Gwen Frostic’s Block Prints

Photo from the Gwen Frostic web site

Savor each moment of beauty –

the majestic – – and the simple…

Listen to silence – – –

that in itself

renders all words meaningless…

Feel the wind in the trees – – –

The ebb and flow of the tides – – –

wild wings soaring high – – –

– – – the timeless rhythms of life …

Dream of stars shining over head – – –

– – of the mystic kinship

that underlies all life….

Keep a sense of wonder – – –

and of awe – – – –

– – – – forever ….

(Gwen Frostic – printed in the small book that will be my new current journal)

Yesterday was a very rainy, windy day and we are camping with friends on Lake Michigan. There is only one thing to do when this happens – get in the car and go someplace. JB and I already knew what we would do because we are familiar with this northwest corner of the lower peninsula of Michigan. We headed for Benzonia and Frankfort.

On the River Road between Benzonia and Frankfort is the Gwen Frostic studio. Ms. Frostic lived from 1906 to 2001 and was an artist and writer. She loved nature and is known for her block prints of trees, birds, flowers and other critters of nature. Production of stationary, journal type books, place mats and napkins, calendars, and many other household items continues, with items sold in the workshop she designed. This building is nice to visit if you enjoy seeing how a human dwelling can be built to feel like a part of the natural world around it. In fact JB commented as we walked up to the entrance that they needed to mow the grass on the low-hanging roof.

What was most fun on this trip was watching and photographing some of the 12 Heidelberg presses that create the products from her original wood block carvings.

While we were watching, a machine close to us had finished printing a second or third color so the person who appeared to be an accomplished printer removed the frame that held the blocks adding the new color and began replacing them with two new blocks.

This appeared to be highly skilled work – requiring careful measuring and adjusting so the next color on the design fit perfectly. In this case, after he printing a test, he removed the frame with the blocks and changed the spacers to better align the new color on the previous colors. The young boy appeared to be an apprentice.

When we left it was still a little early for supper so we took a quick trip around Chrystal Lake to Frankfort, stopping at the Point Betsy Lighthouse. We didn’t stop there because it was raining harder, even though the big waves breaking on the shore were a temptation.

After a quick tour of Frankfort, we went to Beulah to have supper at the Cherry Hut. This is a local favorite with foods featuring the tart cherries that are famously produced in this part of Michigan.

You can find out more about Gwen Frostic’s products and order items online at their website.

If you are in the area and want to visit The Cherry Hut, you can find out about them here.

Anticipations: Past and Future

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We are snowbirds, and this year we had to leave Michigan just as the fall color was beginning. I didn’t really want to leave my beloved landscape of farmer’s fields and trees. But my anticipation for visiting the Naples, Florida Botanical Gardens was growing.

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My heart smiled in anticipation of palm trees, bamboo, and orchids growing in trees. But the Thanksgiving holiday was fast approaching and we had tickets to fly north again. I giggled in anticipation of snow. Last year we didn’t see any in December.

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This year we have had bone-chilling cold and a steady fall of new snow, resulting in an aching body and clipped wings. If only I could go out and play in the snow. My world here has become pretty black & white and my anticipation for the warm sun on my back and cool breeze on my face is growing. On January 1 we spread our wings and fly back to Florida – with a little help from Delta wings.

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Now my anticipation is growing for another morning walk on the beach. We will settle in there and be content – until late March when I will begin to anticipate, with great yearning, the awakening of spring in Michigan.

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You can post your interpretation of anticipation at The Daily Post.

Leaving Michigan; Leaving Fall

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We left Michigan when fall was just beginning. As we finished last minute packing and I got in the car Monday morning, I noticed a few red leaves had fallen from the Maple tree in our front yard and along our drive south there were trees that had bright yellows or reds on their top branches. The nights had become cold – it looked like frost on the very lowest areas of lawns.

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We made sure to buy some fresh-picked apples at our local fruit stand before we left. We used to go to the orchard and pick a couple of bushels that I made into applesauce to eat during the long winter, make into pies, and the whole family ate for lunches and after-school snacks. This year I wanted some Northern Spy apples because they make the very best apple pies, but Ken said the trees didn’t produce many apples this year – so I bought a cross between Spy and Golden Delicious. I didn’t buy a bushel – only a half peck to take to Florida for a pie to share with friends and maybe an apple crisp. I also bought a bag of Honey Crisps for eating.

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We had spent the previous week cutting back the flowers that had bloomed so prolifically all summer. We like to clean up the flower beds for our return in the Spring – when the perennials are starting to send up green shoots and I am chomping at the bit to buy some annuals. My criterion for whether perennials were cut back or annuals were pulled up were the strength of their blooming and whether the bees and butterflies were still visiting. I left some mums and marigolds to be cleaned up when we return north in November.

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The most painful part, tears in my eyes painful part of leaving our northern home was pulling up my beloved Morning Glories. They were late in blooming this year so I only enjoyed about a week of the glorious blue blossoms. There were hundreds of buds that were growing plump, ready to bloom if a frost didn’t get them first. I kept asking JB to wait just a few more days – until there weren’t any more days. Sunday afternoon I cut the plant down in the front of the house, while JB pulled down the plant growing up the side of his shed out back.

I left my true home in Michigan – the place that is imprinted on every cell of my body. I know the small town, rural place by the smell of it’s freshly turned soil in Spring, the sight of changing colors in Fall, the feel of hot Summer sun and cold Great Lakes water, and the silence of a world covered with snow.

Three days later, I find myself in my winter home, where everything is different in sub-tropical Florida. This is the sixth year that we have wintered in Florida and coming this year feels like coming home – almost. We have decorated our home in a way that comforts and nurtures us. I am slowly learning how the plants that I once grew as houseplants, grow outdoors. And I look forward to getting back to the botanical gardens to take some new photos. This makes leaving my real home much easier.

To see more posts on “home,” click here.

Morning Stop at a Roadside Market

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At the end of last week’s photo outing, Julie and I decided to drive down Chapel Road to a roadside produce stand – before we went to the Wooden Spoon for a late breakfast. It is early August and farmers are starting to set up stands close to the country roads, for people who want to buy fresh produce for their suppers. People living in the Midwest states of the U.S. eat a lot of sweet corn, on the cob with lots of butter and salt. On this morning, the only things for sale at this market were sweet corn and flowers. In a couple more weeks there will be plenty of produce.

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Julie bought a few years of corn, following the directions to put her money in a can sitting on a table. This is common at these small stand, the honor system. I had some fun taking a few more photos on this most beautiful almost-late-summer morning.

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When I saw Cheri’s prompt of “Morning” at The Daily Post, I so much wanted to put a link on the post I did a few days ago on Early Morning Light. But she states that we need to post something original so I decided to do this. Not as good an interpretation, but I will go to bed tonight with a clear conscious and lack of anxiety over getting busted. This is a great prompt and can be repeated frequently.

A Sanctuary for the Dead and Living

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…the original Hill section was still lovely, its mature plantings offering visitors shade and cool breezes. The gentle, rolling terrain and meandering gravel pathways felt natural and comfortable, even giving the impression that those resting beneath its picturesque hummocks – some interred before the Revolutionary War – had come there by choice rather than necessity. (Richard Russo, Everybody’s Fool, p.4)

Every time I drive into the center of town I go past this cemetery. And every time I drive by I feel a pull to turn in – not that I feel myself being pulled to death. No, I feel the pull to stroll the driving paths, sit in the shade of the very large evergreens, explore the grave markers in this oldest cemetery in our town. I love the rolling hills and how the morning sun shines through the trees to provide selective illuminations. There is a special eerie beauty when the sun shines through the morning mist.

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This mature cemetery seems to provide a place of sanctuary, a nature preserve for both the deceased and the living, much more than the level, perfectly laid out, sunny cemeteries. Our love for those we bury leads us to wanting a pleasant place for their bodies to rest, but logically these sanctuaries are more for us, the living.

We need this refuge as a place to keep our memories. The nature of this special cemetery seems to whisper that this is sacred ground – where we remember and respect those who have lived and died. I don’t need to go to the actual grave of my mother to remember her.

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This simple marker triggers the simple memories of times spent with my mother, sacrifices she made for her children, ways she helped me grow into the woman I am. When I walked past this grave I stopped to reflect and pay homage to all women who labored to give birth and then labored to nurture children to adulthood. And of course all the women who nurtured other women’s children.

When I view these simple markers, the stones and crosses without names, my thoughts are freed to think of the millions of people for whom there is no evidence of who they were within their small sphere of influence. I am reminded that we are not walking alone because we are walking on the path trod by trillions of people, unnamed people in our collective memories. Is there a sense of sanctuary in knowing that we are not alone in our walk through the joys and struggles of life, and our walk towards joining them in death?

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There is a sense of sanctuary for me in knowing, in my awareness and memory, that ‘I am’ because of all those who have struggled before me, all those who have loved with their hearts and hoped in a better future. I feel sorry for those who focus on hate and fear because it is impossible to find the peace of sanctuary within their world.

I have been wanting to do a post using these photographs for a very long time and Ben, at the Daily Post, provided a good prompt: Sanctuary. I had fun writing about how this cemetery has affected me, tying in the photographs and the prompt – and as always my words led me to thoughts that were new and exciting.