James’ Birthday and the Remnants of Spring

After a winter that stretched the limits of our patience and our firewood supply, spring and its pendulum swings have been a welcome change. We’ve been heading into the woods and into the outdoors, in general, looking for all our favorite returning characters — wildflowers, songbirds, edibles, etc. James’ birthday, recently, was an excellent excuse to spend the whole day outside, soaking it all in.

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It’s Cherry Time

Of course, if you blink, you’ll miss the cherry blossoms. So, on James’ birthday, after our hike in the Whaleback Natural Area, we also criss-crossed the county surrounding ourselves with the nectar-filled air of Leelanau’s orchards.

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The birthday cake James chose this year was from a cookbook called Vintage Cakes that I bought on an impulse buy at one of our favorite bookstores (The Old Cottage Bookstore, Glen Arbor). The recipe: Cherry Chip Cake with Cherry Buttercream. Each layer had a thin layer of chocolate ganache between the buttercream!

It smelled divine, was fun to put together… but unfortunately it didn’t really taste of cherry even though it had nearly a half-pound of dried cherries in it. Still, with that much buttercream and moist cakey goodness, how can you truly be disappointed in a cake? After our first serving, I made a cherry sauce to put on the plate with the slices so at least the cake wouldn’t be cherry in name only!

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Rare Sightings

While on a guided hike of the Houdek Dunes Natural Area sponsored by The Leelanau Conservancy, we were let in on a little secret: the dunes were filled with hundreds of fragile/precious Moccasin Flowers (aka Pink Lady’s Slippers). On our hike, the plants had fully emerged from the forest floor and had formed buds that were just about to open. So, a week later, we returned to find them all bursting open.

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We also came upon several cute little Starflowers which we’d never seen before in all their seven- and eight-petaled glory.

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Nearly all of our other outdoorsy time, lately, has been spent getting several gardens up and running — not exactly photogenic work as of yet, but hopefully that will change as summer sets in. Yesterday, the high reached 93 though only the “mid-to-upper 80’s” were forecast. Though you won’t hear many people in the county complaining, I proudly stand with my sandwich board and handbell, crying at the injustice of 90-degree days in the first week of June. It just ain’t right, folks.

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