Cherry Orchard ... spring snow

Cherry Orchard … spring snow, photo by Ken Scott

The National Weather Service noted that the high temperature yesterday at the Otsego County Airport in Gaylord only reached 35 degrees – a new record for the coldest high temperature for the date that crushed the previous record of 44 degrees from 2003. It was also the coldest high temperature ever recorded in the month of May for Gaylord. They notched a record snowfall of 2 inches as well, beating the old record of 1 inch from 1971.

Temperatures dipped into the 20s across the state last night. Although the word isn’t in yet about the effect those temps have had, an mLive article about the apple crop on Fruit Ridge explains:

As fruit trees begin to develop and blossom each spring, their ability to withstand cold temperatures is greatly reduced. As bloom nears, temperatures in the upper 20-degree can cause considerable damage to early blooming crop varieties.

Currently on the area’s Fruit Ridge — a band of ideal growing land northwest of Grand Rapids — several different varieties of apples are in bloom, said Armock. Also, sweet cherries are nearly past bloom in some areas, he said. Tart cherries are in the flowering stage of bloom, as well as some varieties of strawberries and blueberries.

In fact, across the state, growers have been making preparations for “potentially the largest crop of apples and cherries that we’ve ever seen,” said Armock, who estimated the 2013 crop could yield between 30 and 34 million bushels of apples this year, from Traverse City down to the state line.

Read on for more, and here’s hoping their efforts at bringing in helicopters last night paid off. After the near total destruction of the apple, tart cherry and other crops last year, it would be a hard blow to stand.

View Ken’s photo on black and see more in his massive Leelanau slideshow.


Pumpkin Army

October 25, 2012

pumpkins 3

pumpkins 3, photo by northernlightphotograph

Over on Absolute Michigan our PumpkinPalooza can tell you everything you want to know about pumpkins including some facts from our friends at Taste the Local Difference:

Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbita family, which includes squash, watermelons, and cucumbers. Their origins are believed to have come from Central America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico that date back over 7000 years ago.

Pumpkins were an important food source for Native Americans. They regularly made pumpkin porridge, stew and pumpkin jerky and they made a broth that contained squash blossoms. They also dried pumpkin shells, and then weaved them into mats, which they used for trading. Early pilgrims quickly added pumpkins to their menus and also sent seeds back to Europe. The earliest version of pumpkin pie was made by baking a hollowed out pumpkin that was filled with milk, honey and spices.

Pumpkins are high in potassium, Vitamin A and fiber. They are also a good source of beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, copper and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

Read on for more including recipes and a comprehensive listing of Michigan pumpkin patches.

Check this out bigger and in Tim’s big old Petoskey images slideshow.

Lots more pumpkins on Michigan in Pictures.

Biggest apple in Michigan. Wolf River apple. 1996

Biggest apple in Michigan. Wolf River apple. 1996, photo by vostok71

Orange Pippin says that the Wolf River apple (first discovered along the river of the same name in Wisconsin) is:

A well-known American cooking apple, notable for its large size. Wolf River is mainly used for cooking, and it keeps its shape when cooked. It is fairly sweet and doesn’t need much sugar added.

Wolf River has a very high natural resistance to the disease apple scab, and good resistance to fireblight and mildew. It is also very cold hardy, making it a good choice for growing in the northern part of North America.

The Freep notes that the extreme damage to Michigan’s 2012 apple crop has created problems for those in the apple business:

Prices will vary, but consumers can expect fresh apple prices to be about 30% to 50% higher than last year, according to Bob Tritten, Michigan State University Extension Service fruit educator for southeast Michigan. Cider prices are up about 50%.

Last year’s Michigan apple crop was about 26 million bushels, said Dawn Drake, manager of the Michigan Processing Apple Growers Division, a branch of the Michigan Farm Bureau. But early warm weather forced the apple blossoms out early, and that was followed by several days of freezes, which killed most of the tender young blooms.

“This year they’ll be lucky to have 2 (million bushels),” Drake said.

Sergei didn’t think much of the taste when he tried it at the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, but I read that the Wolf River doesn’t reach full flavor unless it gets hit by frost. Check it out bigger and see more in his Fall slideshow.

Decoration Day

May 28, 2012

Decoration Day, Kingsley, Michigan, 1909, courtesy Kingsley Branch Library

Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays…. The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms.
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Wikipedia’s Memorial Day entry notes that the holiday may have begun as Decoration Day on May 1, 1865 when freed slaves joined with clergy, teachers and citizens of Charleston SC to form a gathering 10,000 strong to memorialize 257 Union prisoners of war and celebrate the “Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.” In 1866, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Gen. John Murray, proclamation for “Decoration Day” to be observed nationwide. May 30th was selected specifically because it was not the anniversary of a battle.

Michiganders can feel a measure of pride that Michigan in 1871 was the first to make “Decoration Day” an official state holiday. Read more about in Michigan’s First Memorial Day from Michigan History Magazine on Absolute Michigan.

The photo shows the parade held in Kingsley on Decoration Day in 1909. In foreground is a marching band. The largest building in the background is Brownson Sanitarium. It’s from the collections of the Kingsley Branch Library. Here’s another photo of the “Kingsley Cornet Band.”

Next Saturday you might want to join the library for the first annual Kingsley Adams Fly Festival with fly-tying lessons, music & food with special guest R. W. “Bob” Summers, someone who I once had the good fortune to interview.


May 17, 2012

Frosty Blossom, photo by Gerry Buckel

“This is the worst that Michigan has experienced in the past 50 years at least. I don’t know how far you’d have to go back to find something similar.”
~Michigan Farm Bureau commodity specialist Ken Nye

Over on Absolute Michigan we have a report on the cataclysmic losses Michigan fruit farmers are facing in 2012.

Check this photo out bigger and see more of Gerry’s work at Your Hometown Photography.

Beautiful Blossoms 5320-11
Beautiful Blossoms 5320-11, photo by StacyN – MichiganMoments

Cherry blossoms are out a full month early in Michigan, and our “Summer in March” appears to have claimed much of Northern Michigan’s 2012 tart cherry crop. Interlochen Public Radio reports:

A spring freeze last week across Northwest Michigan killed more than half of the buds on tart cherry trees. Industry officials estimate the loss for the region in the 50 to 70 percent range. Trees can produce a decent crop if a third of the buds survive. But several factors, including another freeze this spring, could still damage more of the crop before harvest.

Leelanau County saw the heaviest loss, estimated at as high as 90 percent of sour cherries killed in many orchards. But other fruit trees, like apple and sweet cherries, are in decent shape.

Antrim & Benzie county crops appear to be in better shape, but with a hard frost out there this morning, it’s probably not over yet.

Stacy took this shot last May just south of Traverse City. Check this out bigger and in her Spring slideshow.

Michigan Blueberries

Michigan Blueberries, photo by Mi Bob.

Taste the Local Difference has a nice feature on Michigan Blueberries that says (in part):

Native Americans gathered blueberries for centuries, and much folklore developed around them, as they were considered a highly valuable food source. The elders of a tribe would tell the story of how the Great Spirit sent “star berries” to relieve the children’s hunger during a famine. The star refers to the perfect five-pointed star on the blossom end of each berry. Blueberry juice and tea were used as medicines, and as an excellent dye for baskets and clothing. They were also used in soups and stews and in a beef jerky that was eaten year round.

The Wampanoag Indians taught the early colonists how to gather blueberries, dry them, and preserve them, which helped people survive the long winters. It is believed that dried, crushed blueberries were used in a simple corn pudding that was served at the first Thanksgiving feast.

A beverage made with blueberries was an important staple for Civil War soldiers.

Much more including health benefits from Taste the Local Difference. Also see Eat Local: Michigan Blueberries on Absolute Michigan and find more blueberry info from Real Time Farms.

See this on black and in his slideshow.


More yummy Michigan Food on Michigan in Pictures!

The Chain of Lakes

June 6, 2011

Torch River

Torch River by southarmstudio

Wikipedia relates that the Elk River Chain of Lakes is a seventy-five mile-long series of fourteen lakes and interconnecting rivers in Antrim, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse and Kalkaska Counties forming a single waterway.

The chain of lakes system begins with the upper stage of the Intermediate River, which rises in hill country at 45°00′20″N 85°04′45″W in the northwest corner of Chestonia Township in central Antrim County. From here, the waterway traverses a number of small lakes flowing north, then making a sharp turn near the village of Ellsworth, flows south through a narrow valley, paralleling the tracks of the Pere Marquette Railroad, until emptying into Intermediate Lake. The outlet of Intermediate Lake converges with the Cedar River in the village of Bellaire, gaining considerable volume. Now a river of substantial flow, it continues south into 1,700-acre (6.9 km2) Lake Bellaire. Leaving the lake, the stream becomes the Grass River, winding for some two miles (3 km) through the scenic Grass River Natural Area before emptying into Clam Lake. Clam Lake in turn empties directly into Torch Lake. At over 18,000 acres (73 km2) in size, Torch Lake is the largest body of water in the system.

The waterway, now clarified after traversing the immense depths of the lake, continues south through the Torch River, joins with the Rapid River, a major tributary, and empties into Lake Skegemog, a 2,500-acre (10 km2) lake that is studded with large stump fields, the result of the flooding of timberlands when the lake level was raised several feet by the construction of the dam at the terminus of the system. Lake Skegemog, which is the meeting point of Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Antrim counties, is conjoined at its western end to 7,700-acre (31 km2) Elk Lake, the second-largest and final lake in the system. The outflow of Elk Lake, the Elk River, flows a short distance to a power dam in the town of Elk Rapids, then out into the east arm of the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan at 44°54′06″N 85°24′49″WCoordinates: 44°54′06″N 85°24′49″W. For most of its length, “The Chain” is navigable by small boat, broken up only by a dam in Bellaire. Larger boats are able to navigate between Elk Rapids and Torch Lake.

Click here to follow the Chain of Lakes on Google Earth. I was only able to get from Grand Traverse Bay up to Intermediate Lake – if anyone knows of a better map, let me know. Here is (roughly) where Ron took the photo above Torch Lake looking up the Torch River to Lake Bellaire and here is where Google Maps says the Chain starts. Don from Up North Memories has an old postcard with some of the lakes labeled.

Ron took these in late April of 2010 – it’s a must see slideshow with some great early moring views of  mist on the lakes and even some cherry blossoms.

Last of the Trillium at Mildred Harris Sanctuary

Last of the Trillium at Mildred Harris Sanctuary, photo by bill.d.

“Spring – an experience in immortality.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

May 2010 (like most of April) has been a little strange – we have everything from daffodils to morels to cherry blossoms to lilacs here in northern Michigan. Those are usually separated by a month or more, but if we get good rain and sun through the summer, this year could be a harvest for the ages.

Our Michigan Calendar of Events for May will whet your appetite for what Michigan has to offer in May. You can still catch the Tulip Time Festival in Holland this weekend along with Jackson Storyfest and the Mushroom Festival in Mesick. If you miss that one, the Boyne City Morel Mushroom Festival is May 13 – 16.

May is a great time to get into woods or your garden to see what’s what as it blossoms and blooms and flowers. It’s also when they celebrate the Kirtland Warbler Wildlife Festival in Roscommon (May 15) and the Annual Flower Fair & Home & Garden Marketplace in Lake Orion (May 22-23).

For music lovers there’s the Downtown Hoedown in Detroit (May 14-16) and one of the world’s biggest electronic music festivals, Movement 2010 – Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival (May 29-30). You can enjoy music and the arts at the East Lansing Art Festival (May 22-23) and at Wheatland’s Traditional Arts Weekend in Remus (May 28-30) and

From the Ann Arbor Book Festival (May 14-16) to the World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth (May 21-22) to the Alma Highland Festival and Games (May 29-30) to the Petoskey Stone Festival in Eastport (May 29), May will keep you running so much that you’ll be ready for summer and the Annual Mackinaw Memorial Bridge Race on the 29th!

According to West Michigan Tourist Association, the Mildred Harris Sanctuary is a 40-acre sanctuary northwest of Kalamazoo that has a mature Beech-Maple forest that in all likelihood has never been logged. The understory and groundcover are diverse with spring ephemerals like this trillium and shrubs.

You have to check this photo out background bigtastic and also see Bill’s Mildred Harris Sanctuary slideshow.

Here’s more spring wallpaper from Michigan in Pictures!


Dillys, photo by docksidepress.

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”
~Mark Twain

Every month Absolute Michigan posts a Michigan Event Calendar, and the month of April is no exception. In addition to Tax Day (boo!), Earth Day (yay!), Opening Day (Monday!) and April Fool’s Day (yesterday!), April has a bunch of great events.

Some highlights are the National Trout Festival in Kalkaska, Vermontville’s venerable 69th Maple Syrup Festival (and the whippersnapper 51st Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival), the Blossomtime Festival in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Bellaire’s Great Lakes Art Fair the Detroit Music Awards, the Green Street Fair in Plymouth and the Michigan International Wine Expo in Novi.

April is also Michigan Wine Month and you’ll want to stay tuned to Absolute Michigan for all kinds of Michigan wine-related giveaways & features!

Be sure to check this out bigger and in Matt’s April ’09 Grand Rapids set (slideshow).


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