Category Archives: spring

Caffeine Addicted Ants

Saturday morning I was standing at my kitchen counter when a small ant walked by…just one, strolling along nice as you please.  Well he was, until I ended his tiny little life.  I wondered where he came from but didn’t give it much thought and went on with my day.

That evening I saw three ants on the counter.  What the heck!  I don’t have any open food, nothing to attract them.  Just who do they think they are invading my kitchen, and for what purpose?  It isn’t as if I have a feast laid out for the taking.  More like starvation mode when it comes to open food availability.  Yet there they were.  Were, as in past tense, I ended their lives abruptly.

Easter Sunday and the troops have gathered.  A little march of several ants daintily prancing across the back edge of my counter.  Time for major action.  I get out the bottle of Clorox Cleanup, their lives and trails are about to come to a chemically abrupt halt.  I plan to start my cleanup where I saw them.  They’re gone!  Where did they go?  Did they some how have a sixth sense about what my plans were and went into hiding?

Not to be deterred I started at that end of the counter and began my chemically enhanced assault on their chosen trail.   I began a clean and search mission to determine what was attracting them.  My first thought was the catch trays on the toaster.  Nope, no ants there, but they are now clean and empty.  They weren’t attempting to invade my candy dish of Werther’s Originals, nor were they near my dish of York Peppermint Patties.  These ants obviously don’t have a sweet tooth.

I’m working my way across the counter, moving things, spraying with Clorox Clean-up and wiping everything down.  The smell of the bleach in the product should help to deter the ants, at least for a small while.   I haven’t seen a single one as I’m cleaning.  Where did they go?

Then I move the coffee maker to spray the counter underneath it.  Wow!  Numerous ants under the machine happily milling around.  When I had a pot of coffee run over there must have been some on the bottom of the machine when I moved it back into place, and it had created a dried puddle of coffee on the counter.  That is where the ants were congregated.

I would have never suspected ants to be congregated in mass proportions under a coffee machine.  Is it the coffee they are attracted to, or the caffeine?  They were not inside the coffee grounds, only under the machine.  How were they consuming or transporting that sticky residue?  Does the caffeine give them a nice burst of energy like it does some humans?  One thing I do not want is ants operating on high energy in my house. Ant drinking coffee

Those ants experienced a very sudden chemical bomb delivered via spray bottle filled with Clorox Clean-up.  If anyone feels sympathy for them, it was a very quick death so suffering would have been minimal and death instantaneous.  In fact the ants died much faster than the removal of the stain.  As difficult as it was to clean up, I can’t imagine how those ants were getting any benefit from it.

The good news is I have not seen a single ant since Easter morning.  Either I have killed them all off (as if I really believe that), or they no longer have a purpose in traversing my counter.  Of course they could be lying in wait, hoping for another coffee run-over.

Summer hasn’t even started yet, so I doubt I will be lucky enough not to see those pesky little critters again.  When I do the first place I will check is the coffee maker, chemical bomb in hand, ready to inflict mass destruction on their invasive little bodies.   I think a killer instinct in me has emerged.

 

 

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Filed under bugs, Cleaning, death, Discoveries, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, spring, summer

Trigger Indicators

The same feeling can be triggered by different stimuli in different people.  It can be a memory, likes, holidays, smells, or just a date on a calendar.  What is your trigger indicator for spring?

Michigan is known for temperamental weather.  It can be 70 degrees today and 40 tomorrow, so is temperature a good indication of spring?  Here in Michigan you may be hunting Easter eggs under snow.  Is it spring when the weather is consistently above 60 degrees?  Is it spring when the tulips have bloomed but are then covered in snow?  Can we rely on the weather to tell us it is spring?

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Trilium – Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Maybe your trigger that spring has arrived is when the daffodils or tulips bloom.  Could it be newborn birds chirping in a nest, or a tiny bunny hopping across the front lawn?  Spring is a time of rebirth.  What about the smell of lilacs blooming on a tree?  The smell of a fresh cut lawn?   Scent is a very real trigger for memories.  Has what indicated spring to you as a child changed now that you have become an adult?

What about Easter?  It arrives with easter egg hunts, bunnies, spring dresses and special worship services.  Does the arrival of Easter mean spring has arrived?  The problem with Easter is it arrives anywhere from late March to sometime in April.  Easter is a mental trigger for many that spring has arrived, but should it be?  The weather doesn’t adjust itself to Easter’s arrival, so not a true indicator of spring.

Has spring arrived when a trip through the store includes displays of seed packets, seedlings, soil, mulch, rakes, shovels, and other items needed for gardening.  What about the season opening of the local farmer’s market selling flowers and plants?  Do these items trigger the feeling that spring has arrived?

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Ship on Lake Huron, photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

The trigger indicators that spring has arrived are different for every person.  They are brought on by things we have experienced in our lifetime that instills in us that degree of freshness,  newness, that spring evokes in all of us.  For me, one of the number one triggers that spring has arrived is when the shipping resumes on the St. Clair River.  The vibration of ships as they go up and down the river, the sight of their lights at night as they pass by, the sound of fog horns in the morning.  For me, shipping season means spring has arrived.  What triggers the arrival of spring for you?

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Filed under Blue Water Area, Discoveries, environmental, events, habit, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, spring, Weather

Shall We Elope?

Life spins and churns, twists and turns, and in the process dreams are born, moments cherished, and desire becomes reality.  Such is the case with a friend of mine who after spending more than twenty years widowed and single married the man of her dreams.

Wedding wishes, preparation, anticipation, and anxiety all come into play when anyone gets married.  We are used to watching young people plan big, elaborate weddings, and there is excitement in that type of a “production.”   This was different.  It was two adults with children and grandchildren planning a small, simple, elopement with tidbits of details that added to the fun and uniqueness of this blending of their lives.

Planning to have an outdoor wedding in Michigan during the month of April is always gutsy.  They decided they wanted to get married on the covered bridge in Frankenmuth, a popular location that is a unique, small town atmosphere and also a popular tourist destination.  Being that it was two hours from home they needed to search and find a pastor to perform the service.  They checked on use of the covered bridge, booked a motel and made arrangements for early check-in, arranged for a second witness, and made plans for photo locations.

Then a week before the date the couple held their breath when snow crept over the state.  All was not lost.  The day of the wedding was warm and sunny, comfortable for the bride in her sleeveless dress, a bit warm  for the groom in his suit.  A perfect day, perfect weather.

Vicki held to tradition.  The morning of the wedding I received a text message asking if I had something she could borrow.  She had the something old, something new, and something blue.  She wore a bracelet that belonged to me for her something borrowed.    I attended the event and served as witness/matron of honor and photographer.

I met Mark and Vicki at their motel and after Mark dressed and I had taken a couple shots of Vicki helping him with his tie, he left to meet us at the bridge.   I helped Vicki with her dress, we took a few preparation shots, and I was shown a gift she had purchased for her new husband.  It was fun, girly, and relaxing all at the same time.  We arrived on location to find Mark chatting with the pastor and her husband.

 

Photos by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

Vicki had been worried about finding an appropriate dress, but she did and made the purchase.  Then after reflection decided there was nothing wrong with her purchase, but it lacked the pizazz that one wants for their wedding day.  She kept looking and ended up with a lady-like, age appropriate, knock-him-off-his-feet dress.  How do I know, because I was walking with them and Mark looked over at Vicki and said “you look good, you look really good!”  He was right, she did.

Rather than use the bridge, which was dark and cool, for their ceremony they opted to stand near the water overlooking the bridge.  Prior to vows the groom, who is in a band, sang to the bride.  Vows were spoken, rings exchanged, and of course the traditional kiss.   The marriage license was signed, then they posed for a few photographs before we went to lunch.

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Fried Ice Cream Deluxe – Yum!  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

When in Frankenmuth the tradition is to go for chicken dinner.  Traditions are made to be broken, and when you have a small elopement instead of a over-the-top wedding, plans can be adjusted on a moments notice.  How many brides and grooms do you know who have their wedding dinner in a tiny Mexican restaurant?  Well I know one, and it was great.  They were even presented with a huge, free fried ice cream because it was their special day.

After lunch we shot a few more photographs and then the happy couple went for a horse-drawn carriage ride around town.  The end of a perfect day leading into a perfect night, and the beginning of a perfect union of marriage.

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Their first adventure as husband and wife. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

 

 

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Filed under celebration, decisions, events, Family, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, spring

My First Easter

It is funny how traditions with couples and/or families develop over years.  What is crucial to one couple is unimportant to another.  Being the  first year without my husband, people anticipate that certain dates may be hard, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.  However those were “Hallmark” holidays that Ron and I rarely paid attention to, so my first year solo on those dates causes me no emotional stress.

This is my first Easter alone.  The weekend looms ahead of me like some dreaded dark cavern.  Why?  Because that is a weekend Ron and I generally did things.  For years when our kids were growing up we would drive to Belle Isle and visit the Aquarium and Whitcomb Conservatory.   There were years we traveled, years we stayed home.  Generally we were out and about at least one of the two days taking pictures.   Once we had grandchildren we put together Easter baskets for the children and had an egg hunt inside our house.  Easter has always been a fun weekend for us.

This year I have no one to share those things with.  My daughter, her boyfriend and her three children will be over on Sunday for the kids to get their Easter baskets from me, but not until around 7:00 pm because her oldest son is spending the holiday weekend with his father.   I have contemplated driving down to Belle Isle, driving around my area to take photos, or just staying home to clean and organize.  To a certain degree weather and the condition of a sore ankle will play into those decisions.    I don’t feel enthusiastic about any of it.

Building a new life takes adjustment.  It means accepting change.  Maintaining tradition.  Letting tradition go.  Freedom to make changes.  Keeping things the same.  Doing things you’ve always done.  Doing things you never did.    Building a new normal.

As I spend my first Easter alone creating whatever will become a new tradition, a new normal, I hope all of you have a fun-filled weekend doing whatever it is that makes Easter weekend special for you and your loved ones.

HIPPITY HOPPITY HAPPY EASTER DAY!

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Filed under celebration, Coping, Family, habit, home, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, memoir, spring

Where is Spring?

Here in Michigan we had a very mild fall and early winter.  Temperatures in the mid 40’s and a very small amount of snow.  It was wonderful.  People did have trouble getting into the Christmas spirit.  It was hard to get into the shopping mode with green grass and wearing spring jackets when under normal conditions it would have been cold and normally some light snow.

Now the holidays are over and we are ready to break out the flip flops and head to the beach, but Mother Nature played a trick on us — well, actually tossed reality back at us.  It is now running 18 degrees, parts of the state are under heavy snow, and we have had to haul winter jackets and gloves out of the back of our closet.  winter - can I wake up and it be summer

Where is Spring?  It is hiding down the hill and around the corner.  It may peek at us now and then, just to remind us it does still exist, but is not going to spoil us and break out for at least another month or so.  April snow storms in Michigan are not unusual.

Michigan takes a beating on its weather.  A popular saying in our state is “If you don’t like the weather wait ten minutes, it will change.”  This is very true.  Michigan weather is unpredictable and because of that putting your faith in a weather report is suicidal.  However there is one thing to be said for Michigan.  We rarely have true natural disasters.

While Michigan is not completely immune, it does not normally have news breaking weather like so many states do.  Tornadoes, forest fires, hurricanes, mud slides, floods, earthquakes, and massive life-stopping snow storms are not the norm.  What temperamental weather we get can generally be dealt with and resolved within a day or two.  Some Beach Somewhere

So, as much as I would love the warm sunshine of a hot summer day, I know that is still in the distant future.  For now I will trudge through the skiff of snow, scrap the frost off my windshield, and drive with my car set to defrost more often than heat.  Yep, it all sounds good, but I do have one final question….Where is Spring?

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Filed under Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, nature, spring, time

Doing the Michigan Dance

Yes, this past couple weeks we have been going through the steps of what I am going to term the Michigan Dance.  What is it?  If you live here you should know, it is the back and forth, two steps forward, one step back, motion of our weather.

We have had a bitter, cold winter with plenty of snow.  Then 2-3 weeks ago the weather warmed up.  The sun was shinning, people started getting out and riding bikes, walking paths, cleaning yards and other spring activities.  Our grass has turned green and the trees and bushes have started to bud out.  Spring has arrived — or has it?

Weather - sunburn and frostbite in same weekA couple days ago the temperature dropped, winds picked up, and it was cold again.  Not freezing, but cold enough that some people went back to wearing winter coats.  This morning when I got up there was a skiff of snow on the ground.  Not massive proportions, and I assume by midday it will all be gone, but the point is, it is there.  We are on the one-step back motion of the Michigan Dance.

I am tired of winter, tired of the cold.  I want spring to hit us full-force and move into a heat-blasting summer.  I want to move this Michigan Dance from a slow moving waltz to a fast-paced polka and spin forward around the dance floor several times in a row.  Is that too much to ask?

What am I thinking….I live in Michigan.  Nothing is predictable, especially the weather.  Two steps forward, one step back.

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Filed under spring, summer, Weather

Master Bath Guests

Our Master Bath has special guests that come for a short visit every spring and every fall. They must not like weather change because they arrive when the temperature warms slightly, then again when the temperature turns cold. They must eventually adjust to the change because their stay is generally short, only a week or two, and then they disappear until the next season.

What we can’t figure out is where the flies come from.  They just suddenly appear and generally stay up on the ceiling or near the lights.  An occasional visitor may be seen near the sink or floor, but not often.  They only come in small groups of three to six at a time, and seem to be lacking in energy.    They don’t fly around, normally just sit on the ceiling or wall.  We rarely find a dead one anywhere, they just suddenly disappear one day and don’t return until the following spring or summer.

house flyWhat attracts the flies to our master bath?  They do not appear anywhere else in the house.  What is even more bizarre is we always leave the door to our bedroom and our closet open and the bath is right between them, but the flies are never seen in either of those rooms.  What we have is the bathroom fly mystery.  Where do they come from?  Where to they go?  We may never know.

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Filed under bugs, home, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, spring

Blog Bonus – Spiders

Spider tipping hatThis is a Blog Bonus – a posting that is not on my normal schedule, a little something extra.  In my last post  They’re Back I talked about the return of the spiders to my front porch, something I am not thrilled with.  My 3-year old grandson, Corbin and 8-year old grandson, Austin, seem to view the event differently.  Corbin thought they were spiderman, and Austin thought I had a “cute little spider” and they both stood on the porch the other night when the spiders were out and said goodbye to the spiders before leaving.  Guess it is all in perspective.  I would love to say goodbye to the spiders, but on a permanent basis and it would be them leaving, not me.

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Filed under backyard, bugs, children, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, spiders, spring

They’re Back

It keeps you on your toes when things are constantly changing.  A couple weeks ago I noticed they started appearing again, just a few, but the number has grown and their size has grown, and unfortunately they have returned, but I don’t really understand why that would happen now.

Back in June I wrote a post Where Have All the Spiders Gone? about the spiders that have taken up residency on my front porch every spring since our move here in 2004.  This year for some reason they never arrived.  They weren’t putting forth an appearance every evening on the sides and ceiling of my front porch, and we didn’t have to worry about walking through a web if we arrived home after dark and the front light wasn’t on.  Over the course of the summer I enjoyed not having them here.  I could sit out on the porch reading in the evening and not have to worry about them stringing webs above my head if I read past dusk.   It was wonderful, until now.Spider on rope

They are back!  Why would they come back in mid September?  Don’t they know fall is here, that the temperatures are going to get colder?   Do they have to cover my porch with their webs now, after all this time?   Don’t they know I have grown accustomed to their absence?  Could I be so lucky as to have a frost this fall kill them all off once and for all?

I really shouldn’t complain, after all they stay outside.  In all these years I have never had a problem with them invading the inside of the house.  I don’t have a problem with mosquitoes, most likely thanks to spider consumption.  Maybe they have done me a favor.  I used to be the type of person that would freak at the sight of a microscopic sized spider, now I can walk in with them all over the porch and not go into a state of panic.    That isn’t to say I don’t try to come in as quickly as possible to prevent the possibility of one landing on me, but I am able to walk calmly into the house without looking like I’m trying to escape a mass murder.   In fact I have grown to enjoy the comical, panicky entrance of those who are freaked out by them.  That still does nothing to satisfy the questions that now perplex me.  Spider - Bringed you a fly

My mind is even more curious than it was a few months ago.  Why were they here for nine years beginning in the spring and staying through fall, then this spring never arrived?  Where have they been all summer?  Why are they suddenly making their appearance now?  Will they be back next spring?   The great spider mystery, it just adds to the craziness.  I think it may become a cold case, never to be resolved.

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Filed under backyard, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, spring

Blue Water Summer

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair. Photo by Grace Grogan

As we approach the 4th of July weekend many towns across the United States will be having fireworks, festivals, parades, and other ways of celebrating our Nation’s freedom. The Blue Water Area is no exception. What I find a bit disappointing is that so many cities hold their fireworks on days other than the 4th of July, and I am pleased that where I live, St. Clair, Michigan, fireworks are still held on the 4th of July over the St. Clair River each and every year. What is even more wonderful about this area is that all summer the Blue Water Area is filled with a variety of things to do all summer.

Soldiers take a break during the Feast of the St. Clair in Port Huron.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Soldiers take a break during the Feast of the St. Clair in Port Huron. Photo by Grace Grogan

The summer kick-off is the Feast of the St. Clair, held every Memorial Weekend in Port Huron. This festival has been held for thirty-four years and is a living re-enactment of 18th century life.  During the event Pine Grove Park is home over 100 colonial star camps and has more than 600 re-enactors who participate.   Attendees can visit four different periods of Blue Water history, Native Americans, French explorers, British traders and American Revolutionaries.  Battles are re-enacted and period life is demonstrated, including cooking, crafts, and children’s games.   The re-enactors actually camp in the park during the event, cooking their own food over an open campfire, sleeping in authentically styled tents and dressing in period costume.

The new River Walk in Port Huron located on Desmond Landing.  Photo by Grace Grogan

The new River Walk in Port Huron located on Desmond Landing. Photo by Grace Grogan

After the Feast of the St. Clair, you are never without something to do in the Blue Water Area.  Be a Tourist in Your Own Town lets both locals and tourists visit a wide variety of museums, the lighthouse, take a cruise on the Huron Lady II, and participate in numerous other activities, with transportation between locations provided by the Blue Water Trolley.  Whether riding during the event or at any other time, you can sit back and for your ten cent fare enjoy a one-hour tour of various attractions and historic sites in Port Huron.  Well worth the investment!

The BW Sandfest is a professional sand sculpture event conducted by The Sand Lovers and is held on the grounds of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron.  Photo by Grace Grogan.

The BW Sandfest is a professional sand sculpture event conducted by The Sand Lovers and is held on the grounds of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron. Photo by Grace Grogan.

It doesn’t matter when in the summer you visit, there will always be something to do.  Art Fairs are held a various times in Lexington, Port Huron, Marysville, St. Clair, New Baltimore and Algonac.  Fishing is a popular sport and you will find things such as the Salmon Steaks in St. Clair or the Pickerel Tournament and Festival in Algonac.

If you are into cars or antique boats you will not be disappointed.  Many car shows and cruise nights are held including the Port Huron Cruise Night and Car Show, The St. Clair Classic Car Show, Antique Boat Show in St. Clair, and the Antique Boat Parade in Algonac.  Marysville hosts two car shows back-to-back with Rumble in the Park featuring hot rods, custom and muscle cars followed by The Past and its Wheels featuring cars built before 1959, including the Wills Sainte Claire cars that were built between 1921 to 1926 in the Marysville Factory.  The Wills Sainte Claire Museum is open the second and fourth Sundays of the month August through September and is one of many area museums.   Other local museums include the Carnegie Center, Thomas Edison Depot, Huron Light Ship, Bramble, and many small local museums in the various towns along the waterfront including New Baltimore and St. Clair.

Port Huron Float Down and Bramble Museum.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Port Huron Float Down and Bramble Museum. Photo by Grace Grogan

Don’t leave yet because we have more fun activities for you to attend.  The Bay Rama Fish Fly Festival is held every year in New Baltimore is now in its 50th year and is the only Fishfly Festival in the world.  It includes a carnival midway, live music, and various family activities such as pie eating contests and various games.  Maritime Days in Marine City is an annual three-day event that includes music, food, fun and a parade.  A new event, now in its second year is the Blue Water Sand Fest, voted by USA Today as one of the top 10 in 2013, its first year here in the Blue Water area.  The event is held on the grounds of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and features professional, advanced amateur and amateur sand sculptures.

Offshore Racing on the St. Clair River between Michigan and Canada.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Offshore Racing on the St. Clair River between Michigan and Canada. Photo by Grace Grogan

Events surrounding the water abound.  In St. Clair you won’t want to mist River Fest and Offshore Classic Racing.  The event features a carnival, spectators can visit dry docks, wet docks, and of course watch the offshore powerboat races on the beautiful St. Clair River.

Port Huron also hosts an Offshore Powerboat Race event and the famous Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Sailboat Race.  This sailboat race is a popular event in Port Huron, featuring a carnival midway and various activities downtown and along the waterfront.  Walk along the Black River to view the boats that have arrived to participate in the race, live manikins,  food and fun abound.  Thursday is family night, and Friday is boat night, a huge celebration the night before the race.  Saturday morning line up along the Black River to view the boats as they parade out of the river and onto Lake Huron to begin the race.  An annual event on the water that draws thousands of participants and spectators is a free event, the Port Huron Float Down.  Participants climb into inner tubes, rafts and any other type of floating device at Lighthouse Beach just north of the Blue Water Bridges and then float down to Chrysler Beach in Marysville.  A fun event for all whether floating or watching.

Boat Night in Port Huron takes place the Friday before the Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Boat Night in Port Huron takes place the Friday before the Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race. Photo by Grace Grogan

As the summer winds down into fall, an event you won’t want to miss is Whistles on the Water in St. Clair.  This event features antique steam whistles from lake freighters and passenger ships and is one of the largest gatherings of large steam whistles in the world.   The whistles are attached to one of the largest portable steam boilers on earth specifically designed to blow whistles using a fire-tube boiler that generates steam pressure to blow the whistles.  Free ear plugs are provided to visitors as when the whistles blow it is really loud!  A fun activity for children is a set-up on the waterfront of smaller whistles where the children can pull the cord to sound off one of several whistles.    The event is combined with “Chalk the Walk” which allows both adults and children the opportunity to color the walks of the St. Clair Mall with drawings using sidewalk chalk.

Whistles on the Water is held in St. Clair, Michigan.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Whistles on the Water is held in St. Clair, Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan

This is just a brief overview of various activities in the area and you may want to check Discover the Blue  travel guide to get a more complete lineup of everything there is to do in the beautiful Blue Water area.    You won’t want to miss taking a walk along the boardwalk in St. Clair, the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world.  Stop by Desmond Landing in Port Huron to visit the Boat Nerd and stroll the new River Walk you will find there, walk the pier in Lexington, stroll under the Blue Water Bridge along the Thomas Edison Parkway in Port Huron, or walk the boardwalks in Marine City, New Baltimore and Algonac.

I love living in the Blue Water area, which to me is small town living with all the advantages of a tourist town.   It is a Melting Pot of things to do, with something for everyone.  If you’ve never visited the Blue Water area, put it on your next vacation itinerary, you won’t be disappointed!

Blue Water Trolley - It only costs a dime to ride!  Photo by Grace Grogan

Blue Water Trolley – It only costs a dime to ride! Photo by Grace Grogan

The beautiful St. Clair River as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair, Michigan

The beautiful St. Clair River as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair, Michigan

 

The Thomas Edison Depot Museum sits under the Blue Water Bridges on the Thomas Edison Parkway in Port Huron.  Photo by Grace Grogan

The Thomas Edison Depot Museum sits under the Blue Water Bridges on the Thomas Edison Parkway in Port Huron. Photo by Grace Grogan

 

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Filed under Activities, Art Shows, Blue Water Area, events, Family, Festivals, Lake St. Clair, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, spring, travel, vacation

WHERE HAVE ALL THE SPIDERS GONE?

Spider on a webIt isn’t that I miss them, and I really don’t care if they never return, but I am curious.   We moved into our home ten years ago, and for the past nine summers as soon as it got warm the spiders took over the front porch.  At dusk they would suddenly appear, building webs, sitting on the siding of the house, lurking on the ceiling of the porch.  Then come morning they would be gone, leaving only their webs to show of their prior nights invasion until they reappeared again that evening.

I am not favorable to spiders so it took some adjusting to the fact that if you arrived home after dusk you were walking up onto a porch with lots of spiders on it.   If we forgot to turn on the porch light and came home after dark it was worse because then you couldn’t see where they were.  One night that happened and I was first to the front door.  When I opened the screen door I felt a web go across my head.  I hurried into the house, flipped on the lights, was doing the wild karate hair shuffle with my hands while saying to my husband, Ron, “Is there a spider in my hair?”.Spider Web results in Karate Master

Being a typical man, he remains on the front porch, looking around and says “There are a lot of spiders out here.”

“I don’t care what is on the porch, is there one in my hair!”

Ron enters the house calmly, looks at my hair and replies “no.”

Whew!  That moment of panic when I didn’t know if I was wearing one of the darn things ended with one simple word.

This summer is strange.  There are no spiders on our front porch.  They should certainly be there by now, and after all these years I assumed they were permanent residents.  So here we are in our tenth summer in the house and I am wondering what happened to the spiders.  Did the bitter cold winter freeze them out?  Will they suddenly realize summer has arrived and do a late invasion?  Will we be given a summer of reprieve and then be invaded again next year?    Only time will tell, but for now I am happy that I can walk across my front porch in the dark, or sit on it reading until dusk, without having to worry about whether a spider is happily building its web above my head or across my front door.   I must admit, as adverse as I am to spiders, I continue to look at my front porch every day and wonder “Where have all the spiders gone?”

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Filed under environmental, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, nature, spring

Magee Marsh Bird Trail

Photo by Grace Grogan

Entrance to the Bird Trail – Photo by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

This little bird spent a lot of time hopping from tree to tree, keeping all entertained with his antics. Photo by Grace Grogan

This past weekend my husband and I decided to drive to Magee Marsh in Ohio to take photographs of birds.   Located on the southern side of Lake Erie, this is where North American Warblers gather during their spring migration, making it a prime spot for both bird enthusiasts and photographers.  People travel from all over the United States and other parts of the world to visit during the prime migration time, which is the last weekend of April thru Mid May.  A birding festival is held during the highest point of migration.   We visited after the festival had ended, but there were still a large number of bird watchers and photographers visiting and we were able to enjoy both the sound of the birds “singing” and the ability to capture them on camera from various points along the boardwalk.

Photo by Grace Grogan

Sitting on a limb enjoying the sunshine and showing off his plumage. It was almost as if he knew I was taking many photographs of him. Photo by Grace Grogan

Although the boardwalk is only about a mile long, Ron and I spent approximately six hours making the walk.  In addition to the birds there are also other items of photographic interest, as this is a nature preserve and nature holds its own beauty.  There are two distinct differences between the photographers and the bird watchers.  Photographers are obviously carrying cameras, often with huge lenses and on tripods.  Their primary focus is to capture hundreds of shots of the birds which they will later sort through, choosing the best and identifying them as they do their photo processing.  The bird enthusiast are usually carrying binoculars, bird books and note pads in which they meticulously record the birds as they see them.   While you will see some bird watchers with cameras, I don’t recall seeing any photographers with binoculars, as your camera and lens serve the same purpose.   Because bird enthusiasts are used to spotting these small creatures they were a handy resource, a groups of bird watchers with their binoculars all pointed in the same direction

Photo by Grace Grogan

Taken from the top of the viewing platform. Photo by Grace Grogan

generally meant a good place to direct your camera lens as well.

The Magee Marsh boardwalk is well maintained, with periodic benches where you can rest if needed.  There is also a raised viewing platform and other side trails you can take for additional viewing.  The birds are frequently quite close to the boardwalk, so even with a small camera lens or point-and-shoot camera you have a good chance of capturing a nice photograph.  Camera’s click in rapid succession, people scribble notes on their pads of paper, and everyone enjoys the view.  Photographers and Birders are friendly, enthusiastic groups of people.

If you haven’t been to Magee Marsh and love nature, birds, or photography, this should definitely be on your list of places to visit.

Photography by Grace Grogan

Photography by Grace Grogan

Photograph by Grace Grogan

Photograph by Grace Grogan

Photograph by Grace Grogan

Photograph by Grace Grogan

Peek-a-Boo!  Photograph by Grace Grogan

Peek-a-Boo! Photograph by Grace Grogan

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Photograph by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

Photo by Grace Grogan

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me.  Photograph by Grace Grogan

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me. Photograph by Grace Grogan

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Filed under birds, friendship, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, nature center, Photography, spring, travel, Uncategorized, Writing

THE CRYING INDIAN

Back in the 1970’s there was a commercial with an American Indian standing beside a highway as litter was thrown from a car.  A close-up of the Indian’s face showed a tear coming down because the American landscape was being destroyed by such careless action.  That is what came to mind this past weekend as I walked along a nature preserve on Harsens Island.    For those who may not be familiar with the Blue Water Area, Harsens Island is accessible only by boat or car ferry.  There are a lot of natural areas on the island along with residential and commercial property.  We were parked on a dirt road that runs between two nature preserve areas taking photographs.

Litter CollageAs I strolled down the road looking for items to photograph I was appalled at the amount of trash that had been thrown into the water filled “ditch” between the road and the nature preserve.  Not only is litter unbecoming to the landscape, but plastic, paper, and other pieces of trash can be harmful to wildlife if swallowed.   I feel that if you are capable of transporting the cups, wrappers, bottles, etc. from where ever you acquired them,  you should be able to transport the remaining packaging or wrapper back to an appropriate trash container.  It was at that time that I decided to take photographs of a small portion of the litter I saw and create this blog on littering.

Over the years penalties and fines have been enacted for those caught littering.  There is a considerable amount of variation from state to state on the penalties and fines which are based on the amount of litter that was thrown, the type of litter, and where it was left.  States also vary on the criminal charges imposed, with everything from a civil infraction to a felony charge with prison time.    To find out where your sate rates visit The National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many of these changes that have happened over the years can be accredited to Pollution Prevention:  Keep America Beautiful, an organization that in working to bring awareness to how pollution damages the environment aired an advertisement for the first time on Earth Day in 1971.  That ad featured Native American actor Chief Iron Eyes Cody and had the tagline “People Start Pollution.  People can stop it.”    Chief Iron Eyes Cody became known as “The Crying Indian.”

That one advertisement created by Keep America Beautiful was named one of the top 100 advertising campaigns of the 20th Century and Chief Iron Eyes Cody has a star bearing his name on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame.   The ad campaign resulted in a reduction in litter of approximately 88% in 300 communities, 38 states and several countries.   It is sad to think that now, 43 years later, littering remains a problem.   Whether a small isolated island, the expressway system or city streets, people throw their trash on the ground rather than wait until an appropriate receptacle can be located.    The problem is significant enough that companies and organizations adopt sections of roadways where they perform regular cleanup of trash left behind.  Hopefully someday we will reach the point where this is not necessary, where people take pride in their land and littering is no longer an issue.    If you are a person that litters, please reconsider your actions.  If you are a person that does not litter, thank you for your care and consideration of the environment and landscape.

 

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Filed under environmental, Life is a Melting Pot, littering, nature, nature center, pollution, spring, Uncategorized, Writing

DELIGHTFULLY DRAB

Here in Saint Clair County the weather has reached that delightfully drab level where the temperatures are of a moderate level, the snow has melted, the trees are bare of leaves and the grass is a lovely blah beige.   This past Sunday my husband and I went for a walk at the Lake Saint Clair Nature Center.  While the average walker will find no purpose in hauling a camera into such a lackluster location, photographers abound and are always on the lookout for something to capture.

Leaves and shells captured in ice on a pond.

Leaf and shells captured in ice on a pond.

When out for a stroll watch anyone with a camera, they will draw your attention to the small, unusual, and difficult to find items of beauty in nature where there appears to be nothing.  Moss on a tree, items floating in water, leaves curled on stumps, reflections in the water, or an unusual curve of a tree stump are all items that can be captured and enjoyed.    Look up, look down, look left, look right, and don’t forget to turn around and look behind you.  Just a few steps one way or the other can open up possibilities.

Red Wing Blackbird strolls down a twig floating on on the water.

Red Wing Blackbird strolls down a twig floating on on the water.

While strolling over a foot bridge I leaned over the rail and looked down.  That is where I found the leaves and shells trapped in a piece of ice that remained on the water.    The majority of people walking over the bridge that day likely missed what I saw because it required leaning over the rail.  Small treasures can be found in the most unusual places.

Watch for movement in the water.  Although I didn’t move fast enough to capture the muskrat swimming in the water on my camera he was there.  I could hear the frogs croaking away in the marsh but couldn’t find them.  A red wing blackbird was happily moving down a small twig floating in the water, and while it is likely he was searching for food the impression was that it was amazed by its own reflection in the water.  Being mating season male birds were also calling out and ruffling their feathers in display, attempting to attract females.  Birds were also easy among old weeds on the waters edge.  Walk quietly and enjoy the moment.

Reflections in Nature

Reflections in Nature

Although the bare trees do not appear to be attractive at first glance, don’t underestimate their appeal.  Look up and notice the unusual displays bare branches create against the sky.    Watch how they reflect in the water and the interesting angles those reflections create.  Beauty is found in unexpected places, you just have to look for it.

It is so easy to walk by beauty and never realize it is there.  Remember that even if if you have walked that path numerous times, changes happen in nature constantly and new things can be found daily, often within a few minutes or hours.

Ice Patterns

Ice Patterns

A frozen trail of water is melting, and as it does patterns form in the remaining ice.  Look at them, notice their unusual beauty, their uniqueness.  Enjoy what is there today for tomorrow the movements of nature may take it away, and you will have missed the moment.  Learn to walk with a photographers eye and you will catch the beauty of nature that can be found in the delightfully drab.

 

               I welcome your thoughts and comments on this and all previous posts

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Filed under birds, Lake St. Clair, Life is a Melting Pot, nature center, Photography, spring, Uncategorized, Writing