When I contemplate our Great Lakes state, I consistently come back to one word…weather! Living in West Michigan is like living in four completely different locations on Earth, depending on the season! I have used seasonal views of our horse barn, to give you a closer look at our little corner of the world…
Spring in West Michigan is beautiful…well, most of the time. Temperatures can range from 40º to 70º, all in one 24 hour time period! For example, Mother Nature can leave the gift of 4+ inches of rain, within a few days, with bone chilling temperatures. The positive twist is that by midweek, it could be 65º and sunny. In Michigan, you can never trust the weather!
During this time of year, West Michigan is in full bloom! Fruit trees are blossoming and farmers are crossing their fingers, hoping to avoid a hard frost.
Streams, rivers and lakes are flowing strong, due to the heavy rains. After an endless winter of hibernating, folks begin to emerge and enjoy a bit of sunshine. Kayaks paddle the small, inland lakes and flowing rivers, while fishermen line the water’s edge, hoping for a prize catch.
A trip to the local nursery to purchase spring flowers for planting is also a popular pastime. It is during this season that I feel most alive! There is something magical about having my hands covered in Mother Earth. Spring is a new beginning for all!
Summer in West Michigan is lovely! Temperatures range from 70º- 90º. It can be HOT and HUMID in July and August. This time of year kicks off the outdoor adventure season in our area. Many spend their weekends boating, fishing, camping and enjoying the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan is the second largest of the Great Lakes, by volume. We enjoy heading out to P.J. Hoffmaster State Park for day hikes through the sand dunes and watching the sunsets from the beach.
The kids love to swim, but after a long cold winter, the average temperature of Lake Michigan is a balmy 60 degrees. Yikes! That is a bit too chilly for my liking!
As Summer’s journey ends, Fall begins to make her way to West Michigan and she is incredible! Fall is my most favorite time of year! The average temperature is around 65º, with a nice reprieve from the humidity. Leaves begin to change and a rainbow of warm hues fill the trees.
During the beginning of this joyous season, crisp apples are freshly picked off the trees and consumed by the bushels! Hot apple cider and spiced donuts are also sold at local apple orchards. There is nothing as wonderful as warm, fresh spiced donuts! As the season progresses, farmers harvest their crops and begin to create elaborate corn mazes, loved by all. Fields are loaded with orange pumpkins and golden sunflowers, ready to be picked for the season.
Fall is crisp and delightful. I cherish every moment, for I know what’s approaching, all too well…(cue Darth Vader’s Theme Song here!)
To be completely honest, I dread Winter. Although, I have tried very hard this year to not let this frigid season steal my happiness. Granted, the holidays in November and December are a wonderful distraction from Winter’s torment. Temperatures can range from 30° to -30°. During the depths of this blustery season, venturing outside truly makes your face hurt. The wind is wicked and the snow is mighty. There are some “Michiganders” that live for this frigid season. I attempt to respect their ideals, but will never understand their passion for this lifeless and unforgiving season.
Over the years, I have tried to embrace the snow. One experience at attempting to downhill ski was all it took for me to realize that winter is diffidently not for me.
For those of you that ski, I commend you! This risk taking adventure was one of the scariest moments of my life. Strapping long wooden planks on my feet and going down hill, at an ungodly speed, without having control, was not my idea of a good time! And, I was on the bunny hill!! Four-year-olds were skiing circles around me. With much frustration, I held my head high, sat down, and removed my skis. Then, I calmly proceeded to walk down to the bottom of the hill, directly to the heated car!
I was meant to hibernate. Mr. Bear move over, I’m coming in. Although Winter in West Michigan brings much joy to skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and ice fisherman, I try to stay positive, enjoy the view from inside and count the days until Spring…
There you have it! My little seasonal journey of West Michigan and all of her beauty…
This week, I was pulled to the woods! I needed to have my feet on the trail and enjoy the stillness of Mother Nature. There is something so cleansing about being in the forest, among the trees. Although I did not see a single, solitary critter, I knew they were there… hiding in their cozy Winter homes.
I am thankful that just a few miles from our home is a beautiful 235 acre nature preserve, with many hiking trails and a beautiful 80 acre lake. It gives me a quick fix, when I don’t have time for a day hiking trip. Due to the wind and cold, I decided to take the trail around the lake.
As I made my way along the trail, I still hopped for just a glimpse of a woodland bird. Yet, not even the birds made a sound on this frozen day.
I had completed three-quarters of the loop and was hoping to see some of the wild ducks, geese or even the pair of swans that call this beautiful place their home. But, not today. Everyone was toasty warm and out of sight.
Now keep in mind, I have hiked this loop probably 100 times, yet I have never noticed what appeared to be a stone wall, about 50 feet from the trail’s edge. Usually there are too many critters to photography, for me to notice anything else. In the warmer months, this area would be beautifully camouflaged by plant life, from the forest floor. Today, I could see stacked rocks through the bare trees. As I made my way closer, I noticed a stone foundation cut into the earth about 4 feet deep. From the main trail, this would have just looked like surface rocks, stacked on the ground. But, for some reason, today I was able to see this forgotten structure and had to explore it a bit closer!
Being a curious bird, I came home and was determined to find out any information I could on this stone foundation. Although there was very little information to be found, my imagination started churning! The original owner of the land passed away in 1988, donating all of his property to the local park system. He was known to be a very eclectic individual, who supposedly lived in his garage after his house burned down. Could this be one of his old buildings? The more I discovered, the more my imagination pondered!
The stories, shared by locals, also said that he buried his money on his land and would dig it up when property taxes were due. He would sell holiday trees for $5 each and ran a small boat livery. He would allow locals to use his land, but the only critters that were allowed to be hunted were mosquitoes. He was also said to wash his face and hair in whiskey and had a great dislike for land developers and lawyers.
I have yet to discover the purpose of this little structures, but I will continue to ask questions and see what I can discover!
I was coming around the last bend of my hike. I never tire of this view! I had one more little path, off the main trail, that I wanted to visit. It leads to what I like to call the lizard tree…
Once I passed the funny little lizard tree, I made my way out to the dock. The wind was howling, which made taking photographs a bit of a challenge. I did manage to see a few footprints on the ice. Maybe a fox? I was not going to cross the ice to take a closer look!
It was a frigid and beautiful few hours in the woods! I was thankful to have time with my thoughts. I was filled with such gratitude for, even during the deepest of Winter, Mother Nature provides such beautiful gifts.