Saturday, January 31, 2015

Contrasting Then and Now

This is winter, isn't it!  Or so the calendar says.  We've had cold enough temperatures, but not enough snow to allow for typical outdoor winter activities.  According to the most recent Leelanau Enterprise, we've had 73.8" of snow so far this winter.  That's in comparison to 188.1" at the same point in time last year!  And nearly half of this year's snow fell in November, when winter hadn't officially arrived.  Now don't get me wrong; I am NOT wishing for another winter of 2014, but it would be nice to have enough snow to tramp around in snowshoes or capture some pristine winter snowscapes.  To illustrate the differences between last year and this year's snowfall amounts, I've chosen some wintery images from 2014.  Today I revisited those same places, and the contrast between the two images is striking. 

 By the end of January in 2014, Omena Bay was completely frozen over and the ground was covered with deep snow.  Today the ground is barely covered and the bay is mostly wide open.

The same story is repeated in this vista from Braman Hill.  In 2014, ice had completely surrounded Northport Point while today no ice is visible. 

Orchards too are lacking in snow cover.  Last year deep snow was evident between these apple tree rows and covered the ground all the way to the hills in the background.  This year, there is bare  ground in both areas.

And look at Woolsey Airport!  In 2014, snow had nearly covered the whole lower part of the structure.  This winter, snow covers little of this historic site.  I can't help but wonder what the groundhog will see in a couple days.  :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ice Sculpting the Shoreline

Over the last few days, in all kinds of light, temperatures, and weather conditions, I've noticed the shoreline along the bay is being chiseled by wind and wave action.

Frigid temperatures begin the process by transforming the water into an icy sludge.  Waves then push the sludge shoreward, creating mounds along the shoreline.

The ice captures the vegetation in its path and peninsulas begin to jut into the water all along bay.

The power of the wind and waves even lifts shelves of ice out of the water.

 Freezing spray also coats the shoreline vegetation with ice and turns it into fanciful sculptures.

On the lakeside, the same molding process is going on, but on a much grander scale.  Last winter, weeks of intense wind and wave action resulted in the formation of ice caves, which drew thousands of curious spectators.  In this milder (so far) winter of 2015, that same phenomenon probably won't be repeated.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some Welcome Sunshine

We've recently been blessed with a few days of sunshine this past week...a welcome respite from the winter grays.  I headed over to the lakeside to catch a sunset from high on Foxview Drive.

As the sun sank lower in the sky, it ran into a heavy cloud bank, effectively occluding the sun's final dip into the water.

Still, the sunset was vibrant and well worth the trip across the peninsula.

But as I turned away from the lakeshore and meandered my way home, it was the pinkening sky of the afterglow that really grabbed my attention.


Driving eastward, the lovely blush lasted...

all the way to the Bight.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Wicked is the only word I can think of to describe the weather of this past week.  High winds, single digit temperatures, and heavy snowfall created near blizzard conditions throughout the North Country.  I was fortunate enough to stay indoors with a blazing fire, two dogs for company, Downton Abbey to watch, and plenty of reading material for entertainment.  I felt sorry, however, for the critters who had to brave the storm outdoors.  Knowing that the neighborhood deer depend on me to create a safe haven for them during the winter months, I put out extra feed blocks for them.

At the height of the storm, I had around ten deer who huddled around the feed blocks when the snow came down in nearly horizontal fashion.

Their winter coats were covered with the heavy snowfall.

The herd's pecking order was clearly evident in how they approached the feed blocks.  This doe, for example, stood at the back of the pack and watched until a space opened for her to eat.

In contrast, this buck, still sporting part of his antler, stepped right up and began eating, although he caught sight of me shooting through the window and watched somewhat warily.

I've become familiar with the deer herd over the past few years.  What was unusual about the deer that came during this storm was the number of young bucks there were.  I was also surprised to see they still sported some antlers.

With all that testosterone, there was some territoriality being expressed between the males.

But most of the deer visitors just licked their chops at the good food available to them, all the while watching me photograph them through the window.

Saturday, January 3, 2015