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Lake Blog


lakesunriseOne thing I have always enjoyed is going out and taking pictures of the sunset over water. I have gone to several different lakes and set up my tripod, and waited for the spectacular sight of the sun slowly slipping down into the water.

But, I may have a new passion, as a few days ago I happened to see this beautiful sunrise over the lake. I now have a new appreciation for the sight of the sun slowly rising out of the water to bring light and warmth to a brand new day.

Sunrises and Michigan Lakes share one thing in common: No two of them are alike.

Nature’s palette of colors ranges from pinks to reds to golds to blues. The water mirrors the story told in the sky.

When living on the lakefront, every day is a constantly changing panorama of nature’s beauty and surprises.

Go and check out more Skywatch images at the Skywatch Site!

Written by Dave.

Put Your Junk Back in Your Trunk

trashlakeIt is amazing how many times while traveling through Michigan I see a beautiful spot along the roadside, and since I am always looking for a photo op, I get excited and pull over. I get out and set up my gear, only to discover someone found this spot before me and left their trash.

Someone carelessly tossed out their beer bottles/cans, fast food wrappers, etc., just because it was more convenient for them to toss it out than to take it with them and dispose of it properly.

What an inconsiderate action! One person’s laziness ruins Michigan’s pristine beauty for all who visit the site after them.

Today, I am posting a trashy photo with my request: Keep your junk in your own trunk!

Written by Dave.

Election Day

sampleIt seems as if the campaign has been going on forever, but Election Day is here at last. Did you vote? If not, are you planning on voting? It is the right and responsibility of every citizen to vote, to do something, rather than do nothing and complain about our country and it’s leaders. Voting is a privilege that we as American’s must never take for granted.

The polls open before sunrise and I suspect many will be in line even before the polls open to exercise this right to vote. Many say the results will be close. It may be a late night of result watching. We may even have to wait until morning to hear if our candidate won.

Tomorrow morning I will be grateful that all the political ads will be gone, as well as the phone calls about this or that issue. Mostly I will be content when all the political signs, banners and bumpers stickers are gone.

But for today I will enjoy another Michigan sunrise and be thankful for the country I call home.

Written by Dave.

Ice Breaker

icebreakerOkay, I know this is not an award winning photo. I hesitate to even post it. It was one of those moments that I wished I was a little quicker, had my camera closer and had a better lens and tripod at my side. But, enough of my excuses.

It is a shot of a lakefront owner who procrastinated getting his boat out of the water prior to the ice forming on the lake. Watching him breaking a path in front of his pontoon with his iron rod till he could reach clear water was humorous to watch, to say the least.

But, before I extol the virtues of timeliness in getting the boat stored for the winter, I must admit that a few years ago I found myself enlisting the help of my wife to do the same thing.

Since this gentleman is a neighbor of mine, I am grateful the shot is not that clear! I hope he does not find out he is the subject of today’s post.

As for the better lens,  Christmas is coming and I hope my wife reads this post!

Written by Dave.

More on Riparian Rights

riprightsRecently I wrote a post about Michigan Riparian Rights . Since then, a question was posed to me. “ I have a riverfront cabin up north, sometimes after a hard rain or flooding, my shoreline moves. I find I have gained some land. Who owns that land?’

Let me introduce a term: Accretion. Accretion is a gradual process of nature where soil is deposited along one’s shoreline, adding to one’s overall waterfront. The opposite of this process in called erosion- the removing of one’s shoreline.

Who owns it? Generally speaking, the addition of land belongs to the owner of the adjacent riparian rights. Read the Law.

Written by Dave.

First Day of Winter

winterlakefrontbench2As I sit at my desk writing this entry, I am looking out of the window watching the snow fly. Right now I can see about half way across the lake, but for most of the morning I was only able to see my own backyard. The deck is barely recognizable because of the snow from previous storms.

And, I look at the calendar and see today is the first day of winter! Enough said!

But, the good news is, that means the days will be getting longer and spring is getting closer; only some ninety days away.

Here’s to better weather in January!

Written by Dave.

World’s Largest Weathervane

whitehallweathervaneWhitehall may be home to the world’s largest weather vane. While no one knows for sure, Whitehall claims the title. The weather vane is 48 feet tall, 14 feet wide and weighs more than 2 tons. Topping the weather vane is a schooner, memorializing the Ella Ellenwood, a schooner destroyed in a storm on Lake Michigan in 1901. It stands in Ellenwood Park, also named after the schooner, at the corner of Dowling and Water Street.

A plaque is located in the park with the details of the Ella Ellenwood:

The Saga of the Schooner “Ellenwood”

The 157 ton lumber schooner Ella Ellenwood was built in East Saginaw, Michigan in 1869. She was purchased by a Captain Thomas Flagstad of Montague, a native of Norway, who operated the schooner out of White Lake.

One the night of October 1, 1901, while bound for Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a load of maple edgings and shingles, the Ellenwood ran aground off Fox Point, about 8 miles north of the Milwaukee harbor. Within hours, strong northerly winds began to break up the schooner causing the captain and crew to abandon ship.

They made shore safely in the schooner’s yawl with the aid of a compass and an anchor light.

By the next day, the Ellenwood’s stern and transom were broken away and the hull so badly worked loose that the masts wobbled in opposite directions with each swell.

Only the bark cargo was salvaged. The maple edgings in the hold and the schooner were left to the elements.

The following spring, 1902, a portion of the wooden nameplate “ELLENWOOD” was found inside the White Lake Channel. Incredibly, the nameplate drifted around Lake Michigan and by mere chance, or fate, entered the narrow channel to White Lake and washed ashore in White Lake. The Ella Ellenwood had found her way home!

This 115 year old nameplate had a scale model of the Ellenwood is exhibited in the lobby of the Montague City Hall. The nameplate is a gift from Mrs. Lee King, a relative of Captain Flagstad. Other descendants of Captain Flagstad, now spelled Flagstead, still live in the White Lake area.

Another plaque is located in the park that explains the history of weathervanes:

History of Weather Vanes

The weather vane was developed out of early man’s need to understand and predict the wind and to assist in weather forecasting. It was one of the first meteorological instrument devices.

The earliest vane of which we have a record was one on the “Tower of Winds” built in Athens, Greece by a Greek astronomer around 48 B .C. This vane was in the form of a Triton (sea god of Greek mythology) and was possibly 4-8 feet long. It is believed that simpler vanes were probably in existence centuries before this one.

Around the 9th Century, the use of the weathercock increased greatly due to a papal decree declaring that every Christian church be capped with the symbol of a cock – the emblem of St. Peter. This was in reference to Christ’s statement on the eve of the Crucifixion, “ I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day before thou shalt three times deny that thou knowest Me” and served as a call to worship and a warning not to deny Christ as Peter had done. The cock is still the most popular ornament today.

Viking ships started using metal vanes on their masts also around the 9th Century as they began sailing and trading. During the Middle Ages, weather vanes and with heraldic motifs, banners, pennants, flags, etc. began to appear and remained one of the most popular motifs for centuries.

The early American Colonials, because of their seafaring and agricultural lives, also needed vanes for weather forecasting and at first imported them from Europe. The next step, of course, was to handcraft them in America. The vane maker was soon elevated from craftsman to artist and the weather vane became one of America’s first forms of sculpture.

Around the 17th Century, stationary compass pointers (directionals) were added, making it easier to determine the direction of the wind.

Weather vanes were soon seen fashioned in a variety of shapes and patterns from the familiar weathercock and other birds to Indians, horses, angels, ships, fish and practically anything else one could imagine.

After the Revolutionary War, patriotic themes became popular and America’s symbol of the eagle became a weather vane subject. The latter half of the 19th Century, new ornamentation developed around the factors leading to the rapid growth of this country such as railroads, fire-fighting equipment, industry, farm specialization, etc.

Although weather vanes were originally crafted in the European countries, it was in America where they reached their fullest development and became “works of art”.

Following the Industrial Revolution, it was no longer economical to individually hand make the vanes from hammered sheet metal. Mass production of weather vanes by sand casting in aluminum became the predominate method.

Sometimes we can be in such a hurry as to over look the many plaques, informational signs and Michigan historical markers scattered throughout the state.

The weathervane was constructed by  Whitehall Products , a Michigan business that manufactures weathervanes and many other outdoor products. Worth checking out.

More information about Whitehall can be found at the  Whitehall Chamber of Commerce site.

Written by Dave.

Healthy Hearts

fishingA person really doesn’t need a reason to go fishing, but sometimes a good one could be helpful. And what could be a better reason than taking care of your heart?

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in many fish, is good for the heart. All fish contain omega-3s, but they are more concentrated in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, lake trout, herring and sardines. Some of these fish are found right here in the many lakes that are found right here in Michigan. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, particularly fatty fish, at least two times per week.

But nutritional benefits aside, what could be better for the heart than getting away from the busyness and stress of life by spending time fishing on a beautiful, Michigan lake?

Written by Dave.

Spring Cleanup

cleanupWell, we have been counting the days, and now it is almost here! Warm weather! And with that, comes that time when it becomes necessary to get the yard back in shape. With the winter gone and the ice melted, everyone will be out working on the lakefront.

Depending on your lake, some sides get more of the debris that seems to come from nowhere. From last year’s leaves, twigs, water paraphernalia and even the occasional discarded diaper, it always seems like everything drifts ashore. I have even see a lawn chair or two caught in the debris along the shore.

But, who’s complaining? It’s spring and the work is even enjoyable. It’s good to be outside again. It’s good to feel the warming sun on our back and on our face. It’s good to look out over the water and see other property owners cleaning up their waterfront. We know the hours put into the shoreline now will pay off in hours of enjoyment this summer.

It’s spring and it’s time to enjoy the Michigan waterfront life.

Written by Dave.

Did You Lose Something?

floaterIt seems that every year during the summer season I will notice something floating by. No, I am not talking about a duck or other wildlife, although I appreciate nature very much.

Every season, someone’s boat floats by unattended. I have seen everything from a loose canoe, to some one’s ski boat. Last year I noticed someone’s Jet Ski floating by.

This year, even though it is not yet Memorial Day, the floating parade has started. Early one morning when the water was perfectly calm and crystal clear, I noticed what appeared to be a flat wooden structure floating by. I expected to see Tom Sawyer aboard, but after looking a bit more closely, noticed it was just a piece of dock quietly floating by.

Who knows how it happens, but it does make an interesting subject for my camera. Tie up your toys, secure your docks and enjoy the season.

Written by Dave.

St. Joseph River

postcardstjoeriver‘Dear Wife: Just arrived at St. Joe. No train out to Stevens, but have several chances to ride out in a machine. Expect to go soon. Everybody owns machines here. Am feeling fine. Mable is out of state so I will get something to eat. Bob”    dated July 27, 1918

The St. Joseph River, or more commonly called the St. Joe, is a Michigan river of over 210 miles running through southwest Michigan and northern Indiana. The St. Joseph Watershed starts near Hillsdale Michigan and flows thru Colon, Mendon, Three Rivers, Constantine, Union City, Niles, Buchanan and Berrien Springs. It then flows out into Lake Michigan between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.

The river, as it runs through Berrien County, is home to the St. Joseph Venetian Fest. This year the dates are July 16 -19. Every year for the last thirty years, it has been the time for the Appointment of the Admiral & the Blessing of the River.

For a round of golf on the St. Joseph River try Berrien Hills Golf Course. There are several boat launches as well as park located along the St Joseph River, perhaps the best list is found at the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council.

The St. Joseph River, along with the other Michigan rivers, streams and lakes, make Michigan the place to be in the spring, summer and fall.

Written by Dave.