Friday, April 30, 2010

Always the end of a perfect day . . .

May I never miss a sunset
or a rainbow because I am looking down.
- Sara June Parker

I am putting together a Photo Album of Drummond Island sunsets on the DI Facebook page. If you, or someone you know, has taken a DI sunset photo please share it with me so it can be included. I will be posting the best of the best on the Blog next week.
Thanks to all who have contributed so far!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Black Fly Season!

Old Black Fly's been

buzzin around,

buzzin around,

buzzin around.

Old Black Fly's been

buzzin around,

And he's had a very

busy bad day.

He ate on the crust of the Apple pie.

He bothered the Baby and made her cry.

Shoo fly! Shoo fly! Shooo.


From the book Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth. An entertaining, surprising twist on the traditional alphabet book. The pesky old black fly is making trouble all over the house and all through the alphabet.

Black fly season occurs from mid-March to mid-July in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Some backpackers, campers and fishermen avoid outdoor activities during black fly season, but the rest of us soldier on despite the bugs, glad to escape the confines of snow-bound home life.
Like mosquitoes, black flies gain nourishment by sucking the blood of other animals. Actually, it's just the females who feed on blood: the males feed mainly on flower nectar. Unlike mosquitoes, black fly eggs are laid in moving water where the larvae attach to rocks using tiny hooks and survive under ice, waiting for the spring thaw. There, they pupate under water feeding on passing organic debris and emerge in a bubble of air as flying adults. When they hatch, they are often preyed upon by fish, such as trout. They live about 4-6 weeks, depending on species, temperature, and food supply.

Black flies are small black or grey insects with short legs and antennae. Bites can be extremely painful, and their mouthparts are similar to those of a horse fly. Some species of adult black flies prefer humans whereas others target specific animals or birds. On people, they crawl into sleeves and around boot tops, especially favoring the head just beneath the rim of a hat. Bites can cause swelling and soreness for many days. There are records of both domestic animals and people being killed in a few hours through bites and blood loss.

After the black fly finishes feeding, bleeding may continue for some time. At first, the bite site appears as a small, red, central spot surrounded by a reddened, swollen area. Next, the area becomes increasingly itchy, swollen and irritating, sometimes for several days. Partial relief can be found by using anti-itch creams or oral anti-histamines, like benedryl.
Flies usually bite during the day in outdoor shaded or partially-shaded areas. They do not bite indoors or late at night. They are less numerous at higher altitudes due to a lack of breeding sites, cooler temperatures and the the presence of breezes. Black flies are attracted to mammals by the carbon dioxide and moisture in exhaled breath, perspiration and perfumes. They are also strongly influenced by color — they find dark hues more attractive than pale ones, and blue, purple, brown, and black more attractive than white or yellow. A light-colored shirt, therefore, is a much better choice of clothing than a dark blue one.

Proper clothing offers good protection against black fly bites. Keep shirt sleeves and front closely fastened and tuck trousers inside socks or high boots. Zippered front shirts will keep flies out better than button shirts. Light colors such as orange, yellow and light blue are less attractive to black flies than dark ones. Shoulder-length head nets are sometimes useful. Repellents can help to some degree - depending on how thick the little buggers are!

All this said, just know black flies come with the territory when out and about in the Upper Peninsula this time of year. So why not have a sense of humor about their incidious attacks?! Show your humerous side by sporting one of the DI CafePress storefront's new tees:

Mosquitoes drill for lunch, Black flies strip mine for it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Sense of Wonder . . .

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune, that as adults, most of us have lost this true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring.

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder,” Rachael Carson wrote, “he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

I was blessed to have the companionship of my Great-grandfather and later, after his death, the encouragement of my Great-grandmother to continue poking around on my own. It is this indestructible sense of wonder, this unfailing love of woods and water inherited from my Great-grandparents that has often sustained me in adulthood.

And it is this same inborn sense of wonder I hope to help my grandchildren keep alive. A sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and unknown, exploring nature by becoming receptive to what lies all around them, inspired by long lazy meanderings through the woods and along the waterways of Drummond Island.

“This I believe: That the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world." - John Steinbeck

Photos taken during our first kayaking adventure this season
out on the waters of Potagannissing Bay, April 23rd 2010.
The children are my beautiful/handsome grandkids -
Madison and Drew Baker.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Zen of Kayaking . . .

centered, serene, energized

paddle in hand

magic in water, through and through

reflections, shimmer, vibrance
natural suroundings encompass

Sun radiating love, reaching deep within
magestic, vast, expanse

a universe resolved
every thing friend, every thing Zen

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On vacation . . .

Enjoying playing on Drummond too much to post!



We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.
 ~Native American Proverb

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Place of Beauty in Which to Play . . .

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
- John Muir

In honor of John Muir (April 21,1914 - December 24, 1914) who was America's most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist, and founder of the Sierra Club.

To learn more about Muir's life, visit this Sierra Club link:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fudgies, Flatlanders, and F.I.P.s . . .

. . . Embrace Drummond’s Tourists Warmly!

Tourists are like grandparents – they come to visit, bring lots of stuff, generate some excitement, then leave.

The “stuff” these grandparents bring, however, is actually money. Money that fuels Drummond’s economy.

Money – in these hard economic times – that fewer and fewer tourists are bringing Drummond’s way. For our community to stay vital in this ever changing and competitive tourist market, then local business people and their staffs need to do everything they can to keep folks coming back – coming back and bringing friends and family with them.

Drummond has a long standing tradition of warm hospitality. Just stop by Sune’s Hardware some Saturday if you want to get a sense of what Gary Hernbroth – president of Danville, California-based Training for Winners – means when he says, “It’s the first-line, front desk staff that have the power to generate the magic.” At Sune’s no question goes unanswered, no conversation is complete without a smile and a laugh. No one is ever too busy to answer the phone, find a tool or offer advice. Traits Hernbroth says are essential for all businesses in a community based on the tourist industry.

Hernbroth teaches owners of businesses that cater primarily to tourists that they need to translate their passion for their business and their community to their employees who meet and greet visitors. Jim Kelley of North Haven obviously understands this – Jim is passionate about everything Drummond and it shows.

And I don’t believe anyone gets away with not being greeted by Sue McCaskill whenever she is in residence at The Northwood. Her smile warms up the dining room like no one else’s as she passes from table to table checking on coffee levels and sharing a quick story or two.

However if Drummond Island is to stay competitive, if it is to continue to draw tourists worried about gas prices this far north, then it is best to not rest on past laurels. Hernbroth, in his training sessions for tourist industry stakeholders, offers five rules for providing better service to customers:

Be easy to do business with – It is estimated that 68% of non-returning customers stop patronizing a business because of a perception that the business was indifferent to their needs. Who is answering your phone – is ANYONE answering your phone?!

Listen to your customers – Ask them, “How are we doing?” Customer’s perceptions are more important than what managers think they know. The public’s perception of your business is their reality – and one they will share with others. When someone complains about the service they received take the time to listen closely. Compliments are nice, complaints heeded help your business grow and improve.

Look at little things – Cleanliness in the hospitality industry is BIG! If your bathroom is a mess and customers see that, what’s your kitchen like?

Ask for ideas – Business managers/owners should involve their staff in moving their businesses forward by challenging them to regularly contribute ideas. Employees are on the front line and often see – or hear - the little things managers miss.

Identify your passionate workers – They are the top-performing workers who are already finding ways to help the business. Reward them. Build around them. Clone them!

When the Michigan Tourism Industry Planning Council got together with Eastern Upper Peninsula stakeholders during one of their Listening Sessions, and asked them to rank their most important concerns by vote *Visitor Experience* came out on top. Participants said they needed to guarantee that tourists felt their experience in the E.U.P. was: friendly, full of fond memories, fun, adventurous, enjoyable and left them with a desire to return.

Yes, they are Fudgies, Flatlanders and F.I.P.s – but they are also Drummond Island’s bread-and-butter. Remembering to always follow Gary Hernbroth’s Five Rules for Better Service will ensure that Drummond Island retains its title of “Gem of the Huron”.

On a final, lighter note –

A flatlander dies and goes to Heaven. St. Peter is showing him around. Everything is glorious. There is a music hall with every kind of music, all played with angelic perfection. The dining hall offers food beyond compare.

And the residences, St. Peter assures him, are comfortable beyond all imagination. On their way to the residence halls, they turn down a hall where everyone is chained to the wall. St. Peter offers no comment as they continue down the long passageway. After a few minutes the man asks St. Peter. "If this is Heaven and everything is so wonderful why are these people chained up?"

St Peter answers, "Oh. Those are the downstate Michiganders – Flatlanders. If we don't keep them chained up they try to escape to their cabins on Drummond Island during the weekends."

Let’s keep ‘em coming!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blogger's Block . . .

Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.

Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.

I didn't stay shut up in my room yesterday and so now I've got nothing for you!

Did see a great movie with the grandsons though - *How to Train Your Dragon* is awesome!

Oh, and the boys learned some simple ballast principles using my hammock.

All in all a pretty great day! Just not a *writer's day*.

Enjoy the video:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ode to Golf . . .

In my hand I hold a ball

White and dimpled, rather small

Oh, how bland it does appear,

This harmless looking little sphere.

By his size I could not guess

The awesome strength it does possess;

My life has not been quite the same

Since I chose to play this game.

It rules my mind for hours on end.

A fortune it has made me spend.

It has made me curse and cry

I hate myself and want to die

I am promised a thing called ‘par’

If I can hit it straight and far.

To master such a tiny ball

Should not be very hard at all.

But my desires the ball refuses

And does exactly as it chooses

It hooks and slices, dribbles, dies

and disappears before my eyes.

Often it will have a whim

To hit a tree or take a swim.

With miles of grass on which to land

It finds a tiny patch of sand.

Then has me offering up my soul

If it will just drop in the hole.

Its made me whimper like a pup,

and swear that I will give it up

And take to drink to ease my sorrow.

But “The Ball” knows...

I’ll be back...tomorrow.

Poem courtesy of The 19th Hole

The Drummond Island Township course located just off Townline Road is a 9-hole par 35 course with affordable rates. It was built in the early 1960s and is similar to the old style English courses. It offers a unique feature; there is an airport runway that runs along the side of the par 3 # 4. Where else can you have airplanes and deer as obstacles? The course not only has 9-holes for you to enjoy but they also offer a driving range, practice putting green and pro shop. There are carts available to rent as well. You can call the course and make a tee time 906-493-5406. The course opens in the spring and is closed mid-fall.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Driving and Riding . . .

A fun video - Golfing at The Rock and Riding ATV trails on Drummond Island
by posted on YouTube July 31, 2009  —  enjoy!

The Rock - featured in the video - will open May 1st this year. Located at the Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center it is an 18-hole championship course carved out of 400 acres of hardwood and cedar not to mention limestone. The course was opened in 1989 and designed by Harry Bowers. From the back tees the course can offer a challenge with 6,837 yards.

The course is rated 69.3 with a slope of 131 from the white tees. For any golfer the course offers 4 sets of tees suitable to his or her skill level. The course is ranked with 4 stars by the 2008 Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play.” The Rock also participates in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System. You must come and see to believe all the thriving wildlife on the course. The Rock’s Signature hole is the par 3 # 15. The hole is 166 yards from the gold, 131 Blue, 119 White, and 94 Red. The hole sets you up on the tee which is surrounded by wetlands having the green nestled beyond a large pond.

For more information or reservations

33494 S. Maxton Road
Drummond Island, MI 49726
(906) 493-1000
906-493-5576, fax line
Or email

Friday, April 16, 2010

Filling in the Gaps . . .

Drummond Island - like most U.P. towns - is a community that you can feel part of. A place where you can count on your neighbor and where you can walk into the store and you know the people you see and are known by them. On a first name basis.

That doesn't exist everywhere any more. It's dead. It's gone. And this is tragic.

On Drummond you meet people you know at the restuarant, at the post office, every place you go when you are out and about - chatting, forming friendships and bonds. It is face-to-face and all direct. You know everybody's business and they know your's. The good, the bad and the ugly.

And that's the way it should be.

Small towns fill in the gaps in your life that you hadn't known existed.

 The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don't know what you're doing, someone else does.

Gossip by Norman Rockwell

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Service Down . . . UGH!

I have been without Internet Service for the past few days while I changed providers! UGH!
See you all back here tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nature's Medicine . . .

photo of Drummond Island by David R. Imig

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

-John Muir

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Measure of a Life . . .

Brian Ruddy, Isle Royale National Park, Mott Island, Michigan,

"Life is not measured by
the number of breaths we take,
 but by the moments that
take our breath away."

— Maya Angelou

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Getting to Know You . . .

"Whoa! Dad's been arrested six times!
 Aww, Mom's only been arrested twice."
- Bart Simpson on The Simpsons

I have know my family my entire life.

But how well do I know them? How well do the younger generations know our family's history? Its traditions? Its characters?

We all know Uncle Dick was an Episcopalian priest. We know Uncle Marlow lived a full, happy life - and that it ended all too soon and too sudden. We know that the Wilds' Dance Hall in the Soo was where good kids went to be bad. We all know the black and white genealogy of our family's lineage.

But do the newest generations of Wilds' know the rich tapestry of their family's legends and myths? Do they understand what it means to carry on the memory of a family that is deeply rooted in the history of the Eastern Upper Peninsula?

Marlow's grandson is currently living down state while he attends WMU. To earn extra spending money he has hired on as my "yard boy". In true Wilds' tradition he is a strong, untiring worker - my yard has never looked better this early in the season!

As he works - and I direct - there is plenty of time for converstaion. Most of it centered on family stories. Family history. And I have been amazed at how little he knows of our family - of our family's connection to the rich history of the Upper Peninsula. Of what it means to be able to say he is a part of that history. That he is a part of all those that came before him - that our history has somehow been a factor in molding who he is.

Great Uncle Earlan Wilds once owned the General Store on Sugar Island. A tough, ruggedly handsome, independent soul he was known later in life as either "Patch Eye" or "Crook Hand" - depending on who was telling which of his many colorful stories. I like "Patch Eye" the best. The events that led up to that nickname also made him an even more dashing character than he already was - a U.P. Eryl Flinn.

Great Uncle Earlan was known near and far as a tight wad. Very little went to waste in the back room of his Sugar Island butcher shop. If a customer had a penny he wanted it. How Earlan lost an eye never surprised anyone - family, friend or enemy.

It was a cold, early spring day. the kind of day up north that let the Mail Boat make its rounds up and down the St. Mary's River - but still found ice packs jammed up against the shoreline and in the tiny bays along its route. And that is how it came to past that Earlan, returning from fetching the mail, spied two beer bottles stuck in the ice surrounding the General Store dock.

Not one to pass up the deposit money these bottles represented, Earlan reached down and began to struggle with wrestling the bottles free from their icy shackles.

The first gave way quick and easy. The second proved a harder fight. The more Earlan struggled, it seemed, the harder the ice gripped the bottle. Earlan pulled. He wiggled. He braced himself. And he finally applied enough force to wrestle the bottle free.

But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. A fact Earlan hadn't braced himself for. The momentum of the bottle in his hand took him quite by surprise. The top of the bottle impacted his eye in such a way as to do permanent damage.

Earlan wore a black eye patch for the rest of his life - much to us younger Wilds' delight. He became a family legend in his own time.

Stories like this define one's sense of the unique nature of each of our families, and of our own places in them. They provide us with inspiration, warnings, and cherished values. These stories never leave us; they reverberate through our lives, guiding our choices in work, friendship and love.

Keeping a family's history alive is critical not only to its memory, but also to its members own emotional survival. Too often the deep stuff of a family - the childhood memories, the hopes and fears, the truest sense of self - goes unexplored. While many families busily outline their family trees they oft forget to include the stories that led to those connections. That allowed those branches to sprout from a single trunk.

As summer approaches we, the members of the extended Wilds' clan, are looking forward to gathering in the Soo. To taking time to reconnect with Aunts and Uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and siblings. To share the stories that make up the legend of our family.

Every family has its myths - its fabulous characters. Do you know your family's stories?

The family . . .
We are a strange little band of characters trudging through life - sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it all in the same instant. Loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that binds us all together. - Erma Bombeck