March 29, 2017
Hands On Outdoor Learning
I’m told that children learn through play. From what I have experienced, I believe that everyone can learn through play. Our family has been playing in, on and around the Great Lakes most of our lives. We have learned a lot while we swam, boated, fished and beach combed. The lakes engaged all our senses: the splash of cold water, the sound of the waves, the silence of fog, hot sand underfoot and the way it sings when you drag your toes across it, the ever changing colors and rhythms of waves, the times fish bite the best. The outdoors have many lessons to teach if we pay attention.
Family vacations took us to all of the Great Lakes; the majesty of Niagara Falls; to the rocky shores of Lake Superior where we hunted for agates; to many embayments and open waters of the lakes to fish. My husband Norm, has caught nearly every kind of fish in the lakes: walleye from Lake Erie and the embayments of the upper Great Lakes, deep water fish such as lake trout and burbot, and the annual runs of white fish and perch Pacific salmon that were planted to control alewives.
We have all learned so much from our outdoor adventures; changing colors, their beaches of stone or sand, waterfalls, fishes and birds, wetlands , and dunes with their succession of plants. In our play around the Great Lakes, we always learn something new.
With all of this hands-on experience I wrote a non-fiction book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, a non-fiction primer. I had wanted a book like this to read, but I never found one so I decided to write a book with information that people could use to make sound decisions about the Great Lakes.
I am also the published author of three poetry books: The Wilderness Within and Sophia’s Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below and Between Sweetwater and Sand. The last book will be released July 30, 2013( These poems are drawn directly from observations of nature.
At Grand Valley State University, I developed writing classes based upon environmental studies. This gave students important topics to work with. I did not want papers recycled from high school. I assigned books such as The Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon and Thoreau. We discussed the topics and writing techniques used by these authors.
I asked my students to go outdoors and use observation and to use the five senses. They kept journals based on what they saw and even how they felt about what they saw. I brought things from nature such as feathers and plants indoors for students to hold in their hands and then describe in concrete detail. They played with the downy feathers, blowing on them and closely observing them.
I asked them to use metaphor and to use as many of the five senses as they could in their descriptions. Student writing becomes grounded in reality when using these sorts of exercises.
Our lives become grounded when playing outdoors.
Click the link for reviews of The Dynamic Great Lakes
February 15, 2017
Greenstones, Wolves, Moose, Thimbleberries, and the Isle Royale redfin lake trout
On the map, Isle Royale looks like the eye in the wolf’s head shape of Lake Superior with Duluth its snout and the Keweenaw Peninsula its mouth. It is precious since there are few places left on this planet that have been preserved like this. It is unique; some of the oldest rocks on this planet form Isle Royale, its plants and animals and minerals. There are copper mining pits on the Island where native Americans dug rich veins of copper long ago.
When I think of Isle Royale, I think of Eden, a place away from cars and the noise of machinery. There is no traffic on Isle Royale; only hiking trails. The sounds of Isle Royale are of bugling moose, the silvery songs of northern songbirds, the lapping of waves on rocks and the quavering voices of loons. Sometimes there is the slap of a beaver’s tail. The resident pack of wolves are elusive and seldom seen. We did not hear them at all.
My husband and I hiked the trails there and I’ll never forget the thimbleberries higher than our heads along a trail. We picked the large berries like none other I have ever tasted, copper color, tangy and delicious.
We found greenstones, Michigan’s semi precious stone. We stayed on Isle Royale for a week and every day we took a different hiking trail. We watched a diving duck teaching her young to dive. We saw a fox near its den, and had a close encounter with a moose. As we hiked, my husband Norm said, “I smell a moose.” I didn’t believe him, but as we came around the bend, there it was, bigger than life, standing athwart our trail. We kept a respectful distance and it casually strolled off.
We did not fish, but the rocks off of the island are the place where the Isle Royale redfin lake trout spawn as they have for millennia. This is an endemic species and its good to know it is still returning to Isle Royale every year before returning to the depths of Lake Superior.
In my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, I have a section devoted to this very special fish, the Isle Royale redfin lake trout.
February 10, 2017
Since DDT and like pesticides were banned in 1972, the American Bald Eagles may be seen around the Great Lakes.
Read About how this happened in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.
Find the book at bn.com, Amazon.com and many other brick and mortar bookstores such as the Bookman in Grand Haven, MI.
May 27, 2016
Pacific Salmon in Great Lakes Here is an interesting link about changes in the Great Lakes fishes.
For more information, The Dynamic Great Lakes shows how many changes happen and continue to happen in the Great Lakes. Available at Amazon.com, bn.com and many fine bookstores.
April 8, 2016
The wetlands are important for wildlife and for filtering pollution. The great blue heron is part of the web of life found in and around the Great Lakes and especially the wetlands surrounding them. Read more about wetlands and food webs in my book,
The Dynamic Great Lakes.
March 24, 2016
Podcast: Great Lakes Book click the link.
March 26, 27 go to my podcast on Bookmarkedradio. I am interviewed by Kevin Collier about how I wrote The Dynamic Great Lakes. I also read a few poems from my other books: Between Sweetwater and Sand, Sophia’s Lost and Found and The Wilderness Within.
March 6, 2016
click the link above
This critically acclaimed book is also available in paperback from many bookstores and online at Amazon.com, bn.com and many other places.
January 14, 2016
Ice formation on Lake Michigan has started later than usual due to unseasonably warm weather. Now ice ridges are forming along the sandy shores of West Michigan. Just how this happens I describe in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.
Another phenomenon that is happening right now is pancake ice. Here is an excerpt from my book.
Pancake ice forms from sheets of ice that break off and then are like a broken plate glass window. When these pieces of ice continually knock together by the rolling action of waves, they become rounded and curled up at the edges like gigantic pancakes. Sometimes the pancake ice looks like bumper cars crashing into each other like a wild carnival ride.
November 8, 2014
My watercolor of surfers about to enter the “washing machine” so called because of the turbulent waters when the wind causes the surf to rise and then bang against the cement structure. This is a dangerous place to surf. Lake Michigan is treacherous and many have been lost to these waters.
Read more about all of the freshwater seas called The Dynamic Great Lakes in my non-fiction book. Available at Barnes & Noble, The Bookman, Amazon.com etc.