Northern Michigan

Outdoors: Black swans

15 hours ago
Orange County Register

When economists talk about "black swans," they're referring to an unpredictable event, often one with a severe impact.

The year 2020 has certainly had some black swans.

Even during migration, I can't imagine seeing black swans on Green Lake or Duck Lake.

Outdoors: Cricket percussion

Sep 16, 2020

I play the keyboard for a little country church. After one of the COVID-careful services, I complained to my husband that it felt wrong, somehow, to play hymns when nobody was singing.

He pointed out that, although the congregation wasn't singing, a cricket was.

To be technical, crickets do not sing.

It's more like percussion, a sound made by striking or scraping. 

When many people think about National Geographic, they think of wildlife photography, and the stacks of magazines their parents collected. Editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg thinks that’s fine, but people should also think about National Geographic’s reporting on topics like gender and climate change. Before her current job, Susan Goldberg was a reporter for several newspapers, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Detroit Free Press, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Does the Upper Peninsula of Michigan seem creepy to you? You might think so after reading Karen Dionne’s novels. Her latest two psychological thrillers are set in the U.P., and a third one is in the works. Karen’s best known for her novel “The Marsh King’s Daughter,” which has been translated into 25 languages. Her latest book is “The Wicked Sister.” Karen appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event and spoke with Cynthia Canty, former host of Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside. In the second half of the program, we'll hear from Brad Thor.

Outdoors: Art and trees

Sep 9, 2020

We all know that trees are essential for the environment, but trees are actually quite important to visual artists as well.

While the finest papers are still made from rags, these days, most paper comes from wood pulp.

Paper also is processed and sized with various gums derived from trees.

Rosins, usually from pine trees, are used as surface coatings for many papers.

Many historical works of art - especially Italian paintings - were created by dissolving pigments in walnut oil.

Gums from trees act as binders for watercolors.

Courtesy Legs Inn

 

A steady stream of visitors to resort areas in northern Michigan over the summer exceeded national tourism averages. But local businesses are still hurting from lost revenue during the state’s COVID-19 lockdown, and are now putting their hopes into fall tourism.

Outdoors: Monarchs of the lake

Aug 26, 2020

"He was an Englishman." I'm thinking that when W.S. Gilbert wrote "I am the monarch of the sea" for the operetta "HMS Pinafore," he was not referring to the North American butterflies known as monarchs. 

Occasionally, either because of defective instincts or being blown off course, monarchs are found roosting on drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

But monarchs do not belong on the sea.

Outdoors: Shakespeare's Roses

Aug 19, 2020

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Apparently, Shakespeare liked roses. He mentioned them - not just in "Romeo and Juliet" - but in more plays and sonnets than any other flower.

Being emblems of the Houses of York and Lancaster, red and white roses thrived Shakespeare's historical plays. 

What could be more romantic than a long-stemmed red rose?

Search and Rescue missions in the Great Lakes are up from last year by nearly 300.
U.S. Coast Guard

The pandemic, high water levels, and warm temperatures could mean more drownings on the Great Lakes. 

There have been 58 reported drownings so far this year, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. 32 of those have occurred in Lake Michigan.

National Writers Series: David Blight and Miles Harvey

Jul 23, 2020

You might say David Blight is absorbed with the life of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. David, who's an author, teacher and historian, has written three books about him. His latest is called “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.” It won the Pulitzer Prize for History, and is now being adapted into a movie for Netflix, produced by Barack and Michelle Obama. David appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event. He spoke with author and director of Arts and Culture for the city of Detroit, Rochelle Riley.

Elaine Weiss is a journalist and writer whose latest book is “The Woman’s Hour.” It’s about the struggle to amend the U.S. Constitution to allow women the right to vote. Elaine appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event. She spoke with Traverse City Record-Eagle columnist and teacher, Susan Odgers. In the second half of our program, we’ll hear a discussion with William Kent Krueger talking with Doug Stanton. William is the author of the Cork O’Connor series of mystery novels. His latest book is a stand-alone novel called “This Tender Land.” 

Outdoors: Baby skunks

Jul 7, 2020

When I think of Interlochen, I can’t help but thinking of lines. Morning line-up, lines for meals, lines for tickets, lines at the Melody Freeze.

The animal kingdom is filled with lines, too.

Take baby skunks. Skunk kits look just like adults, only cuter.

They develop musk glands when they are about eight days old, and they learn how to spray after a few weeks.

Kits stay in their nests for about the first three weeks of their lives, but when they do emerge, the stubby-legged infants  follow their mother in a single-file line.

Outdoors: Shakespearean flowers

Jul 6, 2020

The plays of Shakespeare are filled with references to herbs and flowers. 

“There’s fennel for you and columbines.  There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.”

In "Hamlet," when Ophelia mentions flowers, Shakespeare was making statements that probably were quite obvious to his audiences.

In Elizabethan times, fennel was the symbol of flattery, while columbines signified marital infidelity and ingratitude. Daisies were symbols of unhappy love. 

Outdoors: Federation squirrels

Jul 3, 2020

The rodents that thrive in dry sandy fields at Interlochen are called thirteen-lined ground squirrels. At least, that’s what we call them now.

Around Independence Day, I like to recall their original common name: federation squirrels.

These grasslands creatures have thirteen stripes, alternating dark and light, that are interspersed with little dots that look rather like stars.

Outdoors: The river of the Saw Beaks

Jul 2, 2020

The Little Betsie River connects the two lakes at Interlochen. Then the Betsie River flows from Green Lake to Lake Michigan.

They were named for a duck: a merganser.

Early maps of Lake Michigan bear names given by the French. They called the Betsie "la Reviere du Bec-Scie," or "the River of the Saw Beaks."

The French called mergansers “saw beaks” because of the serrations on the ducks’ narrow  bills. These sawtooth edges aid the birds in capturing and holding onto the slippery fish that make up the bulk of their diet.

Outdoors: Loons' breath control

Jul 1, 2020

At Interlochen, breath control is a big deal. 

Singers, wind players, actors and dancers all have to deal with the basic need to have enough breath to produce their art.

Our beloved loons have breath control under control.  These remarkable birds can dive and stay under water for about three minutes, maybe more. And that is while undergoing strenuous exercise!

You can watch them disappear beneath the surface, but it is anybody’s guess where they might resurface.

Outdoors: Countersinging birds

Jun 30, 2020

I love antiphonal music! 

The ethereal back and forth of double choirs in European cathedrals. The African American call and response form in jazz and gospel music.  And my personal  favorite: several brass choirs  stationed around the sides of Kresge Auditorium echoing back and forth through the hall and into the mall.

The dawn chorus at Interlochen is rather like antiphonal music. Birds take turns singing.   

Outdoors: The flowers that bloom in the spring

Jun 29, 2020
CC BY-SA 4.0

Have you ever noticed how often singers sing about nature?

Take Gilbert and Sullivan.  Librettist Sir William Schwenk Gilbert was remarkably knowledgeable in matters "vegetable, animal and mineral."

For example, in "The Mikado," Nanki Poo and Koko, addressing the shade intolerance of woodland wildflowers, sing,  “The flowers that bloom in the spring / tra la / breathe promise of merry sunshine.”

Audio Guide to Summer: June 26

Jun 26, 2020
Margot Wynkoop

Fireflies are out and have been spotted in northern Michigan this week. The best place to see fireflies is in tall grass where there is little other light.  The flashing lights are a signal to attract mates. 

Fireflies are carnivores.  In their larval state they eat slugs and snails, so they’re good for your garden and your lawn.

Audio Guide to Spring: June 19

Jun 19, 2020
Cheryl Bartz

It’s time for snapping turtles to lay their eggs.  Snapping turtles are easy to identify because of their large size, the spikes on their tail and their strong, muscular legs.  It’s now peak nesting season for snappers and other Michigan turtles. That’s a pretty good time to see them actually.  Jim Harding, a retired Wildlife Outreach Specialist for the Michigan State University Museum, says they need to move into the open to lay their eggs. 

"Sunset Station" in Arcadia Township has been devestated by high waters from Lake Michigan pounding its shoreline.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Water levels in the Great Lakes are really high right now. Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie are all breaking records and creating all sorts of problems for communities on their shores.

Pandemic Stories: Racing the coronavirus

Jun 17, 2020
Kris Kruid

Kris Kruid was halfway across the world and had to race the coronavirus to get back to her home in Honor.  Borders were slamming shut behind her. She was in 13 airports in 8 days.  She told her story to Red Pine Radio producer Cheryl Bartz.

“I was in Botswana on a trip we’d been planning for a year to go on safari and then go see the great apes," she recalls. "Then my traveling companion turned on her phone and saw the news about borders closing. So then we had to get out.  South Africa was closing, and Kenya had already closed."

Taylor Wizner

 

In the early days of the pandemic Munson Healthcare administrators were in a flurry of panic.

 

 


Terry McMillan is a bestselling author known for her novels that feature female African American characters. Two of them, “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” were made into major motion pictures. Her latest book is “It’s Not All Downhill from Here.” Terry appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event. She spoke with Detroit’s director of arts and culture, Rochelle Riley. In the second half of our program today, we’ll hear a discussion with Scott Turow.

Audio Guide to Spring: June 12

Jun 12, 2020
Green frog photo
Baroness / Creative Commons

Green frogs

The rest of June is the peak time of year to hear green frogs calling.  “Green frog” is actually a species name.  These frogs might be green, yellow, olive or brown.

Kathy Gray, who volunteers with the Michigan DNR Frog and Toad Survey says, “it’s only the males who sing and they are trying to attract a female. That is how they sound. Like a banjo string. Just one kind-of-not-in-tune banjo string being plucked.”

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