Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Drummond Island Sunsets . . .

The setting sun blesses

my heart with peace . . .

~ Sri Chinmoy

*Note: Sunset courtesy of Mother Nature. Vantage point courtesy of Drummond Island Yacht Haven 
1st photo taken Monday, March 29, 2010
2nd photo taken Tuesday, March 30, 2010
What a difference a day makes!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chuck's Place!

I grew up in a family where everybody was a storyteller, but nobody wrote. It was that kind of Celtic, storytelling tradition: everybody would have a story to be shared at the local watering hole - a gathering place where folks relaxed at the end of a long hard day over a pint with good friends.

Chuck's Place is one of those places - where stories and spirits both flow freely. This is a quintessential old-time northwoods bar with mounted hunting trophies and a pool table with a slight lean that sits in the middle of the floor, surrounded by old tables. A dart board hangs on the wall, next to a big screen TV that continually broadcasts sporting events. Signed dollar bills adorn the walls - testimonials to those that have stopped by to enjoy the commaradrie and great food.

And while the end of the week might mean heading to the Northwood for Fish Fry Friday - the start of the week can only mean one thing. Time to take a break and head to Chuck's Place!

Monday nights on Drummond Island translate to “let’s meet for tacos.” You just put in a long, bone-tiring start to the work week and tomorrow will bring nothing but more of the same. Nothing lifts your spirits like walking into Chuck's and seeing the tables filled with friends and neighbors. The weight of the day's toll rolls off your shoulders. For a wee bit of time you can forget that Tuesday is just around the corner.

John Hillaby once wrote; "Few things are more pleasant than a village graced with a good church, a good priest and a good pub.”  He was surely writing about Chuck's!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Road Trip!

"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.
Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for."
 - Louis L'Amour, Ride the Dark Trail

We do lots of things as a family - which is fun. But sometimes all the doing seems hurried and harried. Especially when it involves gathering together 5 grown children, their spouses and 11 grandchildren.

Which is why I relish the memories of last summer's road trip with just three of my grandchildren.

When I was planning the trip, I did so with a bit of trepidation due to memories of road trips of my childhood:

a.) Being crammed into the back seat of some sedan from the sixties - no air conditioning. Windows rolled fully down. Drowning out any music that might be blaring from an AM station. Whipping locks of hair into ice cream cones that dripped faster than they could be licked. Dust from dirt roads being lodged in every pore on your face so you arrived at your destination covered in grim - a situation that always brought out my great-grandmother's hanky. A bit of spit and some brisk rubbing would always dislodge the most stubborn grit.

b.) The vomiting. I am not sure if that was because of the insidious wind, my great-grandmother's tendency to lurch toward her destination, my obsessive reading in the back seat without "watching the horizon" as directed, or the fact that road trips always involved junk food of every shape and flavor imagined.

c.) The boredom. The kind of boredom that caused me - for entertainment's sake - to pick, pick, pick on littler children in the car until they turned into lunatics, threatening to shove their teddy bear down my throat.

So, as much as I love my grandchildren, I wasn't sure I wanted to be locked in a car with them for 6 hours of forced togetherness as we made the trip to and from Drummond together.

To my surprise, not only was there no vomiting, no complaints of boredom and very little combat in the back seat - it was actually fun!

It was fun because we decided to saunter. I love to saunter! Sauntering means there is always a starting point and an ending point to your trip - but what lies between those points on the map is left up to the imagination of the travelers.

Which explains why our trip back downstate from Drummond last year took over 13 hours and involved numerous phone calls from the parents of my grandchildren wondering if we were okay and when we thought we might get home.

And why one granddaughter whispered to her cousins - "Grandma's a bit crazy." To which they responded: "We know, isn't it fun?"

We climbed Castle Rock, got mesmerized at the Mystery Spot, ate lunch overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, shopped at Sea Shell City - and somehow missed viewing the Man Eating Clam!

Headed to Cross Village - but made a sudden U-turn to be totally blown away by a huge field of sunflowers.

Played on the shores of Lake Michigan as we searched for where I use to take their fathers camping when they were young.

Drank virgin Maragritas at the Legg's Inn.

Used a construction site Port-a-John in Harbor Springs because we were laughing so hard from some silly joke that we knew we couldn't make it to a 'real bathroom'.

Played Auto Bingo using game cards we had purchased on Drummond at The Islander Shoppe.

As we meandered down the Lake Michigan coast peals of laughter came from the backseat. Cousins. Slap-happy and tired. Locked in a car with a pile of junk food as the water and trees and lakeshore landmarks flowed past our windows.

Learning how to enjoy the ride as much as the destination.

"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost."
 - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Dorchester Giant . . .

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1830)

THERE was a giant in time of old,
A mighty one was he;
He had a wife, but she was a scold,
So he kept her shut in his mammoth fold;
And he had children three.
It happened to be an election day,
And the giants were choosing a king;
The people were not democrats then,
They did not talk of the rights of men,
And all that sort of thing.

Then the giant took his children three,
And fastened them in the pen;
The children roared; quoth the giant, "Be still!"
And Dorchester Heights and Milton Hill
Rolled back the sound again.

Then he brought them a pudding stuffed with plums,
As big as the State-House dome;
Quoth he, "There's something for you to eat;
So stop your mouths with your 'lection treat,
And wait till your dad comes home."
So the giant pulled him a chestnut stout,
And whittled the boughs away;
The boys and their mother set up a shout.
Said he, "You're in, and you can't get out,
Bellow as loud as you may."
Off he went, and he growled a tune
As he strode the fields along
'Tis said a buffalo fainted away,
And fell as cold as a lump of clay,
When he heard the giant's song.
But whether the story's true or not,
It isn't for me to show;
There's many a thing that's twice as queer
In somebody's lectures that we hear,
And those are true, you know.
. . . . . .

What are those lone ones doing now,
The wife and the children sad?
Oh, they are in a terrible rout,  
Screaming, and throwing their pudding about,
Acting as they were mad.
They flung it over to Roxbury hills,
They flung it over the plain,
And all over Milton and Dorchester too
Great lumps of pudding the giants threw;
They tumbled as thick as rain.
. . . . .
Giant and mammoth have passed away,
For ages have floated by;
The suet is hard as a marrow-bone,
And every plum is turned to a stone,
But there the puddings lie.
And if, some pleasant afternoon,
You'll ask me out to ride,
The whole of the story I will tell,
And you shall see where the puddings fell,
And pay for the punch beside

And that is the *true* story of how Drummond Island Puddingstones came to be! 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ode' to Island Life . . .

If once you have slept on an island
you'll never be quite the same
you may look as you looked the day before
and go by the same old name . . .

You my bustle about in the street & shop.
You may sit at home and sew,
but you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls
wherever your feet may go.

you may chat with the neighbors
of this and that
and close to the fireside keep,
but you'll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
and waves beat through your sleep:

and you won't know why and you can't say how
such change upon you came -
but once you have slept on an island
you'll never be quite be the same . . .

-by Rachal Field

Revised: March 27, 2010 3:445pm: 
Thanks to a *Fan* of the Drummond Island Facebook page I can now add an author to today's Blog (my copy simply states "annonymous")

Rachel Field, born in New York City and educated at Radcliffe, was a well-known author of popular children's and adult books in the 1930s.  Among others, she wrote God's Pocket, in which Captain Samuel Hadlock, Jr., of Great Cranberry Island, plays a leading role.

Field summered on Sutton Island in the 1920s and 1930s, first in her mother's cottage, "Bunchberry Bungalow", and later in her own house.

She wrote the poems Cranberry Road and If Once You Have Slept on an Island about her enjoyable stays in the Cranberry Isles.

Exactly which island the poems refer to, however, is open to some controversy.  Long-time Islesford residents seem to think If Once You Have Slept on an Island was written about their island.  On the other hand, some Great Cranberry islanders claim that Rachel was staying in the Charles Spurling house there when it was written.  And, of course, Sutton Island, where she eventually owned her own home, could be the island intended.

Friday, March 26, 2010

First Morel of the Season Immortalized . . .

To my knowledge this is the first Morel found in Michigan this season - March 11, 2010.
And what a wonderful way to celebrate it's capture!
Enjoy . . .

Posted on You Tube by VideoMorelHunting

For up-to-the-minute conversations regarding everything MORELS go to the source:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Drummond Island" - a poem by Buster B. Bailey

There is a Gem of an Island, a perfect jewel in the sea
Surrounded by the water of Huron, it is the world to me.

At the mouth of the St. Mary's River, far from the cities turmoil
That is where my people settled, logging and tilling the soil

Netting the sturgeon and whitefish, catching trout in the streams
Rearing their families of children, always dreaming their dreams.

Sailing their boat in the Harbor . . . on missions of mercy and fun
Visiting with the Indians, homing when day is done.

Such were the stories told me, By Grandma, Mother and Dad
As we sat by the fire in the evening, when I was a little lad.

They told of crossing the river on ice that was treacherous and thin
With only a prayer to sustain them, they told of the fabulous Finn.

She with her hatchet, and singing, leading her pitiful band,
Staking out their homesteads, hoping to settle the land.

Clearing the grass from the marshes, coiling it up for hay;
Digging ditches to drain them, toiling day after day.

Clearing the land of boulders, splitting cedar for shakes
or pulling hard on whipsaw, for a home that a pioneer makes.

So was the Island settled by hunger, laughter, and tears
By sacrifice, sorrow and labor through all those turbulent years.

Then later came the woodsmen, the lumberman and his mills
taking the cedar out the swamps, the pine trees from off the hills.

Sleighing them down to the rivers, piling them up high at the dumps,
laying waste to the forests, leaving nothing but stumps.

After that, came the fires, burning the debris and trash,
Leaving the gutted earth, smoke blackened and covered with ash.

Years it took to recover and look like an Island should
But nature has a way of healing and the tourists found it good.

They came just a few when they started and
then there were more and more,
Building their cabins and houses, making roads to the shore.

Taking over our Island with everything modern and neat,
Electricity in the houses, pavement covers the streets.

Yachts abound in the Harbor, airplanes speed above,
Oh, They have invaded this Island,
but it's still the "Gem" That I Love.

Poem "Drummond Island" by Buster B. Bailey (September 14, 1907 - September 2, 1983)

Photo from the collections of George Litchard
Shows Harry Sahs (sic) from the Detroit News, and kneeling is Buster Bailey
Potaganissing Bay , Drummond Island, Michigan

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Drummond Island and the Mighty Mac . . .

The topography of Drummond Island is unreal and visually spectacular. From Maxton Plains to Big Shoal Beach, from Marblehead to the Dolomite quarry - it's landforms weave a rich tapestry of geological history not found anywhere else in the world. Quite a feat for an island comprised of only 83,000 acres.

Drummond Island is part of what is known as the Niagara Escarpment… a geologic formation that surrounds 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, and which is chiefly responsible for Niagara Falls being the glory that it is.

It is this geological history that links Drummond Island to the Mighty Mac.

In the late ‘twenties, T. L. Durocher, of DeTour opened the present Drummond Island Quarry to obtain rock for the construction and rip-rapping of docks and breakwaters on the Great Lakes. Mr. Durocher, a marine contractor, realized that the blocky nature of Engadine dolomite made it ideal for this purpose. Within a few years, several hundred thousand tons of it were quarried and transported for the repair and construction of marine installations at Frankfort, Mackinaw City, South Chicago, and other Great Lakes points.

By 1949 Drummond Dolomite was a 24 –hour per day operation and they shipped out 2,275,000 tons that year.
Drummond Island Dolomite Quarry, Drummond Island MI  circa 1940's

Then in 1954 construction of the Mackinac Bridge began. One of the first steps was to sink the large, double-walled cylinders that form the bases of the two main tower piers. These cylinders are called caissons (cay-säns). Sunk down into the bedrock on the lake floor - the caissons presented a great challenge for the divers involved in their fabrication.

The building of the Mackinac Bridge caissons

These huge caissons were to form the foundation of the bridge - no small task. That is why the bridge engineers turned to the quarry on Drummond Island. Dolomite from the quarry at Drummond was used to fill these massive caissons. The dolomite, along with huge amounts of grout, provided the base for the bridge towers.

Loading lake frieghters at Drummond Island with dolomite bound for the bridge construction site

Dolomite from Drummond Island was shipped in self-unloading lake frieghters to the bridge site. These vessels carried 12,000 tons per load. 

The vessel "John A Kling" unloads dolomite from Drummond into a bridge caisson

At the completion of the bridge construction a plaque honoring Drummond Island, Michigan with providing the stone for the Bridge Authority Office buildings and the aggregate for the bridge foundations was placed on the Mackinac Bridge.

It is not the first or last time Drummond Island dolomite played an important role in the building of this nation's infrustructure.

"Let it be such work that our descendents will thank us -- that men will say as they look upon the labor and raw substance: SEE THIS, our fathers did for us."
 -John Ruskin (1819-1900), writer as quoted by Dr. David B. Steinman Mackinac Bridge Designer