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? ;)

Appreciating Snow…and Rain

This time of year is difficult for me. I’m an outdoors girl – I think we all know that by now – and it is tough to get in enough nature time. I’m not a morning person, but that matters less and less, since the sun isn’t a morning person right now either. Or an evening person. With a sunrise around 8:00 a.m. and sunset around 5:00 p.m. there just isn’t much day in the day.

So the other day, when the sun peaked out for a bit during the morning hours, I went traipsing about.
snowy path

I stopped just over the hill at the Seven Bridges Natural Area, where I was the first person to walk the snowy trails. There were some old footprints that had been covered in several inches of fresh snow, but that day it was just me and talkative river.
snowy bridge

Nature seems so desolate in November, void of color, but full of detritus. A girl can become downright depressed. In some ways, then, we’ve been blessed by the early heavy snows.
Snowy Rapid River blog
Snowy Bridge Smooth Water-blog

Winter will likely again feel too long this year, but the snow adds a cheerful touch for which I’m thankful.
snowy country barn

It decorates the remains of fall’s bounty, turning mundane sights into special, short-lived vignettes.
santa hats-3
Snowy Red Berries-blog

Yes, I am thankful for the snow, but I am also grateful for the past two days of rain that have melted most of it. It’s dreary as dreary out, but November is awfully early to be contemplating where to stack the snow from the driveway.
red at night

A Lot Can Change in a Week

Last week winter toyed with us. Snow poured down during the morning, and melted in the afternoon. Maybe it wasn’t settled in, but-ready-or-not, here it comes.

I dread November, not because it brings winter around here, but because the days are so short, and so drab. Last Tuesday, I grabbed my camera with a determination to find something in a rainy November day worth appreciating. I headed to the lake around sunset, aiming for a moody shot of the dark clouds hanging heavily over the western shores. I came away with this instead.

Torch Lake rain drops

One rainy photo, that I ended up loving even though it was rubbing my nose in the whole November rain thing.

Three days later, and winter returned broadcasting “I’m here!” With lake effect snow events, at least there’s a chance of something interesting going on. The snow often blows down off the lake in narrow bands, giving us sun-deprived northerners a chance to make some Vitamin D. And take dramatic pictures.

We’ve had nothing but snow, snow, and more snow since. I officially broke out the winter boots and snow pants for my morning walks with Petey. That stuff’s really piling up!

Sunset last night, and shots of our road this morning when I was out with the Petey Dog.

We were expecting around a foot and a half through this evening, but I think we ended up with about a third of that. Plenty to shovel, but not enough to have merited changing a couple of appointments. :-/

Lake effect snow still falls north of Alden tonight. I took the above raindrop photo about a quarter-mile north of that bench just one week ago. There was no ice then. Sheesh.

And that’s life Up North right now. Cold, snowy, and hopefully on our way to a great ski season.

If this post made you chilly, here are a couple of snuggle pups to warm you back up. These two girls are among Petey’s best buds, and were both rescues too. Second chances, FTW :)

Out of the Storms and into the Other Storms

Since we last talked, Tony and I decided to sell our house, and we took a trip to Ohio. If you’re really interested in details, I’m happy to share, but the short version is: we want to live closer to where we seem to spend all of our time when we’re not inside the house. Obviously, working up to that decision and then prepping for selling has taken up much of the time that we weren’t visiting family in Ohio. So, that’s where I’ve been whilst neglecting this blog.

But you’re here for adventures, right? The weather has been rather stormy for summer in northern Michigan, with far more rainy days that we’re accustomed to. We’ve taken to scheduling outdoor activities during brief periods that we don’t expect inclement weather rather than just days of outdoor fun.

Initially, Saturday afternoon looked like a great time to take a trip up to Wilderness State Park with Jess, Jim, and Jackson. But then Saturday arrived, bringing a long string of storms to plague the Tip of the Mitt at least through the evening. Tossing that idea in File 13, Jess suggested we look south to a shipwreck we had both recently learned about.

Frankfort beach hike

We all arrived at the beach south of Frankfort to a lovely, sunny stretch of mostly empty beach. Winds blasted the shore, whipping Lake Michigan into an ocean-like fury – beautiful, but with lots of rip currents. Not great for swimming, but terrific for a beach hike.

Frankfort beach hike-2

Unfortunately, clouds darkened the sky just a couple minutes into our trek, threatening rain with each additional step. We were a determined group, though, so we pushed on. However, a few of us might have been wishing for less summery clothes.

Frankfort beach hike-3

Happily, the ship’s remains rested a short distance down the beach. We marveled at the size of the old boat, and wondered about its past.

Curiosity sated (well, only regarding the shipwreck’s appearance), we turned back north with hopes of returning to our cars before the weather really got ugly.

Frankfort beach hike-13

Jackson might say otherwise, but the hike back was more comfortable thanks to the wind on our backs instead of our faces.

I even took a few moments to linger with some exposed beach grass roots, appreciating their anti-erosion effects.

Frankfort beach hike-15As often is the case, the trek back seemed shorter than the journey there. Once more at our trailhead, we were all grateful for the warmth found a few steps up and away from the water – not least of all Jackson, who quickly returned to his happy, talkative self.

Not only did we make it safely back, but we also took the clouds away from the beach with us: the sun reappeared before we got back on the main highway. Such is life…and such is life Up North that we all stopped at a different beach after dinner to enjoy some funtime in the sunshine. And if I can get it together, I’ll share some photos from that soon :)

Edit: A quick Google search reveals some interesting info about the 1886 shipwreck of the Schooner Marinette.

More Ice, More Exploring

There’s more snow above that mailbox than there is below.
laughable mailbox

Yep, that’s a lot of snow. Our inland lakes are frozen, with the snow on top forming drifts, and over half of Lake Michigan is frozen. Some days it seems like a featureless landscape, and fighting off ye olde seasonal affective disorder can be a chore. Normally, we’d just jaunt off to go skiing, but our schedules have been less flexible lately, and it has been cold. Thus, when the clouds part to reveal the blue sky they’ve been concealing, we go adventuring.

…And because it’s still winter in northern Michigan, sometimes the clouds swallow the sky right back up as we’re on our way for a hike. Too late, though; we were already on our way, so along we went, to the mouth of the Platte River. Our dearth of moving water meant that we appreciated the short stretches of exposed river wending its way into Lake Michigan’s icy expanses.


Tony, Petey and I meandered along the beach (there was sand to walk on in places – sand!) and then scampered out onto the near parts of the ice shelf for our weekend explorations. Occasional peeks of the sun added a touch of drama to the sky to compliment the ice formations.

After a bit, we headed south to check out the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse. We were there just before Christmas, reveling in the blue waters despite our constant grey skies. Yesterday revealed a different scene. Ice stretches nearly to the horizon; from the top of the dune, you can just make out a hint of open water.

It’s a surreal thing, absorbing the beauty and irony of a lighthouse perched above a giant frozen lake. This lighthouse is always a favorite, but I particularly love how the ice near the shore retains its characteristic teal color.

Not long after we left Pt. Betsie, lake effect snow again blew in, blotting out any color in the sky. With a projected high of 6F tomorrow, I am ever more grateful for the ability to take spontaneous refreshing, recharging trips on the weekend. I hope you’re recharged for the week ahead.