Friday, July 23, 2010

A Chinese look at July Fourth celebrations

By Yunhua Li*

HOUGHTON -- When international students observe Americans celebrating Independence Day in a variety of ways (like traditional picnics, parades, fireworks, traveling around, visiting friends and family members or attending concerts), it can be a challenge to understand this different festival celebration. Looking at Independence Day, international students may be curious about American culture and join in celebration events to learn more.

 Michigan Tech international students enjoy the Lake Linden Fourth of July Parade. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Xueqian Lu, Michigan Tech master's student in civil engineering)

Michigan Tech international students observed this July Fourth in different ways. Some people attended parades, some watched fireworks and some were invited to barbecues. Chinese students, for example, enjoyed the parades and fireworks at Lake Linden and a barbecue at Chassell Beach. They all believed that they gained a deeper understanding of American culture. As an international student myself, I believe that no matter what country international students study in, they should try to understand its culture.

Weizhon Lai is a newcomer and is pursuing his master’s degree in civil engineering. He went to see the Lake Linden parade. Lai said he saw horses, police cars, farmers, people who decorated their own suits and cars, and children catching candy. These all showed him the local culture.

"The parade was interesting because I never saw this type of parade in China," Lai said.

In comparison with China, things are totally different. Horses are hardly seen in China, because they have to live in special areas and are not allowed on the street. Police cars hardly join in local social events and are serious in public. American people like to display their talents in front of people, but Chinese are more likely to present their ability only if they are sure that they are good enough.

Xiang Sun is a postgraduate student in material science; he has been in the U.S. for seven years.

"I like to see the parade, because I feel the people who joined the parade were active and relaxed and really went into the parade like actors," he said.

The Chinese Independence Day parade, according to Sun, was in front of Tienanmen Square in Beijing on October First. The parade showed the whole country’s development, and nearly 60 ethnic groups gave professional performances. The parade was formal and serious. It is like a show or an exhibit, and the whole country could watch it on TV. There were no local parades at all.

 Xueqian Lu, a master's student in civil engineering, has been at Michigan Tech for a few weeks. He joined the fireworks activities in Lake Linden the night before July Fourth.

"The fireworks were not as big as I saw in China, but they were right in front of me," Lu said. "China has fireworks on Independence Day, but most people can only see them on TV because people are not allowed to have fireworks in the city. We like to have fireworks during New Year and have them outside in the villages or towns."

Ming Xie is a PhD student. He joined the barbecue with a group of Chinese friends. In China, Xie said, barbecue places are limited and are not usually available because of the big population and limited public spaces. People do travel around and go out with friends, and that is why during festivals the parks and popular destinations are so crowded.

"It was fun to eat out, talk to friends and enjoy the sunshine and beach," Xie said.

A retired teacher and American citizen with a master's degree in Asian history had an experience similar to those of the Chinese students -- observing the differences between cultures when she lived in China. Shelley Ritchie taught English in Shanghai for three years and attended the October Fist Chinese Independence Day.

"I could not image there would be so many people on the street," Shelley said. "It was so crowded. It looked like everyone was out to celebrate this festival."

Studying in different countries provides opportunities to experience new cultures and learn about the differences between the countries. All the Chinese students said they enjoyed their opportunities to experience new aspects of American culture during the recent July Fourth activities in the Keweenaw.

*Editor's Note: Guest reporter Yunhua Li is a Michigan Tech international student from China studying in the Humanities Department. She is the only international student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class. Students in the class have been contributing articles for Keweenaw Now as part of their class assignments.

"Livin' Is Easy" Recital to benefit Omega House July 27

HOUGHTON -- The fourth annual "Livin' Is Easy" Benefit Recital will be presented at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock (1000 W. Quincy) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, 2010. The proceeds of the "Under the Moon" concert will benefit Omega House. The public is cordially invited to attend this benefit concert for a suggested donation of $5 per person.

The recital includes vocal selections of solos and duets from Broadway, opera, popular and art songs. In keeping with this year’s theme, "Under the Moon," some of the songs will mention the moon, the stars or other nocturnal features. 

Each year the recital opens with the theme song, "Summertime." It will be performed this year by two jazz artists -- saxophonist Paul Keranen and pianist Ole Kristensen. The vocal-piano duo of Karin Schlenker and David Bezotte will help light the night with a medley of three torch songs. Night-related songs include "Casta Diva" from Norma, Baby Doe’s "Silver Aria," "The Last Night of the World" from Miss Saigon, and "Stars" from Les Miserables.

Other vocalists performing include Ann and Gregory Campbell, Ruth Robertson, Copper Country Chords, Chris Schwartz, Erin Kauppila, Danielle Teter, Jacob Laitinen, Lara Neves, Barry Pegg, Roger Kieckhafer and Katie Zutter. Musicians include Lynne Lanczy, David Bezotte, Paul Keranen and Ole Kristensen. Again this year, the artists are donating their time so that all proceeds go to Omega House.

Light refreshments will be served after the concert. No child care will be provided. 

Omega House, located in Houghton, is the only hospice home in the Upper Peninsula. For more information about Omega House or the Benefit Concert, call Sandy Lewin at Omega House, 906-482-4438.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Portage Library to host lunchtime music events July 23, 30

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library invites everyone to bring their lunch and enjoy "Music on the Menu," an outdoor series of events held on the dock outside the library.

"Conglomeratz" will perform from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, July 23. Libby Meyer on fiddle, Doug Bacon on banjo, and Melissa Bacon on washtub bass and vocals play a lively mix of traditional American and Celtic music.

"Matt and Ariel" will perform from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.on Friday, July 30. Matt Bradley on guitar and percussion and Ariel Lake on guitar and vocals play a mix of light rock, folk, reggae and original music.

Everyone is invited to eat, relax, and enjoy their lunch hour while listening to some great music. In the event of bad weather, the program will be held in the community room.

These events are part of the library’s Summer Reading Program and are free and open to all. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Editorial: Day of Prayer reveals starkly contrasting Values

[Editor's Note: This editorial was posted Monday, July 19, on Headwaters News. Text and photos reprinted with permission.]

By Gabriel Caplett of Headwaters News

MARQUETTE -- This past weekend Rochelle Dale, Jan Zender and other residents of the small town of Big Bay, Mich., hosted a multi-faith fasting and prayer event on the Yellow Dog Plains, "in the shadow of Eagle Rock," where Rio Tinto plans to open a nickel and copper sulfide mine. Representatives from the Lutheran, Jewish, Buddhist, Anishinaabe, Roman Catholic, United Methodist and Unitarian traditions were present to speak and hold prayer sessions.

The prayer and meeting tent for the July 18 multi-faith event held "in the shadow of Eagle Rock." (Photo courtesy Headwaters News. Reprinted with permission.)

For me, the most striking part of the day occurred while Reverend Jon Magnuson, a Lutheran campus pastor, was performing the Eucharist underneath an overhanging made of canvas and maple poles. As a boy of nine, Jeremiah, read through the 23rd Psalm, one line reached out to me that Magnuson repeated and emphasized: "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."

Before Magnuson, himself wearing a white robe, was a table covered in bright red cloth; a Bible, loaf of bread and goblet of wine were on top. As Magnuson spoke, teaching about the Eucharist and its importance in everyday life, rain clouds slowly moved in over nearby Eagle Rock, now fenced-in by Rio Tinto. In the foreground of Eagle Rock was a mine security vehicle, always running, the seated guard monitoring and recording our every move the entire day ....

A guard, sitting in a parked company vehicle with the motor running, monitors the prayer event. (Photo courtesy Headwaters News. Reprinted with permission.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Now you see it, now you don’t —- an Invisibility Cloak made of glass

HOUGHTON -- From Star Trek's Romulans, who  could cloak their spaceships, to Harry Potter's magical garment, the power to make someone or something invisible has always intrigued mankind. Now a research scientist at Michigan Technological University is working on a real invisibility cloak.

Elena Semouchkina, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, has found ways to use magnetic resonance to capture rays of visible light and route them around objects, rendering those objects invisible to the human eye. She reported on her research in a recent issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters. Read this article by Jennifer Donovan on Michigan Tech News.

Tall ship to stop in Houghton July 24-27 on way to Duluth CHALLENGE

The tall ship Denis Sullivan on Lake Superior during a previous visit to the Keweenaw. (Photo courtesy Discovery World)

HANCOCK -- The tall ship Denis Sullivan and her crew have had a busy July with more to come. With a home port of Milwaukee, Wis., the S/V Denis Sullivan is making a brief visit to the Keweenaw on its way to Duluth, Minn., to participate in the Great Lakes United TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® 2010 race series. The S/V Denis Sullivan is Wisconsin’s Flagship and the world’s only re-creation of a 19th century three-masted Great Lakes schooner.

This US Coast Guard certified Sailing School Vessel serves as a floating classroom for environmental awareness of freshwater resources and appreciation of maritime history.  This modern educational sailing vessel has two 180 hp diesel engines, a scientific laboratory, computer workstations and modern communication and navigation equipment. The vessel can carry up to 21 participants overnight and 50 passengers on day sails, with a professional crew of ten.

The S/V Denis Sullivan was built in 2000 by professional shipwrights and about 1,000 volunteers. This tall ship travels over 18,000 nautical miles every year from her summer home at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, along the East Coast to her winter home in Southern Florida. The journey is an unparalleled exploration of the Great Lakes, East Coast and Caribbean, and the hydrological cycle in its entirety.

When it arrives in Houghton this Saturday, July 24, high school students from three states will disembark the Denis Sullivan after a week sailing from Bay City to Houghton. These students participated in Michigan Technological University's Summer Youth Program,  which arranged for students to study Great Lakes biology during the tall ship journey. 

The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) is hosting the tall ship during its stay from July 24-27 and is offering an opportunity for the public to experience two-hour day sails on Portage Lake at Noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, July 26. The vessel will be tied up at the Houghton waterfront and the community is encouraged to come by and view the ship up close.

"These day sails are really fun and informative," notes Evan McDonald, Keweenaw Land Trust executive director. "The crew welcomes participation in on-deck work to raise and trim the sails, and they’ll answer questions about how the vessel is constructed and operated. Being aboard the Denis Sullivan is like stepping back in time more than a century.”

About to pass under the Portage Lift Bridge, the Denis Sullivan gets underway for a 2009 day sail. (Photo courtesy Evan McDonald)

This schooner passing under the Portage Lift Bridge is a spectacular sight, and people on both sides of the Keweenaw Waterway will have excellent viewing of the tall ship navigating our local waters, much like schooners of the 19th century copper trade that sailed here before.

Regular ticket prices for the day sail are $40/adult, $25/child. KLT Member discount: $30/adult, $20/child. Group discount: Groups of four or more save $10. To purchase tickets for day sails on July 26 or to obtain more information contact Keweenaw Land Trust at 906-482-0820 or email info@keweenawlandtrust.org. Tickets are first-come first-served; available tickets can also be purchased at the vessel.

After its visit to the Keweenaw, the Denis Sullivan sails for Duluth and the Great Lakes United TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® organized by the American Sail Training Association and Great Lakes United to bring a fleet of international tall ships to the Great Lakes. The S/V Denis Sullivan has been selected as the signature vessel representing Great Lakes United for this year’s event. For more information about the S/V Denis Sullivan visit http://www.discoveryworld.org/denisSullivan.php.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Keweenaw National Historical Park to present local history program on backyard farming in mining towns July 22

HOUGHTON -- "Cows, Cabbages and Clotheslines: Backyard Farming in Mining Towns of the Lake Superior Region" will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 22, in room G002 of the Noblet Forestry Building, on 7th Street near MacInnes Drive and US Highway 41 on the Michigan Tech campus.

If you walked down a backyard alley in an iron or copper mining "location" one hundred years ago, you’d likely meet a child leading a cow out to pasture. On a summer day, you’d see backyards planted with rows of peas, beans, and carrots, along with flocks of chickens and an occasional pig. In fact, mining company officials encouraged workers and their families to raise their own food by providing fencing, barns and pasture land.

Join Lynn Bjorkman and Arne Alanen as they survey the history of backyard agriculture in several mining communities in Minnesota and Upper Michigan, and explore what’s left on the ground today.

This program is part of the Fourth Thursday in History program sponsored by Keweenaw National Historical Park.

For more information, including specific directions to the event, please call Keweenaw National Historical Park at 906-337-3168 or visit www.nps.gov/kewe.

Crowds of visitors attend July 4th "Gay Parade" in Gay

By Laura Holt*

GAY, MICH. -- Crowds flocked to Gay’s streets for its 29th annual Fourth of July parade. This impromptu parade celebrates our nation’s birthday with a colorful presentation of floats and gaily-outfitted participants for its spectators.

A large crowd shows up in Gay, Mich., (whose year-round population is less than 100 full-time residents) for the "Gay Parade" on July 4, 2010. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Laura Holt)

The "Gay Parade," as it is commonly known, is popular because of its varied themes and spontaneous contributors. This year’s parade included fire trucks and police cars like typical parades. But it also included unique participants like Gumby on a tractor, two community members in a "Yooper Hot Tub," the Bennetts family in swine flu costumes and even a zombie march. This spontaneity is brought on by the Gay Parade’s spur-of-the-moment style.

"There is no planned theme to the parade," said Alice Gerhardt, a regular parade participant, "but the Bennetts [family] spend all year planning it."

Gerhardt, while not a full-time community member, has a vacation home in Gay and is related to the woman who is believed to have founded the parade.

There are two conflicting stories that circulate among the family, explained Gerhardt. The most popular story involves Karra Bennetts, who lived in Ahmeek at the time. The 9-year-old Bennetts supposedly started the annual parade while visiting her grandmother in Gay. Bennetts wanted to return home to ride her bike in Ahmeek’s Fourth of July parade. Bennetts’ grandmother did not want to drive her back, so she promised Bennetts she could have a Fourth of July parade in Gay. The grandmother promptly forgot the promise, but Bennetts did not.

On the morning of the Fourth, Karra’s grandmother discovered Bennetts decorating her bike with colorful streamers. The grandmother suddenly remembered the promise she had made to Bennetts and decided to participate in her granddaughter’s parade. The two, along with five other relatives, walked around the town while friends and neighbors stared from their windows in bewilderment.

"The parade was the talk of the town and everyone enjoyed it," said Gerhardt, "so the family decided to have the Fourth of July parade again the next year." That following year, Bennetts’ grandmother walked from house to house around the town personally inviting Gay’s community members to either join in or watch the parade.

Since its beginning, the Gay Parade has attracted many attendees and participants, as everyone is allowed to participate, said parade supporters.

"It’s not a traditional parade," said Dudley Martin, Sherman Township supervisor, when interviewed the two days before the parade. "People just get together and do it."

Martin helps the Gay Fire Department run their annual concession sales and raffles that take place after the parade. Festivities like these are important to the community, he said. Besides providing gifts and food to the visitors who come to watch the parade, they also raise money used to fund Gay’s entirely volunteer fire department.

In addition to the activities above, the traditional fish toss competition hooks community members and visitors alike. This purely entertaining event, sponsored by the community’s bar, aptly named The Gay Bar and Grill, has younger participants competing by age group and older participants competing by gender to see who can toss a fish the farthest.

"I’ve never seen so many people happy about getting a fish in the face," said Kyle Long, a Michigan Tech student and first time parade visitor. "People get nailed in the head with a fish, and everyone cheers about it."

*Guest reporter Laura Holt is a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Tech University.

Stupak reiterates concerns with Rio Tinto sulfide mine

By Gabriel Caplett of Headwaters News

MARQUETTE -- A few weeks after writing an 0p-ed comparing BP’s lack of concern for worker safety and the environment to Rio Tinto, Stupak has reiterated his concerns about Michigan’s mining law and lack of financial assurance requirements in a letter to the editor of the Iron Mountain Daily News, in which he states the following:*

"  . . . my position on the Kennecott mine in Marquette County has remained consistent since it was first proposed. When the Michigan legislature first considered the new mining law that made sulfide mining possible, I expressed significant concern that baseline standards were not called for in the law. In early 2006, when the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality first allowed for public comment I raised these concerns. Unfortunately, four years later these concerns still remain unaddressed. ... Read more on Headwaters News.

* Click here to read Stupak's letter to the editor of the Iron Mountain Daily News, published on July 15, 2010.

12-year-old Elo Wittig wins four medals in Cardboard Boat Regatta

By Kate Flynn*

Boats begin lining up for the first heat of the June 19 Cardboard Boat Regatta Races. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Spectators lined the Houghton Waterfront on Sunday, June 19, to witness one of Bridgefest’s most popular annual events: the Cardboard Boat Regatta Races.

The morning was bright and chilly as three boats lined up for the initial heat: the Gremlin Fitzgerald, 3PT LO, and the City of Hancock.

The Gremlin Fitzgerald and its crew, from left, Houghton High School students Caitlin Carver, Isabel Sharp and Audrey Knuttila (assisted by a Dad?) get ready for the first heat of the Cardboard Boat Regatta Races during Bridgefest 2010.

The Gremlin Fitzgerald -- built by Isabel Sharp, 14, Audrey Knuttila, 14, and Caitlin Carver, 13, of Houghton High School -- was openly deemed less than seaworthy by its creators.

"We got out of school early and wanted to do something fun with a group," Sharp said. "We built it in four days. We started with six people, and ended up with three," she added. "We’re not really expecting it to float. We’re going for the best sinking."

The Gremlin Fitzgerald capsizes early in the first heat. In foreground, at left, is Elo Wittig in his boat, 3PT LO.

The Gremlin Fitzgerald did indeed tip over right after shoving off from shore, but the girls quickly righted it and got back in -- but not before officially receiving the title of "first boat tipped over." 3PT LO, manned by Elo Wittig, dressed as the "Dark Lord," won the race.

The Gremlin Fitzgerald recovers and continues the first race. Although Elo Wittig won the first heat, the girls were awarded a prize for their costumes as well as their sinking.

Many of the spectators didn’t know anyone competing in the race personally, but attended the event to round out their Bridgefest experience. Gretchen Caspary, an '81 graduate of Houghton High School who now lives in Chicago, spent the weekend watching the fireworks and eating some of the food that Seafood Fest and the surrounding vendors had to offer for this special 50th anniversary celebration of the Portage Lift Bridge.

"I just wanted to come up for the weekend -- I heard that Bridgefest was this weekend and I hopped in my car," she said. "It sounded fun. We’re supporting the Gremlin Fitzgerald and Houghton."

After the second heat was won by Aspirus Keweenaw, Hancock and Houghton took their traditional rivalry to the water in the third.

Crews for the cities of Hancock, left, and Houghton prepare their boats for the third heat of the 2010 Cardboard Boat Regatta.

video
Hancock and Houghton run a close race in the third heat of the Cardboard Boat Regatta. (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

Hancock won, but the races weren’t over yet. After Vindictive, a small, one-man boat, won the fourth heat, Houghton scored a victory over Aspirus Keweenaw.


video
Houghton and Aspirus Keweenaw compete in the fifth heat of the Cardboard Boat Regatta. (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

Elo Wittig's 3PTLO scored another victory -- this time against Hancock -- in the sixth heat.

In the sixth heat, Elo Wittig, the "Dark Lord," chases Hancock's large boat as they round the first buoy.

Elo Wittig's tiny 3PT LO passes Hancock and heads for the second buoy ...

... and the finish for a victory.

In the end, Wittig's 3PT LO won the award for Fastest Boat, while Houghton won the distinction of #1 Team. Aspirus, with a blue boat covered in silver tinsel, won Best Decorated, along with the City of Hancock’s red and gold boat. The Best Costumes were awarded to Elo Wittig, dressed as the "Dark Lord," and the Gremlin Fitzgerald crew, whose goofy, traffic-cone-shaped hats helped them stand out from the crowd. The Best Boat Design/Fastest Boat awards went to 3PT LO and Hancock and Houghton, while the Best and Fastest Sinking was awarded to both the Gremlin Fitzgerald and Vindictive.

Boats set out for the seventh heat of the Cardboard Boat Regatta.

12-year-old Elo Wittig, who walked away from the event with an impressive number of medals (four in total), is not new to the Cardboard Boat Regatta. His "Dark Lord" costume, though, was new this year. It consisted of a polar-fleece ski mask pulled over his face.  Now in his third year of competition, Elo steered his small cardboard craft with ease.

In a final challenge from the City of Houghton, Elo Wittig heads for the finish and another victory for his 3PT LO.

"We watched for a few years and thought, hey, we can do that," said Elo’s father, Robert Wittig, who built this year’s boat in about eight hours.


Robert Wittig, Elo Wittig's Dad, stands behind the boat he built for this year's Cardboard Boat Regatta, held on Father's Day during Bridgefest. Elo won four medals in this year's races. In  2009 he won a First Place Overall Medal. Is that Elo behind his Dad?

*Editor's Note: Guest reporter Kate Flynn, a student at Beloit College, is doing an internship in journalistic writing this summer for Keweenaw Now and for the L'Anse Sentinel.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Updated: Portage Library's Communication Series continues

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host the next program in "Crafting Our Communication," a summer series of workshops in written and spoken communication.

At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20, Michigan Tech Graduate Teaching Instructor Kevin Cassell will present "Speaking Publicly and Addressing Audiences." This workshop will help participants develop or improve their public speaking talents. In addition to looking at specific ways to overcome nervousness and shyness, Cassell will present a variety of skills that engage and excite one's audience. After completing this workshop, participants should have more confidence and comfort with public speaking as well as knowledge of vocal projection, posture, body language do's and don’ts, and effective delivery.

At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 3, Cassell will present "Writing with Style." This workshop will help participants learn how to develop an effective "style" when writing a formal report, collective thank-you letter, or a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. In this workshop, participants will look at specific techniques not only to make their writing clear and concrete, but to give it "voice" and enhance its readability. Participants may bring a short piece of writing they may be working on for feedback and suggestions.

This will be the final program in this summer series. Look for more communication programs in the fall, including Cassell's "Composing Lyrics, Songs, and Poetry" workshop, which has been postponed.

Cassell is a Graduate Teaching Instructor in the Humanities Department at Michigan Tech where he teaches courses in writing, rhetoric, and scientific and technical communication. He has a masters degree in literature, has written music and poetry and has taught at the University of New Mexico, Northeastern University and the Art Institute of Boston.

These programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Seven Mile Smiles

This photo of the beach at Seven Mile Point on Lake Superior was taken on Saturday, July 10, 2010. In 2001 the North Woods Conservancy (NWC) purchased this ecologically sensitive parcel, located on the north shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Allouez Township, for protection and limited public access. It contains 32 acres and 1,506 feet of Lake Superior shoreline, including sand, cobble and 1.1 billion year-old bedrock beach. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory calls Seven Mile Point one of the gems of the Keweenaw. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

By Sandy Britton

Guest writer Sandy Britton of Mohawk, spends each weekend from May 15 to October 15 as Seven Mile Point host. She has written a series of journal entries with her observations of this special place. Keweenaw Now hopes to publish several of these articles. This is the first in the series. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

SEVEN MILE POINT -- Saturday, July 10, was a picture-perfect summer day -- bright, breezy, with warm water in the bay thanks to two days of light north winds bringing in warm surface water -- until 8:15 p.m. The wind changed, it warmed up and got muggy and the ankle biters went wild! Sunday was showery, with gusty wind and rumbles of thunder. As my Dad used to say, "After the Lord Mayor's carriage comes the garbage cart!" By the way, I'd like to offer a quick tip-o'-the-hat to those friends who help make these offerings possible by sharing their knowledge of computers and plants.

View of the rocky outcrop from the sandy beach at Seven Mile Point, a favorite spot for agate hunters. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

We have one new bloomer, species #48, pearly everlasting; and, while St. John's wort, daisies and yarrow dominate, there are 19 others still delighting the pollinators.

Speaking of blooming, the dreaded spotted knapweed is starting to bloom, and I think everyone is going to be appalled at how much territory it has taken over. It is spread by wind, water and vehicles. Pulling it up with the root and burning it is one way to control it, but take precautions by wearing gloves and long sleeves if you have sensitive skin. If you need more info on what this stuff is and how to deal with it, feel free to e-mail me at sndbritton@gmail.com.

I love the way Mother constantly changes the decor of my "office" -- from spring's sparse and lacy green to summer's lush foliage and flower show to the blazing splendor of autumn. The background music of waves coming ashore, wind in the trees and the furred and flying life -- even the lighting -- change with the seasons and often from moment to moment.

A furry visitor to Seven Mile Point scrounges for snacks. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Sandy Britton)

Who could ask for more? The breathtaking variety and vibrancy of life here runs the gamut from tiny moths less than 1/4" long to black bears while our winged life ranges from chickadees through golden and bald eagles to sandhill cranes and blue herons. I stand in awe of the way each of these wildly varying creatures plays its own distinct role in the great circle of life.

Wildflowers emerge from the bedrock in July at Seven Mile Point. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Speaking of eagle and bear, they both made their presence known Saturday [July 10]. As I was editing the day's crop of photos a flash of something big through the trees proved to be a nearly mature bald eagle on a scouting mission, who landed in the top of the tallest white pine near the road, staying long enough for a picture. His head was all white; but black feathers in his tail, salt-and-pepper underside and ragged wing feathers all show he's still putting on his grown-up clothes. He thrilled several of our guests, who saw him as he made three more passes over, clearly on a mission from point A to point B, from SW to NE.

Bald eagle, center, visits Seven Mile Point. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Sandy Britton)

One of our guests said there was a bad odor over by the agate beach, which would seem to indicate he'd found something tasty and was taking some home to the family.

Thank you, Brother, for making many peoples' day perfect!

An old four-foot tall tree stump by the road with the front half literally ripped off in chunks bears mute testimony to the determination, power and persistence of a hungry bear, while the number and size of the tunnels and worm tracks in the exposed hardwood say he won a tasty meal for his efforts.

A hungry bear left its mark on this tree stump. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Sandy Britton)

Other treats included the unmistakable sounds of a pileated woodpecker at work, an airshow by gulls and crows after flying insects, the arrival on my windshield of one of those tiny, 1/2" long green caterpillars that float vertically thru the air hanging from an invisible, spider-web-like thread and, maybe best of all, grazing on ripe blueberries and sugar plums. Until next time, live in a good way and be safe!

Editor's Notes: Seven Mile Point is open from noon to sunset on Saturdays and Sundays from May 15 to Oct. 15. To visit NWC Seven Mile Point, follow Five Mile Point Road (7.0 miles from Ahmeek, 4.8 miles from Eagle River) and turn west on Sunset Bay Road. After 0.8 miles (at the entrance to Sunset Bay Campground), turn left on Seven Mile Point (SMP) Road and proceed 1.2 miles to the NWC gate.The parking area is located about 300 yards beyond the gate. Please be aware that both Sunset Bay Road and SMP Road are private roads. Please drive to SMP only during open hours. Please drive slowly, and be especially cautious around and courteous to the 22 lot owners who have granted the NWC permission to use this road.

Read a
2001 article on the archived Keweenawnow.com to learn how Seven Mile Point was purchased. Visit the North Woods Conservancy Web site to learn more about their work.