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.

From Our Community: 21 Reasons We’re in Love with Michigan

It’s Valentine’s Day! And it’s the perfect time to show your love. We asked our fans on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram to tell us why they love the state of Michigan. We received so many wonderful and heartfelt responses. From long summer days to soft falling snow, it’s unanimous – There’s a lot to love about Pure Michigan!

Below is a roundup of just some of our favorite responses from fans. If yours is missing, tell us in the comments section why you’re in love with Michigan!

“I love the beauty of our state, from the miraculous sand dunes up and over the Mighty Mac Bridge to Pictured Rocks and all around the mitten the sparkly blue water of the Great Lakes!”  -Mary Distelrath McGowan

“I love the four beautiful seasons and the lighthouses.” -Lisa Foor Swartz

South Haven, Traverse City, Mission Point, Petoskey, The Great Lakes..Hot Summers..Colorful Fall Season..Apple orchards..blueberries.” -Jean Farrell DeWaters

“All the natural beauty, from lighthouses, to sand dunes, to sunsets and everything in between!” -Robin Ruff Leja

“I love the sand dunes and the wineries and the beaches!”  -Amy Parsons

“I love the smell of fresh air in Northern MI. The beautiful fresh water in our lakes…the seasons…I LOVE Mackinac Island!” -Teresa Dungey Gotch

“EVERYTHING, including the SNOW!” -Carol Hagen

“The smell of the pines and a wonderful sunset over Grand Traverse Bay!” -Linda Leder

“I love the way the sand feels on my feet 100 yards out! When it ripples into a washboard like repetition! I also love that you can find a spot ankle deep 200 yards out!” -Nathan Smith

“Skiing in Boyne!” -Lindsay O’Rourke

“The lakes and rivers to fish in. Fresh stealhead or walleye.” -Beth Powell-bennett

Fishing, camping and hiking in the Western U.P.” -Loretta Stolarz

“Summers near Ludington!” -Anne Stewart Goss

Frankenmuth, I love going there. I have been going up there for 50 years, never get tired of it!” -Louise Brown

“The snow, the lighthouses, Mackinac Island. The Lakes. Well Everything really.” -Sheila Anne Lawson

“Taking a day off to go to a lake is easy. Can’t wait for spring!” -Theresa Lynn Many

“We have a BEAUITFUL state! The water at Pictured Rocks in Lake Superior is like the Caribbean, it’s gorgeous! The different blues, you have to go see it!” -Wanda Tindle-Perry

“The 4 seasons, scenery like nowhere else, the lakeshore, and the sweet embrace when I go home to the UP!” -Cheryl Pekuri Wright

“Scenery, scenery, and more scenery. Add my family to that and I have everything.” -Tobie Kahn Scheibel

“Plentiful waters, beautiful curvy hills & a blended culture. Michigan has creative products & best small businesses anywhere!” -Twitter user @TheXExchange  

“What’s not to love about Michigan?” -Michael Tokarz Photography

Why do you love Pure Michigan?