Monochrome Monday

I’m emerging from a very foggy weekend feeling quite foggy with a sinus infection that just won’t go away. I seem to be holding steady with no fever at least, but I feel like I belong in a certain Pink Floyd song! Regardless, I couldn’t stay tucked inside entirely over the weekend. I’ll leave you with this to start your week as the holidays make their final countdowns. Wishing the same for myself ;)

“Nature has a great simplicity and, therefore, a great beauty. ” – Richard Feynman
Have a simple, beautiful week.

Simplicity

Rediscovering Skegemog

On the last day in November, Tony and I took Petey on a hike at the south end of Lake Skegemog. We had been fairly recently, but the boardwalk was underwater, so we turned back before we got to the viewing platform. After that trip, we decided this one we’d just stick to the old railroad bed. Back in 2010, we discovered a pretty little spot on the lake, and were sure this was the way to get there.As the sky darkened – no sunset this night – we figured we must’ve been mistaken. We did find this cool place, though, and had a nice walk so we were content.

Fast forward to today. Prior to this weekend, the sun’s presence has been scarce in northern Michigan. But we’ve had a fair amount lately, and all day today, the sun shone, begging me to join her outdoors. I finally did late this afternoon.

And wandering around the yard – despite the lovely dripping icicles – just did not satisfy. I consulted The Oracle (google) and her maps, and we set off for what I was sure was our previously discovered paradise on Skegemog.

Unsure of our distance, but sure that we only had about one hour of acceptable hiking light, we struck off at a decent pace. The trek follows a fairly wide, level trail through tall cedars and other evergreens. The path looks tangly, but it isn’t.
evergreen trail in

We arrived to the lake’s edge right at sunset. The southern end is frozen. I’m not sure how thick the ice is. It is both strong enough to support rabbits, as is evidenced by their tracks across the ice, and weak enough that experimentally adding weight (don’t worry – it was only inches deep where I was, and I was supported by one leg on solid ground!) causes interesting/eerie noises along the cracks as the force is distributed across the surface.


We stayed as late as we dared, knowing that we had about 1.5 miles to hike back out.

It wasn’t as dark as they look. I severely underexposed those shots because I liked the way the grasses appeared as silhouettes against that beautiful sky gradient. But, the light was quickly dimming down in the canopy. By the time we arrived back at the car, houses had their outdoor lights on.
dark hike out

We arrived home under the very last light of the sun, and to the glow of our neighbors’ Christmas-y house.

Thanksgiving {Hiking} Traditions

For the second year in a row, in the spirit of starting traditions, Tony and I took Petey for a hike at the Sleeping Bear Dunes as a family Thanksgiving outing.
empty snowy trail

We walked from the parking lot at the entrance to the Scenic Drive, and hiked the snowy road in to a few overlooks.
Empire Bluffs

The Dunes always offer spectacular views and a place to be engulfed by nature. I couldn’t pick a favorite season for a visit, but I love how the park feels absolutely silent in the winter. They close the scenic road to vehicle traffic, and a carpet of snow hushes any wayward echoes. The quietude is splendid.
desolate dunes

As you near the lake, though, the tranquility doesn’t last. In fact, being perched atop 450-foot sand dunes facing incoming gusts, the wind screams in your face, tears at your clothes, and flings sand in your eyes.

We stayed out on the precipice long enough for me to run to the very top of dunes to grab this shot of a lake effect spotlight on the Empire bluffs, and then we jogged back to the relative warmth of the tree cover.
Empire-Bluffs-Spotlight-blog

Lest you think it sounds too cold or inhospitable, I will say that 4+ miles of trekking in the snow keeps you warm. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:
so cold its hot

We got back to the car shortly before sunset, and decided to hop over to the Glen Haven Cannery (a few miles west). I was going to take a shot of the pilings there, but alas, they are covered by the higher lake levels. I can’t decide if I wish we’d just stayed or skipped the detour altogether, because on our way back home just minutes later, the sky did this.
glowy-sunset

We pulled over at a random spot between Glen Haven and Empire, because we knew the moment would be fleeting, and I am a photo addict. It wasn’t as short-lived as the lake effect spotlight, but gosh that glowy sunset burned out quickly!

To top off an already wonderful day, we arrived home to find that our neighbors had lit their home and fence. Let the twinkly lights photos commence!
lit fence

Gratitude and the Grass River

Grass-River-FB

That’s the Grass River at the end of October. I don’t get over there very often, but I am immensely grateful that it’s there. It’s one of the many, many natural places in which I am happiest. Without its public trails and boardwalks, I would not have access to these wetlands that are beautiful year-round, and that bring serenity to my soul.
Grass-River-trails2

Perhaps because tomorrow is Thanksgiving – or perhaps because it’s the low-light time of year when negativity tries to creep into my mind – I’ve been more mindful of being grateful.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. -Oprah Winfrey
Wintry-Grass-River

So tonight I am grateful for access to wilderness, and a husband who likes to explore it with me.
Grass-River-in-Winter

I am grateful for clothing that allows me to venture out into otherwise inhospitable conditions.
Grass-River

I am grateful for a warm home to return to.
Grass-River-reflections

I am grateful for my pets, who constantly make life interesting – and a dog who is more tolerant of my cats than they are him.
Grass-River-trails

I am grateful that I have such a wonderful family, including my immediate siblings and parents, my in-laws, my extended family, and our friends (who are the family we choose). We are so fortunate to share our lives with so many good people.
meeting-building

And I am grateful for you, dear reader, for joining me on this journey. Thank you – for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate your accompaniment.

What are you grateful for? Please feel free to comment, and spread the gratitude :)

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. -Buddha

Happy Thanksgiving!

With a Vengeance

Over the weekend we enjoyed above-freezing temperatures. I took Petey for a his morning walks in between rainfalls, and didn’t even zip my coat. A couple days of liquid precipitation wiped out most of our snow piles, though some of the most recalcitrant ones clung to ditches and shadowy hillsides. Although dark with rain clouds, the weather felt positively spring-like, and we rejoiced.
barberry-droplets

But then last night just a little after sunset, the snow returned. Heavy, wet flakes jettisoned in hordes from invisible clouds above. All night they careened toward the earth, amassing in lumpy mounds on every available surface.

For a moment this morning, I thought Thanksgiving had come early, and that the trees had volunteered to bring the mashed potatoes. Then I realized it was just more snow, its burdensome heft perched on boughs and branches.
heavy-trees

The rain-turned-snow left the roads an icy mess, littered with downed branches. Area schools closed for the day, so the plows arrived later than usual – 12:45pm. We expect a reprieve tonight and tomorrow from winter’s early onslaught, but snow is on the docket again soon. Hey, it’s northern Michigan…isn’t always? ;)