April 17, 2013
April is the time when we start to hear some of Michigan’s 13 species of frogs and toads making noise. While the green frogs pictured above were confusing their Frogbook friends in July, most of the distinctive spring frog calls are males advertising that they’re looking for love. The Michigan frog & toad page from the DNR explains:
As temperatures rise in early spring, frogs begin to move to their breeding sites. The actual timing depends on the warmth of the air and water, and the humidity, but there is noticeable order in which the various Michigan species become active and begin voicing their breeding calls. For example, in southern Michigan the raspy voice of the Western Chorus Frog is usually heard first, often in late March, followed quickly by the highpitched peeps of the Spring Peeper. In a few days the woodland swamps are filled with the quack like calls of the male Wood Frogs, while in another week in open marshes the low snores of the Leopard Frog are barely heard over the squeaky songs of newly arrived Red Winged Blackbirds.
The first warm rains of April bring American Toads out of the woods to the breeding ponds, where the air is soon filled with their melodious trills. Several of our frogs postpone their breeding activities until later in spring, when air and water temperatures are higher. Included in this late group are the Gray Tree Frog, Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, and Green and Bull Frogs.
Frogs are far more often heard than seen. Most frog sounds are the advertisement calls of the males, intended to attract the females for breeding. Frog voices may carry for long distances, especially the higher pitched calls of the smaller species. The males increase the loudness of their calls by ballooning out their throats or special sacs at the sides of their throats, creating a kind of resonating chamber. Only males produce advertisement calls, but both sexes may give shorter warning calls or screams when danger threatens. Males can also produce distinct calls that warn away rival males that approach their calling or breeding sites.
Female frogs and toads may lay hundreds or even thousands of eggs. These are usually attached to underwater vegetation or left floating in large masses at the surface. During egg laying, the male clings to the female’s back and fertilizes the eggs. The small, dark eggs are protected by layers of a jelly like substance. They may be in rounded masses (as in Wood and Leopard Frogs), loose clusters (Gray Tree Frogs), long necklace like strings (Toads), thin surface films (Bull and Green Frogs), or deposited singly or in small clusters (Spring Peeper). Many frog eggs are eaten by predators such as fish, turtles, and aquatic insects, or are lost to drying or destruction by micro organisms.
April 1, 2013
February 27, 2013
Absolute Michigan has been known to hold Weird Wednesdays on the last Wednesday of every month. Our Michigan Sea Monsters post featured two denizens of the deep courtesy Linda Godfrey’s Weird Michigan, the Sea Monster of the Straits and the Lake Leelanau Monster:
The story of an early 20th Century sea monster sighting was sent to The Shadowlands Web site by a reader whose great-grandfather was the witness. The boy was fishing for perch one day in 1910 in the shallows of Lake Leelanau in Leelanau County. The lake had been dammed in the late 1800′s to provide water power for the local mill and to enable logging. The dam also flooded much surrounding area, turning it into swamps and bogs punctuated by dead, standing trees.
On that particular day, the young great-grandfather, William Gauthier, rowed out to a new fishing spot near the town of Lake Leelanau. Looking for good perch habitat, he paddled up close to a tree that he estimated to stand about five feet tall above the water, with a six-inch trunk. He was in about seven feet of water, and after deciding this would be a good place to stop and cast a line, began tying the boat to the tree.
That’s when young William discovered the tree had eyes. They were staring him dead in the face at about four feet above water level. The boy and serpent exchanged a long gaze, then the creature went, “Bloop” into the water. Gauthier said later that the creature’s head passed one end of the boat while the tail was still at the other end, though it was undulating very quickly through the water. The writer noted that Gauthier always admitted to having been thoroughly frightened by his encounter, and that the event caused him to stay off that lake for many years.
The writer added that his great-grandfather came from a prominent area family and was very well-educated, and that he knew others who would admit privately but not publicly that they, too, had seen the creature. No sightings have been reported in recent times, but who knows how many people have believed they were passing by a rotting old cedar when in fact they had just grazed the Leelanau lake monster?
More weird Michigan on Michigan in Pictures!
September 7, 2012
Here’s the latest in the always popular Michigan in Pictures Duckie Series.
Seriously, untouched—-exactly how it grew and the markings are natural…just a little saturation of color and edging but this is really Gods duck.
December 15, 2011
The Wikipedia page for Chesaning, Michigan says that:
The first mention of Chesaning in the written pages of history is the Saginaw Treaty, signed in 1819. This treaty was between members of the Saginaw Tribe, Chippewa Indians and the government of the United States. They established a number of reservations, including 10,000 acres (40 km2) along the banks of the Shiawassee River known as “Big Rock Reserve.” Chesaning is a Chippewa word meaning “big rock place”. The treaty continued in effect until 1837 when a second treaty led to the reserve being surveyed and offered for sale in 1841. The first land was sold at $5 per acre to brothers Wellington and George W. Chapman, and Rufus Mason. After making their land purchase, they traveled back to Massachusetts and moved their families to their new wilderness home by late summer of 1842.
During the months they had been away from their land, several settlers had moved into the area, building a dam and a sawmill. A few years later, a grinding mill was added. The new settlers named their community “Northampton” in honor of the home they had left in Massachusetts. In 1853, the legislature changed the name to Chesaning, the traditional name for the village and township. The first township elections, held in 1847, are considered to be the official birthday of the community.
They explain that The rock was one of the features of the area since Chesaning was settled. Located in woods to the east of Chesaning, the large rock inspired the name of the area. See it bigger at Seeking Michigan and check out more funny photos on Michigan in Pictures.
December 10, 2011
“Sometimes you got to put your foot down, or your mitten, so to speak.”
~Dave Lorenz, Travel Michigan
Last week the state of Wisconsin touched off a firestorm – snowstorm? – by suggesting that they might in fact qualify as a mitten state, prompting Pure Michigan to ask Who is the Real Mitten State? that for some reason we are only winning 83% – 17%. mLive has a look at the controversy that includes a the Badger’s case for Mittenhood (which appears to be no more than Mitten envy) and a really cool Vernor’s commercial with former Red Wing Petr Klima demonstrating “where it is on the hand.”
My good friend Jacob Wheeler has an excellent rundown on the Mitten Wars in which he notes that:
…the Badger state did have reason to be peeved at the Wolverine state. In 1835-36, Michigan and Ohio “fought” the Toledo War, a completely bloodless boundary dispute that resulted in Ohio getting the narrow stretch of land where the Mud Hens now play baseball, and Michigan getting three-quarters of what’s now the Upper Peninsula from Congress (it was previously considered “Indian territory”). Michigan’s gain was Wisconsin’s loss, as the western part of the U.P. would yield untold mineral wealth — and the historic Calumet Theater — over the next century and a half.
Wisconsin became a U.S. state in 1848, and contented itself with the cheese curd as its gourmet food favorite, and not the meat and potato-filled pasty, which the Finnish immigrants to the U.P. carried with them into the mines. Wisconsin’s bitterness simmered, for 175 years, like Golum clutching the ring deep in the caves of Middle Earth.
That angst finally boiled over this week when the Travel Wisconsin website posted a knit mitten shaped like the state of Wisconsin on its website as part of a winter tourism promotion campaign. Michiganders who identify themselves in the world beyond with an open-faced right hand, took the news as a humorous, yet serious, challenge.
“People in Michigan, we do identify ourselves so closely with the Mitten State,” Alex Beaton of the Awesome Mitten website told the Washington Post (seriously, the Washington Post?). We’re America’s high five!”
Jacob adds that Wisconsin PR pro Tom Lyons suggested that “Wisconsin is the left mitten. Michigan is the right mitten. Even children know that one mitten doesn’t cut it when it comes to Midwestern winters.” Lorenz (who seems to be on fire right now) shot back “We’re not going to take this lying down. Wisconsin already took the Rose Bowl from us this year. They’re not going to take the Mitten State status from us.” Amen. Definitely read on at the Sun for more including a Michigan vs. Wisconsin matchup.
I took this photo of the 4-story map showing Michigan’s topography at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing several years ago. I was never able to find out who designed it, but you can see another view and check out the online tour of the museum. View this photo background big and see more from the museum in the Michigan Historical Center group slideshow.
July 20, 2011
This squirrel isn’t the only one broasting in Michigan’s hottest run of weather since 1995. You know I couldn’t resist Motown’s own Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Beat the Heatwave and stay cool with Absolute Michigan!
And don’t worry, while you might find a chipmunk or two, there’s no dead squirrels allowed!
July 18, 2011
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, it turns out that you haven’t.
Mud Day is an annual affair held in early July at Hines Park in Westland. The recipe for fun is simple – 200 tons of dirt, 20,000 gallons of water and a bunch of people who care more about fun than fastidiousness.
Here’s a nice news report on Mud Day.
In which the author explains how Rothbury & Electric Forest led to a giveaway of 72 tickets…
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a commercial, but you should know that Electric Forest Festival is a sponsor of Absolute Michigan. Plus it’s kind of long. Sorry. ;)
Over Fourth of July weekend in 2009, I was part of the Absolute Michigan crew that went to the Rothbury Music Festival (click for our coverage). Two others on the crew were Richard Taber (who took this photo) and Ryan Thompson (who’s in it). I still don’t know how they thought of it, but it’s a classic!
While Rothbury has yet to return, a new festival by the same producers called Electric Forest starts this Thursday in Rothbury and runs June 30 – July 4.
I really enjoyed Rothbury and the incredible art and entertainment that went far beyond my previous experience of music festivals, so I was really excited when Electric Forest agreed to sponsor Absolute Michigan. Part of their sponsorship was a pair of tickets that we gave away at the end of May to Mark L of Detroit. The excitement that folks felt about a chance to win tickets made me think that there might be a way to do more giveaways, and after a few weeks of calling around, we’ve got 25 pairs of tickets (and counting) that we are giving away or have given away in our “Festival Summer” promotion.
These are great events of all kinds like the incredible Maker Faire Detroit at the Henry Ford, the delicious Taste of Kalamazoo and the venerable Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival in Marquette, and I felt pretty good about that. Then one of the event organizers asked me how many pairs I wanted, and I thought “Why not give away some more?” I asked for four and now eleven festivals & events have given a second pair of tickets that we’re going to give away on July 4th, hopefully to a person or persons as crazy & fun as Ryan and Richard.
Check it out background bigtastic and in Richard’s Rothbury Festival 2009 – Greatest Hits slideshow. Many more shots in his Rothbury collection and definitely see the slideshow on the Rothbury website.
More from Ryan at ryanthompson.org.