July 27, 2021. I left my home on the western shores of Lake Superior to visit my mom on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. It’s a nine-hour trip across northern Wisconsin, through the Upper Peninsula, and over the Mackinac Bridge.
The delta variant, snaking its way around the South, hadn’t seemed to arrive in the North.
My last trip to Mom’s was three weeks earlier. My next trip was supposed to be at Christmas when snow and ice bloom and high winds roar off the lake.
I decided to visit again because the pandemic canceled last year’s Christmas plans. And I’m not hopeful about this year’s plans.
I came by myself, leaving my husband and dogs at home. I wanted to spend time alone with Mom. We shared stories, ate Indian and Thai takeout, and walked her dog along Lake Michigan in warm, Technicolor evenings.
And I took pictures of flowers, lots of pictures. The characteristics of light in the Harbor Springs-Petoskey-Charlevoix area are different than the characteristics of light in the Duluth-Superior area. I wonder if it’s because the sky reflects the different colors of the two lakes. I wonder if it’s because the latitude of Petoskey is slightly over 43 degrees, and the latitude at the western tip of Lake Superior is about 46.6 degrees. Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a difference of 207 miles. Whatever the reason, I get a Land-of-Oz feeling when the sun is shining at Mom’s.
Flowers are everywhere in Harbor Springs, Petoskey, and Charlevoix–in yards, in front of shops, along city streets, hanging from lamp posts. Flowers greet residents and welcome tourists with vibrant oranges, blues, reds, pinks, purples, yellows, whites, and greens.
Some gardeners plant only two or three colors together, but many mix all the the colors together and it works. If I tried to dress in the same array of colors, people might call me eccentric.
A friend and I once noticed how nature can toss together a salad of greens (lime, forest, army, olive, sage, emerald, fern, pea, mint) and throw them across the landscape and none of them will clash.
In the mornings, Mom and I ran her errands and went for rides. When she entered shops, I spent little time inside with her. I’d go back outside and take pictures of flowers, lots of pictures.
The vaccination rate for her county is about 61% for people who’ve had at least one shot. The recommendation has been for unvaccinated people to wear masks. Less than almost no one wore a mask. Statistically, about 39% of the people should’ve been wearing masks.
I know some math.
I provide daycare for my grandkids.
My grandkids are too young to get vaccinated.
I wore a mask and stayed away from people.
I ate takeout.
And I took pictures of flowers, lots of pictures.
The flowers are beautiful, especially those set against the waves of Lake Michigan. Coincidentally (or not), while I was reading my phone alerted me to an array of wildflower photos I had taken two years ago while Charlie and I took our daily stroller walk. The cultivated flowers were much more brilliant to be sure, but the golden rod and Joe-Pye weed with their billowing flowers heads are striking as well. Thank goodness Mother Nature is not affected by the pandemic. Now Global Warming, that’s another story.
I think the cultivated flowers are more brilliant because most aren’t native to our zone. I wonder if native tropical plants that grow wild are more brilliant. And global warming is scary. I wish people could agree that doing anything to cut gasses and pollution was a win-win situation for all living creatures and plants!