Fungat is as fungat does.

By Don Rush

The weekend before this past weekend’s wind storms, I spent a lot of time outside. Wasn’t hunting. Wasn’t hiking or enjoying the crisp, clean autumn air. Nah, nothing so adventurous or sublime. Just had to finish taking care of the leaves on and around Casa D’Rush.
Yeah, there was some raking, some sucking, some blowing and some mowing going on. There were lots of leaves. Lots and lots of big old maple leaves. They look kinda’ pretty when they first start turning colors — greens, yellows, oranges and reds contrasted upon a blue sky backdrop is something I look forward to every year. Not, so much when they turn brown and fall to the ground.
I think seven maple trees is too many maple trees. I think maybe one maple tree is one too many maple trees. Note to self: when I grow up plant pine trees.
* * *
For the last decade or so, I have noticed little black splotches on my maple tree leaves. I notice the spots every fall when I start admiring the fall’s early beauty. For years I tried to combat the spots. I’d mix up some water, dishsoap and a tobacco tea — and spray the leaves I could reach. (I use this same concoction on my roses to keep those little red, creepy crawlies off.)
And, while the same juice — I believe it was something I read in one of Master Gardener Jerry Baker’s books — worked on the red rose bugs, it had little effect on the black leaf spots. After a number of years of doing this, I gave up. The trees look healthy and they surely do produce a lot of leaves. I soon forgot about said spots.
Last week, someone posted a question online asking about those black leaf spots, of course with the spots now fresh in my mind, I hopped on the old internet to find out more. I scribbled down lots of notes. Here’s what I found.
Those black, blotchy spots are sometimes called “tar” spots. “The tar spots don’t emerge right away, but are typically obvious by mid to late summer. By the end of September, those black spots are at full size and may even appear to be rippled or deeply grooved like fingerprints. Don’t worry, though; the fungus only attacks the leaves, leaving the rest of your maple tree alone.”
In my notes I wrote the spots were caused by the “fungat pathogen” Rhytisma. Then in my notes I went off the rails to an entirely different school of thought. In my notes I wrote, “I like that word FUNGAT! How can I use this word without even knowing what a fungat is or means?”
I then answered myself with a few more notes.
“How about, ‘How the fungat are you?’ ‘Where the fungat am I?”
On Monday morning, when I sat down to write this week’s adventure in Don’t Rush Me, I went back online to double check my notes with “facts.” I was kinda’ bummed out to read that Rhytisma is not a fungat pathogen. Nope, unfortunately Rhytisma is a fungal pathogen. That sorta’ takes the luster of my new liked word, fungat. Fungal isn’t a warm, fuzzy nor funny word. I am not a fan of fungal.
* * *
Last week, I wrote about this being the “season of gratitude.” A number of you reached out to share your thoughts.
Mary S., Clarkston: “There are too many things to count, but I’ll name a few. For my good fortune. For my health and that of my family. For the many good friends I have (with you as one of the special ones). Stay safe, and enjoy the socially distanced holiday season approaching.”
John D., Clarkston: “Don, Great attitude! I totally enjoyed reading your column today. Gratitude and kindness are always welcome, and your newspaper did a fine job of reminding us how we can be better people. Please keep up the good work, and keep the small-town newspapers up and running.
Jan T., Ortonville: “Don, well written column. I agree focusing on gratitude can be life changing. I find it helpful, especially helpful when I am having a challenging day.”
Linda D., Independence Township: “Wonderful column, Don. Some things I’m grateful for are the beauties of nature, like the starry sky in the mornings before dawn. Thank you for the quote from Melodie Beattie – I’m going to keep that!”
Thank you, all. I’m grateful for all you readers! Think I will end this week with another quote for you.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has,” Epictetus.
Send your comments or gratitudes to DontRushDon@gmail.com

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