Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: All Wet

“A normal lake is knowable. A Great Lake can hold all the mysteries of an ocean, and then some.”
― Dan Egan, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” ― Henry David Thoreau

“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.” William Wordsworth

When Tina invited me to delve into my photo archives for a look at something All Wet, I immediately thought of Lake Michigan.

This truly Great Lake is an old friend. I have visited its shores while living in Illinois and Wisconsin and while vacationing in Michigan and Indiana. I have been to the northernmost shore and the southernmost. It always impresses me with its size.

Four generations of my family have submerged themselves in its waters. I knew it as a playground when I was a little girl. I worked in a museum on its shores half a century later and came to know more of its power and importance. 

I find it unfathomable in every sense because there’s so much to know and imagine about its history, its living presence, and its intricate and moody details. I will leave you with a gallery of images to peak your curiosity. 


Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

FrayIt just so happens that I spent two hours sailing aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan today; some of that time was used to photograph rope.  I also hauled line to help hoist the sails….not that it did much good to have the sails up.  It was quite still and foggy.  There was barely a ripple on Lake Michigan.  It was quiet and peaceful and echo-ey and atmospheric.  And humid.  The sun broke through the fog just as we were coming back to the pier.  Steve was imagining what it would be like to be truly adrift in the doldrums.  The Sullivan was equipped with a motor as well, so we had no chance of being stranded.  But if we were living in the 19th century…well, we’d get back when we got back.  We would travel at the speed of one frayed knot. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra

The Weekly Photo Challenge prompt posted today says: “This week, share a photo that has a little something extra: an unexpected visitor, or a tranquil landscape with a splash of color. A lone carrot in a sea of peas. Draw us in with a humorous detail, or find a photo with an added element that makes it an image only you could capture.”

Extra(If you click on the photo, it should open in a larger window for a more panoramic view.)

The significance of this photo has many levels.  Someone just visiting this blog for the first time might see a nice composition of natural scenery and a person enjoying it.  Very pleasant.  Someone who knows this blog a little better might recognize the person as Steve, my partner, who shows up in many of my photos.  Someone who knows my history might recognize the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan, opposite my grandmother’s beach cottage where I spent many childhood summers, and understand the sentimental attachment I have to this particular body of water.  Only Steve & I know the thought that prompted him to sit in this place, the person he is memorializing as he pauses on our walk.  The invisible figure in this photo is Steve’s father, Stanley. 

I never met Stanley.  He died one month before I first encountered Steve.  I have been introduced to him many times in concept and story, however.  Stanley was a gentle person, a father who did not assert his authority or enforce many rules.  Steve sometimes describes him as “passive resistant”, but his assessment is one of understanding and acceptance rather than judgment.  Stanley enjoyed going slowly through life, enjoying simple pleasures and quiet places.  He worked many years in the US Postal Service and traveled with his family in his own whimsical way.  Taking a cigarette break was a frequent excuse to absent himself from the social gathering at hand to enjoy a peaceful moment.  When Steve saw this bench along the nature trail at Kohler-Andrae State Park, he said, “This is just the kind of place my father would like.”  He sat down.  I walked down the path to allow him some private time with his dad, and snapped this photo. 

Happy Father’s Day, Stanley.  Thanks for being the person you were and for all you did to make Steve the person he is.  Well done, sir.  


So, hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast on Monday night.  Yesterday, the waves on Lake Michigan topped 20 feet and many stretches of lakefront were closed.  Today, Steve & I took a walk on the beach at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. 

Ironically, I have an Aunt Sandy who lives in NYC.  I’ve been thinking about her a lot, but haven’t heard any reports yet from her perspective.  Here’s a perspective that I find inspiring:  “In wildness is the salvation of the world.”  Henry David Thoreau

Lake Effect

Memorial Day weekend.  Boats wind their way down suburban streets in search of water.  Summertime’s officially opened.  Here in Wisconsin, there are lots of little lakes and one Big Lake, Lake Michigan.  Steve and I found our way to the shore on Friday, where we were taken for the first of the summer traffic.  We stopped south of Door County (which is way too commercialized) and met some of the locals in Algoma.  Two guys named Tom told us their stories: one owns an antique store, the other is handicapped and zips around town in an electric car that looks like a mini Smart Car with a yellow caution siren on top.  Both of them invited us to go visit their barns and have a beer with them later.  Unfortunately, we had to drive back to Milwaukee right after our early supper.   I can picture us becoming a pair of “colorful locals” some place.  Steve, with his long ponytail, and me “au naturale” (meaning without makeup or coif) — we look like aging hippies, I guess.  Tom of the electric car has renovated his barn and made part of it a stage for storytelling.  He shares this space with local artists.  It’s the greatest discovery, he tells us, this “sharing”.  It makes his life fulfilling.  Here are some photos I have to share:


St. Agnes-by-the-Lake Episcopal Church

Boardwalk…or birdwalk?

Enjoy your local color, everyone!

Be Still and Know

A gray morning.  I woke up too early, stumbled through breakfast in a fog, rinsed the dishes then lay back down in bed to “hit the reset button”.  I closed my eyes and thought of Lake Michigan.  My grandmother owned a cottage on the lake.  My childhood summers included a few weeks there each year.  My favorite thing about that time was that much of it was unstructured.  I could wake up, pull on a sweatshirt, walk barefoot out on the cement porch, let the screen door thwack closed behind me, and be on the beach without a backward glance.  Alone on a stretch of sand with the water as still as a bathtub, I could see “sand waves” under the surface and shiny stones just resting there in patient silence.  I wanted to be like one of those stones this morning.  Still and ancient, reflective.

photo credit: Gael Kurath, U.S. Geological Survey

I thought of a phrase this morning, as I realized what day it was.  “March first, ask questions later.”  That is not the way I want to live.

Breathe.  Be still.  Be quiet.  Settle like a beach stone.  Reflect.  Listen to the birds.

How do you post silence?  How do you publish peace?  How can I share the feeling of vastness that sweeps over me when I look at a calm horizon?  If you’ve ever stood in the early light and heard the rushing of your own heartbeat in your ears, you know.

You know and understand.