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.

Upstairs, Downstairs, Across-the-street Shoe Store

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I don’t photograph signs very often although neon signs are intriguing, especially old ones. I photographed this sign in the town where we live because of the story behind it, a part of our life story, a story going back to 1913 when the store was first opened.

If you look at the blown up photograph you can see the faint lettering under the word shoes that says upstairs. You have to look just the right way to see it. It says upstairs because long ago when our now 50ish kids needed their first walking shoes, until they rebelled against good-for-their-feet shoes, we took them there to get good fitting, made to last shoes. They remember going up the long steep stairs that always seemed dark until we reached the top, and opened up the glass door to the bright room with the golden goose that gave out eggs to kids who had been fitted with new shoes.

When we went shoe shopping we would beckon them with “We’re going to the upstairs shoe store.” But in 1976 the owner moved to a storefront across the street, at ground level and it became known in our house as “the upstairs, downstairs, across-the-street shoe store.” I still think of this name when I go there for good shoes that are comfortable on my aging feet, to be professionally fitted by the son (now retired), grandson and great-grandson of the man who bought it from Mr. Miller in 1959.

JB asked me to take the photo and it is being framed to hang in his man cave. I hope it triggers lots of good family memories every time he looks at it.

Not on the Interstate

 

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We avoid the interstate highways as often as possible, tooling down the state and U.S. two-lane highways at 55 miles per hour. Sometimes, when we can’t get there from here, we resort to narrower two-lane roads that we can’t find on the map. We tell ourselves that we are getting better gas mileage but the real reason we enjoy the back roads is because there is more of interest to see. We get to drive down the main street of small towns, getting a feel for the culture of the part of the country we are in. We get to see lots of barns and sometimes even stop to take some photos.

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We get to find the small family-run dinners 10 miles down the road from the interstate and around the corner, where all the cars are parked for lunch. Most fun of all is finding roadside markets selling produce in season. Last week we traveled the back roads to Manistee for 4 nights of camping on Lake Michigan and on the way discovered this wonderful market to stock up on some seasonal produce for our dining enjoyment.

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The fresh strawberries were done in our neck of the woods, but were still producing a ways north – and the blueberries that aren’t yet ripe in the lower tiers of Michigan counties were just starting. As an added bonus (how can I take so much excitement) they had the delicious black cherries grown in the northeastern lower peninsula.

 

JB loves a good deal and his favorite vegetable is asparagus so his eyes lit up when he saw they were selling asparagus for $1 a pound. We had it for supper for three of the four nights.

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I’m saving the best find for last. Did you notice the bakery sign in the photo above? It caught our eye right after seeing the strawberry sign – and who can leave a farm market without checking out the baked goods. First stop was the table with fresh baked biscuits and short bread to go with the strawberries. We opted for the short bread and weren’t disappointed when we savored the strawberry shortcake with a cup of tea after supper. But that wasn’t the best…

The best was the doughnut. That wonderful apple-cinnamon doughnut made with buttermilk. The one with the little crunch as I broke through the light brown crust. And then the sweet, light center that melted on my tongue. Oh, I feel the ecstasy of that moment. And I’m glad that memories don’t contain calories. Maybe I’ll have a another one.