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?

Spring Has Sprung

Just not here. Somewhere though, it is spring – full of birdsong and pleasantly crisp air. Here in northern Michigan, we will have to content ourselves with a bit more winter. Since the sun is spending increasing amounts of her time with us, it no longer feels so dreary, and so even though it was only in the twenties today, this weekend somehow managed to feel like spring. Continue reading