Exploring Fabius Township and St. Joseph County, Michigan, with side trips all over this Great Lakes state

Friday, April 30, 2010

Which front wins? Skywatch Friday

Would it be sunny or would it rain? 
Which way was this front going on this April morning? 
 For more skies from all over the world, visit: Skywatch Friday

Aspargus time at Corey Lake Orchards!

hmmm, hmmm, good!  Fresh from the fields is what you will get when you buy asparagus at Corey Lake Orchards.  Beth says "call ahead" as the recent cold nights have slowed the growth of asparagus.

These photos are from yesterday and show you the guys who get the asparagus out of the fields on this ingenious contraption built by Mr. Hubbard.
As you can see, we really need rain as well as warmer nights to help that asparagus grow.  Tonight asparagus, pancetta and penne!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

O, it is ABC Wednesday

Looking through stained glass hanging in a window that looks out on the Crabtree whose pink/red blossoms and green leaves appear in the background of the eye.

Frosty the mullein

Another cold morning and this poor mullein was folded in on itself and sparkling with crystals of frost.  Truly beautiful!  We are in that period of spring when one day starts with 32 degrees or less and the next day will end with a temperature of 80.  Just when you think you put that winter coat away, don't!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"Every once in a while the handles of responsibility feel slippery to Helen."  But once she has taken her first sip of HOLY COW BLEND COFFEE,  she is back in the swing of things!  How to describe the first sip of Holy Cow?  Well, like the first bite of a really dark chocolate with a hint of your favorite dark red wine.  In a word, delicious.  In a word, the handles of responsibility will be firm in your grip for the day.  Or whatever handles you care to grip.
You can have your own taste of Holy Cow by simply visiting: Cafe Saint-Honore  and ~Louis~ la Vache will have your order speeding your way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Redbuds, the understory in the spring woods

One of the special sights of a Michigan spring is the appearance of the Redbud trees in the woods.  The bright purple-pink flowers are small and delicate and bloom on the branches of the treee.  They proceed the heart-shaped leaves which are just now appearing.  This photo is the woods you enter from the Cowling Rd bridge of yesterday's Sunday Bridge Series brought to us by that excellent photographer and purveyor of fine coffees, Louis la Vache.  Visit him at: the San Francisco Bay Daily Photo
A closeup of the Redbud flowers and the emerging leaves at our house.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Crumbling on Cowling Rd

This bridge has captured the imagination of many, in photos and in paintings.  The surface is dirt and grass and now leads only to what look like deer trails in the woods to the right.  It bridges the Rocky River, one of the three rivers that gave Three Rivers its name.  The other two are the Portage and the St. Joseph which is winding its way to Lake Michigan via South Bend (of the St. Joseph, that is), Indiana.  It is the St. Joseph that brought the French Jesuits to the future Three Rivers in 1760. 

A watercolor of the bridge was in a recent annual juried exhibit at the Three Rivers Carnegie Center for the Arts.  Ken Clay captured it beautifully and included with his original watercolor was a reproduction of a painting of an English bridge, almost a replica of the Cowling bridge.  That English painting was brought to this country when his grandparents immigrated to the US to remind them of the home they had left but still loved.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Clear sky and dogwood for Skywatch Friday

OK, ok, I confess.   I am obsessed with dogwood, especially our wild ones who are small but strong in color and endurance.  They are scattered through the woods all around us, but I cannot seem to capture in a photothe startl ing magic of their graceful limbs and little white blooms appearing in the winter weary woods.  There is so much else going on around them with all the trees in varied states of budding.  See one more photo below for what is budding today.

Does my dogwood in the sky really qualify for a skywatch photo or am I cheating in order to post another dogwood?  It was a perfectly clear and very blue sky this morning in southwest Michigan about 7:45.  Be sure to visit Skywatch Friday for skies all over our world.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wild preacher

This Jack in the Pulpit had me on my knees, as I tried to see eye to eye with him!  These "preachers" are not as profuse as the trillium in the little woods next to the vineyard.  Isn't their shape extraordinary?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

the forest floor

Beth from Corey Lake Orchards showed me this section of woods next to one of the vineyards and just last night I learned that it is part of a friend's 25 acres.  Pictured of course are the marvelous trillium.   I have never seen so many  in one place, and we have even traveled up to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore to see as many as we could!  This is the woods of the Squirrel Corn and Spring Beauty and tomorrow I will post the Jack in the Pulpit.
This morning on our walk Willow and I searched the cornfields for the cranes (Sand Hill).  We could see them in the distance along with a lone deer.  But I couldn't get close enough for a good photo. 
A pair had flown over us as we stood in the driveway yesterday talking to a friend whose tomato seedlings we had been babysitting while she was away for the weekend.  I did not have my camera with me.  Drats!

Monday, April 19, 2010

More spring beauty

We went in search of trillium, which we found in profusion, but we also found this beauty which has captured my imagination.  I do not know what it is.  Does anyone?  The trillium were truly profuse, but this was rare in the woods we walked today.  There were a few Jack in the Pulpit and abundant, and really named, Spring Beauty, many blue and yellow violets.   But what is this?  The closest I can come using my Michigan Wildflowers is possible Squirrel Corn, which I had never, ever heard of!  Help!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the Mighty Mac

Leaving the Upper Peninsula, riding over the Mighty Mac (Mackinac Bridge which connects the two "peninsulas" of Michigan), I always cry.....  This is from September, 2006, the end of a trip to Paradise, a village and a state of mind in the UP.   This is for M. Louis la Vache's  Sunday Bridge Series.
For more on this beautiful bridge over the Straits of Mackinac (pronounced as if the last letter is a "w"), go to the bridge authority website: http://www.mackinacbridge.org/.
For a novel about one of the young men from the UP who worked on the bridge when it was being built, try Jim Harrison's Sun Dog.

A good catch

Just leaving after a pretty good day on Mud Lake, this fisherman is taking advantage of Michigan's system of public boat launches, over 1300 of them.  Mud Lake is shallow and as the warm days increase will be covered with lily pads.  It is surrounded by bigger lakes, Clear, Corey, and Kaiser.   In Fabius, it is hard to miss a lake!  These lakes, along with Pleasant and Long, attract people from Indiana and Illinois, and unlike Mud Lake are lined with cottages.  But in recent years the cottages sadly are being replaced with McMansions. 

The pail holds this fisherman's catch of crappie (which I tend pronounce croppie; I think it is sort of like to-may-to/ or to-ma-to) and perch, which he rated a small catch compared to other recent Mud Lake fishing trips.

Remember, click to enlarge photos, and check out that tree in the pail!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

As predicted, frost

Yes, in the low spots this morning, there was the frost coating the oregano and the thyme and the grasses and the anything in a low spot.  But the fresh dogwood blossoms seemed to be fine.  We are off to the Earth Day celebration at the county fairgrounds in Centreville with a car loaded with hazardous materials, oil-based paints, and lots of old computer equipment. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

A change in the weather for Skywatch Friday

Yep, the balmy weather is coming to a close with these rain clouds the first clues this morning.  And as the day went on, the temperature dropped and tomorrow will not hit 50.  Oh, no!  It is going to be "truly" spring not early summer for awhile.  The worry now is the all the fruit blossoms that were coaxed out too early.  We are, according the the weatherman, two weeks ahead; in other words, the fruit trees think it is May.  So did we all and it was quite wonderful!
For more great skies all over the world, got to Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What awaits

In the greenhouse at Corey Lake Orchards tomato plants abound and new fruit are forming from blossoms almost as you watch.  Oh, just the thought of the taste of homegrown tomatoes once more makes one's mouth water!
Rows of tomato plants in all their glory thanks to Mr. Hubbard who has already planted out 175 little ones in the field -- a sign of how far ahead we are this spring.  Or a sign of how far away we now feel winter cold is.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Corey Lake Orchards abloom

In the orchard it is the cherries in bloom; in the woods it is the Amelanchier or Shadblow or Serviceberry, call this graceful tree what you will.  Both have such delicate white blossoms, but yesterday Willow and I concentrated on the cherry trees at the Corey Lake Orchards, the place where you must go for the best fruits and vegetables all season long.  And for homemade apple brandy -- a close cousin of slivovitz.
Not too long a wait and those shelves above the signs will be loaded with good things to eat!  For directions and more information, visit their website: http://www.coreylakeorchards.com/

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring yellow at our Village Latvia Park

Sveiks! (hello, hi! in Latvian) 
Touring the township lakes yesterday, we talked to the llamas and then stopped at the Village Latvia (Ciema Latvija) Park.  A few of the 40,000 Latvians who immigrated to the US after WWII came to Three Rivers and the park is in the subdivision they built in the 1950's and later.  See more of the park from the Three Rivers Daily Photo, a Latvian Garage Sale.
Just a block away is Long Lake and the Latvian Center Garezers which was founded 45 years ago on the site of a former Chicago Girl Scouts camp.  The driving force behind establishing this cultural center for Latvians were representatives from Latvian Lutheran churches in Michigan and Illinois with V. Treimanis from the Christ Congregation in Detroit becoming the leader for obtaining the necessary funds.  (I am now guessing that the park, Ciema "Latvija" Treimana Parks, is named in his honor.)
In summer children from 3 to 17 come for immersion in the Latvian language and culture, and the lake, too!  Adults can rent cabins or space for their own trailer.   Learn more at the Center's website: Garezers.org
For more about Latvian-Americans, visit Every Culture.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

llamas around

As you drive around Clear Lake, you pass the Brook llama farm and experience the joy of seeing these magnificent animals.  For me they have a mythical quality; I see centaurs when they stand and gaze at me.  Both their caregivers are artists: Judith in fiber (llama, of course) and Brian in metal.  For more about the art, go to Moondance Metal Art.  You can also learn more about their work on the Three Rivers Artists Guild website individual artists' pages.
Now for more about llamas in Michigan, the only place to go is the Michigan Llama Association.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Through the garden gate, one more color of spring

The skies did spit snow on and off on Thursday, but the azaleas persisted and began opening at what seems a very early date.  In front of the azaleas is a tree peony putting out leaves and buds.   The rhubarb is now 5 inches high and the red edible stems visible. 
On the other hand all this warm weather has produced too many ticks and they love Willow's ruff.  For the squeamish, stop reading now.   I dealt with my first and second blood-engorged ticks yesterday.  Yuck, and again I say yuck.   So lest we forget, there is always a balance in life.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What a beautiful sky down on the farm!

Catch the lineup to the right of the back barn.  They were were really keeping an eye on me this morning.  This is another of my driving-into-town-for-a-meeting photos or photos on the fly.  However, unlike the day of the squiggly school bus lights (see March 23rd photo), I had the time today to be calm, to not wave the camera around too much and to even get the correct settings.

This land has only recently been used again as a farm.  The original small brick farmhouse had also long been abandoned and last year it was demolished.  Now there are cattle and goats cohabiting in the barns.

70% of the land in St. Joseph County is farmland and more of it is irrigated than in any other county east of the Mississippi, according to the Michigan State University Extension Service (see the January 7th photo of the irrigated field just down the road from us).  Twenty two percent of all the irrigated land in Michigan is in St. Joe County.  There are 900 some farms and the value of agricultural production is over $93 million a year of which $17 million is from livestock.  The top crops are seed corn, green beans, potatoes, and pickles.  The two million bags of seed corn are used to plant six million acres of commercial corn.  Both Pioneer and Monsanto have seed production facilities in the county.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

subtler but as fascinating as fall colors

Remember to click to enlarge!  I love the spring colors of the emerging leaves and believe them as inspiring as the fall colors everyone raves about.  Can it be that the months of winter leave one so hungry for color that subtle is good?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

my contribution to the door theme

Superstitiously leaving the shovel on the porch -- it will snow if you put it away.  But it is not working all that well, the weatherman predicts some chance of snow tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's truly spring and the color of today is green

Forget that brown world I showed you in March!  To the yellows add the green of grasses that are growing so fast.  It seems we are ahead of previous springs for greening up like this.  And so far (fingers crossed) the average 2.5 inches of snow in April has not made an appearance.  I looked for hepatica in the woods yesterday but found none. 
If you are interested in the contrast three weeks can make in a Michigan spring, check out: the sepia world of March

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Serbian "White Angel"

Sometime in the spring and summer of 1969 when I was living in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (today Serbia), I found and purchased this small reproduction of a portion of the Resurrection fresco from the Milaseva Monastery in southwestern Serbia.   Called the "White Angel," some believe it is Gabriel telling the women, "He is not here."   I was and remain taken with it and all these years later it hangs in my house and anchors the palm from each year's Palm Sunday at St. Gregory's Abbey (where Abbey Rose came from).  For more about the Abbey, visit their homepage: http://www.saintgregorysthreerivers.org/
For more about the Milaseva Monastery and the efforts to save the medieval art it houses check this site: http://srpskoblago.org/Archives/Mileseva/index.html

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Joining the Golden Finch in the spring yellows album......

and the Beast
The forsythia are just starting and will be entry number four in the spring yellows album.

Friday, April 2, 2010

for skywatchers in the spring

Through the branches of the budding red maple, here is a look at the blue sky in the west  on a morning with the temperature at 62!   Meanwhile to the east, the sun was struggling to come through a layer of clouds.  We had it any sky you wanted this morning!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How could I have forgotten red thursday?

Abbey Rose is not red, but her resting place on the sofa is!
A little more about Abbey who is named after the place where she was abandoned one winter and the question of how could anyone abandon such a beauty.  I cannot answer the latter but the monks of St. Gregory's Abbey rescued her and then convinced me to adopt her.  She was so frightened of everyone that it took me a month of days going into the room where she was kept and luring her with treats before she would let me even touch her.  I worked part time helping the abbot prepare new books for the abbey library and my workroom was a floor below her "cell" so visiting her daily was no chore.
And once she came home it took another month to once again calm her down.  She would hide in the basement and come out for food only if no one was there.  She and I worked very hard at getting to know each other! 
And now she is as Louie and B say,  calm and contentment personified!