Straight Lines?

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

I love boardwalks for two reasons. First, they allow me to get deeper into nature’s beauty without the danger of falling due to uneven ground, tree roots, rocks, etc. Second, I love how they are made of pieces of lumber that form straight lines, but still their structure has lots of dips and zags and turns with surprises.

Corkscrew Swamp Boardwalk in Florida

The Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has a 2.25-mile boardwalk that meanders through pine flatwood, wet prairie, around a marsh, and finally into the largest old-growth bald cypress forest in North America. Can you follow these straight lines? Something like walking the straight center line while being falling-down-drunk.

Western Prince Edward Island, Canada

I love this type of boardwalk (above and below) that is a great alternative to walking on soft, shifting sands. From this perspective you can tell which alternative I actually chose.

Sleeping Bear Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan, Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

I love the pattern of straight lines that crisscross the “straight line” of the boardwalk path.

Along the Lower Santa Fe River at Blue Spring, central Florida

Central Florida is noted for its many springs bubbling up from the underground limestone aquafer. Many people, all of them young, were choosing to walk up the shallow river in the 72 degree (constant) water. They saw the wonders of the spring water up close but I chose the boardwalk even though it seemed a bit unstable, triggering my height anxiety occasionally. The straight boards shoring it up didn’t seem to increase my confidence in its safety, but my desire to explore the beauty of this unique landscape pushed me forward.

Thanks, Cee, for presenting this challenge of “Straight Lines” that gave me a chance to meander through my maze of files (in my brain and computer) looking for examples of boardwalks.

Autumn is in the Air

Yes, autumn is in the air, not yet the riot of color we will have in a couple of weeks, but as I drive through the countryside I see the subtle changes that have taken place that say summer is over. My favorite places are the wetlands that have been left uncultivated. It is there that I get the first hints of each new season. Many of the small ponds are covered with thick algae and this color always brings a smile to my face. A daughter calls the green I love on my public room walls “pond scum green.” I have so many of these little memories of family life that bring me joy now that I am in the (late?) autumn of my life.

The colors of early autumn in these wetlands are subtle but taken together create a wonderful palette. Where I took these photos earlier this week, the goldenrod and white asters were scattered in abundance.

Most of the cattails were still their beautiful brown but a few were bursting with abundant hope for the future. Maybe I need to remember them when I hit those moments of “covid fatigue” and burst out my hope for a healthy and social future.

I moved from my favorite marsh and started roaming down the less traveled east/west roads, looking for scenes of autumn color. The color is mostly in the small bushes and wildflowers on country roads, although as we ran our errands in town yesterday, I saw many trees that were starting to color up.

Frequently sumac is early to change into its most brilliant coat of color. I found this one that is in the process of changing. Look at all the various colors – truly a coat of many colors.

I found some small patches of color that are “picture perfect.” I love when color and composition come together in a way that pleases my eye.

With all the small family farms in my countryside, the crops will always reflect our progressions through the seasons. Last spring was really crazy with unseasonal periods of heat and cold interspersed so farmers had a long period between plantings of corn fields. This early gap is being repeated this fall as some fields were harvested a couple of weeks ago and others are still standing, some even showing lingering green.

I had a whole week of fun putting together this post for Amy’s Lens-Artist Challenge: Colors of Autumn.

A Little Bit of Red?

I went looking for a little bit of red as I meandered through my photo files this morning (does that count as a mile walk?) But I must have been into a lot of red because I just had to use this photo of tomatoes. They are in season here in Michigan and I no longer take them for granted. When my daughter moved to southern Taxes she looked for tomatoes to can that first year – there were none to be found in fall or spring. So she tried growing them, twelve plants that she shared with the deer. She tried several years but never had enough ripen before the heat of summer baked them on the vine. It must be we need hot houses in Michigan to start our plants in the spring, in Texas they need cold houses to give them time to ripen. Now she drives up to Michigan in summer to escape the heat and can produce to take back for the next year. This year she came before the tomatoes ripened so she took the ones I had left from last year. Each of the past two weeks I bought a half peck of tomatoes to can, enough to replace them with a few more jars for safe measure. Canning brings so much pleasure to my life, if I don’t overbuy at the farmers’ market so my energy runs out before the job is finished. Such a temptation when all that fresh produce is calling “buy me, buy me.”

As I was leaving I noticed the little bit of red of these umbrellas, standing sentinel waiting for the lunch time crowd to come for a sandwich and a beer. How pretty they looked contrasted with the black against the just right red of the building.

The farmer I buy my corn from (I also canned some corn relish) always has some small bouquets of seasonal flowers. They smiled so pretty I couldn’t resist taking a quick photo. Now I’m getting a little closer to a little bit of red.

I hope these posies bring a smile to your heart. If you see one who really like, let me know and I’ll pick it up for you next Friday morning.

I like going to the market on Friday morning instead of Saturday. There aren’t as many people on Friday so I can meander and stop and think and back up without getting into someone’s space. I’m still nervous about the virus when out and about, even with a mask. I don’t see many masks in our area and that makes me even more nervous.

The next photo of a very little red is my favorite from that visit to the market. A quiet Friday morning, giving the farmers a chance to get together and chat a bit. I do believe this is what makes for a good life; hard work providing food for others who then work hard preparing it, and finding time to chat and laugh with friends.

Those of you who follow Jude’s blog Travel Words may have seen her post this morning asking if we have photos with some “eye-catching red,” even a little bit of red. Well I haven’t been posting red photos of my “Life in Colour” on a regular basis so I had a little catching up to do as we are getting close to the end of August. If you like red and like to post photographs and connect with other red-loving people, check Jude out. But hurry because another color is coming in September.

Someone Else’s Hideaway

We spent a few days in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan this past week. One day Jim and I took off to explore some backroads. One of them led to a boat launch to this beautiful sandy-bottom lake. There were no houses on the lake and there was a sign that said catch and release fishing with only lures. There was a couple already there with their kayaks.

We commented on how beautiful the lake is and they said it is their hiding place. I apologized for finding them and their place, and they were gracious. They live in the area so they shared lots of interesting information about the lake, the storm damage from the night before, and what it is like living next to the government national guard training grounds. We also shared stories about getting wet while canoeing and loosing valuables. I sure wish kayaks had been available when we were younger, or maybe I wish I was agile enough to kayak now. My artificial knees make it hard to get my feet far enough under me to get out so I would have to roll over into the water. Not very graceful.

Our friend, Lynn, shared an interesting conversation she had with someone who hadn’t lived in Michigan. She was talking about going to the UP (Upper Peninsula) and the other person said something about the LP. Lynn had to stifle a laugh because she had never heard the Lower Peninsula referred to as the LP. Me neither. We live in the Lower Peninsula and go the the UP for vacations. I wonder if people who live in the Upper Peninsula refer to where we live as the LP.

There is a political/social history to these regions that is probably familiar to all territories. Before the Big Mac bridge was built in 1957 connecting the lower and upper, there was a ferry that made travel slow and expensive. The state capital, Lansing, is in the lower part of the lower peninsula and people in the UP felt very isolated both economically and politically. People especially on the western end of the upper peninsula have felt more connected to Wisconsin then to Michigan. They still do. I’ve been wondering if our references to these two regions reflects the fact that the lower peninsula is economically and politically more powerful or if it is just a pattern of speech that is reversed depending on where we live. Next time we visit the UP I’ll have to talk to some Yoopers to find out.

Notice the sign background is of the Upper Peninsula. Lake Superior to the north, Lake Michigan & Huron to the south, Wisconsin and Minnesota to the west.

Country Road Barns

Barn in Spring

When I am living in Michigan I associate country roads with farm fields and barns. I have hundreds of photographs of barns, even after culling many that didn’t tell a story or weren’t aesthetically nor technically pleasing photographs. I used to have a weekly date with friend Julie for early morning photo shoots on dirt roads. I miss Julie and I miss our outings since she moved across the state. Jim and I have been on lots of country roads in Michigan since then and I’ve seen lots of beautiful barns but didn’t stop to photograph them. Jim says to tell him when I want to stop but I find it hard to jump out of the car, snap a shot, and then be off again. I long to slip into that single focus of mind between me and the my camera and the object of my focus. I long to linger on country roads, to feel safe enough to forget the world exists outside of what my photographic mind sees. I long to feel the environment of the flowers, fields, barns and fences I photograph as I listen to the birds and insects, feel the sun and air on my skin, enjoy the curves of fields and trees.

Before the Sunrise

I love the quiet of back country roads, especially dirt roads. I smile as I hear the distant cows in conversation with each other. I breath in the smell of vegetation warming in the sun and study the way corn grows in neat rows that wind around and over gentle hills. All the time I’m looking for the special composition that tells the story of what my soul is experiencing.

Amish Barn

The new metal pole barns don’t interest me; they are neat and functional but don’t have the scars and wrinkles of aging that suggests a story, a history.

Something that is totally absent on country roads are camels. But maybe there is a first time for everything. I am so happy that life continues to change as we age, that we can make changes in how we view and interact with the world around us. Surprises can be fun or produce anxiety. I hope I can see all surprises, all changes, as opportunities to find new coping skills and learn more about the world.

My photographs were chosen and my thoughts were stirred by this week’s Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Along Back Country Roads. May your life be full of back country roads, especially the dirt variety.