March 25, 2014
Thing number 757 about Michigan that I think is cool: you can ride bikes on lakes.
…AHH Spring, when a young man’s fancy turns towards . . . riding around the lake ON the lake! Still very much frozen solid in western Michigan! Temps tonight well below freezing, a few inches of snow predicted, and people are riding on the ice on fat bikes! Have a good “spring” week Facebook and Flickr friends!
March 24, 2014
March 24 is Harry Houdini’s birthday and a great time to share the story of Harry Houdini and Jack Rabbit Beans via Waymarking.com:
We showed up at 9:00 am, after a two hour drive, to take a little tour of a few neon gems in Saginaw, MI. Our tour guide was local historian Thomas Mudd. This was the first one on our tour. After our tour, we spent the day looking around until it was time to go back for the night shots. According to Mr. Mudd, you can thank Harry Houdini for this sign.
Houdini performed the “Rabbit-in-the-hat-act” at the Jeffers-Strand Theater in Saginaw in the late 1920′s. He needed a volunteer and whoever helped him would get to keep the rabbit. A young girl named Phyllis R. Symons volunteered, and when the act was over she waited for her rabbit.
Houdini tried to get her off stage and told her he would give her something else afterwards. But she would not leave the stage until she received the rabbit. Houdini eventually gave her the rabbit, which in 1937 would become the symbol of Jack Rabbit Beans. Phyllis’ father, Albert L. Reidel, co-founded Port Huron-based Producers Elevator Co. It later became Michigan Bean Co., the maker of Jack Rabbit Beans.
Sadly, Phyllis could not keep the rabbit in town, so it got sent to her grandparents in Minden City. They too were unable to put up with the rambunctious bunny, and one day Phyllis and her parents paid a visit and found the rabbit on the menu. Phyllis was in shock that they could eat the rabbit. Albert Reidel thought it was funny.
March 19, 2014
August 19, 2013
Michigan Gardener is a fantastic site that can give you all kinds of help with what to put in your garden and how to make it grow. They have a nice article about sunflowers featuring Bob Koenders, owner of the Backyard Bouquet Farm. It begins:
According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, in 1997 there were 32 farms growing sunflowers on 1,522 acres, and by 2002 there were 91 farms with 2,275 acres. Most of the fields of open sunflowers are oil seed type, grown for oil or seed (for birds or humans). Their heads were bred to hang down, making it more difficult for birds to eat the seeds and rain to ruin the harvest.
…According to the National Sunflower Association, the wild sunflower is native to North America, but commercialization of the plant was done by Russia. It was only somewhat recently that the sunflower plant “returned” to America. Native Americans first developed the wild sunflower into a single-headed plant with a variety of seed colors including black, red, white, and striped black and white. Some archeologists suggest that sunflowers may have been domesticated before corn. The Native Americans used the sunflower seed for grinding into flour, trail snacks, purple dyes, body painting, ceremonial, and medicinal uses. Sunflower oil was used for making bread, as well as on skin and hair. The dried stalks were even used for building materials.
They add some fun facts about sunflowers:
- Sunflower’s scientific name is Helianthus; Helios meaning “sun” and anthos meaning “flower.”
- Sunflower heads track the sun’s movement; this phenomenon is called heliotropism.
- Sunflowers can grow up to 12 inches a day during the peak of the growing season. They are more photosynthetic than many other plants and better utilize the sun for growth.
- Sunflower stems were used as filling for life jackets.
- Sunflower leaves are cupped to channel the water down the stem.
- Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of the sunflower head are individual ray flowers which do not develop into seed.
- The world record sunflower with the most heads (837) was grown in Michigan in 2001.
June 11, 2013
Whereas Pictured Rocks Day is this Saturday and whereas this blog loves the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, I’ve decided to dedicate the week to posting about one of my favorite areas of Michigan. ;)
Wikipedia explains that the Grand Island National Recreation Area is part of the Hiawatha National Forest. The 13,500-acre island is about 8 miles long and is located about a mile off the Lake Superior shore at Munising. Congress made the island a National Recreation Area in 1990 after the U.S. Forest Service purchased it from the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co.
Grand Island’s geology is an extension of the sandstone strata of the adjacent Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Island sandstone cliffs as tall as 300 feet (91 m) in height plunge down into the lake. A 23-mile (37 km) perimeter trail skirts much of the island’s shoreline.
Native Americans quickly found the fisheries around Grand Island to be a resource for seasonal and year-round living. Artifacts from as early as 3300 years before the present (1300 BCE) have been found.
Grand Island National Recreation Area is served during summer months by a tourist ferry and island tour bus. The ferry ride, which is less than 1 mile (1.6 km) long, shuttles between a dock on M-28, northwest of Munising, and Grand Island’s Williams Landing. Ticket fees and an admission fee to the island are charged. During the summer months, the ferry makes several trips to the island each day.
Also see the Forest Service site for Grand Island, a Google Map of the island and the Grand Island Ferry Service which has all kinds of recreation information including the fact that the island has bike-friendly roads & trails! Here’s a video of that gives a taste of biking there, and definitely check out frequent michpics photographer Nina Asunto’s blogs about Grand Island for an in-depth look at this island.
April 10, 2013
Crocuses have to be one of my favorite flowers. In addition to being beautiful, they are also one of the leading harbingers of spring in Michigan!
March 18, 2013
January 26, 2013
Today is Michigan’s 176th birthday. For the 175th birthday last year we compiled some fun facts that you can check out. Here’s hoping that you get a chance to get out and celebrate what Michigan has to offer this weekend!
If you’re staying warm inside, consider reading about Michigan’s statehood and associated documents at Seeking Michigan.
January 18, 2013
The Great Lakes Echo reports that:
The map, known as the Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis, is a composite of data taken from NOAA satellites orbiting the earth’s poles and radar scans of the lakes by the National Ice Center. The resulting image shows surface water temperature and ice coverage, important data for region scientists, fishermen and boaters. The map’s data is updated daily.
“Previously, the lowest ice coverage year was 2002,” CoastWatch manager George Leshkevich said. “2012 came very close to 2002, and this year is looking very similar to last year.”
Lack of ice cover leads to increased water evaporation, a serious concern in light of already-low lake levels.
You can read more about last year’s ice cover and impacts on Absolute Michigan.
More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!