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

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.09.21 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.12.48 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.10.06 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.17.55 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.19.46 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.21.46 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.22.54 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.25.00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.28.47 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.40.18 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.30.34 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.32.14 PM

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.

What Happens When Six Photographers Meet Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

There’s no question that fall in Pure Michigan is a dream come true for a shutterbug. Today, guest blogger and landscape photographer Aubrieta V. Hope shares the story of six photographers who set off for the Upper Peninsula in search of scenic fall vistas.

Once upon a time, six shooters ventured north to the Tripod Forest, a fabled land of brilliant fall color in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  All were packing:  most brought Nikon’s, but two carried Canons.  They loaded up minivans, SUV’s and 4×4′s, bringing filters and flashlights, bug spray, raingear, ice scrapers, and backpacks.   About half of them planned to find a campsite someplace and the others made hotel reservations.  Some had never met, but were destined to.  A few of them hoped to cross paths up there somewhere.

It was late September and their only plan was to find and follow the color.  Frost was in the forecast.  The time was now.  The 2014 Michigan Fall Foliage Convention had begun!

Their program?  It all depended on the trees, sun, wind, and cloud cover.  Some headed for the western U.P. first, others tracked to central inland areas.  In this rugged and beautiful land, photo opportunities crop up everywhere.  Cell coverage, however, can be scarce, especially in the most remote areas.  So, happenstance and coincidence tend to be the best, if not the only, methods of connection.  That certainly proved to be true for the shooters in our tale:  Neil Weaver, Craig Sterken, John McCormick, Phil Stagg, Ken Keifer, and Aubrieta Hope.

Over the next couple of weeks, with surprising frequency and with almost no planning, these six shooters ran into each other on rocky outcrops, at the end of nearly impassable two-tracks, in parking lots, and other likely and unlikely places.  They shared location tips, stories of shots taken and shots missed, and bucket lists of dreams on the front burner. There was no conference schedule.  Everyone had their own agenda. But there was plenty of camaraderie and inspiration. And, there were rescues, for example when Aubrieta fractured her ankle on a trail and was glad to be shooting with others at the time.

Outdoor photography is an unpredictable pursuit.  It’s nice to have friends in the vicinity!  So, maybe this was more of a round-up than a convention, all these creative mavericks meeting on the beaches and overlooks, sharing tripod space and good light, and bagging some great shots.

Here’s a glimpse of some of their adventures:

Craig Sterken at Paradise Point, Christmas, Michigan. Photo by Neil Weaver Photography.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.55.05 AM

Sunset, Miners Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by Phil Stagg (Michigan Waterfalls)

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.54.47 AM

Aubrieta Hope at Cloud Peak, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Photo by Michigan Nut Photography.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.53.34 AM

Mouth of the Hurricane River at Sunset by Michigan Nut Photography

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.53.13 AM

Misty Morning at Manido Falls – Porcupine Wilderness State Park by Craig Sterken Photography

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.51.56 AM

Carp River at Dusk by Neil Weaver Photography

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.53.52 AM

Photographers at Miners Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by Phil Stagg (Michigan Waterfalls)

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.55.25 AM

Stormy Afternoon at Paradise Point, Christmas, Michigan by Aubrieta V. Hope/Michigan Scenery

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.51.19 AM

Storming the Castle, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by Kenneth Keifer

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.54.12 AM

Where is your favorite place in Michigan to snap a few photos? 

MI14-0606-0758 Aubrieta V HopeAubrieta V. Hope is a landscape photographer with a special interest in Northwest and Upper Michigan; check out her website. She also highly recommends the following websites for beautiful Michigan/Great Lakes photography:  Neil Weaver Photography, Michigan Nut Photography (featuring John McCormick’s Photography), Craig Sterken Photography, MI Falls (featuring Phil Stagg’s photography) and Kenneth Keifer Photography.    

 

Five Phenomenal Instagram Photos From Our Fans in October 2014

Fall in Michigan is a photographer’s paradise! Last month, our Pure Michigan Instagram community perfectly captured the beauty of our Pure Michigan fall. From sunrises to a lunar eclipse, here are a few favorites shared with us in October. For more, see our JulyAugust and September roundups and be sure to follow Pure Michigan on Instagram.

 What a way to start the day! A pastel sunrise hues over Houghton, MI from Instagram user  @jlfuller989.

10724713_263507633773605_1195757153_n

 Nice shot of Turnip Rock in Port Austin beginning to change for the season. Photo by Instagram user @jlsuper.

10724037_552351484865849_553343081_n

Colorful trees surround Tahquamenon Falls like multi-colored gems. Photo by Instagram user @visitthesault.

10724112_1495147654074135_1910240672_n

Did you see the lunar eclipse last month? This shot of the blood moon was captured over Grand Haven by @csmith8504.

10299658_1475653752701738_1037802551_n

Sometimes the best fall colors are right in your own backyard! Photo by Instagram user @hockeygirl0011.

10724128_201810533338551_830389081_n

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 “re-gram.”