Summer: Farmers’ Markets are a Comin’

One of my greatest joys of summer is going to the farmer’s market to obtain produce and flowers for a summer’s evening meal.

Here in Michigan vegetables are just beginning to ripen and farmers are beginning to show up for the markets. On my first three trips to local markets I found some strawberries, tomatoes, zuchinni, summer squash, snap peas, romaine lettuce, blueberries, and raspberries. I am hoping our favorite berry people, Ken & Janet, will be here next Tuesday with the very sweetest blueberries I have had anywhere.

Our daughter Sharon decided to work from our home in Michigan for July and August to escape the southern Texas heat and severe outbreak of Covid-19. She drove, bringing her canning jars and pressure cooker so she could can tomatoes and all the other fresh vegetables that will be harvested in those two months. We are especially eager to work together making relishes and salsas to fill our pantries.

It took me a while to narrow down what I like about summer when the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Summer came out this week. I could have posted on my summer garden, sewing in my three-season room, sprinklers, inland lakes with small docks, camping and picnics. Oh, and my purple porch swing, outings for ice cream, corn growing in the neighboring fields…

A Late Summer Field on an Amish Farm

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In the second week of August, JB & I decided to take a drive a few miles to the west, here in lower Michigan, to a rural area of numerous Amish farming communities. I always take my camera because one time when I didn’t, there was a perfect photo of two draft horses, with a hay wagon backed up to a barn door, waiting for the hay to be unloaded before going for another load. Oh how I want that image that is perfectly composed in my brain.

Most of the time having a camera is a frustrating experience because the Amish do not want to have photographs of themselves because they consider photos to be “graven images” or idolatry. There have been several times when I could have taken a photo while they were facing the other direction (and I did this once) but I haven’t been able to get past the guilt of such blatant disrespect, even with my advanced skill of rationalization.

So I take photos of hay fields on cloudy days in a misty drizzle.

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The purpose of our little excursion was to go to the Amish bulk food store to get a few things – and the granola I love to eat on ice cream. I always think that our automobile is strangely out of place in the parking lot – although they do welcome our business.

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Blue is a Great Lake

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A hundred shades of Lake Michigan blue, looking west from Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan.

I’m in love with the magnificent vastness of the Great Lakes. It is impossible not to be spellbound by the hundred shades of blue layered beyond the shore, reaching to forever. Of course it helps if you have waded into the cold water and summoned the courage to dive in – feeling the cold aliveness against your face. The magnificence is magnified by the knowledge of the strength of their waves that erodes shorelines and sinks ships. Ask people who live on their eastern shores and they will tell you about the power of the storms that come across the five lakes, holding tons of snow to be dumped over the colder land.

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Lake Superior blue turning sunset rose from a beach at Pancake Bay, Ontario, Canada

I had the good sense to take these two photos on beautiful summer days, when the air was warm and the breeze was gentle – but I didn’t forget the water is cold.

I was inspired to share these photos and words by Patti’s Lens Artist Photo Challenge word “blue.”¬†Click on the link to see other interpretations of blue.¬†We will be headed to Lake Superior’s southern shore on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a few weeks and posting these photos has me geeked.

At The Boardwalk

 

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We just returned from a few days on the Leelanau Peninsula, a piece of land between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay that would be the pinkie of the Michigan mitten. One day was spent at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where we walked the boardwalk out to a lookout over the dune cliff and Lake Michigan. We have been visiting this area for 50 years so it is full of memories, especially of watching our children climb the dunes and play along the shore. Back then there were no boardwalks or concerns about protecting this fragile ecosystem.

Linked to Cee’s Which Way Challenge for June 1.

Watching for More Spring

 

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Dateline: Hidden Lake Garden, M-50 in southern Michigan.

There was no mistaking that we were still in an early spring woods, but our spirits were full of anticipation, fueled by glimpses of the ethereal haze of pale green or red buds on the occasional tree in the distance. It was warmer this week – I was comfortable in crop pants and a short-sleeved tee.

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There were more daffodils out this week, especially in the woodland areas – but we saw large beds in the meadows that were still all green. Maybe they will be out in the next couple of weeks.

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Spring Beauty – Claytonia Virginica

Julie & I talked about how fragile the early spring wildflowers seem – but then realized that they are really tough to survive the unpredictable transition from winter to spring. In my early career as a mental health therapist and even as a professor and mentor to college students, I met so many people who seemed fragile, who came from less than nurturing environments but were making it. They had the same beauty and toughness as the early spring wildflowers. It was so rewarding for me to watch them as they bloomed – in all their glory.

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Yellow Trout Lily – Erythronium Americanum

Now, many years later, I was thoroughly enjoying my camera time, working from different heights and angles, with different setting, working to capture the delicate beauty of these early wildflowers. Our first stop is at the hosta garden that slopes down a steep hill to the Hidden Lake. A few hostas are just beginning to push through the ground. They are all marked with black tags as wildflowers and summer bulbs are allowed to grow and bloom before the hostas spread their leaves to cover the ground.

The garden also has a vast area of woodlands where the natural ecosystem is allowed to run its course, with hiking trails and a single lane drive. There isn’t much traffic during the week in early spring so we stop frequently to admire and photograph the flowers flourishing in the sun – before the trees leaf out making a shady canopy.

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Vinca/Myrtle

I was excited to see a few Vinca blossoms because the floor of this woods sloping up above these stone walls is covered with Vinca and in a couple of weeks should be covered in blue.

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We found large patches of wildflowers growing along the road where the trees thin out close to the upland meadow. These blue ones captivated me and I took several photos trying to capture how I experienced this patch through the integration of eye and heart.

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I couldn’t find them in my reference books, nor could I find a useful on-line flower identification site – but I’m sure one (or more) of my readers will be able to tell me their name(s).

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Here are two more wildflowers we found at stops along the drive through the wooded areas. They are very familiar, in fact the blue one has found its way into my front garden bringing a bit of early spring serendipity and color into a garden I am trying to keep under control. But I can’t recall ever knowing their names and my reference books haven’t been any help.

We received a couple days of rain and spring is really popping in our neighborhood so I’m looking forward to returning again to this woodland garden.