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”.

In a Northern Neighborhood

At the end of October my neighborhood was ablaze with color. This isn’t unusual – what is unusual is that this year I was in Michigan to experience it for the first time… once again. For the past 11 years we have been in Florida from the middle of October to the middle of November. We leave our northern neighborhood just as a few branches of color are showing here and there. Every year I eagerly watch for these small patches of color just as in the spring I eagerly watch for the gentle green of new leaves. We return to Michigan about this time in November to bare trees and the only fallen leaves to be seen are on the floor of wooded areas and on the edges of country roads. We return to Michigan to see what I see outside my windows now as we move close to our Thanksgiving celebration. Skeleton trees bare of leaves.

But I am still thinking about the past three weeks and am so thankful for being able to experience them. We had a really warm early November so I spent a lot of time outdoors taking photos and raking (well, more time photographing than raking). I was seeing autumn in my neighborhood through the eyes of someone living in the southern United States. I was seeing autumn from a macro perspective because it felt so exotic.

I noticed how the tree full of golden orange leave (first photo) in our side yard had a few bare limbs, exposing seedpods that are hanging on long after thousands of them dropped in early summer. When I was a child we called them whirly-gigs and would toss them in the air to watch them twirl to the ground. One of the wonders of nature. Next spring I will be pulling up small maple tree seedlings from my garden beds.

It is so amazing how many leaves are on a full-grown tree. The tree can be covered with brilliant leaves and still, underneath the ground is covered.

We needed to rake these up because the grass had grown during the warm days and the man who mows our lawn was coming the next day. We also went for a walk and both Jim and I moved to the east side of the street so we could walk through the dry, fallen oak leaves blown there by the wind. Oak leaves are the most fun to walk through because they are big and make lots of crinkling sounds when we do that special kind of shuffle-walk that we learned as children walking to school.

In a few days the weather turned colder, more seasonal, and the wind blew hard. As I drove down the country road on my way to somewhere, the leaves were whirling in circles on the road and leaves were falling so heavily that it sometimes made me wonder if I would have to turn on the wipers to see. Then I laughed at myself. What joy.

And then they needed raking again.

My inspiration for writing about living in my northern neighborhood this autumn came from the Lens-Artists Challenge # 123: Found in the Neighborhood.

Old Barns

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I’ve noticed a pattern when I stop to photograph an old barn. I stay on the road because owners get angry, or at least really nervous, when people walk around their property with a camera. Still, I frequently have the owner come out asking what I’m doing. I tell them what I”m doing, but also tell them how beautiful I think their barn is. They melt and we stand a while talking about the barn. They give me a history of the barn and tell me to take as many photos as I want. This is what happened when I was photographing the barn above.

I am noticing a lot of old barns are getting new roofs and having siding boards replaced, or new metal siding put on. What is really sad is when owners tell me that the grand old beautiful barns they own can’t be maintained because of structural or foundation problems. The cost is prohibitive.

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My cousin’s husband owns the next barn and he was telling me that it was built in the late 1800’s and he recently had the foundation fixed. Being a small barn it worked well and he continues to use it to store some of the antique tractors he owns.

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This post was inspired by Nancy Merrill Photography, who calls for photographs of things over 100 years old this week.