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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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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 “re-gram.”

From Our Fans: The Best of Fall in Pure Michigan

Fall in Michigan is short, but jam-packed with spectacular seasonal offerings! Earlier this month, we asked our fans to share their favorite fall foods, activities, and traditions.  We rounded up their responses to create an at-a-glance guide to experiencing fall in Pure Michigan. Take a look at some of the best of fall in the Mitten State according to our community. 

Michigan Apples

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Photo by Mary Van Arsdell

Dark chocolate covered caramel apple from Veni’s in Niles, MI. - Mary Van Arsdall

Koezes in Grand Rapids has locally grown apples hand dipped in house made caramel and rolled in cashew pieces. Only in October, delicious! - Joyce Winters

Michigan apples in an Apple Crisp recipe from Mackinac Island Dessert cookbook. Can’t get more Michigan than that! - Eric N Susan Murrell

Fall Flavors

Just had a Short’s Brewing Funkin Punkin keg for our wedding reception. Mmmmm good! Cheers to fall beers! - Adam Crall

Founders Harvest Ale. - Jan n’ Gary Dall

I made homemade apple fritters with Michigan maple syrup glaze! - Briana Herzog

Wasem Fruit Farm in Milan for great apples, maple glazed donuts & cider at a nice price.  - Jill S. 

Nothing is as fabulous as a cider mill donut, still hot enough for the outside to be almost crispy.  - Michele Cook Hayden

Love Blackstar Farms Late Harvest Riesling . It’s the best. can’t wait to visit.  - Sandy Westen

New Holland Brewing Icabod Pumpkin Ale.  - Kim Looman

Color Tours

Photo by Becky Pawloski Scholten

Photo by Becky Pawloski Scholten

Top of the lift ride at Boyne Mountain. Awesome views! - Lynn Jones

Went up to Leelanau, came back down M-37. Was very happy to have stopped at the scenic turnout/rest stop along the way. - Shelley Ferguson

Going to Oscoda. Taking the Fall Color Cruise on the AuSable. - Patrick Shaffer

My quick fall color tour is driving Edward Hines from Northville to Dearborn. - Lynn Plachetzki White

A fall drive to see the trees. When we lived in the Detroit area, we would take the drive through Hines Park. While living in the U.P., we always drove along Lake Superior, then to Tahquamenon Falls. - Joni Johnson

Cider Mills

Franklin Cider Mill! I’m not even a resident of Michigan and we make an annual trek to the “Cider Mecca!” - Karen Page

Opening Day at Dexter cider mill for fresh cider and warm donuts! Yum! - Angela Marshall ‏

Parmenters in Northville – THE BEST fresh cinnamon donuts!!! - Tracy Nafe

Uncle Johns, Spicers, Parshallville, Montrose Orchards…..love them all! - Nancy Miller

Pumpkin Patches

Cari Angell

Photo by Cari Angell

The charming Pumpkin Barn in Levering, MI.  - Cari Angell

Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm in Saginaw, MI. They have a lot of activities for kids, a corn maze, crafts, food, pumpkin chucking with a trebuchet, animals to pet & feed. Always a great time for the family.  - Terri Garabelli

Vince and Joe’s Market on Garfield Rd. in Clinton and 25/Van Dyke Rd. in Shelby Twp. They have everything pumpkin for your Octoberfest.  - Vlasta Hallova Trulik

Andy T’s! See the monster weigh-off contenders and winners! - Andrew Eagle

Fall Festivals and Events

I love Fruit Ridge Hayrides! - Star Juarez

Applefest in Charlevoix! Love my Michigan! - Ruthann LaPorte Beyer

Farmer J’s world record corn mazes by Cabela’s in Dundee. – Jill S.

Art Prize is  awesome its a must see. - Shawn Sams

Joining in on the excitement of The Detroit Marathon is memorable for both participants and spectators.

Game Day Excitement

Photo by MMB Photography

Photo by MMB Photography

Eastern Market is always a stop for my daughter and I…what a great mix of the D at it’s best.  - Jules Ryan

Comerica Park – My favorite spot in all of the great state of Michigan!! - Lynn Friedenstab Becker

Ann Arbor and East Lansing are game day hot spots throughout the season!

Outdoor Exploration

Manitou Charter Fleet – With charter captain Bill Wright out of Leland. We learned many different ways to cook salmon! - Kevin Rogers

Hiking, biking, and off-roading on Michigan trails are a great way to experience fall colors.

Fall means the start of prime hunting season!

Halloween Fun

Spooky trails, Swartz Creek. - XTREMETALS

Halloween on Tillson Street – We’ll be going… It’s a Halloween must! And a sleepover for the grandchildren. - Donna Vehar

Junction Valley Railroad is entertaining enough for the whole family – and Handicap accessible! - Dan Miller

Family Traditions

Go horseback riding in the woods and listen to the sounds and look at the colors of autumn. - Brenda Shaw

Bon fires with good friends and some good wine! - Lynn Scraver

We take a trip to Mackinac Island and walk the trails. It is a quiet way to enjoy the beauty. - Cindy Howard Murphy

What’s on your “Best of Fall” list?