Over the last year, our motivation here at Northern Swag has been similar to that of the 46.9 million people who couldn’t get themselves to the polling locations last Tuesday (i.e., pathetic). We were looking for a source of motivation…for a concept we could really get behind. The winning proposal was a simple one: a monthly Swag Meetup.
We would choose a location and set off with the intent to capture a variety of perspectives and try some new tricks. To help get our creative juices flowing, we agreed to blindly choose a “theme card” at each meet-up (e.g., “rule-of-thirds”, “movement”, “light”, etc.). To make it interesting, we even threw in a dreaded Old Maid #selfie card and quickly let out a sigh of relief when our contributor Brian Beckwith drew this card first (#sucker).
Below are some of the captures from our first meetup at the ghost forest in the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Our next event will be December 4th (the first Sunday of the month). Stay tuned for more details. We encourage anyone to join. After all, the more perspectives the better (and the lower the risk I will draw Old Maid).
For those who follow this blog, it’s apparent…I am a Leelanau County girl. I require serious navigational help to get most anywhere beyond county lines in Northern Michigan. But I’ve been introduced to a new spot in Antrim County, Grass River Natural Area. This little gem, outside of Bellaire, is well worth expanding one’s boundaries, especially this time of year!
I first visited Grass River late last October, when the area was covered in a golden carpet of downed Tamarack needles. There was a magical feel to it, more intimate than most of the wide-open dunescapes I frequent in Leelanau County. The 1,443 acres of protected land offer sedges, bogs, boardwalks, and opportunity aplenty to encounter nature up close and personal. Below is one of the many viewing platforms you’ll find.
Since going last fall, I have returned twice. In the spring, I witnessed all kinds of green wonders emerging to showcase the results of 40 years plus of preservation. And this last weekend, our crew visited just in time to witness the orange and gold hues of autumn ablaze in the setting sun’s rays. The Sedge Meadow trail is a must see, with several viewing platforms and a chance to take in some of the flora and fauna the area along the section of the Grass River near Clam Lake offers. The loop is less than a mile and offers boardwalks that make for a fun running track for children. If you have more time, add on the Fern and Woodland Trail, for a nice 2.5-mile hike that takes you through both wetlands and uplands.
The next couple weeks will make for prime times to visit Grass River. The fall color there is like nowhere else. Suffice it to say, my Siri will be hearing the request, “Please show me directions to Grass River Natural Area” almost as much as she hears “Hey Siri, please show me pictures of cute baby owls,” from my 9-year-old. With 147 species of birds, I have a lot more to see!
Check in here for a schedule of events and classes offered and plan your hike with the map at the end of this post! Enjoy!
We recently found ourselves discussing with a friend what we should do to commemorate the anniversary of his birth. Head to the bar or a nice restaurant as per usual? Well, spring is meekly poking its head out so why not try and get outside? And bring beer with us to celebrate? Sounds like a great birthday!
We rolled out to the County to hike up to Pyramid Point, unprepared for the slushy, snow-covered trail. Well, except for the beer we had with us. That made it a party. The primary parking lot near the trailhead and the dirt road up to it are still closed for the season. This adds maybe a quarter mile to the hike. But our effort was rewarded with an inspiring view of the ice breaking up out on Lake Michigan underneath clear blue skies. There were even moments it felt like the sun was warming us up from the stinging breeze coming off the lake.
We had an additional bonus for our efforts; the Point to ourselves. This’ll change drastically in the months to come so I recommend getting out now if you have a chance.
Cheers to time spent with friends outside under the blue skies of northern Michigan!
We have had snow here in Northern Michigan since the second half of November. That’s six months of white. Although I have loved this epic winter, I was a little giddy to see touches of blue return to the landscape this past weekend at Sleeping Bear.
What’s that old adage? You don’t realize what you have until it’s hibernating under a giant, impenetrable layer of ice for three months? It seems I had taken this “great” lake for granted. The sound of waves replacing my inner thoughts as I walk along the Lake Michigan shore. The ability to reach down and pick up a smooth rock to rub between my fingers as I take it all in. The way the setting sun’s light reflects clear across the surface of the water right to my toes.
From time to time, it turns out I need those rejuvenating rays to reassuringly reach across the lake and warm me up, literally and figuratively. Welcome, spring.