Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Beautiful Farm

I love driving by this farm on Eagle Highway. In every season, every aspect looks tidy and productive, as well as scenic.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fields of Honey Gold

Both sides of the road!
But it's worth getting out of the car
and looking closer.
See below.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Northport, Michigan – Village of Gardens

Library garden

The light was not bright this morning, except for a strip of silver out on Grand Traverse Bay, but even on an overcast day our gardens sing with color. Doing my daily bank and post office errands, I enjoy the garden in front of the township library (planted and maintained by loyal, talented volunteers), the  garden at the house on the corner (next door to the library), and the one across the street, on the bank corner, looking toward the marina. 

Garden at corner house

Bank corner

Marina parking lot back right, depot back left

Errands accomplished and van unloaded (boxes and bags of “new” used books on their way to the shelves at Dog Ears Books), I decided to take the time to drive around the village and look at a few more gardens. Downtown gardens are really beautiful this year.

Looking west (uphill) on Nagonaba

Looking east (toward harbor) on Nagonaba
It was still early enough that I had time to make a circuit around several residential blocks. This old house where the Garthe sisters used to live (the same sisters who had who served chicken dinners at a restaurant out on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan back in the old days) has sweet, old-fashioned flowers in bloom all around it, some in the ground, some in pots. The flag adds a patriotic note.

A block over east, facing the Congregational church, flowers along a split-rail fence and up next to the house overflow with blossoms. Hydrangeas and lilies have really come into their own this past week.

David Chrobak, former proprietor of the Old Mill Pond Inn and initiator of the Northport Dog Parade (now in its twenty-first year), always has a garden different from anyone else’s. On Mill Street, old iron bed headboards painted bright red draw attention to his front yard.

"Dead People's Stuff"

Farther up Mill Street, Deb Kohler’s garden at the Indigo House is more traditional but no less exuberant. 

Indigo House
Back across the street on the corner are yet more flowers. The truth is, it's hard to find a barren corner anywhere in Northport.

The real treat of the morning, though, came when one homeowner and gardener invited me past the front sidewalk and through a magic gateway to the hidden garden behind her house. She apologized for her roses, saying they had pretty much “bloomed out,” but promising me that the lilies in the backyard were at their peak. She also gave me a couple of gardening tips that I hope to put to use at home in my modest border plantings. This gardener had truly created an entire world, and even "past their prime," the shrub roses looked beautiful to me.
Entrance to magic kingdom

Secret garden

Shrub rose 'Mystic Fairy'
But I wouldn’t be giving you a Northport garden tour without a nod to nonfloral decorative features. Here is a sample pair of strange creatures:

And then there are those of us who can’t sink a spade in the ground at our places of business. We must make do with window boxes and pots and do what we can to add color to the downtown streets. "Bloom where you're planted." "Brighten the corner where you are." The sun doesn't shine every day, but summer is full of bright colors.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


The younger of my two younger sisters says wryly that if she ever has a tombstone it should read: “She was organized to a fault.” Mine, should I ever have one, could not live up to that inscription. I’m not the least but certainly far from the most organized person I know.

Still, the other day a friend and I were talking about beauty and what it is in a landscape that makes us recognize it as beautiful, that is, as something to be captured somehow by art (he thought it required a clearing), and I remarked that my husband has a couple Leelanau County views he loves but says neither allows itself to be organized into a painting. Some kind of organization, I said, seems to be necessary. (What this has to say about Jackson Pollock, I leave for others to decide.) Responding to our friend’s thought about clearings, I agree that I do love fields, whether in crops or wild, and I particularly them when bordered by dark trees and interrupted by a curving road.

This morning as Sarah and I were out taking our morning exercise and fresh air, it occurred to me that one of the reason paintings of flowers are so generally satisfying is that nature has already organized each flower. A horizon line very clearly organizes the world of a painting or photograph. The image below is a very ordinary morning scene -- rien de sp├ęcial -- but the line separating Lake Michigan from the sky tells you where you are. We are creatures who seek meaning, who make meaning, and for that it is important that we organize our world view.

Paintings by my husband, David Grath, are now on exhibit through September 9 at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City. David is well known for his interpretations of beautiful landscape, and admission is free this week during the Traverse City Film Festival.

Just plain grass is beautiful to me.