Spires and the Solstice

December 20, 2014

Spires

Spires, photo by Liz Glass

The Old Farmer’s Almanac shares that winter begins with the Winter Solstice at 6:03 PM EST tomorrow (Sunday, December 21):

Winter inspires both joy and woe. Some people can’t wait for the cooler weather, snow, skiing and ice skating, curling up by a fire, and the holiday spirit. Other people dislike the frigid temperatures, blizzards, and wild weather.

The word solstice comes from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still.” In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day. At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. The next day, the path will advance northward. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn. In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice days are the days with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year.

Definitely check out Liz’s photo bigger and see more in her massive & cool Ice slideshow or (if you prefer) her Abstracts slideshow.

Presque-Isle-in-the-Porkies

Quiet water of the Presque Isle River. Porcupine Wilderness State Park, photo by Linda Carter

The Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park is the area of Michigan where I haven’t yet visited that I’m most fascinated with. One of the cool things for me about putting Michigan in Pictures together is learning new things about places, and Linda’s photo showed me something new about the Park! She writes:

The Presque Isle River (French explorers named it for the little island at the mouth of the river) is the largest and most dangerous flow through the Porcupine Mountains. The 3 waterfalls near its mouth are some of the most scenic in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The river forks at the end as it flows to Lake Superior. This picture is the right side, which is quiet and peaceful.

View her photo bigger and see more (including some of those waterfalls) in her Porkies slideshow.

#TBT: Petoskey Pierhead Light

December 18, 2014

Petoskey Pierhead Lighthouse 1913

Petoskey Lighthouse in 1917, courtesy National Archives & Lighthouse Friends

Last month I featured a cool shot of the Petoskey Pierhead lighthouse that people really liked. Here’s a pic of what that light looked like a hundred years ago. The entry for the Petoskey Pierhead Light at Lighthouse Friends says (in part):

Named after the Ottawa Indian Chief Ignatius Petosega, Petoskey is situated at the southeast corner of Little Traverse Bay. In westerly winds, the lake steamers had difficulty offloading summer visitors at Petoskey, prompting Congress to pass an act on August 17, 1895, authorizing construction of breakwaters to protect the landing pier. One breakwater, connected to shore, was built west of the landing pier, and a second detached breakwater was built to the north.

Work on the breakwaters commenced in 1896, and in 1899, a metal post with a lamp house at its base was placed fourteen feet from the outer end of the western breakwater. Two lantern lights, a red one above a white one, were exhibited from the post starting on July 1, 1899. The beacon light was damaged by the schooner Willia Loutit on July 11, 1900, but repairs, paid for by the schooner’s owners, were soon made.

In 1903, structural steel and cast-iron metalwork were ordered to enclose the pier’s metal post, but the work was evidently not carried out until 1912. The resulting thirty-four-foot-tall lighthouse resembled an inverted funnel and consisted of a pyramidal base, a vertical mid-section, and an ornate lantern room. This funnel-like style of lighthouse was also deployed on piers at five other Lake Michigan cities: Waukegan, Illinois and at Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

…During a severe storm in December 1924, the lighthouse was washed from the breakwater and destroyed. A newspaper account noted that the “self-lighting lighthouse” had been discontinued for the season on December 8, just six days before it was swept off the breakwater. A temporary light was displayed from an unpainted post until 1930, when a concrete foundation was constructed on the breakwater, and a new light was displayed from a thirty-foot, skeletal, steel tower, painted red.

Read on for more information & photos and head over to lighthousefriends.com for many more Michigan lighthouse features.

…and of course Michigan in Pictures has lots more Michigan lights too!

Ross’s Goose

December 17, 2014

Ross's Goose

Ross’s Goose, photo by jsommer2

A few weeks ago there was a bit of a question as to the duckishness of a sleeping duck I posted, so I spent a lot of time looking at ducks & duck-like birds. One of them showed up in the photo group so without further delay…

The All About Birds entry for Ross’s Goose (Chen rossii) says:

A tiny white goose with black wingtips, the Ross’s Goose is like a miniature version of the more abundant Snow Goose. It breeds in the central Arctic and winters primarily in central California, but it is becoming more frequent farther east.

Prior to the 1950s the Ross’s Goose was confined to well-defined breeding and wintering areas, with few seen as strays. Since that time the species has been expanding eastward, both on the breeding and wintering grounds. The change in breeding distribution has resulted in more contact and subsequent hybridization with the Snow Goose.

The female Ross’s Goose does all of the incubation of the eggs. The male stays nearby and guards her the whole time. The female covers the eggs with down when she leaves the nest. The down keeps the eggs warm while she is away and may help hide them from predators.

More including photos and identification tips at All About Birds.

Check jsommer’s photo out background big and view the slideshow for more photos including a shot of this goose with some much bigger Canadian geese!

Many more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures!

Elk Rapids Harbor Sunset

December 16, 2014

Harbor Sunset

Harbor Sunset, photo by Heather Higham

View this gorgeous shot of the Elk Rapids harbor at sunset bigger and see more in Heather’s Sunsets slideshow and if you’re interested in purchasing this (or other pics) click to Snap Happy Gal Photography’s Sunrises & Sunsets.

More sunsets on Michigan in Pictures.

Christmas Day Snowfall

“Winter Blues” Rural Michigan Countryside, photo by John McCormick

Editor’s Note: I inadvertently re-blogged a barn photo by John that I posted last year. This one’s a beauty too though!!

After a promising start, the Great Lakes snow machine has shut down leaving us to wonder if a white Christmas is on the horizon. mLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa seeks to answer that as he looks at three storms headed our way:

The first storm is mostly a rain maker for most of Michigan. As the colder air moves in this Tuesday and Wednesday, some accumulating snow will occur in the U.P. and far northern Lower Michigan. It looks like points north of Gaylord, and into the U.P. will pick up a few inches of snow… Storm number two will be a stronger, moisture laden storm. Right now and for several days in the past, the track has been projected to be to our south.

…The third storm I can see is still quite uncertain since it is about 10 days out into the future. Both of the most widely accepted weather computer models show a storm system dropping southeast out of Canada toward Christmas. This storm could bring a swath of light snow across Michigan around Christmas Day. There is still a lot of uncertainty on the exact track and amount of moisture. Definitely watch this storm with me, as it looks like it is Lower Michigan’s only chance of a white Christmas.

Here’s hoping!

John took this photo in Montcalm County last year on Christmas Day after an 8″ snowfall. View it bigger on Flickr, see more in his Winter slideshow and definitely join 30,000 other fans by tuning into Michigan Nut Photography – it’s one of the best follows on Facebook!

More snow on Michigan in Pictures.

The Golden Hour on the Rouge

The Golden Hour on the Rouge, photo by pkHyperFocal

The Rouge River Gateway Project relates that the Potawatami referred to the river as Minosa Goink which means “Singeing Skin River” – the place where game animals were dressed. The history continues (with my links to other fun stuff):

The French first settled on the banks of the Rouge River in the 1780s. They named the river “Rouge”, or red. Settlers would claim a few hundred feet of river frontage and extend their farms deep into the forest. Remnants of these “ribbon farms” still exist today in land ownership patterns along the river. Europeans continued to immigrate into the region to take advantage of its resources. They used the reddish clay for brick, mined the area’s salt deposits, and built farming communities along the riverbanks. The native prairie oak savannah and hardwood forests were cleared to make room for agriculture and industry.

Rapid growth and industrial development characterized the late nineteenth century. Henry Ford purchased extensive land holdings along the river. He built a factory in Dearborn to manufacture farm tractors, but kept a good portion of his land in agricultural production, partially for testing equipment. In 1914, he started construction of a permanent residence on the banks of the Rouge River.

A defining moment in the history of the river transpired with the construction of the Ford Rouge Plant during World War I. The development of the plant was motivated by Henry Ford’s desire to supply submarine chasers to the US military. The Ford Rouge Manufacturing Complex grew into a massive self –contained industrial complex that daily employed over ninety thousand men in the early 20th century. Raw materials including coke, iron ore, and rubber were brought in and transformed into cars in less than thirty hours, a process that set a new global standard for industry. The Rouge Manufacturing Complex became the largest manufacturing site in the world.

In his book Burning Rivers, Allen Park native John Hartig relates how heavy manufacturing and population growth seriously impacted the river to the point where the river became one of the most polluted waterways in the nation, catching fire in 1969 shortly after the famous Lake Erie/Cuyahoga River fire.

In 1986, in a Sunday feature on a new organization seeking to restore the Rouge, the Detroit Free Press called it the “sewer for a metropolis, discharge drain for industry, dumping ground for junk and garbage”. They went on to say that “the Rouge River has become so polluted that a cleanup seems unthinkable.”

While the Rouge is certainly far from restored, the organization the Freep was talking about, Friends of the Rouge, has been dedicated along with other public and private efforts to the preservation & restoration of the river. I encourage you to check them out for more information and to learn about their good work on the behalf of the river. Lots more at the Rouge River Project and Wayne County’s Rouge Project.

View pkHyperFocal’s photo big as a boat and see more in their Man Made slideshow.

More industry on Michigan in Pictures.

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