Ice Hunting

My friend Lisa invited me out this afternoon with one of her friends, so I brought Petey and we all went ice hunting.

We met up at The Dockside – a boating restaurant perched where Clam Lake flows into Torch Lake.

still Torch Lake

The lake was about as still as I’ve ever seen it, and we found our first hunt success on Torch’s shores.
ice on Torch

But we didn’t linger long – Lisa had a new favorite place to share with us. After a quick stop-off in Bellaire (where she surprised me with a Christmas gift, thoughtful gal that she is), we landed on the eastern edge of Lake Bellaire.

Click to embiggen
icy Lake Bellaire panorama

A clear sheet of ice covered the full expanse of the lake. Well, except where someone broke through at the boat launch.

The very edges of the lake were frozen solid enough to walk on. I didn’t venture out far – it’s unnerving standing atop icy water, and more so when you can see just how deep that water is. So I didn’t go far, but I did venture out.

On my belly…which might sound crazy, but I know a thing or two about the relationship between pressure and area. It’s odd being face to face with ice on the lake, but I was far more likely to stay on the lake rather than ending up in the lake this way.

spoon ice

Petey’s not much better than me. As you can see, I had to call him back from the edge a few times, and he insisted on climbing out on this tree. Not that he saw me do it first or anything. Mmhmm.

Petey didn’t just spend his time testing the ice and climbing trees. He was a real help, too.

After shooting every molecule of ice on Lake Bellaire’s edges, we opted to return to Torch Lake for the sunset.
Torch Lake sunset

The skies promised a show, but the sunset got trapped in the ice. And then, the color faded from the day.
sunset trapped in ice

Happy with our afternoon’s captures, we packed in our gear and headed home. I think we bagged our limit for the day – but no worries, it’s a long ice hunting season ;)

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? ;)

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