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.

A Love Poem to Lake Michigan

Emma Anderson is a 13-year-old from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania who visits her great-grandparents’ Upper Peninsula home during summers. During a visit last year, she was inspired to write a poem about the area and the beauty of Lake Michigan specifically. We love what she put together and are excited to share it with you today!

Read from Emma below and see the poem at the bottom of the post.

Max (11), Jonah (5), and me at the top of the Tower of History in Sault St. Marie.

I’m Emma Anderson, a 13 year old homeschooler from Harrisburg, PA. I enjoy reading and writing (especially poetry). I also love learning about places and people all over the world.

My great-grandparents own a cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in a small town called Naubinway. They have vacationed in the “UP” for over 50 years. My dad grew up visiting the cottage every summer, and my parents were engaged there. As for me, I’ve been to Michigan three times, and every time has been better than the last. Even though the trip is about 14 hours long, we all think it’s well worth it!

We have had many interesting experiences in Michigan! That includes stops in Frankenmuth to peruse the many unique shops, shopping in Mackinaw City, bike riding around Mackinac Island in order to eat the best fudge in the world, visiting Sault Ste. Marie to watch the freighters pass through Soo Locks, traveling to Whitefish Point to learn about the Edmund Fitzgerald, seeing the huge bears at Oswald’s Bear Ranch, and many more!

This is the view from my great-grandparents’ cottage-the inspiration for my poem.

But we all agree that the simple things are the best – like driving to Millecoquins Lake to see the deer, eating pasties and Mackinac Island fudge, walking along the beach, fishing (mostly my dad) and just enjoying time together as a family. Michigan is a beautiful place to go to for inspiration, rest, and a change of pace. Every year my great-grandmother leaves a note saying, “Janet will return.” She places it under a penny on her nightstand. And guess what? She DID return again this year at age 93!

My great-grandparents’ cabin looks right out over Lake Michigan, and that was the gorgeous view that inspired me to write “Lake Michigan’s Shore.” I hope through this poem I have captured the rugged beauty of all of Michigan, but especially of its Upper Peninsula.

Lake  Michigan’s Shore
By Emma Anderson
July 7, 2012
Age 12

Sun and sand, sea and sky
Breezes blow, seagulls fly.
On Lake Michigan’s shore stand I.

Waves roll up, and roll back down
Flowy winds swirl around.
The bright blue sky is where clouds abound.

Looking across an expanse of blue
A lovely, panoramic view.
And quiet-the bliss of solitude.

The sun is setting in the West
The waves recede, gone to rest.
The sky’s pink-orange-at its best.

Then there comes a silvery light,
The moon is rising, as if in flight,
Sending a glow upon the night.

The sand turns cold, stars glisten on high.
All is quiet, God is nigh.
On Lake Michigan’s shore stand I.


Thanks to Emma Anderson for sharing with us! Have you ever written about your love of Michigan? Post a link to your story in the comments section below or send us a note about being a guest blogger here.