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.

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.