Gifts of Summer

The weather gurus have issued another heat advisory today, for more days in a row than I care to count. When we moved from the north Georgia mountains 1,000 miles north, I thought I’d miss the scorching heat of the summer. I do not. It offends me. It is not supposed to be this uncomfortable here. Not in this way. The weather can be unwelcoming in the winter; not now. If only my wishes had some impact on reality…

There is hope, for although it’s hot (hovering around 90 before the sun’s really high overhead), it is windy: 20MPH constantly with gusts around 30MPH. And breezes like that often come with a cold front in tow. We’ll be at least fifteen degrees cooler tomorrow, and perhaps we will do something besides splash in the lake before retreating to the comfort of conditioned air.

We have no plans, but that has never stopped us. What’s in store for you this weekend?

Enjoy these gifts of summer. You can enlarge the landscape-oriented ones if you like.

Summer clouds. Sure, there’s a science-y name for them, but it should be “summer clouds,” because that’s what they are. They followed me around the yard yesterday while I sweated mowed – never shading, just mocking.
summer clouds

An astonishing crop of cherries hang from the branches. Some of the trees are so heavy with them I wonder if they’ll sustain damage from the weight.
glorious cherries

glorious cherries-2

glorious cherries-3

Thistle, a mid-summer wildflower. Lovely in a thicket.
thistle

thistle-2

Or overlooking a pasture.
thistle-3

Golden light paints arching fence.
golden fencerow

A Quiet Moment at Sand Lakes

barbed fencerow

Summer seems to be on a faster time stream than the other seasons. We won’t talk about how much remains, because really it depends on what September chooses to do, but I just feel like the days are flying by. It could also just be that I’m getting older. Either way – faster time stream…aging blogger – we’re trying to squeeze in as many summer activities as possible.

Tonight after dinner, we relaxed under clear skies in the backyard for a while discussing what to do with the remaining daylight. Inspiration struck, and off we bounded for the Sand Lakes Quiet Area – a place we haven’t visited since…well, I don’t know when. Over weekends in the summer, Sand Lakes is a popular camping destination, but tonight the trailhead held only one other vehicle.


We spritzed on some bug spray and headed down the trail – an easy half-mile descent on a smooth, wide path. As an added bonus, the woods on either side of the trail is littered with wild blueberries. Though most of the low bushes had already been stripped of their fruit, I found a few lingering berries to enjoy.

As part of the North Country Trail, the path continues, but we stopped at the first of the lakes. We were in good company on the shore, surrounded by reeds, wildflowers, and dragonflies. And mosquitoes.

We wandered near the water’s edge, enjoying the evening quiet. Even the water sat still in the hush. As we lingered, I swear I felt time slow down for just a moment – a moment I’m holding onto in case I need in future seasons.

beside Sand Lake

I recommend opening for a larger view :)
west end Sand Lakes

A Pre-4th Paddle

Ah solitude. Something you won’t find around here today. Tony and I went for our four-mile walk around the block this morning, and it sounds like summer. Not the bugs and breeze and soft crunch of wet sand, either, but the incessant thunder of boats racing on the lakes.

Tourism slowly ramps up following Memorial Day and crescendos today, July 4th. I don’t blame the tourists for flocking up here – after all, I used to be one – but I don’t miss them when things calm down again after Labor Day. Since it’s appropriate, I’ll just remind myself that they have the freedom to travel up here (and back to their homes!), and for that we should all be thankful.

Okay, done grousing. Instead, I’ll share a bit of quiet time we captured on a recent after-work outing. Because the rivers and lakes do get so busy in the summer months – especially on the weekends – we opted for a mid-week evening trip down the Platte River in Benzie county. It’s clear and mostly shallow with a sleepy current, and is one of our favorite paddles. We always see large fish hovering in the depths in the river bends. We often spot whitetails and heron in the wide wetlands. And we sometimes witness the activities of other water-dwelling creatures.

On this particular trip, we didn’t see any deer, but we did see several woodpeckers, and only one other human (walking his three dogs upstream) for the entire 2.5 hour duration. Oh yes, we also floated downstream with an adventuresome muskrat, too (bottom, left photo in the gallery).

Happy Independence Day. May you spend it however you best enjoy it – even if that is in northern Michigan roaring around on a lake that I’d rather experience in quiet serenity.

Click any photo for a larger version in a slideshow

Holy Cow, It’s July

We are halfway through 2013 – can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday I was whingeing about how it would never.warm.up and now tomorrow (perhaps today, depending on where/when you’re reading this) it’s July.

Since it was the last day of June, we got a late start. Okay, so we really got a late start because we never get up early and yesterday’s moving shenanigans took their toll on us. After tending to our trees and garden, we slowly prepared to meet the rest of the world, and ventured forth.

This guy just would not sit still for me

We didn’t know where we’d end up, but we decided our route would take us through Elk Rapids because we hadn’t been there in a while. Since I posted so many shots of the cherry trees in bloom, it only seemed fitting that I stop and check their progress.

They are loaded with fruit that’s not yet ripe

Elk Rapids was as lovely as ever. It’s such a quaint village and the beach there is one of my favorites in the area. We had planned on kayaking there today, but as you can see, it was a tad too windy.

Trying to avoid traffic from the Cherry Festival in Traverse City, we meandered north toward Charlevoix. We checked out some old favorite places that we hadn’t visited in a few seasons, and found a couple of new-to-us beaches, and generally enjoyed the countryside.

Eventually we found ourselves in Charlevoix – a coastal town that we’ve driven through dozens of times, but never really stopped. We’ve hit a couple places on the south side, and we’ve ridden the bike trail heading north, but we’ve always tried to get through the town as quickly as possible – not because it looked unpleasant, but because there’s one road that goes through town and it’s always, always busy.

But today we stopped. And we ate at a tasty Asian Fusion restaurant. And we walked out to the lighthouse and beach area. And then we walked under the drawbridge over to the marina where I was absolutely astonished. The marina – which holds a jaw-dropping collection of gargantuan yachts – was surrounded by an inviting park with a splash pad and an outdoor amphitheater. For a town that I (yes, judgmentally) thought was snooty, Charlevoix is pretty welcoming. Maybe we’ll make it back a time or two in the next half of the year ;)

Country Living

We helped Jim and Jess complete the move to their new house today. Things went exceptionally well – in fact, it was the smoothest move in which we’ve participated, and we’ve lived in five states – even though this weekend is the opening of the Cherry Festival. Tonight when we returned to our home, only the sound of crickets greeted us. The country sings the song of my soul. Ahhhh :)

Click any photo for a slideshow with larger versions