In the fine words of weather guru Eric Sloane, "The weather is with us wherever we are, yet nothing is more taken for granted than the daily drama of the sky." Sailors, paddlers and boaters know well the need to keep a "weather eye"! Becoming more weather-wise can be more fun (and more accurate) than keeping an eye on weather aps.
TUGBOAT OTTAWA a single Motor Vessel offered daily excursions between Mackinac Island and The Snows In the 50's even this service was discontinued and the OTTAWA became a workboat for Walstrom's Marina at Harbor Springs MI.
Did you know 75% of Harbor Springs' economy was supported by the logging industry in the early 1900s?
In 1885, Wilson Bentley made a scientific discovery that is known and celebrated the world over: no two snowflakes are alike! A self-educated farmer from VT, Bentley was the first person to photograph a single snow crystal by jerry-riging a microscope to his bellows camera. More important, perhaps, than his photomicography was how he shared his sense of wonder for these tiny miracles!
Did you know that -40 degrees F is the lowest temp it can snow? Snowflake formation changes relative to the temperature and humidity. Below is a range of snow crystal formations and temps (approximate):
The largest snowflake ever recorded fell on January 28, 1887, at Ft Keough, MT. It was reportedly 15 inches (38 cm) in diameter.
"Gales" and "November" became ever-linked through the lyrics of Gordon Lightfoot's ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". A top 10 hit released in 1976, it was written as a commemoration to the wreck and the men who lost their lives. Lightfoot still performs it at every concert, consider it his finest work, and is in contact with many of the victims' families.
Technically speaking, gales run a range from moderate ("heaping sea" with 32 mph) to whole ("sea churns white" with 63 mph winds). Practically speaking, sailors know the combination of a fast approaching winter and warm Great Lakes waters means very unpredictable weather in November: gales come up quickly and violently. In fact, most yacht insurance policies fro the Great lakes specify that boats be out of the water by November 1. Even regulations for Great Lakes freighters change in the fall; they have to carry less cargo so they have more freeboard and ride higher and safer. To be sure, November is the toughest month to be out on the Great Lakes!
Somehow the lazy days of summer can become crazy and hectic! Try making time everyday to slow down and just sit- outside. It's amazing what you can discover by lying down in the grass or leaning against a tree. There's a whole world of small-scale wonder if we only take time to see it.
Ants are among the strongest, most intelligent, and sociable insects on Earth! Some ant facts:
How lucky we are to live so near this amazing body of water! Here are some interesting tidbits on Lake Michigan...
Grand Lac: No Wonder Champlain called it "Le Grand Lac"- it's the 6th largest freshwater lake in the world: 307 miles long x 118 miles wide. 1,638 miles of shoreline (including islands). 925 ft. at its deepest. It's the only Great Lake to be contained entirely within the U.S. borders- making it the largest body of freshwater in America.
Dunes: The world's largest 'collection' of freshwater dunes lines its shores- formed by glacial drift left after glacial ice melted some 16,000 years ago.
Carp Wars: Arguably the biggest threat to Lake Michigan, the invasive Asian carp has the potential to destroy the lake's ecosystem and fishing industry. 5 midwestern states have filed suit to keep 2 locks in Chicago closed to prevent the invasive species from entering the lake.
Looking to learn more about our local watershed? Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council is a great resource- you can learn, protect, restore and/or support our inland lakes, streams and waterways through its programs, events, and outings.
How are kids spending their free time outside of school? Americans ages 8-18 years spend on average 7.5 hours per day using some sort of entertainment media- thats over 53 hours per week (more than a full time job!) And only 4-7 minutes outside each day.
Take a child outside today! Enjoy the simple pleasures that kids may be missing out on- jump in a puddle, throw leaves in the air or climb a tree. Some great resources for info, ideas, and inspiration: Getting Kids Outdoors in Emmet County, Children and Nature Network, and Be Out There- National Wildlife Federation.
As early as 4000 BC, evidence of snowshoes was found in central Asia- solid slabs of wood used as foot extenders for easier snow travel. These may have been brought across the Aleutian land bridge by migrants to North America.
Walk down the city dock and imagine 1 single boat running the entire length from The Pier to the Harbor Master...
The 272 ft. steamship Manitou was a sight to see! The elegant "floating palace" carried passengers in style from Chicago to Harbor Springs. The 24 passage cost $5, meals and berth extra.
Our city dock is a treasure both then and now:
It has a story to tell!
It's green- a certified Michigan Clean Marina
It's public- dock your boat for just $27 per night
It's deep- the deepest municipal marina in the state!
Late October is time to honor the amazing bat! Micro-bats (not mega-bats) are the ones we find in America roosting upside down in colonies. In fact, they can't stand up- their pelvis is too small. Think large ears, small eyes, and small bodies. All they need is 1/2" space to squeeze into a building!
Micro-bats use echolocation to learn the size, texture, direction, and distance of nearby objects. The upshot: 2,000-6,000 insects for dinner each night!
Agile and quick?! Deer can out-sprint their predators at speeds of 30 mph with 10 ft. vertical jumps and single bounds of up to 30 ft. Contrary to popular myth, deer are aged not by the points on their rack, but by their molars. After their "big teeth" come in (around 18 months), they lose about 1mm of molar height each year.
Walk the beach and loos for this rare beauty formed 443 million years ago during the Silurian era!
Halysite- chain coral- was a living coral that formed colonies of elliptical tubes. These white "chain links" were 2-10 cm long. During fossilization, the actual coral links were replaced by quartz, creating raised white lines on the filler rock. Hard to find, but worth the search!
To survive winter, many northern MI animals hibernate by going into a deep sleep with lowered body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. They don't drink water or eat food.
Bats, frogs, turtles, and snakes are all true hibernators. Woodchucks are the best at it, lowering their body temperature from 98 to 40 and their heartbeat from 80 to 4!
Other mammals go into a deep sleep-aka torpor- that lasts for days or weeks. Bears, raccoons, some mice and skunks spend the winter in torpor. They will awaken periodically and in case of danger. Skunks will even go out of their burrow at least 1x a winter to empty their scent glands!
One of winter's best offerings...behind every set of animal tracks, there's a story to discover-what animal? How fast? Which way? Why?
Rabbits (and squirrels) first put down their small, front paws (rabbits' are offset whereas squirrels' are side-by-side) and then bring their big, hind paws around to land in front.
To know that we are within minutes of the big lake is one thing, but to actively consider our relationship to it is another...
To be "lakeful" is to be consciously aware of our personal connection to this Great Lake, bay, and harbor:
How has it shaped our collective heritage?
Why do we feel drawn to be by it, on it, and in it?
What can we do to nurture our connection year-round?
How can we protect it?
Photos: For amazing shots of the lake, visit Third Coast Images
Books: To browse, buy, and order books on Lake Michigan- like Jerry Dennis' The Living Great Lakes- visit Between the Covers on Main St.
Protection: Learn about the Little Traverse Bay Protection and Restoration Fund from Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
We've got snow. A lot of snow. Believe it or not, spring will come one of these days and the ice will thaw and the snow will melt. Take a moment to consider where all of that runoff will go. Take another moment to consider the kinds of "stuff" that will be washed along with the runoff. Of course there will be the random wrapper and bottle cap, but don't forget about the stuff that isn't always so obvious-nutrients, sediments, bacteria, chemicals, and other non-point source pollutants. Yuck! Now consider the fact that there are ways we can keep these pollutants from entering our streams, lakes, and Little Traverse Bay. They are called stormwater best management practices. Sounds technical, but they are really quite simple. Come listen and learn how we can all do our part to help protect water quality- it's simple!
Courtesy of Jennifer Buchanan Gelb of Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
Ever wonder where the water in the downtown drinking fountain comes from?
All of the City's bubblers are fed by springs (with the exception of the one in front of Graham Real Estate) that run year-round. Completely independent of the City's water distribution system, each fountain is "fed" by its own pipe that runs straight down to "tap" an underground spring; the spring water naturally bubbles back up the pipe. The drain in each fountain hooks up to the City's storm sewer system; these pipes run directly back to the lake via a storm water outlet. So next time you're downtown, drink from one of the many bubblers and celebrate both the springs and the harbor of Harbor Springs.
Thanks to Tom Richards, City Manager of Harbor Springs, for this data on our water supply
If you haven't swallowed one, chances are you've been swatting madly at midges. But before you curse those lil' buggers, take pause...they play an important role in the Lake Michigan ecosystem.
Courtesy of Captain Scott Carbeck of the Edith Opal who has been catching Lake Trout full of midges!
A point of pride in Harbor Springs is celebrating it's 80 year legacy...hear, hear to the NM! First sketched by Roy Kramer in 1934, the Northern Michigan (NM) racing sloop is a sight to behold for its shear beauty. This one-design boat (i.e., hull shape and sail size are frozen) handles wonderfully and is a joy to sail whether racing or pleasure sailing. It's unique design features:
Only 27 boats (NM 1-27) were ever built- in wood from 1934-1970 and in fiberglass from 1971-1982. So next time you're by the harbor, raise a toast to the 80-year old NM!
For an in-depth history of the NM by D.W. Barton, visit Little Traverse Yacht Club.
Abundant on the Lake Superior shoreline, Unakite can be found along our Lake Michigan beaches too. This eye-catching rock, usually a golf-ball sized pebble or smaller, is considered a gemstone and just the right hardness for jewelry design.
More info in Michigan Rocks and Minerals available at Meyer's Ace Hardware