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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The view from the other side

Yes, we are back at the Cowling Road bridge (Fabius Towhship is bridge-deprived).   Unlike our first visit now all the leaves are out and the sun is shining, maybe a little too brightly.  We are looking southeast and if we could walk along beside the Rocky River, we and it would arrive in downtown Three Rivers.  This view of the bridge give you a glimpse of the sag developing, but isn't that something we all face? 

Across the road a farmer was plowing and cattle were grazing.  And down the road the first haying had already occurred and it is still May, one more piece of evidence for applying "spectacular" to this year's spring.  Question: how can you call it spring when the temperatures are in the high 80's?!

For more intact bridges, pleas visit Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridges from around the world. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On ABC Wednesday, S is for Slab

as in this exquisite work of slab glass by Fabius Township artist and good friend, Joan Hector.  This version of a Celtic cross is installed at the top of the half flight of stairs leading to my "room with a view."

What is slab glass?  Here is what the Benko Glass Company, where the glass in Joan's creation came from, has to say:
Dalle de Verre (Slab Glass)
"Dalle De Verre is a technique that was developed in Europe for use in early Christian churches.  Originally colored chunks of glass were set into stone or clay.  The panel medium was updated in the twentieth century with the use of concrete.  Eventually in the 1950's epoxy resin was used because of its bonding capabilities and thermal expansion characteristics."

And I discovered that "slab" is a mighty word, with meanings far beyond glass bricks.  We apply it to bacon, meat, cheese, concrete, stone, and wood.  That at least is what I thought of until I checked it out on the Web.  Slab can be an old car -- slow, low, and banging.  But in Australia it is a case of beer.  Other slang meanings I dare not repeat here.  And last but not least there is the Sound and Literary Art Book from Slippery Rock University.

I salute the ABC Wednesday team for sending me sleuthing once more!

Oh no, please not snow!

But it sure looks like it.  It could happen, has been known to happen, for instance, during the Memorial Day Parade.   However, when you take a moment for a close look, you find you are in the presence of the Eastern Cottonwood whose seeds in their snow-like strands are floating in the breeze during the day and in early morning are settled on the ground.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Can you stand one more spring bloom?!

Yes, finally, the rhododendron are blooming out here in the country.  What can I say, except, aren't they gorgeous?!  We have had fantastic rains several times in the last couple weeks and the growth produced by those waterings is wonderful.  The iris are the best in years with four blooms to each stalk and some are doubles.  The regular peonies are just starting to pop open.  Big debate in our family about whether it take ants on the buds for them to open.

Wonderful, unless you are the one who mows the paths during the heat wave that started yesterday with temperatures of 85 as far north as Grand Rapids.  Today the local weathermen are giddy with the thought of hitting 90 in May, warmer than we ever got last July.   Already Gene is muttering about when will fall come.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

a Catbird seat

Have you heard what sounds like a kitten mewing in a tree?  Here is the source of that cat-like sound, a Gray Catbird.  We can never tell if our cats are crying to come in or whether the Catbirds are calling us!   see what Wikipedia and Oxford English Dictionary has to say about this idiomatic phrase, the "catbird seat."

Friday, May 21, 2010

I heard it through the grapevine

It is a rainy Friday in Fabius for Skywatch Fridays, but a lull brought Willow and I a chance to explore how the vines at Corey Lake Orchards are doing.  And here you see that all is well, despite a couple frosty mornings in the last two weeks.  Can you see the tiny clusters of grapes in the making?  Reaching for the sun that wasn't there today.
(Remember you can always click on the photo to enlarge it!)
Here is a better view, without the cloudy sky, of two more clusters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Red is for rhubarb on ABC Wednesday

A range of choices today: R for red or rhubarb or rhododendron or retriever or rusty, but always Rock n Roll!  (Speaking of which,  for fans of The Doors, there is a great documentary film on them on PBS American Masters.)

Ah, but back to my rhubarb plant for a minute.  Those luscious looking leaves are poisonous, but the tart red stalks make tasty pies and a rhubarb sauce on vanilla ice cream is scrumptious.  They are those though who refuse to go near a dish with rhubarb in it.   The rhubarb belongs to the Rheum genus and grows from rhizomes.  Could we get any more R's than this out of one image?!  Well, let's see: it has grown for centuries in Russia near the Volga River.  But the Chinese have used it for thousands of years; it is mentioned in an herb-root compilation from around 2700 BCE.   Check out this excellent Wikipedia article.

Find many more results for R at ABC Wednesday.  While you roam through the riveting blogs with images of R, enjoy a piece of refreshing rhubarb pie!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beautiful iris

(Just click on the photo to enlarge)
But I cannot remember its name!  Does it really matter?  Perhaps contemplating its beauty is the important thing to do when encountering it.  It is a wonderful optimistic color even in the rain!  Cheeky, too, sticking out its tongue at its admirers.......

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bridging the Keewaunau

Wandering far from Fabius once more for Louis la Vache's  Sunday Bridges!  This is day two of our journey to visit Isle Royale in the northwest corner of Lake Superior.  We had stopped at the Ranger Station in Houghton and then lunched in Bridgeview Park before heading off over the Portage Lift Bridge, the "widest and  heaviest double decked vertical lift bridge in the world," to Hancock and Copper Harbor where the next morning we boarded the boat for the island some 55 miles away over choppy Superior water.

One of the Artists in Residence programs we attended on the island was presented by John and Ann Mohan, writers and photographers, from, gasp, the Lower Peninsula (sometimes called trolls by the Yoopers).  For more about their photography and writing on Isle Royale and Lake Superior, visit Sweetwater Visions.  Their photography will give a glimpse of the beauty of the island.

But back to the twin cities of Houghton-Hancock in the Keweenau Peninsula, a great place to find fresh white fish, good pasties, and begin to learn the history of the peninsula's land and peoples.  Houghton is the home of Michigan Technological University and Hancock hosts Finlandia University, home of the Finish American Archive and Museum.  For a virtual adventure in the history and beauty of the Keweenau, visit Virtual Keweenau.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lake Superior Sky for Skywatch Friday

(Just click on the photo to enlarge it.)
The sun is going down and you are looking northwest over Lake Superior toward Canada.   It is mid-September around 6:30 pm and there is nothing better to do than sit on a beach just south of Whitefish Point and contemplate the immensity and power of the sky and the water.  We head to Lake Superior every summer for just these moments of inexpressible beauty.
For more inexpressibly beautiful skies, go to Skywatch Friday.

the turn of the evergreens

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)
The Red Pine is going crazy producing these beautiful coral young cones.  In researching I discovered that these are male cones.  The Wikipedia article on pine cones is quite good, by the way.  (My companion the librarian cautions care always with Wikipedia and misses the shelves of reference books he once had at his finger tips.)  In another article I found out that pine comes via Latin and the French pin, while fir comes from Old Norse.  I hope I don't bore you with my researching.
While posting this photo and exploring other blogs this morning, I have been watching a lone doe in the meadow, most often standing still in the rain and once lying down under a tree before wandering off.   I was positive she was getting ready to give birth and had camera ready!  She obviously desired privacy for this event.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

quinquefoliate for ABC Wednesday

This "quinquefolitate" is a Virginia Creeper.  But, a question, is it Parthenocissus quinquefolia or Parthenocissus vitacea?
This  "quinquefolitate" vine is growing on the deck leading to the garden with the Siberian Iris called Snow Queen (unfortunately not yet blooming).  The woods are full of this woody vine that climbs quickly to the top of the tallest trees.  Tarzan would be quite satisfied with it!
If I have not quaffed your desire for the letter q, please visit ABC Wednesday for more.

My world this Tuesday

"A hard rain's a gonna fall" is the reality of this Tuesday in Fabius Township.  All is green and growing so fast that even our "wild look" landscaping that features very little mowing is getting beyond us.  But today the rain gives a respite from the work outside.

We are emerging from two weeks of daily concerts at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo 25 miles north of us.  Finally I wore out and good only keep up with the concerts and not the blog.  The Festival is a marvelous orgy of music all day, every day, every two years.  We heard old favorites and experienced music we did not know from composers of the 19th and 21st century.  If you love the piano, think about visiting Kalamazoo in two years for the next festival.  It is a beautiful time to be in Michigan!

Visit many more spots around the world at My World.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the snowball bush

Here it is the latest arrival among the blooming bushes, the snowball,  and it is one of my favorites.  (Do you, Miss Giddy with Spring, have any flowering bush you do not like, you could well ask?!)  I have loved the snowball since I was a child and played round it in my grandparents' yard.  One of life's little ironies to love a plant called snowball while celebrating the absence of snow.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Peek-a-boo, I see you.

The Jack in the Pulpit spies the Trillium in a woods close, close to home!  Some wildflower whimsy for the letter P on ABC Wednesday. 
To peer at more P's, go to the blog:  ABC Wednesday.

A fairy hammock?

Two very dewy and sunny mornings in a row the meadow has been filled with the webs of spiders.  "It's been a hard night's work" for the little guys.  Now some would say that this is the work of the fairies and these are their hammocks and resting place for the day.  It certainly looks like one.

Monday, May 3, 2010

After the rain -- and before

Crabapple blossoms cover the ground and nestle in a small indentation in the rock (which we just dug up when planting some ferns under the tree).  Wind and rain this weekend have almost denuded all the trees that were blooming this week, especially the crabtrees and redbud.  The honeysuckle are taking over as bloomers for this week along with the hawthorne and, lest we forget, the dogwood who are in their glory days.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Viewed from the top of the bridge

You are looking at part of the structure of the Shelldrake Dam and the foot bridge that crosses over it in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.   This dam and bridge were a part of a rustic (i.e., no modern plumbing) Michigan State Forest Campground until closed two years ago because of budget problems.

It was located just to the northwest of Paradise (see my Mighty Mac bridge photo on April 18) and southeast of Whitefish Point, off which the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior in November, 1975.  The "Fitz" was carrying taconite, low grade iron ore, from Superior, Wisconsin, for the steel mills of Detroit and Toledo when she sank just north of Whitefish Bay in the "gales of November;"  this tragedy of all lives lost was immortalized by Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot.  For more of this story of the inland seas, go to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

For more bridges from around the world, visit Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridge Series

Small but standing tall

The woods where they thrive are full of trillium this year.  And I am equally obsessed with these triple- leaved beauties as I am with dogwoods.  The major difference is that the trillium are much more elusive.  Thus my pleasure with the woods full of them that I have found thanks to Beth and Leilani.  I ran into Leilani this photographic trip as she was hunting for mushrooms.  We all have our obsessions!