Having grown up in Michigan, I have always been in awe when thinking about how Michigan must have been before the white settlers came to this wild land of many lakes, wild animals and Ancient Indian Tribes.
Michigan was once covered in thick forests, and marsh lands, which were homes for many a fur covered animal, feather flying fowl, and fin swimming fish. With the vast destruction of these natural habitats, many species have nearly or completely disappeared. Thanks to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, some of these places have slowly been brought back into existence. The once, almost extinct American Bald Eagle, once again builds its nest high in the trees of the Houghton Lake Flats.
You can see these beautiful birds flying high above the lake on a clear day, and if you are lucky, you may see the magnificent sight of one Bald Eagle making its high dive straight down into the lake for a mid-day snack, as I was so blessed one day.
As well as the Bald Eagle, you may also see the Osprey, a cousin of the Eagle. Similar in size and colour, they can be differentiated by the Bald Eagle's distinctive white head and the L-shaped angle of the Osprey's wing in flight. Both birds are hunters of small land game and have even been known to have preyed on small domestic animals such as dogs and cats..so, keep you pets inside with they are commanding the skies above!
Before the white man came to Northern America, Indians roamed the forests and paddled along the crystal clear streams in their Birchbark Canoes. They left no plastic bags, nor did they carelessly burn down the forest. No chemicals floated on the surface of their waterways. They killed the wild game as they needed and used every part of the animal from the meat to the skin to the horns and bones. The wild berries in the forest gave them their vitamin C and anti-oxidant supplements without swallowing a pill from a plastic bottle.
Today, the forests are still miraculously covered with the same wild blueberries, June berries and currents. If you hike into the areas where the vines are thick along the forest floors, shaded by the tall Jack Pines, you may be lucky enough to find these delicious berries. Tread lightly and pick carefully not to damage the delicate skins and to take the berries whole.
Ask any local where the best berry picking can be found. If again, you are lucky, they might share their favourite spot with you.
Best time for Picking is Late July, Early August.
Best eating...blueberry pancakes and maple sirup.
Best drinking...wild berry wine!
Best recipe...ask my father Nick!
Once you have found the blue delicacies, handle with care. Proper picking should be done with a light pull from beneath the berries allowing them to gently fall into your open palm.