Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

It’s Day 50, not sure how I got here so fast, but I am here.

“I could never in a hundred summers get tired of this.” – Susan Branch

I am back in school in 19 days, I am under 20 days to a regular schedule, a regular waking time and probably a much earlier going to bedtime, too.

a third summer office – on the deck in full view of the lake, the birds, and the world. Thanks to John at LVPhotoblog for the tip on iPhone photos

Up here at the lake the sunsets much later in the day than at home. We are almost 3 degrees further north and our position relative to the time zone line has a significant impact. Here at the lake, we are in the far western part of the US Eastern Time Zone, it is GMT – 4; and at home we are in the far eastern part of the US Central Time Zone where we are GMT – 5. The east west difference is a little more than 3 degrees longitude.

Today’s sunset will be at 9:08 PM or 21:08 EDT at 298˚ NW by the lake. And, at home it will be 8:14 PM or 20:14 CDT or 296˚ NW. That is a difference of six minutes, adjusting for the time zone change.

Yes, I am aware I went ‘sciencey’ there, but with nineteen days before school begins, I need to start thinking about teaching and making things interesting and relevant for 11–12-year-old. Full disclosure is that I had a science ZOOM call yesterday and we discussed teaching science for almost a full hour. Continue reading Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

Friday morning birding on Saturday

We are up at the lake for the race, the famous canoe race. Canoe race weekend is an important time for us as a family and I have written about this weekend in past years. The canoe race is always the last full weekend of July.

The canoe race is begins in town and ends 120 miles down the Au Sable River in Oscoda, Michigan where the river empties into Lake Huron. For many, the race defines this town, but Grayling is much more.

the view from my perch at the table… I can see the lake and both feeders.. and Saturday morning’s gentle rain

The rivers have been important where trapping along the three rivers – Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon – which begin here in the Michigan Highlands was the first industry when Europeans arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Grayling, the town, was established as a logging town when it was settled in the late nineteenth century. Logging, forestry, and wood products are still key industries in town, but tourism – hunting, fishing, and recreation – is the industry that sustains this little town near the headwaters of the Au Sable River.

When the pandemic began last year, the cottage along the lake was my hideaway. I spent the last two months of the 2019-20 school year teaching remotely from our place on the lake up here. I felt safer away from our densely populated home region. In many ways we were safer here – there are significantly less people in the county and the reported COVID cases were significantly lower here than our suburban county.

And because there are less people wildlife thrives and is more abundant in the absence of people.

During this time by the lake shore, the beginning of the pandemic, change, real lasting deep change, began for me and my family.

We spent more time paying attention to nature and spent more time walking. I walked more last year with my wife and kids than I remember. I also stopped listening to music, podcasts, or audio books when I walked and I started listening to the birds, the trees, and nature around me.

And, I have paid more attention to nature.

For Father’s Day, my wife gave me a couple for bird feeders and shepherd’s double crook to hang the feeders for our lake house. I placed it just off the deck where we can see it when we are sitting in the front room or on the deck. Continue reading Friday morning birding on Saturday

Days of Summer: Week 6 – fluid

It’s Wednesday again, somehow that happens with quite a bit of regularity and without prompting. Wednesday follows Tuesday and precedes Thursday, always.

It’s early in the morning and my coffee has yet to take full effect, but it seems as if the past week has been fluid, but when I look back at the daily Instagram photographs, there were distinct events, moments which mattered.

the White Sox were better than my Astros – the score was 10-1. We got clobbered

The back yard is in full bloom. My wife’s planning and hard work are evident. My role is garden assistant and enjoyer. Nature has cooperated by providing ample sunshine and rain.

The backyard birds continue to visit the feeders. and I continue to refill them. The squirrels and bunnies continue to tease and taunt (mostly the squirrels) Fern and Ivy. Continue reading Days of Summer: Week 6 – fluid

Big Rocks and summer

It’s fortieth day of summer break and there are twenty-eight days or four weeks until summer break is finished for this year and school restarts. It’s been a pleasant time for rest, relaxation, projects, and a bit of renewal.

This fall marks the beginning of my twenty-third year as a teacher. It’ll be the twelfth year of blogging. I’ve written almost 700 posts in that time and there have been a few repeats, today will be a repeat of sorts.

If there is one thing I have learned in my time as a blogger, sometimes it’s good to go back before going forward. Abraham Lincoln once said or wrote or both,

 “The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future.”

I know it’s probably not advisable to spend too much time dwelling on the past, for there is little to gain as the past cannot be changed. We can only learn from our past and endeavor be better and do better. Recently, I read a blog post and responded with reference to a quote attributed to Muhammad Ali,

“……. if you are the same person you were thirty years ago you have wasted thirty years.”

What Ali said is,

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

But I digress.

Big Rocks. This morning I took a purposeful walk at the Morton Arboretum. I was there a couple of days ago, on Friday, to take in the new exhibit Human-Nature. I thought I had a photo of the Big Rock, but I couldn’t find one, so I this morning I hiked to the Big Rock and back retrieving the photo below.

this boulder weighs 12 to 14 tons and hasn’t moved since the glacier deposited it here over twelve thousand years ago

It’s a big rock all right. Geologists believe the rock was deposited by a glacier in the last ice age some 13,000 years ago. Much of the upper Midwest was shaped and formed by the ice age.

But the big rocks I am referring to are the important things in my life. During summer break, I always make more time to focus on renewal than I can during the school year. I can focus on it because there is more time, I am not planning lessons, grading papers, or teaching students. I have the time to do what is important, but when school resumes, as it always does, I slowly fall back into the same pattern of behaviors focusing on what is urgent and pressing instead of my relationships, my health and fitness, and our home. It’s a delicate balance. Continue reading Big Rocks and summer

Days of Summer: Home for Week 5

We’ve been home for the week, and it’s been glorious. The partial drought of late spring has been replaced by more seasonal rain pattern and unseasonable coolness.

We returned home late Wednesday evening wrapping up details at the lake house and driving home while it rained much of the way home, traffic was light, and we made good time on the road.

Day 30 and Thursday was time to catch up on our home. The yard had grown wild and mowed the grass twice once at the highest setting allowed and then lowering the mower one setting and gathered the clippings – two full of grass clippings. I mowed it again yesterday, Day 35, catching the grass and have one bin full of grass clippings for my effort.

It’s that time in summer when nature thrives in the warm sunlight and abundant rainfall. We are blessed.

“And summer isn’t a time. It’s a place as well. Summer is a moving creature and likes to go south for the winter.” ― Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Continue reading Days of Summer: Home for Week 5

Summer Days: Week 4 and Paradise

It’s Day 29 of summer break and it’s July. If July were a color, I think it would be yellow. July is the caution light of summer for me. It’s the reminder that school is closer than it was in June, but there are plenty of days remaining to keep making count.

This past two weeks we have entertained guests at the lake, two separate guests – this first guests were O’s classmates who celebrated the transition from high school to college – all three are heading off to school in August in Michigan. This past week we entertained friends from wife’s hometown – her buddy and high school classmate and his wife. They’ve joined us before, and we always have a great time together.

This year we took a road trip to the Upper Peninsula and had a blast. We were there the entire day and well into the night. We passed through Paradise three times on our journey!

photo taken at Whitefish Point with camera pointed due North, coordinates 46 46’21″N and 84 57’33” W – the waves from the lake were crashing ashore weathering the rocks. It was an amazing day.

It was my first time to visit Lake Superior and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point where we spent most of our time walking the beach looking for agates – rocks formed inside volcanic and metamorphic rocks. We visited on July 1st and Canada Day, and we could see Canadian hills in the distance. We decided to forego the museum for lunch at Tahquamenon State Park which I had learned about from my blogging friend Dawn at Change is Hard. The falls did not disappoint we visited the lower falls first, enjoyed lunch, and took in the upper falls before we left. We finished our day with a trip to an International Dark Sky Park at Wilderness State Park before heading home. It was a fun trip, but we pulled into the lake house drive well after midnight.

“Summer is for surrendering; winter is for wondering.” ― Debasish Mridha

Continue reading Summer Days: Week 4 and Paradise

Summer Days: Week 3

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” ― Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

The summer days are gliding past, it is hard to believe it is Day 22. I’ve enjoyed the first twenty-one days and made them count and the past seven days of summer have been filled with up, downs, ins, outs, and a lot of rain at home as well as by the lake shore.

O and I returned home late Sunday afternoon for a quick visit home to grab a couple of things we needed before returning this morning for the Independence Day weekend.

Monday morning, Fern and I awakened to a very moist garden and yard. It had rained most of the previous week and W (our lawn service) had not been able to mow the lawn. The mid-June flowers were blooming and there was a closeness that only can be felt in the summer. It’s the point where you can feel the moistness of the air. It rained and was cloudy, but Fern and I ventured out for a walk and we both came home exhausted and thirsty.

And as the song’s chorus reminds me,

This could possibility be the best day ever!
(This could possibility be the best day ever,)
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be a million and six times better.
So, make every minute count, jump up, jump in, and seize the day,
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way,
Today is gonna be a great day!

Making the Days Count, one day at a time, especially when it rains.

What was one of your ups (or downs) this past week?

Late June Sunday morning

It’s Sunday morning and the sun is shining, for now, and it’s the last Sunday in June.

We’ve had rain the last couple of days and the lawn, and the garden are rebounding.

my Sunday morning companion

Yesterday morning I watched the fog lifting and walked outside to take a photo from the end of the dock – yesterday’s days of summer Instagram post and I discovered a couple of spider webs which had been spun overnight. It reminded me of the story of Charlotte in E.B. White’s classic story, Charlotte’s Web.

Earlier this morning Fern and I stepped outside between showers, and I discovered an exceptionally large spider.

I’ve been watching the birds – especially the blue jays – as they visit the feeders. I’ll see a flash or shadow and look up to see a blue jay the deck either railing, the ledge, or the arm of one of the deck chairs before it hops to the seed feeder. Continue reading Late June Sunday morning

Days of Summer – Week 2

I am two weeks into Summer 2021 – 14 full days and I mean FULL.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” —Sam Keen

The past two days of summer have found me prone on the couch reading a book. Storms blasted through the Midwest late Sunday night into early Monday morning. We went from warm to cool, hence the change in activity reading on the couch and a couple of moments of looking at the underside of my eyelids. I have felt and lived Sam Keen’s quote. Monday morning the lake was breezy and cold.

It’s Wednesday and Day 15. It’s sunny but breezy making the mid-60s (upper teens C) air feel much cooler than it really is.

 

I’ve been watching my bird feeder off and on this morning – it was my Father’s Day gift – witnessing my first seed visitor, a blue jay and watching a hummingbird dip down for sip of nectar. That’s my photo for Day 15 – you can see it in the Instagram feed to the right, or wait until next week’s Summer Days post.

The past seven days have been amazing, and Day 15 through Day 68 could be a million six times better, but today is gonna be a great day. So, I’d better jump in, jump out, and seize the day. Making the days count, one day at a time, figuring ways to make each day count.

What has made your day or days count?

Days of Summer – Week 1

I began writing here eleven summers ago. It was summer break after an exceptionally long and challenging year.

That first summer was 82 days long and every summer since has been a little different. There have been ups and downs and sometimes its been a little sideways. but it has been summer where….

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” —Charles Bowden

Continue reading Days of Summer – Week 1