Taking a rest

I haven’t been saying much lately here, but I am writing and blogging a lot elsewhere.

Catch me 6 days a week on my photoblog Michigan in Pictures where I post photos and words about Michigan.  The blog is almost 8 years old and probably my favorite web project ever – I learn something new every week.

With my love Laura I started eatdrinkTC, a guide to the culinary culture of Traverse City, Michigan. It’s a ton of fun to work on and lets us share our love of good food and drink and the wonderful people in our town who make that happen. I even got to interview one of my very favorite food writers, Michael Ruhlman.

Let me know what you think (about anything) at these places or in the comments.

The photo was taken by my father of the apple tree in the back yard of the house I grew up in. 

Wisdom from tramps, beats from sheep

We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.
~The Tramp as The Great Dictator (full text by Charlie Chaplan)

John Boswell (melodysheep) is back with a new single, this one of Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator. More of John’s excellent work on my blog.

 

In the Garden of Your Mind

“You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.” That’s a lesson it’s never too late to learn, one of many that Fred Rogers. Below is a fantastic video remix by John Boswell of the Symphony of Science. He did it for PBS Digital and it’s absolutely exploding (17,000 views when I watched last night, over a half million this morning.

John has the channel melodysheep on YouTube and says that his goal is to bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the public through the medium of music, using the words and video of the scientists themselves. He has some amazing work using everyone from Richard Attenborough to Yoda that you should definitely check out. An interesting and sort of related video is Return to Awe with Jason Silva.

Way out here in the Ghost Bowl

I just stumbled across this video of Greensky Bluegrass live at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, Oregon playing a beautiful version of Ghost Bowl with my good friends May Erlewine & Seth Bernard (who wrote the song).

I absolutely love this song, and I’m pretty sure this could be the state anthem of Michigan.  It’s a real treat as they roll into Jambalaya which does a great job of showcasing May.

Wally Bronner made it Christmas Always

Great video by Michigan’s own The Hard Lessons, their tribute to the man who made it Christmas always … in Frankenmuth at least. TIP: Sign up for their e-list and get their new album free!

I found when I was looking for something to add to Seeking Michigan’s From Signage to Santa that we featured on Absolute Michigan this week, so if you want to know more of the story, check it out.

Here’s wishing the best for you and yours. Love them, hug them and be with them because however long it is, it’s always far too brief!

 

The most beautiful place…

j jumps

Late last month the Sleeping Bear Dunes was named “Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America.

There have been toms of these “most beautiful”, “top 10” and “best-ist place ever” awards in my memory, but I can’t ever remember one that was so tangible and immediate in its impact. 2 hour lines at Pierce Stocking, media from everywhere descending on the region and generally a ton of attention.

While I love the pristine aspects of the Lakeshore, I don’t think there’s much chance that they become like Yosemite or other over-exposed beautiful places anytime soon. While I don’t like to see too many people at the beach or on the trails, I also love it that one of the places I feel is among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen is being seen for the first time by appreciative eyes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, like any of our national treasures, deserves to be enjoyed by people.

The photo is mine and so is the son. 😉

Here’s a pretty cool video of the song Sleeping Bear, Sault Ste. Marie from Michigan by Sufjan Stevens.

Kayaking the Outlet

Kayaking the Outlet

“The Outlet” was the point where the folks of the area learned a lesson about the importance of being very sure about your measurements. In my favorite book about the history of Northern Michigan, Waiting for the Morning Train, Bruce Catton explains how a project to connect Crystal Lake to the Betsie River and ultimate Frankfort and Lake Michigan went horribly awry after a surveyor got the relative elevations wrong by over 25 feet.

The historical marker reads:

In 1873 an ambitious but ill advised project was put through in an effort to connect Crystal Lake and Lake Michigan with a navigable channel. The original level of Crystal Lake was, at that time, much higher than its present level. The project was a complete failure in respect to its accomplishing its proposed purpose. The result was the lowering of the lake and exposing a wide stretch of beach around the entire lake and making possible the development of Crystal Lake as a resort and residential area as well as the site of the village of Beulah. This monument, erected by the people of Benzie County, stands at the original level of Crystal Lake. 1978.

Laura & I “kayaked” the mile+ of distance from the Outlet to the Betsie yesterday. Most of the way was hard going, many times more “dragging a kayak through a puddle”, but it was an incredible journey with all kinds of wildflowers and TONS of dragonflies.

Sap, Syrup, Spring

Tap in Big Maple, photo by Allan L McFarlane

Today I blogged a photo from Jim Sorbie to Michigan in Pictures.

Bucket of Sap, photo by Allan L McFarlaneI looooooove maple syrup.

We used to make it when I was a kid, tapping the maples on M-22 by our house. The whole process is one of my favorite memories, and I can’t begin to describe how good it felt to bring a metal cup our and drink cup after cup of sub-freezing sap before school while I waited for the bus!

Here’s a NYT article about what the South Koreans feel about drinking maple sap:

Unlike North Americans who collect maple sap to boil down into syrup, Korean villagers and their growing number of customers prefer the sap itself, which they credit with a wide range of health benefits.

In this they are not alone. Some people in Japan and northern China drink maple sap, and birch sap has its fans in Russia and other parts of northern Europe. But no one surpasses southern Koreans in their enthusiasm for maple sap, which they can consume in prodigious quantities.

“The right way is to drink an entire mal” — 20 liters, or about 5 gallons — “at once,” said Yeo Manyong, a 72-year-old farmer in Hadong. “That’s what we do. And that’s what gorosoe lovers from the outside do when they visit our village.”

But how can you drink the equivalent of more than 50 beer cans of sap at one go?

“You and your family or friends get yourselves a room with a heated floor,” Mr. Yeo said, taking a break under a maple tree in Hadong, 180 miles south of Seoul. “You keep drinking while, let’s say, playing cards. Salty snacks like dried fish help because they make you thirsty. The idea is to sweat out all the bad stuff and replace it with sap.”

For more about how syrup is made, check out The Cycle of Sweetness: From Sap to Maple Syrup. You can also read a little about how Native Americans made maple sugaron Michigan in Pictures. Absolute Michigan has more Michigan maple syrup features & links.

The photos were taken by my dad, Allan L. McFarlane.