Friday, December 17, 2010

Be Safe Out There!

There probably is no such thing as “safe” ice, but there are some guidelines anglers and snowmobilers should consider. In Northern Michigan, ice conditions can vary from lake to lake, bay to bay, pond to pond and river to river. 

Before going onto a frozen lake, pond or river, it's important to take safety precautions to reduce the risk of falling through the ice. Remember you take a risk any time you go onto the ice. Anglers should always decide for themselves if it is safe to go out and walk on or drive a snowmobile on ice.

Knowing how to judge ice conditions will help you make more informed decisions while enjoying your outing. Ice thickness depends on several factors with the first and most obvious factor being location. The type of *water* also affects ice thickness; a shallow lake will freeze faster than a deep lake. Look for clear blue ice. New ice is stronger than old ice. Ice thickness is not consistent. Beware of ice around partially submerged objects such as trees, brush, embankments or structures. Ice will not form as quickly where water is shallow or where objects may absorb sunlight.

When ice fishing, it is always a good idea to drill test holes or use an ice chisel as you venture onto a lake to help judge the thickness and character of the ice. These “Test” holes should be at no more than 30 foot intervals.

You should also have a safety kit specific to ice fishing whenever you go. The items on this list will help prevent someone or something from falling through the ice. If you or someone else should fall through the ice, know how to use these tools to perform a self-rescue or assist in a rescue. The safety kit should include the following:

* Ice chisel or auger to check the ice thickness.

*Always carry ice picks or set of screw‐drivers that will float and are securely connected together with a piece nylon cord 24 to 30 inches in length. These picks should be carried allowing for quick and easy access so you can pull yourself out of the water and back onto the ice. “Pick‐of‐Life” ® is a product which is commercially available.

*50 feet of nylon rope with a large loop tied to each end.

*Wool blanket.

*Thermos of HOT liquids.

 *A cell phone or portable CB to call for assistance.

Other considerations for a safe trip include:

The use of crampons, or cleats, for walking on ice are always a good idea in Northern Michigan. With the state’s powdery snow and wind, there is often no snow cover on ice. Blowing wind and snow actually polish ice to a glassy, slippery surface.

Attaching a long cord to sleds should make them easier to pull, and if someone falls through the ice, anglers can push their sled to them while holding onto the line.

Anglers should carry two picks—or spikes protruding from wooden hand holds—that will float and are securely connected together with a piece nylon cord 24 to 30 inches in length. These picks should be carried allowing for quick and easy access in case anglers need to pull their way out if they fall through the ice.

Ice fishermen should carry a portable flotation cushion. The cushion will add to their seating comfort and give them something to throw should someone fall through ice.

Anglers should keep their augers covered because the blades are sharp, and can easily cut them, their children or their dogs.

Ice fishermen should spray vegetable oil on their auger and snowshoes. That way, snow won't stick and anglers won't cut themselves cleaning off the snow.

Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow acts much like a blanket, insulating thin ice and preventing the formation of clear, blue ice. Snow can also hide cracked, weak and open water. Daily changes in temperature cause ice to expand and contract, creating cracks and possibly pressure ridges which can affect ice strength. Extreme caution should be exercised when approaching a pressure ridge. Ice may be unstable up to 20 feet from the ridge itself.Stay away from cracks, pressure ridges, slushy or darker areas that signify thinner ice.

Traveling on a snowmobile or ATV early or late in the season is an accident waiting to happen. Do not drive across ice at night or when it is snowing. You can easily become disoriented and end up in areas of the lake you never intended to be.

Have fun! But always remember to
 *Be Safe Out There!*

For weekly updates on the ice and snow conditions surrounding Drummond Island, be sure to check out the Drummond Island MI Snow Report page on Facebook!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shop local, shop local, shop local . . .

Holly Daze has one focus - to inspire you to do your holiday shopping locally by making it easy for you to find fabulous holiday gifts right here on the Island. Supporting local entrepreneurs as well as local artisans in the process.

I have written on this subject several times because it is one I am passionate about. It is one of those catch phrases that we all think we understand - and do. But then we just can’t resist that One Click on the internet. It seems so easy and so cheap. And trust me - I am guilty of late night Surf Shopping too!

But with that click we send money streaming through cyber space out of our community to who knows where. Money that could have helped our neighbors pay their mortgage, our school buy supplies and our community remain robust and intact.

And really, what do we get with that click? Not the Made in Michigan, Made on the Island, gifts featured during Holly Daze. Not the handpicked merchandise featured by our shopkeepers. Not the personal insight of those that know us and the individuals we are shopping for.

And not the connection to the joy of the season found during Holly Daze when our businesses are decked out in their finery, and person-to-person, human good cheer abounds.

Shopping locally is truly one of the best gifts you will give this holiday season - to yourself and to your neighbors.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~William James

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Autumn Leaves . . .

Eva Cassidy (February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996) was an American vocalist known for her interpretations of jazz, blues, folk, gospel and pop classics.. Beautiful Eva died in 1996, from melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Her music was little-known during her 33 years of life, but today her soul-stirring voice is reaching people all over the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Delicious Autumn!

That smell.

It fills you with the tang of being up north in the fall.

It is earth and decomposition and sunshine and pureness in leaf shapes.

Golden yellows, soft roasted-looking reds, flaky brown ones, orange ones speckled with bits of brightness.

Bringing a handful to my face I close my eyes and see back to the trails I used to make in the yard as a child. Raked labyrinths leading nowhere and everywhere.

Inhaling I feel a shock of chilled air in my lungs. Exhaling I hear geese in the sky.

It is one of those perfect autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.

Every autumn, nature puts on a brilliant show of color on Drummond Island. From bight yellows to vibrant reds, the leaves transform the landscape,
showing off their rich and intense hues.

Every year people flock here to take in the fall foliage, 
to catch a glimpse of nature's splendor.

Now they come not only for the colors - they come for the Festival too! 
To learn more go to the official Festival website: 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Near Death Experiences

There are many who wonder about near-death experiences. Enough that the topic frequently becomes a plot twist in TV dramas - especially when the writers run out of ideas.

Take the TV show, Walker, Texas Ranger. Admit it, you have watched this classic show, starring American icon Chuck Norris. Remember the episode in which Walker has been shot. His heart stops. We know this because the monitor flat lines and it makes a buzzing sound. Walker is dead.

But wait! He is only half-dead.

His friends, who have circled his bed, don’t notice that Walker is actually floating on the ceiling. Walker reaches for the white light. But first he has to relive past life experiences – which consist of a montage of previous episodes. This takes about a half-hour. Just as he’s about to go to the “other side”, he hears a voice.

“Walker, don’t leave me!” It’s his extremely hot girlfriend. Walker decides to come back.

Some scientists are skeptics when it comes to Chuck Norris and near-death experiences. They think these experiences are bunk, the result of the brain being deprived of oxygen. They also think Morgan Freeman is not really God.

Personally, I never gave near-death experiences much thought. But then I had one.

You may recall from previous ditties that I tend to be somewhat of a spontaneous “doer” – only pausing ever so slightly to reflect on the possible consequences of my actions. And it really doesn’t matter if my grand adventures involve potentially risking life and limb of others – the more the merrier from my perspective. My grandchildren still talk about the winter of Grandma’s Death March involving the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys on a hot, glaringly bright day. (One granddaughter is still thankful she spent that day in the emergency room in Marathon while the others who participated still wish I had let the police pick up us for trespassing!)

Not surprisingly it has become routine for Barry, my ever patient husband, to admonish me each time he leaves with a stern, “Don’t do anything stupid while I am gone. Be careful!” He assumes that an admonition not to do anything stupid covers every possible scenario. It does not.

I can achieve stupidity with unbelievable speed when left to my own devices! Which is exactly why my twin grandsons will always remember last winter’s Florida Key’s experience known as Grandma’s Wretched Kayaking Adventure a.k.a The Night We Almost All Drown or What Can Happen When Grandpa Leaves Grandma in Charge.

Who knew the wind could come up so fast out on the Atlantic? Who knew that getting to a place with the wind at your back was so much different than getting back home from that place as you desperately tried to paddle a two-person, sit-a-top kayak over choppy seas as the sun was setting and the temperature dropping?

Oh, did I mention said kayak was loaded with a four-year-old grandson and an over-protective Border collie? Neither of which were manning a paddle of their own I might add. I vividly remember at one point wondering if I could swim and drag the kayak faster than I was paddling – one stroke forward, four strokes backwards was not exactly the progress towards shore I was wanting. And it didn’t help that off in the distance I could see neighbors standing on their balconies pointing in our general direction – obviously either impressed with my kayaking prowess or wondering at what point they should call the Coast Guard.

My daughter-in-law, Jill, manning a kayak loaded with a twin herself – having been talked into this insane adventure by yours truly – kept calling back at me; “Are you okay? Do you want me to tow you?” She sounded like my husband, only more patronizing. Who did she think I was? An old, rather chronically ill woman who just completed a series of chemotherapy?

I kept going. My arms screamed. I stopped singing My Paddle Gleaming Bright and started mumbling – and this goes back to near death experiences – Barry is going to kill me! Aaron is going to kill me!

We made it to shore without the assistance of the Coast Guard – none of us the worse for wear except for aching arms, chilled bodies and the concussion I would soon have.

The concussion would be caused when either my husband or my son (father to the twins) would hit me upside the head as they said, “I told you not to do anything stupid!”

Actually, that’s not true. Barry is a loving, patient, and understanding husband – the best thing I ever did for myself. Aaron grew up with me as his mother and knows what to expect by now. But I would rather be smacked upside the head sometimes than endure the torrent of “I told you so’s” from all of them. They think I should give up my adventuresome ways now that I am more mature. More ‘fragile’ as the grandchildren put it.

Why don’t they just kill me now? That way I could float up on the ceiling like Walker. I can see it now.

“Come back, Candis (mom, grandma),” they will all plead. “We didn’t mean it. You can go off on whatever spontaneous adventures you want and we won’t say a word!”

“Well, OK,” I will reply, “But have you seen how much dust is on top of this ceiling fan?”

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”  - Helen Keller

Monday, June 7, 2010

Buy Local First!

“We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes.” ~Anne C. Weisberg

Two or three years ago – when I started contributing “ditties” to the Drummond Island Digest – my first essay was on the ritual and routine of stocking an Up North pantry. Anyone born and raised in the north (or lucky enough to have a second home Up North) knew all to well the custom I spoke of in that article:

You walk around the house with a pad of paper and pencil, opening all the pantry doors as you jot down the essentials that need to be re-stocked. Then you call your closest friends and relatives to let them know you are “making a run” and get their lists. When the big day comes the kids all vie for “shot-gun” and you head out early in the morning for a day of shopping in the big city.

Let’s face it, retailers and warehouse super stores that can only be found in larger communities make “one-stop shopping” a concept that appeals to all of us. And when these stores can lure us in with lower prices and super sales we feel good about the money we think we are saving. But there is a hidden price . . . and one that can end up drastically altering our own small community.

In these hard economic times by thinking local first we make choices that have dramatic impact on our community, our economy, and our environment. While it will rarely be possible to buy everything we need or use from local independent businesses, I am advocating for people to first think local in order to maximize the impact of daily actions and purchasing decisions. Buy LOCAL First refers to a commitment to our community.

Compared to national competitors, local independent businesses return more money to the local economy and give an average of two to three times greater support to non-profit organizations. They are better positioned to respond to the special needs of the community and more invested in its future. When was the last time you saw Wal-Mart listed in the Digest as a sponsor for the March of Dimes Dance, the Hunter’s Dinner or the Snowmobile Grooming Fund-raiser?

Local, independently owned businesses are the backbone of an economy, the lifeblood of a community. By increasing the number of independent, local-to-local economic transactions, we:

*Support local entrepreneurs

*Sustain family farms and orchards

*Create local jobs that stay in our community

*Have greater control over environmental impacts

*Increase sales and tax receipts to finance schools, police and fire departments, arts, roads, and open spaces

*Maintain a unique sense of place, directly contributing to what will keep our home place alive and special in the long-run

*Maximize the economic multiplier (that means every expenditure of a dollar generates more than a dollar's worth of activity and cascades into a larger number of transactions that enrich the community).

Choosing local over non-local has 2-3 times more financial impact in our community, promotes more reinvestment locally, creates quality jobs, and encourages more donations to local charities and causes.

Several studies have shown that money spent at a locally owned business stays in the local economy and continues to strengthen the economic base of the community. A 2002 case study in Austin, Texas showed that for every $100 in consumer spending at a national bookstore in Austin, Texas the local economic impact was only $13. The same amount spent at locally based bookstores yielded $45, or more than three times the local economic impact. (Civic Economics, Austin Unchained October 2003)

A 2003 case study of Midcoast Maine covering several lines of goods and services validated these findings. In Maine eight locally owned businesses were surveyed. The survey found that the businesses spent 44.6 percent of their revenue within the surrounding two counties. Another 8.7 percent was spent elsewhere in the state of Maine. The four largest components of this local spending were: wages and benefits paid to local employees; goods and services purchased from other local businesses; profits that accrued to local owners and taxes paid to local and state government. All eight businesses banked locally, used local accountants, advertised in local businesses publications, purchased inventory from local manufacturers, and used local Internet service providers and repair people. The study estimated that a big box retailer returns just 14.1 percent of its revenue to the local economy, mostly in the form of payroll. The rest leaves the state, flowing to out-of-state suppliers and back to corporate headquarters. (The Economic Impact of Locally Owned Business vs. Chains: A Case Study in Midcoast Maine - New Rules Project, September 2003.)

We all support and count on doing business with people in our community, but what we don’t take the time to think about is how our community and ultimately our livelihood is affected when 85 percent of each retail dollar we spend at a national chain is sent somewhere out of state. Are we really “saving money” if our community’s retail dollars are not cycling back into our own local economy? Are we really “saving money” if our local merchants have to raise their prices in order to meet their overhead . . . or are forced to close their doors altogether due to lack of revenue? Are we really “saving money” if our local and state governments have to raise taxes or cut back on services that we wind up having to pay for?

I am getting ready to “re-stock” the pantry on Drummond and I know I can get cases of the things I need much “cheaper” down-state. But how much would I really save? Are my retail dollars ensuring that this community I have come to know and love continues to thrive? I, for one, know my quality of life would be greatly diminished if I couldn’t pop into the four corners for a bouquet of flowers, a sheet of plywood and the latest fashion magazine. And the members of this community have been truly blessed by merchants who have had the resources to donate to countless fundraisers.

We are blessed on Drummond with a variety of independent merchants of every kind. We might want to think about the greatest gift we can give both the community and ourselves . . . and the money we can “save” . . . by choosing to shop more in our own community.

“Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” -Aldo Leopold

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Hatch is on!

Think how fast a year flies by

A month flies by

A week flies by

Think how fast a day flies by

A Mayfly’s life lasts but a day

A single day

To live and die

A single day

How fast it goes

The day

The Mayfly

Both of those.

A Mayfly flies a single day

The daylight dies and darkness grows

A single day

How fast it flies

A mayfly’s life

How fast it goes.

It starts like a rise of small trout. There are dimples on the surface, little fingerlings eating midges, perhaps. But these are no fish. The water breaks and up pop the wings of a Mayfly, then another and another. The hatch is on!

This legend plays out every year on calm, dark, humid nights in late May and early June. The mayflies make the television news by showing up on doppler radar or calling snowplows out of dormancy to remove layers of duns from bridges.

Mayflies have two adult stages. They first emerge from the water as duns (scientifically known as the subimago stage). They then molt into the spinner (imago) stage, in which they mate and die.

This poem is from the book The Llama Who Had No Pajama by Mary Ann Hoberman. Hoberman's poems, accompanied by Fraser's illustrations, have been delighting children for 40 years. Now, many poems from their out-of-print books are available in this fun collection. The selections are mostly humorous, sometimes contemplative, and deal with animals, family, play, and plain silliness.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dining in the Great Outdoors!

Although the official start of summer isn’t until June 21st, Memorial Day is considered the “unofficial” kick-off to warmer weather, longer days – and outdoor dining.

Grills will be dragged from garages. Tables and chairs hauled to the deck. Entire outdoor kitchens will be set-up and stocked. All of this so we can enjoy - after a long hard winter stuck inside - with finally being about to eat - outside!

I am in love with outdoor dining. I will brave heat, wind, rain and sometimes bugs just to eat outdoors. I have been know to Google local restaurants just to find one with "outdoor seating". Come summer - even with an entire restaurant full of empty tables, I will still ask - "Do you have anything outside?"

I will happily leave the comfort of a climate-controlled, gently lit indoor restaurant to sit in 90-degree, humid sunshine that forces me to wear sunglasses in order to see my dining companions. Doesn't matter. I am eating outside!

Wind whips my hair into my mouth as I chew - no big deal. I am eating outside! A hike down the deck and through the restaurant to get to the restroom - doesn't matter. I am eating outside! There's just something about eating outdoors that makes everything taste extra delicious.

There is something magical about eating outside that makes it worth the risk. When it doesn’t burn, the sun feels lovely; when it doesn’t gust, the wind feels playful. The night can seem more romantic outside. And eating outdoors is inherently more casual than dining inside. It’s hard to feel too formal while listening to frogs croak or watching squirrels race by.

So join me! Enjoy yourself - find someplace special to plop yourself down in a comfy chair pulled up to a table on an deck somewhere and breathe in the intoxicating air of the great outdoors!

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,
if one has not dined well." -Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Digging in the Dirt . . .

To dig in one's own earth, with one's own spade, does life hold anything better? - Beverly Nichols

After a long, cold winter I am ever watchfull for the first glimpse of spring.

 How it thrills my heart to spy the first spring birds after their long vacation in Southern climes,

or the white trilliums and yellow lady slippers poking through the debris of winter,

or the new buds promising fragrant blooms on lilac bushes that dot the Island's landscape.

What I miss most, though, during the frigid, frosty months, is my connectin to the soil and what it produces, whether it's garden-fresh vegetables, sun-ripened fruits or brillant blooms.

As strange as it may sound, I need the feel of warm, black dirt running through my fingers. the outdoorsy smell of fresh-turned dirt on my work cloths and , yes, even the taste of a morsel of dirt on my tongue.

In an almost spirtual way, dirt is the substance that ties me to the earth. Just as soil keeps plants firmly anchored, it also keeps me grounded in what's real and what's important. It helps me stay connected. Working with my hands - tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering the sprouts, hoeing the weeds, pruning the vines and harvesting the crops  yields such a rewarding sense of accomplishment.

The first day I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"U @ 50" . . .

A palindrome reads the same backwards as forward. This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward. Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite. This is only a 1 minute, 44 second video and it is brilliant. Make sure you read as well as listen forward and backward.

This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The contest was titled "u @ 50" by AARP. This video won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause. So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. It was shared with me this morning and I felt it was worth passing on.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Every Adventure Starts and Ends on the Ferry!

The rhythms and rituals of life on the Island are sacred – the ceremonial arrival and departure by ferry; Bayside dinners with terrific food and breathtaking views; the unspoken decree against high heels (although I must admit that I am guilty of ignoring that one out of sheer vanity); and the generational parade of robust kids, running, swimming, squealing, sledding, and coming of age in the woods and on the waters of Drummond.

But getting to Drummond means that your business must first come through the ferry dock – with a tempo and hierarchy unlike any other place. Everyone and everything is on display as vehicles come and go and wait. Everyone’s stuff is on view piled in a backseat, a bed of a truck or stacked high on a trailer. You know what stores people shop at. You know who is getting new furniture. You know what books, magazines and papers people read to pass the time. And you also get a glimpse into each other’s relationships as passengers are dropped off, picked up and said goodbye or hello to.

The ferry also marks the passage from one world to another. The pace of the Island has always been intertwined with the coming and going of the ferry. And life on the Island is a reflection of this marvelous relationship. “Island Time” means a more relaxed way of life – and the wait for the ferry is the first step into a mood and pace that is always of an unhurried nature. This distinctive lifestyle and its gentle easy rhythms are as much a part of the landscape as are the waves lapping at the shore. Waiting for the ferry makes for a wonderful chance to practice patience . . .

Patience is the best remedy for every trouble and Drummond is the best medicine for dealing with the stress of life off the Island. Mahomet once said, “Patience is the key to content.” And I have often been known to exclaim that I am the most content woman in the world when I am back “home” on Drummond.

And so every trip across M-134 brings with it a peaked sense of anticipation – the wait for the ferry always putting extra emphasis on what it really means to get here.

This was one of the first Blogs I posted when starting this page - it bears repeating now as many of us are planning our Great Escapes to the Island for the Summer Season. Hope you enjoyed it the second time around too!

If you are not into sauntering and need to plan your trip down to the last little detail - here's a great link for info on the Ferry schedule:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


“Sometimes we are lucky enough to know our lives have been changed, to discard the old and embrace the new and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me . . . on that summer’s day when my eyes were opened to the sea.”  - Jacques Yves-Cousteau

Blue-green stretches of water, emerald islands scattered across this fluid canvas, and warm pine-laden breezes – when it comes to restoring body and soul, no place in the world can compete with Drummond Island. And few other places in the world can inspire one to explore, again and again, the tapestry that makes up a summer spent in the north; the rituals of family, the pleasures of friendship, and the immutable cycles of the natural world. There is a depth of feeling and wonder that lies at the very core of spending one’s summer Up North.

For me there is no sweeter pleasure than a summer day spent out-on-the-hook in Harbor’s big bay. I wake up early in the morning, squint up at the sky to see if the haze margin that promises a scorcher is smudging the horizon, pack a lunch, a hat, some sun block, snatch a bottle of water, and dash out the door. I inevitably run back for the book and bottle of wine I left on the table, then dive into the car and head down to Yacht Haven. My adrenaline is pumping in fierce anticipation, and finally – there it is: the jockeying for a parking space, the hunt for the cart to haul items down the dock and the first deep inhalation of diesel as the Up North’s engine turns over and comes to life. Bingo! All my senses are buzzing with the intoxicating elixir of the elements!

It’s WATER time!

Once anchored out in Harbor I take up residence on the deck – my head falls back unto a pillow. I angle my hat, adjust my sunglasses, open my book and settle into nirvana. Lord Bryon once wrote “There is society where none intrudes/By the deep Sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.” I would have to agree with this great swimmer wholeheartedly.

Once significantly toasted top and bottom I predictably dive into the water. Half submerged, at one with the aqueous mystery below; I bob around the boat, exposed to the sun and air from the neck up. I am on sensory overload, and I haven’t even broken any laws! I am the most content woman in the world. I surrender to the rhythm of the water and my mind goes as blank as the sky. I might swim a few strokes and then turn on my back to float, letting the energy of the water pass around and through me.

After a while I come back to the present, climb up on to the boat, and flop on to a towel laid out on the deck in a coma of bliss. I slowly drift off to sleep – the smile on my face the same as it was when I was a child and my eyes were first opened to lazy summer days spent out-on-the-hook.

“Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon – the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  – Henry James