Tagged V: Violas

garden center 130

garden center 137

Wow, “V” was a hard one for me. All week I’ve been thinking of words that begin with the letter V and none of them were conducive to photography. I guess I could have used violence but that would mean someone would get beaten up so I could photograph and post the action. Not in my nature.

I’m a flower kind of person – maybe we can blame it on the the Hippie Movement of love, peace and flower power. By that time we were married with a baby so we weren’t smoking pot but who can argue against love and peace and lots of flowers.

I went to the garden center today to pick out my Mother’s Day present from my daughter. It brings such joy to see all the beautiful colors – and as luck would have it there were violas for me to photograph for this post.

You can see if others are more creative than I am this week by visiting Frizz at:


Upper Peninsula

Friend Natalie needed to go back to Escanaba where she grew up and wanted someone to go with her to help with the driving. I jumped at the chance. Escanaba is in Michigan‘s Upper Peninsula, on the far north shore of Lake Michigan, almost to Wisconsin. How nice that my trip was just in time for Frizz’s weekly alphabet challenge that is all the way up to “U”. I don’t think there is anywhere on earth that is like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

View of bridge from the Lower Peninsula.

View of bridge from the Lower Peninsula.

I had two goals for this trip. The first was to capture Natalie’s growing up places in photographs because she was going to the memorial service for a couple who were killed in a car accident. These were people she had known forever and were her last ties to Escanaba. I couldn’t accomplish this because the pieces of her old life – her home, her school – had all changed too much. It had been well over half a century. Natalie drove around and showed me places as she was remembering them fondly in her minds eye. “This was where…” Going back and remembering sometimes is an important part of moving on. So is realizing that things aren’t the same any more. That can hurt a little.

My second goal was to capture the personality of the U.P. We took many summer camping vacations to the upper peninsula when the kids were young so this wasn’t my first trip. Even though I’ve been this way before, I still feel an excitement deep within, experience a sense of wonder when I go across the Mackinac (pronounced Machinaw) bridge. Natalie and I agreed that it feels like a different world. It has a special personality created by its geography.

It is almost an island, but not. Along the south are Lake Huron and Lake Michigan with just a small wet border with Canada on the east. The Sault (pronounced Sue) Lockes between Sault Ste. Marie Canada and Sault Ste. Marie Michigan provide passage for ships between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, important because it then allows shipping of natural resources to Chicago and the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean. The northern border of the UP is the shore of Lake Superior. The only land connection is the western border with Wisconsin.

I think most Yoopers (people who live in the UP or moved away after growing up there) feel a stronger connection with Wisconsin than with Michigan. There is a political, social, and economic disconnect between the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. A part of that disconnect is the Straits of Machinac. This strait has strong, turbulent currents but it can freeze over if not kept open by the Coast Guard for shipping. The only way to cross was by car ferry until 1957 when the bridge was opened – it is the only physical connection between the two peninsulas. The 5-mile long bridge is frequently closed because of high winds, making it frightening for some people to drive. The bridge authority provides a driver service for those too anxious to drive themselves. On both days we drove the bridge there were calm winds. Even so, when I drove on the inside grated lane I could feel the car move because of the updraft.

Mackinac Bridge from Highway 2

Mackinac Bridge from Highway 2

The personality of the UP is defined, in large part for me, by Lake Superior. It is deep, it is big, it is clear, it is really cold all year, and it can be wild. Sink ships kind of wild. Remember the Edmund Fitzgerald? – a ballad was written about it. Maybe it is a Michigan phenomenon but we look on Lake Superior with awe. Lake Superior produces a lot of snow – measured in feet kind of snow. And spring comes late – the trees were just starting to leaf out in the middle of May.

A stop at the Cut River Bridge on US 2

A stop at the Cut River Bridge on US 2

I don’t have photos of our many trips to Lake Superior where we scouted fire trails and lost roads for ghost towns – towns that flourished at the height of the copper mining era but then died. Sometimes these ghost towns were just foundations overgrown with weeds, sometimes the company towns looked like the people had recently left. There are lots of signs of past prosperity from logging and mining. Now people work hard to make a living from logging, fishing, farming and tourism. Last week-end the area was just waking up from the long hibernation of winter.

Here are photographs that seem to capture some of the personality of the UP. The slide show can be viewed by clicking on any photo that will also provide captions and information.

Natalie and I laughed because there seems to be Michigan time and Upper Peninsula time.  No one seemed to be in a hurry. Of course the marinas were empty and many of the business weren’t open yet because tourist season doesn’t start until after school is out for the summer. I hope the tourists will feel the difference, will take a deep breath of the air that smells so much fresher, and will let go of the stress that builds up “below the bridge.” Maybe they can open the car windows and let the wind blow it away as they are crossing.

Anther way you can unwind is to wander over to Frizz’s place and check out other entries. Here’s the spot:


Tree with a Secret Escape

Weeping European Beech

Weeping European Beech

This is a tree with a surprise. It doesn’t look like anything special, and the first tree we saw wasn’t as nicely shaped as this one so we almost didn’t notice it when we were photographing blossoming fruit trees at Hidden Lake Gardens. Julie happened to look at it as she was passing and noticed the inside of the tree.

Peek inside.

Peek inside.

Inside was a secret room with branches spreading out and a tent of green letting dappled light filter in. It is the type of space where we create secret clubhouses. It is the type of space where we escape from the world because no one can see us or hear us when we enter. It is a place for pretending.

The Secret Room

The Secret Room

When we grow up we can take our new love there to steal a kiss within the protection of our secret place. But don’t tell anyone.

Love Proclaimed

Love Proclaimed

Frizz is up to Tagged T and this tree with a secret meets this challenge to a “T”. You can find more interpretations and submit your own “T” without trepidation at:


I got a little behind this past week because I escaped to the Upper Pennisula of Michigan with a friend. I think this post also is a good interpretation for “escape”.  If you feel like escaping, you can find more about this Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge at:


Tagged S: Swan Pond

I love Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Swan Lake. Beautiful music, beautiful costumes, and exquisite dancing. Here is my version, Swan Pond. It has a nice ring, don’t you think – although it will be without dancing and music. Feel free to make your own music. You can hum out loud, I won’t mind. Rest assured the costumes are authentic and so is the pond.

You can swim (or dance) over to see Frizz who I hear doesn’t look too bad in a tutu (maybe that will be his post for next week’s tag T). He wanted the lead roll this week but you can understand why I had to give it to the guys in the slide show. Anyway, here is where you will find lots of other interesting interpretations of “S”.


Tagged R: Reflection

I saw a pair of swans when I went to pick up a friend the other afternoon, swimming in a pond in the front yard of a house. I went back the other morning so I could take advantage of some good light. I took lots of photos and I’ve been having great fun tweaking them in Lightroom. Here are two that stimulate my senses and imagination because of the reflections.

Mirror, mirror.

Mirror, mirror.


Fractured Reflections

How convenient that next week is “S” so I’m saving some swans for then. In the mean time you can visit Frizz for more reflections on the letter R.