June Close-Ups

Wildflower taken at a local natural preserve.

During the Covid pandemic we found fun, diversion, and emotional healing by spending time in nature where we could be almost normal when all social gathering was dangerous. The past two springs I have spent a lot of time in my garden attacking weeds (a good target for virus-anger), moving plants that weren’t thriving according to my original garden plan, and dividing plants (some of them 10 years old) to increase their flowering and to spread their color in the garden. Now, in the first week of June, my garden is covered in new green growth with small patches of color here and there. Within a month it should be a sea of color – in fact I think I can see the green growth quivering, just waiting for the right moment to send forth its blooms.

Geranium growing in a container.

Yes, I am waiting for June to do its transition from spring to summer. I look daily for signs of flower buds on my perennials and just finished up an application of liquid fertilizer designed for blooming plants – just in case nature (and my soil) needs a little help.

Bearded iris that has a beautiful variegated leaf.

I am having to wait – something my personality doesn’t do gracefully. My waiting is helped a little by the wonders of digital photography and computer science. I decided to go back to the digital files of past Junes to find close-ups and macro shots for the CMMC where Cee is asking us to provide close-ups or macro photos. I had a good number of them because I had bought a close-up lens filter in June of one year so I put in some practice time with it. I haven’t used it lately so maybe that would be a fun project as my garden begins to flower again.

Freshly washed local strawberries anticipated towards the end of June.
Wonderful black cherries grown on the northern sandy shores of Lake Michigan.
Last year three of us ate 60 lbs. (give or take) of Michigan high bush blueberries.

And how can I fail to mention the most important anticipation associated with June – the promise of freshly grown Michigan strawberries, blueberries, and black cherries. We wait all year for this production and June means that we have only one more month of waiting. Depending on weather conditions and where they are grown in Michigan, they may start during the last week of June and into/through July. Strawberries have the shortest season, sometimes only a couple of weeks if it is really hot.

Surface of Lake Michigan on a calm, blue-sky day.

June is also an excellent time to visit the northern Michigan resort areas because their tourist season doesn’t go into full swing until after the Fourth of July holiday. June holds all of the excitement of a new season of warmth while still being a bit cool for swimming in the Great Lakes and our many inland lakes. We will be heading up to the Traverse City area with our camper next week-end for a few days (we save the Upper Peninsula for later because summer is slow in coming that far north). I think I will put the warmer quilt on our bed as the nights are still pretty cold in June but too warm for flannel sheets (I hope). I am looking forward to walking the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan, shopping the charming stores of the small tourist towns, and maybe even visiting a winery on the Mission Peninsula for a sampling and maybe a lunch.

Simple

Yesterday we started our discussion of our first camping trip of the season. We like to take two or three short, midweek outing each year to places here in Michigan within a 4 to 6 hour driving radius. Simple outings to familiar places we love, with anticipation of simple activities. Jim mentioned the eastern Upper Peninsula as a basecamp to go to the Pictured Rocks on the southern shore of Lake Superior and maybe Sault Ste Marie (pronounced sue saint marie). I was thinking of a campground we like south of Traverse City, close to the shore of Lake Michigan. Both place would be good the middle of June because the tourist season doesn’t begin in earnest in Northern Michigan until the 4th of July. Then campgrounds and small towns become crazy busy and, especially as we are still in pandemic mode, busy does not equate to living simple.

We decided when we could go (a week with no health-care appointments) but didn’t make a decision about place. Maybe I better check on campground availability because going camping without reservations results in a less than simple trip.

This is in response to Debbie’s One Word Sunday prompt of “Simple“. I love it when photo challenges are “simple.” Thanks Debbie.

Down Dirt Roads: Brown

The joy of going down dirt roads.

Jude, on Travel Words, is finishing up the month (January) on the color “brown” before calling for a new color on Sunday for the month of February. I am currently living in southern Florida and my mind is thinking in vivid color with flowers, blue skies, and brilliant sunshine. Looking through my last two files from trips to the Naples Botanical Garden, I didn’t find much brown. Stumped!

Then I remembered all the files I have of photos taken while going down dirt roads in southern Michigan, where the other half of my “Life in Color” takes place. My first search was of barns but most of the barns in Michigan are red or white – but I found a few that weathered brown instead of grey.

Then I began to find other photos of brown found along dirt roads. Including Farmer Brown, himself, one of his long-horned steer, and a wooden silo. Hope you enjoy this little excursion into the browns of farmland in the “Greatlakes State”.

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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