Deeply Ill

In case you’ve forgotten what it’s been like in this part of the world, let me remind you:

frigid Rapid River

That was Thursday morning. Double digits below zero again. But the mercury was on the rise, and threatened to get almost warm. No really – we’ve been expecting 40’s (between 5 and 10 C) and sunny, which I feared would make our ice unsafe for exploration so I did the unthinkable.

On Friday morning, I rose at an indecent hour, and then left the house just a couple minutes too late to catch the moon setting over the west coast in Empire, MI. I remain a touch disappointed about that, but only a little. I had the whole beach very nearly to myself (I wasn’t out on the ice all alone-y on my own-y) for the entire hour and a half I was there.

Although temperatures hovered in the single digits, I was never cold. Being surrounded by such beauty is awe-inspiring, and surreal, and breathtaking. It is invigorating.

The sun rose hot on Friday, and by the time I made it to my running appointment at 10:00 (I’m cleared to ease into running!) it was nearly 20F. I hesitate to speak out of turn, but I think Old Man Winter finally got tired, and went to bed.

good morning sunshine

This morning we woke to brilliant sunshine accompanied by spring-like temperatures. It was still below freezing, but not much. Birds sweetened the air with their songs – and not just one or two birds, but a whole chorus of them.

I’ve removed the fleece lining from my coat, and didn’t make Petey wear his. Speaking of whom, some puppies have a terrible case of spring fever. That little guy practically pranced his way through his morning walk. He sniffed the air and sashayed along the way, not once trying to end the walk early. Then, he begged to go out for an afternoon jaunt. Then, he asked to go for an evening walk.

A stop on our evening walk on Torch Lake in Alden
Torch reflections

And then we walked again during sunset. Since I obliged with every request, I think I must’ve caught it too. Looking at the forecast – which has 50’s in store dontcha know?! – I think I might have a fatal case of spring fever. Quick, no one get some ice! And be careful; I think this strain is highly contagious 😉

Images from tonight’s everlasting sunset. That sun pillar lasted nearly 15 minutes after the sun dipped below the horizon,

When the Beach Calls…

Some days – even cold, snowy, grey ones – the sand and water call. Their quiet serenity pleads, and eventually you listen. With no other plans etched on the calendar, we headed for Lake Michigan’s coast after lunch at a favorite place in Traverse City.

Roadside sights on the way – tall trees stand frosted while others are snowless;
roadside sights
A strip of corn remains in a harvested field
roadside sights-2

The day was positively balmy; temperatures hovered near freezing, and just the barest of breezes kissed our cheeks.
Empire beach

Empire beach-2

I was hoping for dramatic ice volcanoes on the edge of a shelf, but instead found a sedate beach ideal for long walks in gentle surf. We meandered down the shore, looking for – and finding! – natural sculptures. The winter beach doesn’t invite you to pull up a chair with a good book, but the sand and ice formations encourage quiet exploration, which is my favorite.

After walking a few lengths at the Empire Beach, we rolled south to the beach at Esch Road.


Welcome gate?
beach welcome

The ice volcanoes were still missing, but the beach holds other offerings. Incoming waves slightly undercut the frozen sand creating overhanging shelves, which occasionally break off in astonishing geometric shapes.

More dripping icicles under the sand shelves pretend to be stalactites, and balls of ice at the water’s edge taunt young pups.
beach offerings-8

My favorite thing about the Esch beach, though, is the mouth of Otter Creek, which must be a great place to play when it’s warmer. Perhaps one day I’ll find out.

The beach also boasts signs reminding visitors to keep their clothes on – not a problem on a December afternoon 😉
Esch Rd beach

Esch Rd beach-2

After lots of digging, we loaded back into the car and continued down the coast to Pt. Betsie.

Pt Betsie breakwall
Thanks to reliable splashing waves, the jagged breakwalls and plants below the lighthouse were draped in their usual winter finery

And the lighthouse itself? Absolutely beautiful. (With two Christmas trees lit up inside!)
Pt Betsie pano

With the Frankfort Lighthouse just down the road, we made the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse a short photo stop and then moved on. We got to Frankfort during the “blue hour,” which isn’t actually an hour at all, but is a short time of evening (when everything looks very blue) to take lovely medium-length exposures.

We would have explored longer, but these December days are brief, and night had fallen. I wanted to take photos of Frankfort’s Christmas lights, but apparently lots of the homes are empty this time of year. Instead, I contented myself with a shot looking down Frankfort’s decked street. Not bad, I say 😉
Frankfort street

Have I convinced you yet about the treasures of the winter beach?