Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wilbo and a Photographer Talk Birds, Snow Egrets to Sandhill Cranes, on the Shores of the Thornapple River

Ok, so I buttonholed a nature photographer. I feel entitled to buttonhole photographers. First, I am hardly holding on to a buttonhole to keep a photographer listening. I'm fairly engaging. Second, I often find them gigs and opportunities. Today, I was enjoying a picnic lunch on the shore of the Thornapple River, making sandwiches from groceries picked up at Trader Joe's. A photographer and his assistant came off the John Henry trail that passes through Middleville and continues along the Thornapple River. "How's the wildlife"? He kept walking with his telephoto lens and tripod, smiled, and said, "Good". "The area is known for woodpeckers. Not quite the Lord God bird, but more woodpeckers than average". He knew I was talking about the rarest of woodpeckers, the Ivory-Billed. The rumor that an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker had been spotted in the swamps of Arkansas set off a shockwave through the birding world. Locals put up billboards celebrating the rare bird. Ornithologists searched the swamps for confirmation and found none. Clues encountered in the Florida panhandle encouraged without confirming the bird's existence. The two walked over close. I was talking the language. "Springtime, Middleville throws a Woodpecker festival". I know this because a friend designed the logo. She left to study painting at the academy in Philadelphia. "Get any good shots"? "Nah, I had returned to shoot snowy egrets today, but I couldn't find them again". A dam on the Thornapple River at Middleville once powered looms and a flour mill. The dam now impounds a complex of backwater bayous that the locals have allowed to go natural. The locals just keep continuing the river trail further and further south. "Wow, the snowy egret is out of its range. Found any Sandhill Cranes"? "I've heard them. Can't find them". Drive along the road to Yankee Springs. Wheat fields in stubble have at least one couple. I don't know if the flock gathers this late in summer". He didn't know that Sandies were tribal, gathering in flocks at night for protection. Same place every year. The state put up bleachers at a state park in Pulaski County, Indiana. That's why we talk. To share our stoke, even if we are talking birding instead of surfing. "Hey, I don't want to buttonhole you". "It's okay. Where was that winery near the crane gathering"? "It's east of Jackson near the state prison. Called Sandhill Crane Winery. Worth a stop for a sip". I wondered if the two took off to follow up on the Sandies. I continued onto Yankee Springs State Recreation Area and found one of my favorite boat launches a mile back from the Chief Noonday Road. It was noon when I arrived but now it's dinner time. I don't have fishing equipment to try my luck in the small lake with all the leaping fish. I heard two birds in conversation, the bird song a repeated note. The note sounded like the first second of a tea kettle going off. The bird in the mature trees above me must have been moved by what was said. The wide wing span carried the excited bird on several gyres over the lake. It looked like a blue heron but how could that be. I've always seen Blue Herons flying direct, no nonsense paths. I saw one fishing in a rainwater lagoon on Michigan 6 near the Armand Merizon property today. Blue Herons fish. They are shoreline birds that stand in water. Can the heron also stand on a tree limb and sing? Plus, Blue Herons build rookeries of log cabin nests in the upper reaches of dead trees killed by standing water. These are clearly marked by naturalists to keep hikers and motorized vehicles away from the vital nests. I haven't noticed a sign of a rookery.

One of my friends has what it takes to be a great bird photographer. She must have the Doctor Doolittle talent, the ability to talk to the animals. When she kayaks with camera in tow, loons swim around her craft, even taking dives under her boat. Maybe she can solve this afternoon's riddle. How did I meet her? Well, I didn't buttonhole her, but .....

Male Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Believed to be extinct in the 1960-70's in the United States, but found in Cuba in 1980's. Photo by Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service. Watercolored black-and-white photo.

Black and white version published in 1935, photographed by Arthur A. Allen.

Wilbo Takes a Nap Under an Apple Tree and Wakes Up to Find a Thriving Farmers Market in Kalamazoo, Local Wine Served by the Glass.

I had parked my car under an apple tree growing on the grassy lawn near Kalamazoo Farmers Market. Sitting comfortably in a camp chair, I was looking at a small pond edged with purple loosestrife and cattails. On a scrub apple tree, a bushel of fruit at the most was turning red and waiting to fall as deer feed. A man came by with a yellow nylon rope and went around the base of this scrub, and continued paying out line. "Would you like me to move my car, sir?" "No, that's okay. Just drive over the rope when you go. I'm just setting out a line of demarcation for the booze". I perked up. Booze at the evening farmer's market? Around all the sheds, the man had laid a continuous yellow rope, indicating a drinking area. I saw a woman polishing up wine glasses and opening cases of Lawton Ridge wine. She introduced herself as Lucy. Two years ago, when the market applied for a license to serve wine and beer at the Thursday market, the language forgot to state a height for the rope. So they laid it on the ground. And volunteers kept an eye out for people crossing the line with filled glasses. And the auditor said, "Ok". She got her bands ready and her volunteers showed up to check licenses. Every one was busily please preparing for the night, with Megan Dooley and the Last Roots band setting up and tuning up to the local chapter of student chefs setting out a tasting menu. The Kalamazoo Farmers Market looks rather basic compared to the newer and taller structures of the Muskegon Farmers Market. Yet, it seemed to me that Kalamazoo had broken new ground in making this the market into a Thursday night happening.

Wilbo Visits the Fulton Street Market and is Offered a Baptism, Buys Raw Honeycomb and Fails to Find Rick Beerhorst, Busker and Painter

August 20th, 2016

I arrived at Fulton Street Farmer's Market and felt a moment's disappointment. Rick Beerhorst and his Wonder Wagon had stayed at home apparently, and I had long wanted to hear the family of artists busking. A good alternative, Kaitlin Zittel on guitar and a friend on beat box greeted shoppers at the entrance, singing all original music. I was missing Saturday at the Muskegon Farmers Market. When it comes to Farmers Markets, love the one you're with, to borrow from a Simon and Garfunkel tune. Grand Rapids painters made a showing today. Robyn Bonhof, a prize winning painter, greeted me at the entrance. About two years ago, she embraced the Last Reformation movement and began leading lay ministers in outreach. Today, she was cultivating five lay ministers, each one willing to say a healing prayer with any who asked. Near the market, in the parking lot in fact, a tank of water pulled here by her truck awaits any who request baptism by immersion. Bomhof's faith has helped grow the disciples from a small group into a much larger group soon to move to the Grand Valley Artist Association space. Robyn took the time to share her two year journey into faith, which limits her painting time and yet, puts her work into a new phase.

A man arrived with a sign declaring a Bible verse. "All Sinners Will be Destroyed". "Robyn?", I asked. "We prayed together for his wife. She is fighting cancer. His message is divergent".

A old sign for Turtle Island Farms fascinated and soon I was talking to a woman who went back to the land to organic farm in 1976. My mother persuaded my father to purchase a homestead in 1971, where we farmed without chemicals. She had me to pull the weeds and pluck off aphids and pests. Which I threw on the waters of Euler Lake for bream to surface and gulp. The woman who started Turtle Island Farms worked with her husband, her son and his wife, to fill the orders of customers. She promised to look up the book of poems by Gary Snyder entitled, "Turtle Island", but it wasn't her inspiration.

I have driven several times between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo this month, and around Gun Lake, I've noticed two or four Sandhill Cranes foraging in the fields, pecking at the worm-filled dirt. Check for Sandhill Cranes the next time you visit the Gun Lake Casino. The cafe is named for the Sandhill Cranes and many Native American paintings celebrate the birds.

Crane Dance Farms raises beef, lamb, poultry and swine free of genetically modified feed. The two families of Sandies who return each February, no later than March, tend to stay close to the pig sty, where pigs share their water and feed. It appears to Laura Crabtree-Hollenback that the same couple has returned to the farm every year, and mate in their marsh. The family has promised to protect the marsh and fields that draw back the cranes each year. She couldn't say if she knew the location where the Middleville tribe of families gathered at night. Thousands gather at an Audubon refuge with a marsh in Jackson County. At a park in Pulaski County, Indiana, bleachers have been erected for crane lovers who gather to watch thousands landing at dusk. There has to be a place like it near Middleville. I discovered the Crane resurgence in 2005 when I stumbled onto Sandhill Crane Winery near the Jackson preserve. Pleased to see that another business celebrates the Sandy in their branding.

The question hit me after we talked. Isn't Laura Crabtree-Hollenback a perfect painter of watercolors represented by Richard App Gallery? If so, I've seen her exceptional paintings on exhibit on Richard App's walls.

Across from the stall for Lubbers Family Farm awaits goat cheese made by Dancing Goat Creamery. Dancing Goat has operations on the Lubbers Farm. Wondering about the whereabouts of Suzanne, who wrote a guide to cooking food from Michigan Farmers markets, sharing recipes and shopping techniques. Karen Lubbers came to Suzanne's reading at the Bookman in Grand Haven and shared her story. Her daughter had been diagnosed with brain cancer and Lubbers responded by taking control of her daughter's diet. She insisted upon raw milk, so she started a dairy. Her daughter is now a cancer survivor and yet, Lubbers can't sell raw milk from her greatly expanded dairy. But Cowslip Creamery and and Dancing Goat can use the milk to make cheese right by where the cows are milked. That's a victory, if a partial one.

White Irish Goat Photograph by Michael Palmer Borrowed from Wikipedia

Wilbo Motors over to Downtown Market in Grand Rapids to See the Farmers and Pinch the Peaches.

While in Grand Rapids Saturday, I motored over to the Downtown Market to see if farmers were selling farm goods at this market at Ionia and Wealthy Streets too. I couldn't imagine why anyone would sell at Downtown Market over the vibrant Fulton Street market, but I had to see for myself. Instead of fielding farmers under the long roof, the market had invited master sand castle makers to carve statues out of sand. Two masters were putting on finishing touches as I strolled up, and a pair of bartenders had set up an outdoor bar with a full range of call liquors. So maybe no farmers at all will drive up their trucks to the stalls? The space worked well as an outdoor exhibition space, the long roof sure to keep the rain from ruining the sculptures. A sandbox on the side flocked with children learning sand sculpting techniques. I stepped into the main floor bazaar, and felt overwhelmed at the range of vendors, everyone from Sweetie-Licious, bakers of award winning pies, to Slows Barbecue, a transplant from Detroit's Corktown district. The space occupied by Social, a high end restsurant, had an expensive feeling. I asked if the moss wall had been installed by Ashley Liebler, an artist active on Division Street. The hostess didn't know but testified, "Guests love to walk up and pet the moss". The Downtown Market lacks the history of the old markets in downtown Montreal or Toronto. Downtown Market had better design and more salubrious vendors, but it will take decades to accumulate the gravitas of the Canadian markets. I was reminded of Ferry Plaza in San Francisco. It's hard for landlocked Downtown Market to compete with a maritime port with ships arriving hourly from Sausalito, Tiburon and Oakland. Downtown Market has proximity to the bus hub and a major freeway and yet doesn't feel connected to either. Signs placed by ArtPrize a few years ago show, ironically, how far one must walk to reach other Grand Rapids districts.
The second floor had the feeling of corporate offices, door after door leading to incubator kitchens, lacking the busy, hopeful feeling of the Culinary Institute of Michigan in Muskegon, always flocking with student chefs seeking skills. In the greenhouse, plants on irrigation hoses awaited buyers. It reminded me more of the garden center at Kmart than a teaching greenhouse. Among the plants, I found a program left over from a wedding and reception held on the second floor last weekend, an impressing production detailed on the hand made paper. Families dined together on the outdoor terrace, sharing selections picked up at the food court below. The terrace planters hosted apple trees with fruit almost red enough to pick. Viewing the parking lot of porous pavement and Heartside Park from the terrace, the diners could hardly make out the homeless woman sleeping on the grass, meaning right on the grass. Homeless men sat together on the benches, talking and smoking. At the park pavilion, volunteers gathered with the homeless for a celebration picnic, catered by Buist Community Engagement. The volunteers from a church on LaGrave Street had staffed a foot spa for the homeless one day a week all summer, giving the homeless hope one mani-pedi at at time. I remembered. Jesus had washed his disciples feet before he was betrayed, and the foot spa volunteers of LaGrave church might have begun their mission with the Gospel of John, Chapter 13. I hadn't thought of the Bible story in a long time.

The Sands of Victory, a sand art sculpture by artist Natalia Kamenskaia

Photo Credit to the Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sands_of_Victory.jpg

Monday, August 15, 2016

Exploring Art in Downtown Flint, Wilbo Crashes at a Flint Bungalow Rather than Drive Drowsily Home.

I was attending the Michigan Invitational Art Opening at the Greater Flint Arts Council, and I knew I would be too tired to drive after the event. I found Oneheart's listing on AirB&B, and he responded almost immediately and agreed to open up his home of short notice. Yes, One is his first name. One Heart is his philosophy and faith. His kindness allowed me time to explore the Second Friday ArtWalk along Saginaw Street, including the live performances upstairs at Buckham Gallery and the exhibit of African American art at the Mott-Warsh Collection. One had recently purchased the modest bungalow on a pleasant tree lined street. Most of the trees I identified as mature locust trees. In the morning, I saw a slender bird foraging on a lawn, a bird I had never seen before and couldn't identify. I remember a red streak on its gray head. That morning, One was busily painting his door red in the morning. He had recently purchased his home near Mott Park and the Flint River, a bungalow that offered wood floors, a full back yard and an extensive wooden deck, a great example of modestly priced Flint real estate. The water from his taps seemed okay to me.

I was looking up real estate equivalents on his street, and he probably got an incredible deal. I slept soundly in his quiet place, and enjoyed talking with him in the morning. Location has access to Hurley Hospital and is a mere five minutes drive from the cultural amenities of downtown Flint.

Kehinde Wiley
Passing/Posing (St. Zeno), 2004,
Oil on canvas. Passing/Posing (St. Zeno)
© Kehinde Wiley

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wilbo Contemplates the Elusive Nature of True Michigan Cherry Pie, and Shows Gratitude for All the Free in His Life.

I arrived after the tolling of Noon at the Farmer's Market. With hope, I made a beeline to the woman who sells fresh apple pie by the slice. Her husband and she call their business "The Cake Flour Bakery". Alas, she had sold all of her slices at two dollars the slice. I had given her two dollars to hold back a slice for me for most of July. Alas again, I failed to pay in advance on Saturday, when I missed the market entirely. She smiled. She asked, "Do you like cherries"? "Well, yes, and cherries are in season". She smiled again, "I bought a flat of cherries from Dave England the Pumpkin Man Saturday, and I made cherry pie to sell by the slice". I looked hopefully at her plug in fridge, wondering if she were about to produce a slice. I imagined her in the kitchen, slicing and pitting cherries and making her own cherry filling. "I'll have more cherry pie next time I am at market". "I can't wait", I smiled. I walked away and soon I had three regrets. First, she has brought baked goods Wednesday to the flea market. So tomorrow she's bringing cherry pie to the market? I only have to wait until tomorrow? I didn't clarify that point. Second, I didn't force two dollars on her to hold back a slice. She puts the slice away in a brown paper bag with a napkin rolled around a knife and fork. Tucks the package away in the fridge. Third, I failed to verify what variety of cherries she had purchased from Dave. Dave the Pumpkin Man brings the cherries in all their varieties south from Mears.

At most, I just have to wait until Thursday, the next market day just for farmers. I'm making a mental note to go to the market earlier.

I saw Dave putting away empty boxes in his van. I said to his partner, "I have a question for Dave". "Well, holler at him"! "Dave, what kind of cherries did you sell the Cake Flour lady for her pies"? He nodded at the pints in front of me, red cherries as red as a Chevrolet Corvette. "I sold her a flat of Montmorency Cherries. Those a good pie cherries, a little on the sour side". "Thanks Dave! Keep pushing the stone fruit". The two farmers laughed, yet I think they were laughing with me, not at me.

I lunched with a good friend last Saturday, and he had just returned from a sailing trip from Muskegon to Charlevoix. We ate burgers at Lefty's and Romo's and went over the voyage, port by port. I know all port town on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan, but only a few of them from the water.

The ship had fled a storm arriving at South Manitou Island and made safe harbor at Northport. He said, "We docked, walked into town, and looked in the window at the cherry pies and turnovers at Barb's Bakery". I felt for him. "Oh, Mike, You can knock on the door of Barb's at Five in the morning and expect to be let in. But she shuts up right after lunch". "Yeah, I know. Men were sitting out front on benches, eating cherry turnovers and drinking coffee, and we knocked on the door without hope. We went over to the Farmer's Market, and all the vendors were sold out of Leelanau cherry pie".

"Man, cherry pie interruptus already", I sympathized. "You said it". He took a long pull on his pint of Perrin Black Ale. "So we went to the supermarket. We bought a bread with cherries baked inside. Hardly a substitute". "Dang, Mike, you sailed all the way to the tip of Leelanau County and you didn't get any cherry pie? What a blow". I stood him another pint of Perrin Black Ale and changed the subject to his new greenhouse. His strawberries don't know it's the middle of July.

After my walk around the Farmers Market, I popped into Burger King for a pair of flame broiled cheeseburgers and a free coffee. I get a free coffee almost everywhere I go. Except at the Coffee Factory, Drip Drop Drink and Aldea, where I pay for the showmanship. And the chance to talk garrulously as the hot water drizzles through the freshly ground coffee. I poured myself a coffee from the urn and set about checking my email. The counterman yelled out, "Two cheeseburgers, hold the ketchup"! I missed the call. One more time he bellowed, "Two cheeseburgers, hold the ketchup"! "I'm right there in a moment", I yelled back. When I made the counter, two men looked at me. The two had an Icee in cherry each, a dollar and sales tax. They looked a little haggard. Probably recent releases from the county jail". One said to me, "You didn't show up, I was taking your burgers". The second said to me, "Yeah, those burgers looked good". I squinted my eyes and saw the icees and no food. "Are you the hungry"? "Yes, we are". "So enjoy". The first guy said as he shook my hand, "You're going to win the lottery today". I said, "I'm going to play". The second guy shook my hand. "Thanks, man". And the two men went out into the hot day with their dollar Icees and a cheeseburger each. I ordered another round.

I'm not going to miss two dollars on my poorest day. I get a lot of free in my life. I rolled into Van's Oil Change today for a free fluid and tire pressure check. Just rolled into the shop on Whitehall Road and asked. He topped off my oil. My Vortec engine burns a little although I was surprised this time how much. He topped off my washer fluid, inflated a low rear tire. He refused a tip. Kathy's Produce always has a free apple for me three days a week, just for the asking. I visited an open house on the waterfront and poured myself three glasses of Malbec from the bottle. Grand Valley threw a shindig two weeks ago and my friends and I drank from an open bar and ate fresh blackberries in small cups of chocolate. I can spare a pair of dollar cheeseburgers.

Maybe I can get those guys to shave and dress in a button down from Goodwill. Teach them to talk the talk and hit the party circuit. Teach a guy to gate crash and they'll eat for a lifetime.

Wikipedia image by Martha Dol. - Montmorency Cherries

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Young Man Folds Paper Cranes in Muskegon Without Knowing Why Folding Paper Cranes is an Honorable Act.

May 22, 2016 9:22 AM

I've always liked origami. I've never been been good at it although I loved to fold up paper airplanes. I knew how to fold up two different kinds, but never learned the circular one that flew the farthest. I knew a guy called "Dollar Bill" and he did origami at the coffee house at fourth and main in Royal Oak. He specialized in folding up dollar bills into bowties. I gave him two dollars and he gave me a dollar bowtie back. I gave it to my daughter, who was sitting beside me at the coffee house. And then I left for three months to work for Seven-Eleven in Dallas.

So I saw a young man of eleven folding up a flower, I thought I would encourage him. Airbags are a practical kind of origami and engineers consulted with origami masters to learn what the masters knew about folding. So I shared that with him. He folded me a paper frog. It was snatched away while I wasn't looking, so it was that nice. Nice enough to be coveted. I asked if he had ever folded paper cranes.

May 22, 2016 9:34 AM

I asked if he had ever folded paper cranes. He promised to look up designs on the internet. I kept back the story why it was honorable to fold many paper cranes. I cringed inside. Here was a young man who probably didn't know about the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My mother told me the story, pulling out a black and white Life magazine to show her children, opening the magazine on the kitchen table, letting us see images of the aftermath. Humanity will be folding cranes for thousands of years to expatiate for these megadeaths. I didn't tell him that. I just said, "It is honorable to fold crane after crane and give them away". In saying so, I had honored the obligation to pure conversation, to say what is to be said as if the zeitgeist had scripted my words. I think about that Life magazine photographic tale .....

May 22, 2016 9:50 AM

I think about that Life magazine photographic tale. I remember one of my humanities professors at Michigan State. I have no idea why it happed, but I once had to sit his office and watch him read. Oh yes, he was proctoring me as I took a make up examination. My father needed immediate help pulling and replacing a well point one day. So I skipped, forgetting about the midterm. He glanced at my essays and said, "Okay", and pelted me with ideas. "Classics. Cut your teeth on the classics. Joe Walsh. You know Joe Walsh who sang 'Rocky Mountain Way'? His mother made him learn classical piano and composition. I thought about that every time I heard 'Rocky Mountain Way' or heard about rocky mountain oysters. Ate a pair outside of Missoula. As I left the professor's office he said, "Read history ...

May 22, 2016 10:05 AM

As I left the professor's office he said, "Read history on the monographic level". "Yes, sir", I said. And I left. I have yet to read history any deeper than the Wikipedia and Find-A-Grave. It keeps me occupied. I use the Wikipedia to write stories. I introduce myself as a folklorist rather than a historical writer.

I like seeing historical artifacts, which speak endlessly like a good monograph. Saw the court papers remanding the Sundance Kid to the Calaboose in Sundance Wyoming. Saw the Golden Spike at a museum at Stanford, the silver and copper and steel spikes too. Stood at the cliff side grave of Kenneth Rexroth, a cliff in Santa Barbara overlooking the Pacific. Years later, I went to visit that professor at his house. Enjoying his retirement, he was working in his garden and gave me a bouquet of chrysanthemums.

Picture Credit

By Mike Souza - originally posted to Flickr as Red-crowned cranes and chick, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6797549

On May 23,2016, Wilbo Eats Breakfast in a Baha'i Peace Park Watching Squirrels; Wilbo Eats Dinner that Night Under a Bridge Contemplating Trolls.

May 23, 2016 4:47 AM
Awoke and took a note for the dream journal: "Ice on the race course broke and we had to dive for the leaders, floundering in the cold water. We fought until cold water gave them up."

May 23, 2016 8:02 AM

Muskegon is a city of gardens. Paris is a city of gardens too. Stratford, Ontario is a city of gardens also. Paris and Stratford have arguably the finest civic gardens in the world. Muskegon has gardens that are obscure or even gardens people ignore on garden tours. One of my favorite gardens awaits on Marquette Boulevard, land reclaimed from demolishing three vacant houses, celebrating oaks that were acorns in the lumber town days. I only know about it because Laura Holmes throws book parties for a list of local authors that grows longer every year. At the meet-the-author event at the Spring Lake Library, two women were selling a book on faith and landscape gardening. The sisters had a landscape design and maintenance company. They had a remarkable list of designs, gardens and commercial landscapes, in downtown Muskegon.

May 23, 2016 8:12 AM

I couldn't afford their book that day but it was okay. The two were happy to share Baha'i ideas with me and invite me to visit their work in progress, this Peace Garden where I sit and meditate before checking in at a local elementary. In the center, a marble compass rose is encircled by marble benches and conifer shrubs. The grass is always trim. The Baha'i congregation meets here one a year for a service during Muskegon's Ninety Days of Peace observance, bringing forty people who park on the lawn and bring music, food and children. The garden has little signage to tell you its purpose, just a mossy stone that reads, "Peace Garden". The squirrels romp around the base of the oaks happily, a cease fire on hunting declare in the city of Muskegon. Guessing a few wind up in a local's stew pot because who can hear a pellet gun? And yet, squirrels live here in peace in the Peace Garden.

May 23, 2016 6:32 PM

My favorite stand for greens and onions has opened for season. Located at Duck Lake and Scenic near Duck Lake Channel, the colorful, hand painted sign by the road declares, "Vegetables, Flowers, Salad Greens". Smaller sign closer to road adds as an afterthought, "Onions". Seeing lilacs in the shed first, I am hoping for mixed greens and maybe bunches of various herbs. The greens are priced lower than bags of potato chips and lower than the bags from my usual supplier, Mud Lake Farms, brings to the Muskegon Farmers Market. I have yet to emerge from my car parked on their wooded driveway and hope the people who parked the two Subarus earlier today understand free advertising, which is what I am writing in their driveway. I can't stand the suspense any longer. Hoping for greens more mightily that I've ever hoped for a six or eight in craps. A bird call seems to indicate annoyance.

May 23, 2016 6:32 PM

Shed had stocks of books to borrow, stalks of rhubarb, green onions and bunches of herbs from Italian parsley to fennel. I even lifted a vase displaying lavender, fresh and surprising to find in season, and sniffed for one of my favorite, clean scents. I was crestfallen to find not a single bag of fresh, washed mixed greens awaiting me. Maybe weekend traffic sold them out? I borrowed a copy of Fidel, a critical portrait, to read at Duck Lake Channel, a salad for the mind. I have tuna fish and crackers in my truck's hold and no greens to add to my picnic.

May 23, 2016 9:07 PM

Duck Lake Channel attracts families with children and adults with dogs. Tonight no exception, at least four fine dogs were running in the channel, a stream of water that narrows before entering Lake Michigan. I posted myself on a folding chair as children, parents and dogs made their way to Duck Lake Beach, taking a passageway that runs under the Scenic Drive bridge over the channel. I opened my tin of tuna flavored with lemon pepper and crunched happily on my crackers. I enjoyed a nuzzling from the occasional hound, but mostly just meditated on the day that had passed and enjoyed how sunshine reflected up from the channel's surface shimmered on the concrete structure that carried Scenic Drive traffic. Had hoped for a swim and searched without success in the truck for a swimsuit.

Picture of Squirrel from the Wikipedia

On Memorial Day Weekend this Year, Wilbo Remembered His Friend Who Loved to Play Beach Volleyball.

May 28, 2016 4:04 AM

On the east bound freeway near Marne, I thought a tower of magnesium had caught fire. An officer had pulled over a car, and the cruiser lights had shined much more intensely than any car lights in my experience. At the rest stop twelve miles from Muskegon, the C.A.R.E. trailer had a crew of three volunteers serving motorists snacks and coffee, an Memorial Day Weekend tradition. Mile 2777 brings me home.

May 28, 2016 12:13 PM

I am rolling up to Muskegon Farmers Market a smidge after noon. Is it St Mary's or the Muskegon School Building that has just rung twelve times. I am like that bell, late but fully observant of ritual. Today, I might not find Mud Lake Farms stocked with fresh, washed mixed greens anymore. Laughing Tree might be out of cherry pecan scones. Aldea should have coffee and Larry should have apples. That's what happens when one goes to bed at four. One sleeps as the farmers and bakers and coffee makers sell out of the good stuff. Maybe I'll just go see the farmers arriving as the birds wake up and delay my slumber? Mile 2778.

May 28, 2016 2:59 PM

On the square bounded by Boar's Belly, Unruly Brewing, MLive and Muskegon Museum of Art, a beach has washed up, made of sand that arrived this winter to Pere Marquette Beach. The city sent trucks to carry downtown all the excess sand that has to be removed from parking lots at the beach. A pair of volleyball nets have been hung; looking to learn who is responsible for issuing volleyballs. Maybe it is a bring your own volleyball volleyball court. My friend who lives in San Francisco now loved to play Volleyball at Pere Marquette Beach, take a cooling dip with her team near the Hobie cats up on the sand and drink Unruly Beer samples afterwards. Cheap, classy date as samples cost little to nothing and she never overindulges. Will she take to the the downtown court with little chance for a dip? We'll find out later this summer when she arrives home for family time at the beach, requiring many trips to the airport.

May 28, 2016 3:09 PM

We'll find out later this summer when she arrives home for family time at the beach, requiring many trips to the airport. It's quite an extended family that all reports home for a month or more. What I like as much as the new nets are the dozen bicycles laden with panniers locked up at a rack made in a local factory. All twelve riders are quenching thirst in Unruly with Fetch Brewing in their reach by early evening. Plenty of backpacks with hydration lines on the benches at Unruly right now. That's a first this year. I've had my eye on a bike at CityHub for a month now and a kayak from Curtis Outdoors even longer. I'm taking a slow day desultory walk back to the pad, and that's a nice start. However, the hundred days of summer have begun in Muskegon. Time to pull the trigger. Time to take the River.

May 28, 2016 6:41 PM

Walks around town made-up a three hour session today. Walking by my place, I counted four bridal parties, picture taking, going here to there thanks to the Muskegon Trolley Car company. The old fashioned looking vehicles look like trollys, burn diesel and are driven by county drivers, the county owning the buses. Seven, if not more, wedding halls attract this weekend business to Muskegon. Have yet to see a wedding party at the outdoor market, which tomorrow hosts the Retro Market, an antique sale.

May 28, 2016 9:18 PM

Back Forty is a country kind of place on a nice piece of property along Fulton Street, Grand Rapids. Drink deep at this watering hole, Hoss. Mile 2828.

May 29, 2016 1:10 PM

Heard aloud at the Retro Expo, "Happy Price Makes It Go Home With You. I don't want to pack it". Thirty-two vendors await your visit to survey their various wares at Muskegon Farmers Market. Mile 2943.

May 29, 2016 1:14 PM

165 Clay Street is a two story commercial building that promises to become "The Open Kitchen and Clay Street Saloon". Can't wait.

May 29, 2016 1:45 PM

Fair weather brings many sailing competitions to Lake Muskegon. Today is the Commodore Cup at Muskegon Yacht Club. The breeze is full and cool.

May 29, 2016 3:49 PM

Neighbor at Torrenson's Marina motored off upon a Four Winns motorboat, but not before telling me the Wolverines of Michigan Softball won today. Counting swallows. Not swallows of beer but swallows that wing through the air.

Photography Credit:

By David Martin - Drawn by byj, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2066135

On May 30th, 2016, Wilbo Drove from His Home in Muskegon to a Beach on Lake Michigan Where He First Beheld the Great Lake Forty Years Before.

May 30, 2016 5:17 PM

Muskegon has a new crop of businesses for Spring, including Oceana Vineyards Tasting Room in the Century Club. That's a win for us from the farmers market. The couple behind Oceana loved the leads and sales from the market, even in the dead of winter. Financed by a fund for Native American business, the Front Porch opened this weekend, offering "Antique, Vintage and Revised Goods". Now that's fascinating because Native Americans have revised European American culture since the days of Christopher Columbus and the purchase of Manhattan for a price paid in beads.

I missed openings for each and will play catch-up soon. Front Porch inhabits the upper north side of Muskegon's downtown, a place with vacant buildings and industrial supply companies with quirky inventory systems. It is a stone's throw from the Cheese Lady, so it's fascinating to see the city grow out to a natural edge. There is the United Way out here and Witt Buick, an auto dealership that even GM couldn't close. Wonder what can happen out here? Mile 3116.

May 30, 2016 8:02 PM

Nature changes its creatures in size and form continuously. So I can be fairly sure an inch worm descending a thread of silk from the canopy of a tall oak came from an egg recently. The inchworm has tried the landing twice, finding the dryness of a concrete sidewalk a reason to try again. Mile 3136

May 30, 2016 9:49 PM

Sun is setting, now smack water on horizon. Two beach fires are roaring, adults taking action against dusk's arrival by building fire. I had to move because one fire used light materials that raised streamers of smoke. That fire is burning cleaner now. And there we have it, sun ball to sun smack in a few minutes. The sun is here all season, sundown show starts at Nine. The sun hit the water at a point north east of me, moving northerly each day until the solstice. I've been coming to this spot longer than any Lake Michigan beach, brought here by my parent's Lutheran congregation. I found the waters of Duck Lake Channel to be delightful, excitingly rich with fish, fingerings and perch, bass and trout. Clarity allowed me to see into the depths. The water here has given me concern.

May 30, 2016 9:49 PM

The water here at Stony Lake Beach gives me concern, and it's not the creek that's flowing into Lake Michigan here that concerns me. It's the shore of the big lake, the water close to shore. The shallows have visible algae, hardly a bloom and yet a sign of water too rich with fertilizer or worse, overflow from a septic tank. I frolicked in the creek instead, cold and turbid and pocked with the rings left by surface feeding fish. I found a bench and listened for bird calls as these no-see-ems tried to bite my nape, where my eyes can't see and my hands can reach only when I stop writing.


Lag BaOmer bonfire
1 May 2010