The Indiana Insider Blog

Fall Arrives at Chain O’Lakes State Park

Indiana Tourism welcomes today’s guest blogger, Howard Luehrs:

Howard Luehrs - DNRHoward Luehrs is the intermittent naturalist at Chain O’ Lakes State Park. In addition to his park work, he is an adjunct professor of biology at Trine University. He and his wife own Wilmot Mill, a historic water-powered gristmill, in Wilmot, Indiana.

Welcome to fall at Chain O’ Lakes State Park. It’s time to put away your swim suit, pull on your long-sleeve shirts, and GO CAMPING! Fall is a wonderful time to camp. We still have warm days (well, not today), but nights are cool (and starting earlier; Can anyone say ‘night hike’?) but there are…(drum roll)…no mosquitoes!

A Giant Puffball is ready to slice and fry.

A Giant Puffball is ready to slice and fry.

Only a few leaves have started to change here. The dogwoods, with red-tinged leaves, are starting to stand out amongst the green leaves of most trees. Fall fruit is here too. Watch for the purple fruit of sumac and apples and pears ripening on the old farmstead’s properties. Some fungi also find this is the time of year to fruit. And, we are well into our fall wildflowers. The most conspicuous one here at Chain O’ Lakes is ironweed. It has a wonderful deep blue lower and is a member of the aster family.

Sumac FruitHere is a recipe for Sumac lemonade.
Warning! Only pick sumac berries from non-poisonous sumac. Poisonous sumac has white berries. If you are not sure of what you are picking, don’t pick it!

Ingredients:
1 quart of sumac berries (more if you want a stronger flavor)
1 gallon water
Maple sugar, honey, or sugar to taste

How to make it:
Bring water to a boil
Place sumac berries in a large non-metal container and crush
Pour boiling water over sumac
Steep for 20 minutes – 2 hours
Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter
Sweeten to taste
Enjoy over ice

It’s great to make over a campfire. Let me know how you like it. Let us know at chaininterp@dnr.in.gov.

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