Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 6, 2017 Summer is here!

The Hovland Arts Festival is done for another year.   That is always a nice feeling ~ no matter how much you love it!  It's a lot of work.  Still a few bills to pay ~ but, mostly ~ the loose ends are tied up.
Now, we have had a couple of days of sunshine mixed with the rain ~ so, it's hot and humid out there.  Boy, having grown up on Lake Superior ~ when it's 85 degrees and humid ~ it's HOT!!
Tuesday, I took my sister and a friend to the bog.   We all love the cool flowers that grow in them.  They had never been there ~ while, I go on a regular basis.  We had a fine time and the flowers did look amazing.  There are more pitcher plant blossoms every year.  It really is something to see.
Here is on of the "big picture" views of the bog.   Looking west, rather than north, you saw more of those pitcher blossoms sticking up.   There is some cotton grass here, as well, to add interest.
Here's a grouping of sundews.  I was rather proud of this.  I have tried, for years, to get a good shot of those tiny little plants.   With hairs glistening and pads facing all directions, on a close-up, it's hard to get it all in focus.  But, I did it!   These little carnivorous plants can eat all the bugs they want.  Plus, all the pitchers out there.........maybe that's why I am never bothered by insects out there!  :)
Of course, here's another of my favorites ~ the dragon's mouth orchid.   There are a lot of these growing in this bog now.   I have never come upon these anyplace else in Cook County.  I'm sure there are some ~ some place.  But, I don't know about them.   They are so colorful and cheerful.   They are just a joy to see.  Plus, I did find a few tight groupings that had all of the favored items in one little area and got them all in one photo.  
A lot of people tend to think of bogs as just wet sloppy places that are a pain!  However, when it's warm out ~ I don't mind getting wet to go out and find all these treasures!   There was also buckbean, cranberries, potentilla (just starting) and iris out there.   I also was able to show them the only wild lilac I have ever found in the county.   It was well budded and ready to start opening ~ but, hadn't opened any of the blossoms yet.  
Pitcher plants, on the other hand, I have found around a number of the shallow, swampier lakes in the county.  This spot has no lake ~ it's just near Lake Superior.  But, there is always water standing at least ankle deep.   Lot of moss.  Beautiful!
So ~ next time you get bored and don't have anything special to do ~ go find a nice bog and go for a walk!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28, 2017 Another month flew by.......

I will say it ~ we've had some pretty days.   I sure have enjoyed them when I had them.  But, in between a few of the nice days ~ we sure have had more than our share of rain.   Honestly, I can't even keep up on the mowing with all the rain we are having.  It's all wet and so saturated, all I do is make a mess and make mud.  On the other hand, we don't have to spend much time watering the garden.
Then, there are all the days like this.  So foggy plus the rain coming down.   Got lots of healthy weeds and wild flowers this year, that is for sure.  I am hoping all the baby ruffled grouse don't drown in their nests this year.  I have seen a few babies; but, not too many yet.
On the other hand, all the rain makes this kind of a photo possible.   There sure have been some pretty  puddle reflections the last few days.    This is on top of a hill besides.   Lots of water out there.  Of course, the creeks are pretty full and really roaring these days too.  Someone, on one of my Facebook posts, made comment about how pretty this was upside down.   I went back into photos and flipped it ~ you know, it really was.  Sure was a different look.

Here is one of the local rivers after all the weekend rain.   It's moving.
Anyway, it's almost July and we are getting ready for the big Hovland Arts Festival.  Our 12th year.   We have a new pavilion to stage the music in now ~ which they just finished wiring.  No more extension cords running all over the place.   We bought a bunch of big tarps to side it and hopefully keep the musicians dry.  After years of steep tent rental for them ~ we are trying this.  We have the tarps.   Cost about the same to buy all the stuff as to rent the tent.  Now, we just have to put them up and take them down each year.   We will see how that goes.  Trial and error for so  many things these days.  Big winds are always the biggest issue with tarps.   It blew darned hard yesterday afternoon so I will go see what happened since we hung everything later today.
One more story for this post.   These are Shadow's fawns at 3 days old.  I was walking down the road with Betsy and saw all three of them ~ Shadow and her twins ~ along the side.   I kept walking but told Betsy to sit about 50 yards back.   Right away, Shadow saw my camera ~ was just carrying the Sony as it's small and it was looking like rain again.   She was focused on that ~ and I was keeping a good eye on her, believe me.   Well ~ I got a couple of nice shots like this of the twins.  Had a couple with Shadow in too.  She had still been giving the camera the evil eye so I was going to leave.  However, Shadow beat me to it.  She walked off into this woods here ~ twins following.   She was almost out of sight in the alder when the trailing fawn had a change of heart and decided to come back, across the road, and come and smell my knee.  Well, in all my years around deer and fawns, I have never had that happen.   Well ~ Shadow happened to look back and see that and was immediately unhappy.   She came back out of the woods and up on her hind legs so fast, it wasn't even funny.  She started swinging those legs and the camera straps broke the first whack.  Camera was on the ground.  I turned to let my back catch more of it as she proceeded to give me a pounding.  She got up on her hind legs 3 times and gave me what for!   Well ~ that was enough.  She got down and looked at me.  I said ~ "Shadow, that wasn't very nice.  I didn't do anything."   She walked off.   Shadow is now 10 years old.  I have known her and fed her by hand, petted her, whatever, since she adopted us when she was orphaned at 6 months old.  She has since brought the fawns into the yard ~ when it is now ok to be nearer them.   But, not too  close yet.   She walks up to me and Betsy like nothing ever happened.   I had a black and blue arm like you wouldn't believe.  My back was sore for a few days too.   All a part of life in the northwoods with the critters ~ I guess.   Life is interesting.........

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Strange Winter.........March 30, 2017

I have been busy lately ~ enjoying Mother Nature's craziness.   I sometimes don't know what to think, from one day to the next, about this weather.  One day, I need long johns.  The next day I don't.  The lake is almost always rough.  I just decided to go with what ever the day brings and really enjoy it.  On this particular morning ~ I was enjoying a sunrise from "my" ice cave I discovered on the shore of Lake Superior.   I had been trying to get in there for this type of experience ever since the warming trend and the bigger icicles melted out of the hole.  I could now get in here ~ if......and that's a big if........the lake would settle down.   I had tried to get into it a few mornings earlier when some promise of color ~ which failed to materialize ~ looked promising.  
Here I am, part way in the hole, on a morning of a slight pink color up in a narrow band on the horizon.  It lasted a few minutes ~ but, not much.  Enough waves I couldn't get all the way in the hole, as you can see.  A few days later, most of the nice icicles had been all melted off and just a few stubby ones remained.  It was after sunrise, but I was going to have a try at it anyway.   I got drenched.  A bigger waves came in right over the top of me.  Luckily, I was in full rain gear and blew dry in the wind in just a few minutes.  Things like this don't happen all the time ~ so, I was really hoping Mother Nature would cooperate.  :)
Here's a view of the icicles before the storms broke them all off.  The heavy outside ones had melted off, finally, so I could see out thru them.   I barely had any room inside either.   So, with some melting came the ability to get in there.  However, I still needed the lake to settle down so I and my camera didn't get drenched.
Here's a photo taken from outside of it on the day I got drenched.  See the more stubby, short icicles.   I hadn't stood here watching long enough to know how big the waves were in this little cove that day. Needless to say ~ I got a surprise.  It was a good northeast wind and the waves weren't as big as I have seen them here.  However, I guess I hadn't been here with that wind direction before.  So ~ I was caught totally by surprise.   Anyway ~ it's all fun!
The warm spell has put an end to my traveling all over heck in the woods to a stop too.  That extreme warm spell and rain, followed by quite cold weather, made the snow hard as rock out there.  Boy, Betsy and I were up the hills and over the swamps and really made tracks ~ because we could.   One spot on the east shady end of a tall hill, in a gap where a creek ran thru, didn't get the message.  It was soft in there and I was in up to my butt in the snow.  Had to crawl on my hands and knees a short ways to a deer trail to get going again.  Mind you, I was in my running shoes.  It's always a blast while it lasts.
Anyway ~ I've been busy having too much fun.   Hope you are too!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

It's a Strange Winter! March 5, 2017

It's been a strange winter ~ I need to say that.  I can't recall, ever in my lifetime, a winter with so many warm spells and rain.   It is really hard to get acclimated to our winter this year as one day it is 40 degrees and the next 0 or below.  A 30 degree switch hasn't been uncommon.  That does nothing for those trying to make and maintain ski trails for skiing either.  It gets warm, ices up the trail, we get a bit more snow, track it again with the HOK skis to pack it ~ and it's warm again.  I haven't hardly been on my "real" cross country skis this winter.  Strange.  The snow is so hard now after rain ~ and plenty of it ~ and then back to sub zero temps ~ I have been walking around the woods ~ not on trails always ~ in my running shoes!   The deer can even walk around ~ out in the open ~ on top.  Some of the deep balsam and spruce woods can be a bit more tricky!
Yesterday, Betsy and I hiked up the hill behind our house, to the Superior Hiking Trail.  Yes, in running shoes ~ not waterproof ones either!   Here we are a ways east of the valley on one of the overlooks on the trail.   Quite a view.  Most of the going was really great.  The only place I had a few issues was when I went off the east side of this big hill.   Creek bottom, shady most of the day, big spruce and balsam ~ and, you guessed it.  Not completely hard snow there.  I went in crotch deep and had to crawl about 30 yards on my hands and knees to get to a spot that would support me again.  Hit a deer trail and I was in fine shape.   But ~ yes.  Back to strange.   It was fun tho and we sure got our exercise.  If I did that every day all winter ~ boy, would I be in fine shape.  I usually rely on cross country skiing to keep pounds off in the winter time.  Hasn't been easy this winter!
On the other hand ~ it has been a great winter for new ice formations.  On shore ones ~ caused by a rough Lake Superior.  It is rough more often than not.  So, between the warm spells melting off the nice details like you see here ~ there's another storm and cold to make more.   It's always a joy to behold this kind of beauty.  I never tire of hitting the shore and finding these treasures.  I do miss not having ice on the lake tho.  That is always a favorite of mine.

I will leave you with a beauty I found a few days ago.  All the colors in this spot were amazing.  I regularly find turquoises a bit into winter.  Sometimes the ambers or golds.  This has them all.  It was just too beautiful for words.  
I do hope you are all enjoying your winter tho ~ even if I am muttering about all the warm spells and rains.   I probably should have posted photos of all that too.  But, time to get out and have a hike with Betsy.  It is, after all, above 30 already this morning and supposed to rain ~ again ~ sigh...............

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22, 2017 The New Year Has Begun!

I've been out and about lately.   This mild weather in January is just strange.  Oh ~ we always have a January thaw.  We have for years.   However, days on end of so much gray, mist, rain, fog, ice melt ~ well ~ I'm frustrated.   I love being out taking photos of the winter ice formations.  It is one of my favorite times of the year to take photos ~ unless it's critters!   I love doing critters.  But, you can't always find them.   Just as I would find neat ice, it either melts or gets beaten off the rocks by all the big waves Lake Superior is having pretty regularly this winter.   So, we get what we get.   But, I love pretty ice.
Here's some pretty ice that usually develops in the corner of this little bay in the winter.   We had some waves that day too!   A pretty day to be out and checking shoreline ice.   I have always wished I could capture a better sundown in my "neck of the woods."   So much of the shoreline is angled wrong to catch sunset here.  Everything is in the shade before the sun gets far enough down for sunset  colors.   I have managed it here a few times.  But, usually, doesn't work well.
This spot is one of the few places I can get some decent sunsets in my area.   It is limited; as even here, the sun goes down too far to the north to be able to get any of the scenery in the sunset itself.   It's a good go to for big waves too.   However, it is nice to be able to get a bit more scenic variation for the different  weather and sunrise/sunset colorations .   Some of the photographers, on the shore, will drive a long way for a sunrise.   I have a hard time getting out in the wee hours of the morning on a chance something might happen.  10 miles is one thing.   A two hour drive is something else.   I usually get up early, look at the weather, and then ~ I decide if I will go somewhere.   On winters we have good ice on the shore, I don't need much convincing.   We still have time to get some ice on the shore ~ but, I'd be kidding you if I said we'd get it for sure.   Time will tell.   At present, we have a lot of black rocks showing completely bare of snow and ice.   And, did I mention ~ it's raining!   How many days in a row now!!  And, not even freezing at night.........

I was down the shore on Thursday.   As you can see ~ not much left of any ice or snow on the shore.  I don't get down here all that often so when I do ~ and all the beautiful ice is gone, it is disappointing.   However, always one to look at the bright side ~ look at the beautiful reflecting pools in the rocks of the shoreline.  If the snow and ice hadn't melted, I couldn't take shots like this!  So ~ there is always a plus for every negative!   It was 40 degrees (on Jan. 19th) and I didn't have a hat on or gloves!   Jacket zipped open!  Just a wow kind of an afternoon.   I don't mind some warm days ~ honest.   But, I would prefer my warm days to not go over 28 degrees!
I will leave you with a sunset from last week.   It was amazing.  Sun was blood red and going down....

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016 Year's End Fast Approaching...........

The end of the year is fast approaching.  There is always something to do, it seems.  I have been busy and really gotten behind on the blog.   Plus, I was a bit sad, mad, frustrated ~ all of them for a while this Fall during the hunting season.   That was a big part of it.   I love my deer friends.  This is a current shot of "Ghost Buck" ~ a young guy ~ named for his unusually white face for a  young deer.
Here's the girl that started my deer story ~ taken late October.  Shadow.   She is still my Shadow and she is fine.   However ~ during the hunting season this Fall, first her 5 1/2 year old daughter, Friendly, was shot by my neighbor's company he invited up for hunting this year.  Not one person, mind you, but two people.   He couldn't be satisfied with getting out in the serious woods and hunting.  He had to shoot "my" pets.   And, invite others to do so also.  They also shot the 1 1/2 year old daughter of Shadow's  ~ which was Betsy's fun friend.  That deer was fond of licking Betsy's face.  If you don't know, Betsy is my dog ~ a rescue dog, said to have a lab/chesapeake dad and a rottweiler mom.   Those two girls were about the friendliest deer ever and so much fun to have around.   Friendly hardly ever left the yard anymore.  But, deer season being what it is and when it is ~ during the rut, things happen.   Like ~ little bucks showing up and wanting to be serious and chasing the girls all over the place.
This was the first little guy they got, before getting the girls.  He was probably born to one of the girls ~ as he was hanging around a lot and not too shy.   When the bucks are young, it's hard to keep track of them as they aren't allowed to stay in the family groups like the girls are.   And, you know, I always expect the bucks will get shot.   That's life, unfortunately.   But, now that the DNR is giving out more doe permits again, the girls aren't safe, at all, anymore.   I personally find it very offensive when the neighbor can't be satisfied with taking one of them himself and has to invite others from out of the area to get the easy deer.  
I think this is turning into a rant ~ which is why I haven't been posting.  I guess I need to get it out of my system.   I have been a deer hunter all my life.   I understand the wanting the venison part.  But, to have to shoot the neighborhood pets we all love ~ I just can't understand that.   I was so perturbed, I didn't even go out hunting this year.  I had bought my license and thought I would.  Altho, I haven't been all that enthusiastic about it the last few years, I still have gone.  It is also getting really difficult to find a deer I don't know!   And, I refuse to shoot someone I know.....  But, when they got shot ~ I just couldn't find the interest in getting out there and doing it.  The first week it was too warm anyway.   We don't have a walk in cooler and it was staying 65 degrees in the garage!  We will see what happens next year.   I might be done!   I still like my venison ~ and being a lot self-sufficient.  But, I like my pets too!

This old boy, taken during that week before hunting season when he got back here ~ (too early) ~ finally ran out of luck this Fall also.  A neighbor down the road about a mile had his 12 year old grandson here hunting.  They got him ~ the boy's first buck.  Buck of a life-time while hunting with Grandpa.   I guess it doesn't get any better than that.  At least, in their case, they didn't know about this deer.   But, what a first deer for a boy!   I sure do miss this guy tho.  He always loved to page me at my window in the basement for treats.  He always was there waiting for me by the garage for his alfalfa too.  Boy, did he love that!   Fine deer buddy for the last few years.   Been a tough year for losing deer buddies.   But, as they say ~ life moves on.   It is hard to not get attached to one's friends.
So ~ we will see what the new year brings ~ in many respects.  I hope it will be a good one for all of you.   I will leave you with a photo of one of my handsome buddies, who is already bald!
Bald is beautiful too!   I do have his second shed antler.   Snow storm when he shed the first one and I haven't found it ~ yet!  Maybe in the Spring!
Happy New Year to you all ~ and, I promise to post something more cheerful!  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall Colors are Fading Fast ~ October 23, 2016

I've been busy lately!  Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love to be out and about in the woods and enjoy the wonderful colors.   This year, up here, was kind of disappointing.   The colors came, here and there, with a red tree here and faded golds there.   It was strange.  The really pretty trees would shed before the greens even started to change on the neighboring tree.  Once the popples all turned to gold, that was amazing.  But, even they were not consistent in their color change.   Some were dead brown and shedding while others were green.   It has been a mild Autumn, for sure.   It was way out in October before I had the first frost up here in the valley.  That is unheard of.  I even asked my dad if he remembered ever going through September without a frost.  He didn't.  He's 85!   I have said, many times, that the only month I had seen without a frost here ~ is July!  Well, this year changed that.   Even now, my petunias are still blooming nicely in the pots on the deck as are the geraniums.  The moss roses bit it in one of the recent frosts.  But, even some of the garden is still growing and producing.   However, we are in the process of getting that all harvested.   Most of the carrots are in and all the potatoes dug ~ as of yesterday.  Still have rutabagas to pull and some turnips.  I just pull a turnip as I want one to eat tho.   Broccoli is still producing smaller, later bite size heads.   As I said ~ a wonderful Fall!
Recently, we went on a short trip.   Left on a Tuesday and got back Sunday evening.  We left via Wisconsin.   The colors were amazing.  However, we had very heavy clouds all day so I never took a photo.   The sumacs had some of the most amazing oranges I had ever seen.  Usually I just see them in their Autumn red coats.   Got up onto the Keweenaw and out to Copper Harbor.   Amazing colors in the maples.  But, even there, many places had plenty of greens too.  We stopped and hiked into some of the beautiful sights in Munising.   I love that area.   I would really love to go there with my kayak in the summer and really check that area out completely.   So many neat natural spots of beauty there.  This above photo is in Canada looking toward Nipigon.  So many times on this trip, if there was something really beautiful to see, there was no place to pull over and stop for photo ops!   Plus, it was raining or cloudy a lot of it.  That part was really disappointing.  In Copper Harbor I was out in the howling wind and rain, trying my darnedest to get a good shot and not have it completely water spotted.  That was easier said than done, believe me.  But, I got some nice shots in spite of the gray sky.   Our destination was to visit Manitoulin Island and the Georgian Bay area.  We spent two days exploring the big island.  A beautiful place, for sure.   Wouldn't mind exploring some of that area again in nice weather.
On the last night of our trip ~ we were traveling in our pickup with a camper on ~ we stayed at a motel in Wawa and ate at a restaurant!!  Imagine that.  This was Sunday morning.  We actually got up to sunshine!  What a pretty morning.  Two hours later, it was completely clouded over again for a couple of hours before the sun returned.   You see Betsy and Bruce enjoying the shoreline and the morning here.  
Here is another roadside shot getting closer to the Nipigon area.   Golds were in fine form here.   Another thing I forget, since I go so seldom, is the very steep and long hills over on the Canadian side of Lake Superior.  Wow!  I'd hate to be biking them in summer heat.   That gets to be work, after a while.
Anyway ~ we are settling back into our Fall routine of getting everything ready for winter.  My deer friends were happy to see us back.  They came on a run from the various spots they were laying in the yard when we pulled in.   Just how dare we leave them for all those days and no treats to be had!!!   They are pretty funny some times.  Several have gotten into the habit of touching noses with Betsy these days.   She can get pretty friendly with them and have them unperturbed.  She has even gotten her face washed a few times.  Too funny!   Glad they get along so well.  
With that ~ I will leave you with a yesterday's photo of Betsy ~ posing!