An Ode to Michigan’s Four Spectacular Seasons

Today, our great state celebrates 178 years of statehood. What better way to celebrate than to reflect on the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds us all year long? 

Guest blogger Doug Houseworth spent 43 years creating 12 poems inspired by Michigan’s spectacular changing seasons. His work is truly a labor of Pure Michigan love. 

The Month Poems 
A Year in Pure Michigan
By Doug Houseworth

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Want to see more? The Month Poems and other works by Doug Houseworth can be seen on the Fire and Ice Photography website.

About the Poems

When asked what caused me to document the months with poetry and photography, I can only reply that inspiration is the most fitting word.  To be so captured by an image or experience, that you feel compelled to express it in words, is what happened with the first four poems.  After that, the idea of having this happen for all twelve months became a challenge and a goal.  I had no idea it would take over 43 years.  A visit from one’s muse cannot be scheduled.

At first, it was enough to write the poems, but then matching up the poems with images became both an obsession and a daunting task.  Usually the poem would come first, but sometimes a photograph would inspire a poem.  October was the first poem and came in 1971.  Twelve years later, I took a photo that inspired a new poem. In turn, the new poem inspired another photograph, but wasn’t captured until 2008.  October became an evolving collage.  The one you see in this gallery is the final product.

The second poem didn’t arrive until winter of 1977.  Driving home from work one day, I came upon a magic moment. Conditions were such that dozens of tiny whirl winds (snow devils) were dancing across the sharp edged snow drifts.  The snow was light and fluffy, but filled with ice crystals.  The light refraction was dazzling and diamond like, flittering over the farm fields and roads, against a deep blue sky.  I was so struck with the beauty, that I couldn’t quit thinking about it.  Snow Dust (January) was written the next day.  It took another two years for a suitable photograph, and even then the photo doesn’t quite match that enchanting moment and first vision.

And so it went, each month having a story and personality of its own.  It has taken decades to capture the essence of each month.  In Michigan there are seasons within seasons, and nothing is static.  Each month is always in transition.  There is a certain tension within each month, and often within the same day, as in the first line of September, “Sweater mornings with shirtsleeve afternoons.”

Many of the months make reference to dance as in January and in August.  Dance is about movement. The dance really never stops, but the music and mood change.  This is the richness and diversity of living in Michigan. There is something about being surrounded by fresh water seas, and the life force that goes with it, that sets this state apart from all others.  The interaction of sky and water, and how that plays on the land, is an ever changing wonder and fascination for those who live here.

There are those who say, “It is the land that defines the people.”  Certainly, Michigan offers an encounter with the elements unique in the world.  It does shape our lives and how we live. Trying to capture this with both poetry and photography has been a labor of love, and could only be done as personally experienced.

Meet the Author

UntitledDoug Houseworth was born in Petoskey, Michigan in 1943.  He is a lifelong resident of Alanson, Michigan, and his children make five generations to live in Northern Michigan. Respect for the land and the beauty of this region were instilled early in life.  As a graduate of MSU and a Realtor of many years, he is “all about” Michigan. 

A passion for poetry is generational in his family.  Combining photography with poetry to capture a year in Michigan became an obsession after the first four poems. Writing The Month Poems and finding the right image to fit each poem was an unpredictable process.  Inspiration comes when it comes, and usually not very often. It has been a long labor of love, that I can now share.

From Our Fans: 15 Favorite Pure Michigan Memories to Kick Off 2015

With the new year officially underway, we asked our fans to take a moment to reflect on their favorite memories from 2014. After a stroll down memory lane, here are 15 unforgettable Pure Michigan moments from days gone by to inspire your travels in 2015. 

Waterfall watching while vacationing in the U.P. from Sherry Stiles

Vacationing in the UP Sherry Stiles

Seeing the Mighty Mac all lit up on a warm August evening from John Stine

Mighty Mac on a Warm August Evening John Stine

 A trip to Arch Rock while visiting Mackinac Island from Wiona Porath

Wiona Porath Arch Rock

A visit to the amazing ice caves off the shores of Leelanau from Janeen M Wardle

Amazing Ice Caves off the shore of Leelanau Janeen M Wardle

Watching the crackling Frankfort fireworks from Jeanine Offer Krupp

Frankfort Fireworks Jeanine Offer Krupp

 Long Lake Michigan beach days from Mark Titus

Mark Titus Beach Days

Summertime trips to the Farmers Market from Leslie Layton Coslet

Leslie Layton Coslet Farmers Market Frankfort

Peaceful moments spent with nature from MavaMarie Vendervennet

Peaceful Moments MavaMarie Vendervennet

Fishing and a fiery sunset over Brevort Lake from Ben Stefanic

Fishing Brevort Lake Ben Stefanic

Walking on frozen water in South Haven from Jennifer Schoenfield Osborn

Walking on Frozen water in South Haven Jennifer Schoenfeld Osborn

Witnessing unforgettable sunsets from Donna Pratt-Owens

Donna Pratt-Owens Frankfort sunset Lake Michigan

Spectacular fall color viewing at the Porcupine Mountains from Patti Potts

Patti Potts Fall Colors Porcupine Mountains

Plenty of Pure Michigan snow days from Ry Meyer

Ry Meyer Snow Days

The Presque Isle scenery from UP Serenity Photography

UP Serenity Photography Presque Isle Park

Wrapping up the year with celebratory fireworks in Ludington from Todd and Brad Reed Photography

NYE Ludington Brad Reed

Where in Pure Michigan will 2015 take you? 

Five Phenomenal Pure Michigan Instagram Photos from December 2014

As holiday lights brightened Michigan cities and brought families together from across the state, our fans took full advantage of the beauty and serenity of another December in Pure Michigan. These five remarkable photos are courtesy of our incredible Instagram community, who continue to share breathtaking photos each and every month.

For more, check out our September, October and November roundups and be sure to follow Pure Michigan on Instagram!

A beautiful shot of the mighty Mackinac Bridge by @MichiganNutPhotography.

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Parallel pines crossing a snow-covered trail found in Stony Creek Metro Park in Shelby Township by @danfreiphoto.

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Rochester‘s glowing holiday lights from @desuth.

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The Detroit River and skyline on a calm night by @picturethisbymarilyn.

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A snowy Empire beach by @owenweberlive.

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If you’re on Instagram, follow us @puremichigan! If you’d like us to share your photos from across the state, please tag them with #PureMichigan to give us permission to repost.