Light Up The Sky

MI Fireworks_2027acsThe Fourth of July celebration in Ludington, Michigan moves to the lake in the evening. Fireworks are a great excuse for one big beach party!

MI Fireworks Beach_1892acsComplete darkness doesn’t arrive here until 10:30, so there’s plenty of time for other entertainment. People gather in droves at the city park, and bonfires stud the shore of Lake Michigan. Fireworks start going off up and down the coast long before dark.

MI Fireworks Badger_1844acsLucky boat owners will anchor off the shore for a unique view. Others will sign on for a special tour by the S. S. Badger, Ludington’s beloved car ferry.

MI Fireworks Lantern_1926acsUnique lanterns drift through the air.

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As darkness falls, another lantern is prepared for flight.

MI Fireworks Badger_1957acsThe Badger, maneuvering into position to give her passengers the best view. Let the show begin!

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MI Fireworks_2007aMI Fireworks_2010MI Fireworks_2011aMI Fireworks_2033aMI Fireworks_2040aMI Fireworks_2046a

After the grand finale, Mother Nature lights up the sky over Club Mich with her own brand of pyrotechnics.MI Fireworks Stars_2065acs

Small Town Americana

MI Parade 2_1154acsNothing says the Fourth of July more than a small town parade. And nobody does it better than the small Western Michigan town of Ludington. Everybody turns out to celebrate the country’s birthday. One parade participant estimated the crowd at 30,000, quite a feat for a town of 8,000.

People start lining up chairs at dawn. When the show gets under way at 2 in the afternoon, spectators are packed three and four deep on the sidewalks for the entire one mile route.

MI Parade 1 Audience_1714aMax’s owners cheerfully waved me to an adjacent open spot on the curb when they saw my camera. Front row seat! Everybody’s genuinely friendly in Michigan.

MI Parade 2_1186aThe parade started with a bang, courtesy of the Civil War re-enactors and their cannon.

Youngsters  know to be prepared for the concussion when the cannon goes BOOM!

MI Parade 2_1260aAlso making noise was the Ludington High School Band.

MI Parade 2_1526acs copyThe Harvest Festival Queen, from neighboring Scottville, waves to the crowd.












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Not every beauty was participating in the parade. A few were watching it, and hoping for candy.

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Future Miss Ludington.

MI Parade 2_1542acsThere are certain requirements for any parade. Like floats…

MI Parade 2_1214aThe local contingent of fire engines…

MI Parade 2_1664aMI Parade 2_1633acsA long line of classic cars…

MI Parade 2_1703aAnd in farm country, tractors.

MI Parade 2_1712aAlso marching in the parade were gymnastics and dance groups, the Rotary Club’s Briefcase Brigade, Smokey Bear, a young fife and drum unit, and a string band that had me wondering at first how the Mummers got here from Philadelphia.

The 4-H Club and Mason County Sherriff’s Office each brought their equestrian units, with the obligatory clean-up crews, who got big cheers from the crowd.

This entire 2-hour spectacle was just the warm-up act for the main attraction…

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1744acsThe World Famous Scottville Clown Band!

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1757acsEveryone in Michigan knows the Scottville Clown Band. They’ve been around since 1903, after all.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, I have no idea how to describe them and do them justice.

Philadelphians might look at it this way: Take a really good brass band, throw them in a vat with the wenches and clowns of a Mummers Comic Club, stir it up, and what you’ve got is the Scottville Clown Band.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1755aRowdy, bawdy, and hilarious, these guys are also very talented musicians. They come from all over to perform many times over the course of a year. They also sponsor music and performing arts scholarships and fund a band shell in Scottville.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1816acsMostly they just make people happy.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1784aLike drum lines everywhere, Scottville’s drummers are mild-mannered and well-disciplined.

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1813acs Oval 3Of course there has to be a tuba-player in a tutu.

MI Parade 2_1601acsTime to wave good-bye to this year’s Fourth of July parade.

Stroll down to the beach, maybe enjoy an adult beverage or two, and rest up. The party continues with fireworks tonight!MI Parade 2_1317a


The One-Eyed Guardian of the Covered Bridge

Bartams Bridge Guardian_0280acsThe One-Eyed Guardian of the Covered Bridge

Keeps watch by day and by night;

Alert, he’s perched atop the ridge,

A jolly sort of sprite.

The bridge is old, none go across

Its glory days are past;

Few see the knight, to their great loss

They hurry by too fast.

Tedium does not plague the soul

Of our solitary deer,

For close at hand is a fishing pole

And a frosty mug of beer.

I do not know from whence he came

Or whither he may go,

Or why he thought, in Heaven’s name,

To watch here in the snow.

But he remains, though cold his post

In Mother Nature’s fridge;

So join me in a heartfelt toast:

The Guardian of the Bridge!Bartams Bridge Guardian_0288acs

Christmas at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Xmas Crop_4950 ACS Print Longwood Xmas Crop_4823 ACS PrintAs the year comes to a close, our souls protest the darkness of the oncoming winter. We must have light! Little wonder that many of our varied holiday traditions glow with strings of twinkling bulbs and shiny baubles.

On a cold, dark night, the holiday displays at Longwood Gardens are a particular delight for the eyes and the heart.

On entering the Main Conservatory, visitors are greeted with a towering tree trimmed in glass, glitter and feathers. White flowers and greenery line the dark pools and fountains.

Longwood Xmas Crop_4827 ACS Print Longwood Xmas_4795aTreasures of Christmas Past adorn a stair hall.

Longwood Xmas_4924 AS Orig A child’s whimsical interpretation of Rudolph.

Longwood Xmas Crop_4927 ACS PrintIn the Orangery, the trees bear both fruit and delicately woven ornaments.Longwood Xmas Crop_4928 ACS Print

Longwood Xmas_4869 AS OrigOh, look! Here is a table is set for a festive holiday wedding! Polished silver and sparkling crystal gleam among the flowers and gifts in red and white.Longwood Xmas Crop_4854 ACS Print Longwood Xmas Crop_4872 ACS Print

Longwood Xmas_5154 AS Orig When the sun sets, Longwood Gardens really shines. Lights twinkle from luminous trees everywhere you turn. Even a new moon adds its radiance to the festivities.

Longwood Xmas_5068 AS Orig

Longwood Xmas Crop_5069 ACS Print The Conservatory, aglow from within and without.

In this season of light in the darkness, I wish for a world without war, famine, poverty and pollution; a world where every creature has a healthy and protected home; a world where all people live in peace and prosperity.

Whatever your traditions may be at this holiday season, I wish for you good friends, good food, and good cheer!

Longwood Xmas Crop_5156 ACS OrigThe Wild Edge will return in early January. A Snowy Day!

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.  – William Wordsworth