Thursday, August 26, 2021



From the tip of the little finger at Northport, around both sides of Old Mission, to the charming village of Elk Rapids, I took a drive-about around the Grand Traverse Bay, all 132 miles of shoreline.  The enchanting views drew me in.  Sunlight dancing on the sparkling waters.  Groups of sailboats moored to buoys.  Anglers standing in their boats hoping for a bite from the big fish.  Windsurfers catching the next gust of wind.  People taking in the views from their beaches and docks.  Sailboats racing across the bay, their colorful sails unfurled.



Thursday, August 19, 2021



Driving to Elk Rapids, I was nearly stopped in traffic at the sight of fields of sunflowers along US-31 going north.  Cars had pulled over onto the shoulder to pick and photograph the flowers.  The scene was so lovely I came back the next day for a second dose of picture-taking.  I was reminded of Mary Oliver’s poem The Sunflowers.  I’ve chosen lines from her poem to title this week’s blog and to illustrate my images.


 “Come with me into the field of sunflowers…


Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines creak like ship masts…



their green leaves, so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky sugars of the sun…


 Come with me to visit the sunflowers…



they are shy but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young -
the important weather,
the wandering crows…


 Don't be afraid to ask them questions!
Their bright faces, which follow the sun, will listen…


 and all those rows of seeds -
each one a new life!…



hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe, is lonely, the long work of turning their lives
into a celebration is not easy…



Come and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.”  --Mary Oliver




Thursday, August 12, 2021



I like the weather guy Joe Charlevoix.  Besides the regular facts like temperature, humidity, and wind direction, he shares information about the Northern Lights, the Perseid Meteor Showers and other weather-related natural phenomenon.  In the last couple weeks, Charlevoix had been talking about how the Western and Canadian wildfires have been making our blue skies gray with haze. 


 The smokey haze has also made for some vivid sunsets, Charlevoix said.  So I headed out to Old Mission to try catching a wildfire sunset.  When I reached the first neighborhood where I often shoot sunsets, the haze was evident against the backdrop of the Leelanau hills and a sailboat still in the bay.


 I could tell, however, that I needed to drive further north to catch the sunset.  I proceeded up the peninsula to the Center Road Scenic Overlook.  It’s a good spot with views of West Bay, Power Island, and vineyards.  The same hazy conditions were present.


 The sun was still fairly high in the sky and I was hopeful that there would be a good sunset.  Others must have felt that way too because the parking spots had filled at the turnout and a second row was beginning to form.


 Just minutes later, cloud striations began to cross the sun and almost obscure it completely.  It all happened very fast!  It looked like what we see at the end of a sunset, but this was occurring mid-sky, not the typical sunset location.


 The sky pinked up and the remnants of the mid-sky “sunset”  remained.  A significant, dark cloud bank remained between the sky scene and the horizon.  I hoped at some point the sun would drop through the clouds and give us a peek at a full sunset.


 I watched and waited.  It was difficult to tell what was clouds and what was wildfire haze.  Other onlookers began to leave, giving up on the hope of a good sunset.


 It was well beyond the 9:03 sunset time.  There were only two of us left at the turnout.  I’d occupied myself by watching a group of eagles or hawks flying above the treeline.  Finally, I decided to leave too.  This is as good as it got.




Thursday, August 5, 2021



As always, I’ve been searching for my two Sandhill Crane families, the one with two young colts and the one without.


 Cranes typically return to the same general area to nest, a phenomenon known as nest fidelity.  They also build their nests in the same or similar spots.   But corn has been planted in the whole area where I usually see the family with the juveniles, forcing them to find a different place to nest and raise their young.


 I’d just driven my whole farm country route, hoping to see the crane family I’d seen a couple weeks ago in their new spot.  I didn’t have any luck with that, though.  Instead, I saw two cranes pecking in someone’s front yard.  Who would’ve thought!


 I drove by them several times at normal speed to test how flighty they might be, and they seemed more interested in whatever they were finding in the grass than the passing cars.  So I pulled over and began to snap some pictures.  Of course, they no longer felt comfortable and began to walk away from me to the back yard.  I moved on not wanting to interrupt their feeding.


 Seeing this pair, got me thinking of the pair I typically see so I drove over to the two-track  and they were there.   They were gorgeous standing in a field of wildflowers in the waning, golden sunlight.



I was fairly close to them so I was able to get better close-up shots.  They were squawking away in their unison call, probably unhappy with my nearness and especially Gracie’s hanging out the car window puzzled by these weird sounding critters.


 Farther out in the same field was another pair of Sandhill Cranes.  I just barely captured the shot before they took off flying.


 Seeing three sets of Sandhill Crane pairs got me thinking about where were the  young ones.  Why weren’t these pairs breeding?  I knew cranes reach sexual maturity at two years, and the cranes I’ve seen at the two-track were at least that.  Where were the colts?


 I had to understand what was going on so I headed to some bird sites on the internet.  What I discovered was that while Sandhill Cranes may pair as 2-year olds, successful breeding does not happen until they are four to seven years old.  In fact, only 20% of 4-year olds breed, whereas 90% of 7-year olds breed.


 So, it looks like I’ll have to wait a bit for my young cranes to breed.  In the meantime, let them tap, bow, and flap.  I learned too that the more a pair dances, the more they perfect their synchrony for when they are ready to breed.