’t running when we were there. The depot and the water tower have been here since 1891. The last passenger train to TVC ran in 1963. Grant is named after Ulysses Grant, the Union General and President. For many years, I’d come up and speak at the elementary school. I’d sometimes buy a sack of onions or potatoes, then some bread at the bakery down the road in Bailey. I almost stopped at the drug store to get a flu shot – I have to do that yet.
On the way home we stopped at Crockery Lake. The lake was almost dead calm and there was a beautiful reflection of the fall colors at the east end of the lake.
This was looking west toward the setting sun. It was quiet and we just about had the whole park to ourselves.
Finally, a look at the setting sun from the side of the road in NW Kent County. Even at sunset, there were still quite a few farmers out working – harvesting, picking up hay. Got to enjoy these fall days before the days get short and the skies get gray.