Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A pair of goldfinches visit the Cedar Bluff bird feeder. In the background, yellow dandelions echo the color of the birds. Image has been altered using one of Photoshop's brush effects to emphasize the greens and yellows of the photo.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Citizen Says Thank You

Memorial Day 2011

I've never marched in a band,
nor fought in a war.
The only uniform I ever wore
was when I was a Brownie Scout.

But today I pause for a moment to say a word
to those who put on the uniform.
To all those who marched and fought. 
You who cared and bled.
You who died.

A citizen says thank you. 

Photo by Ed Eichler
Civil War Reenactment -- July 2010
Historic Fort Wayne
Detroit, Michigan

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Green Blades Rising


"Now the green blade rises from the buried ground. . ."

John M.C. Crum, lyricist

The words of an Easter hymn describe these iris blades, rising from a winter's rest, soon to be the bearers of white and purple blossoms in the gardens at Cedar Bluff. Spring is lingering in this part of Michigan and the green in the trees and flowers and grass has been a visual treat.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bridge Out

The bridge over the White River on Highway M-25 just north of Cedar Bluff is being replaced. Here's what the construction site looks like tonight, looking north. There are two huge cranes and several hydra units. A cofferdam is in place and guides the river through the construction.

Because of the construction all traffic is routed across Atwater Road and then up either Schock Road or Ruth Road. Consequently the road in front of the lake house is quiet. We are noticing the bird songs this spring much more than before. The tanker semi-trucks that run almost hourly up and down the highway to the chemical plants in Harbor Beach are re-routed. On summer weekends we see lots of campers and motorcycles. They have to take the detour, too.

So, we will have a quieter summer, until the bridge is finished.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another May in Another Year

Here's the full moon in late May of 2010. Now think what an image like this portends. The nights are warm enough to be outside, even though an early evening campfire often feels so good. The skies are clear enough (no rain!) to see the moon.

In four more days we will bid farewell to May of 2011. With over eight inches of rain since mid-April and far too many cloudy days, that will be a much welcomed farewell. I'm ready to walk outside on a warm June night and behold twinkling stars and a gentle yellow moon. And yes, oh yes, bring on the satisfying feel of the summer sun on shoulders while I'm weeding flower beds. I'm ready!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lilac Buds

The colors in lilacs are amazing. Cultivars are grouped in seven color families -- white, violet, blue, lilac, pink, magenta, and purple. Ed has collected lilac shrubs in several colors at Graywood Farm. The spray photographed for today's post is from the largest lilac on the farm, the Lena Henke tree, that anchors the courtyard garden. I've added a touch of watercolor to bring an ethereal nature to this close up of a plume of lilac buds.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Apple Blossom Time

I'll be with you in apple blossom time.
I'll be with you to change your name to mine.
One day in May I'll come and say
Happy the bride the sun shines on today.

What a wonderful wedding there will be.
What a wonderful day for you and me.
Church bells will chime;
You will be mine,
In apple blossom time.

Words by Neville Fleeson
Music by Albert Von Tilzer
Recorded by Charles Harrison, tenor, in June 1920

Somehow or another, the words to "I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time" started running through my head while I was photographing in the orchard last week. I found the National Jukebox on the Library of Congress website and there was a vintage (but digital!) version of the RCA Victor recording of this song.

First recorded on June 3, 1920 (almost a year before my mother and father were born!), this song has been recorded by singers like Della Reese, the Andrews sisters, Barry Manilow, Tab Hunter, and lots of other artists.

The camera looks into the soul of the apple blossom and captures a moment. The lyricist and composer bring that moment into music. What a wonderful way to capture apple blossom time.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fishing Boys

Call it Biology 101. Max (center) and Finn (right) watch a young fisherman as he carefully removes the hook from a panfish caught at Brighton's Mill Pond on Sunday. The fish was hooked at the side of its mouth and this young man had to take his catch to his dad for help with removing the hook.

Ed and I had watched with Max and Finn as the fish took the bait, the bobber went under the surface of the water, and the young fisherman reeled in his catch. Then things got interesting as the removal of the hook took some skill and care. The seriousness of all three boys -- one practioner and two onlookers -- makes the moment.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, May 23, 2011

Close Call

The burned bottom of a reusable shopping bag tells the story of an accident that was a close call last night. Ed placed a bag full of groceries on top of the glass top range so that we could empty the bag. I was busy putting groceries away when I smelled something hot, then something burning.

The bag was heavy and as Ed placed it on the stove top, it brushed against the controls and turned on a burner. We quickly moved things. The bottom of the bag melted through and scorched a paper grocery bag inside.

Close call!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pear Blossoms & Gray Barn

A morning fog softens the atmosphere at Graywood Farm. Pear blossoms, photographed here against the gray siding of the barn, are in full bloom. From these gnarled branches come the botanical wonders of bud and leaf, flower and fruit. 

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Little League Cousins, Circa 1982

It's that Little League time of the year. Time to play ball after school and on weekends. Nowadays, Little League has been augmented by soccer. But way back in the time of raising our kids, Little League (and T-Ball to a certain extent) was the name of the game.

Left to right: Cousins Jason, Lee, Ben, and Will. Lee is enjoying a lollipop. Willie (his childhood moniker) is putting the bunny-ears on Ben. Jason wears his ever famous smile-that-warms-every-heart.

Ephemera in the photo Will's athletic shoes look new; teams are sponsored by Pigeon Rotary, Pigeon Lions, and Shetler Plumbing. From the daisies on the right behind Will and the peonies on the left behind Jason, this is probably late May or early June. The quartet is perched on the old redwood bench that came from John and Pauline Eichler's to Graywood Farm as a part of a picnic set of table and two benches. Elaine Yackle Weidman sold redwood furniture and I believe that this bench is part of a set that Elaine sold to them. Mystery question: what is on the ground next to Will's left foot?

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, May 20, 2011

Foggy Turbine

Cold air off of Saginaw Bay moved across the Western Thumb in the form of fog last night. We were driving back from Bad Axe and saw the scud of the fog to the north and west. By the time we reached Elkton, the fog was crawling toward us along Highway M-142.

Driving through Harvest Windfarm between Pigeon and Elkton, we stopped to listen to the turbines in the fog. This turbine would appear and disappear as the fog moved and swirled across the Thumb's rich agricultural landscape. You can make the blades appear and disappear, almost like a hologram, by moving your monitor slightly as you view this photo.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marsh Marigolds

There's a stretch of Highway M-25 north of Harbor Beach where the road runs through a very marshy area. The ditches in these one or two miles are filled with clumps of marsh marigolds in the spring. This year's cold and damp weather has kept the bright yellow blossoms at peak for over a week now.

Copyright 2011  
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Felines Sewing


Way back when, Sister Mary organized a "Girls Quilting at the Jersey Shore" weekend. We had a wonderful time playing with Thangles and more. I was a fledgling digital photographer, but I knew enough to be able to cut and paste my favorite cat onto this photo.

I can tell you now that the photoshopping is totally not well done. Still, this image always brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.

Felines, from left to right: MB Cat; Heidi Cat; Liesl Cat; Martha Cat; Bernie Cat.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sweet Hannah

She's twenty months old and already she's capturing our hearts with that sweet smile. Sweet Hannah. What more can I say?!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, May 16, 2011

Birthday Girls

My youngest sister has her birthday today. There are seven of us in the Stan and Val Hayes sibling clan and, suffice it to say, all of us have topped the birthdays where we would be eligible to run for president, should we choose so to do and two of us, good Lord, are entering the social security years. Yipes.

Anyway, here's Martha Jane, on the right, having a laugh with our mother, Val Hayes, around Memorial Day in 2006. Val and Mar share the same birthday month, May, and you can see that the traditional Culver's ice cream cake is once again occupying a place of birthday honor. Martha's two girls, Chloe and Emily (Em's a digital blur!) are witnessing the joyful smiles of mother and daughter.

Other typical Hayes ephemera in the photo: grape pop, which just might be part of the secret to long life;  Dad's computer desk; the bean jar lamp; somebody's hand holding a coffee mug.

Happy birthday, Martha!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Val's Birthday

It's my mother's birthday today. She would have turned 90 today. Here she is on her birthday in 2005 -- her 84th. The "cake" in front of her is a Culver's ice cream cake, a family favorite.

Oh, how Mom loved ice cream! And so do all of us. Since it is a long way to the nearest Culver's from where I live in Michigan (yes, Michigan now has some Culver's locations!) I will have a big bowl of ice cream today in memory of Val and how much she loved birthdays and ice cream and all of us.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

At Max's Locker

"Wow, Max! You have a locker! I didn't have a locker when I was in kindergarten. I had a cubbie," I said to Max as Liesl and Finny and I went to pick of Max from KinderKare after school on Thursday. 

"Oh, Grandma, it's just my KinderKare locker. Look at the kerfuffle that I made for my locker. I decorated my locker," Max said.

"Can I take your picture? Finny, too? By your locker, okay?"

That's how this montage of the Clark boys in front of Max's locker began. An observation and a conversation. So boy, these two are. From Finny's big shoes to Max's grin, they are in the lovely prime of boyhood. Brothers, friends. Learning, doing. What a great time of life!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Vultures

No, this post isn't about Wall Street banks or once endangered California Condors. It's about the common occurence of coming across nature's display of what happens high up on the food chain. On my way to golf at Bird Creek in Port Austin this week I came across this scene on Highway M-25 along the shoreline.

Huron County is overrun with white tail deer. Some weeks you will find deer carcasses littering the shoulders of the roads every ten or fifteen miles.  Whitetails appear alongside the road very frequently. This time of the year they are grazing and, by and large, don't jump out on the highway in the same way as they do during the fall mating season.

This large whitetail probably met its demise when it hit a vehicle or the vehicle hit it. From the looks of the carcass, it has been down several days. Turkey vultures, frequently in flocks of 5-7 circling high in the distance, had settled down for their supper.

I stopped the car, lowered the window, and caught this image. The Turkey Vulture Guys didn't miss a beat. They stayed put and guarded their plates. I'm not sure why they lined up the way they did. The three on the right almost look like they were photostopped into place. There must be some prescribed behavior that they demonstrate when threatened by a creature higher on the food chain than they are.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring Green

That first flash of green appears here in trees alongside M-25 on Huron County's eastern shore. The breaking color, spring green, casts a yellow glow as buds open and leaves unfold. The gray trees still budded, but not in leaf, the green grass, and intense blue sky give this image a painterly quality.

This composition, these colors, exist for only a day or two. Then the leaves emerge, colors deepen and summer shades overtake the hues of spring.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Seeing Goderich

Goderich, Ontario is directly across Lake Huron from our lakehouse in Huron County, Michigan. The atmosphere was unusually clear last Sunday. Late in the day we were seeing what seemed to be buildings on the far shore, a distance of 36-38 miles to the east. The buildings are a kind of inversion, like a mirage, that appear when light conditions are favorable.

By evening, after sunset, Ed watched the lights of Goderich appear on the distant horizon. This 30 second exposure, taken about 9 pm, shows a glow and sparkles of lights. Some of these lights are at the harbor and the town; others are communication towers and wind turbines. You can see bright stars in the sky, too. The band of light on the right is a freighter.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wind Turbines and Storm Clouds

Storm clouds pass over the wind turbines in Harvest Wind Farm, just east of Pigeon on Friday, May 6. Part of the Thumb received four inches of rain in less than three weeks as April showers and cold weather hung over Huron County.

This photo was taken along M-142, just south of Pigeon, late in the day.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, May 9, 2011

Val and Pete

Don't these two look like they are having lots of fun? Mom and Pete were washing the windows of my car, a Pontiac Sunbird. My old camera case is perched on the trunk of the car (which, by the way, often got 40 mpg on long trips!). Peter is aiming the window cleaning spray right at the camera. 

This photo might have been taken in June 1986. I'm guessing Peter is 4 going on 5. That makes Mom 65 in this photo. If this is the summer that she retired from Head Start, then it is the summer when Mom was full of energy for gardening, bike riding, baking and. . yes, grandkids.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Remembering Mom

Today is a day for remembering my mother, Vallanee Rose Luedtke Hayes, who died in January of 2007. Here's a photo of Val taken on May 14, 2005. Ed and I had brought a golf cart from Michigan to Wisconsin for Mom. My Dad and I had talked about how good it would be if Mom could get outside and get around the farm. She already had difficulty walking as the Alzheimer's cloud began to slow her physically.

The golf cart proved to be a wonderful addition to the farm. Mom loved it! Buckled into the passenger side, she again enjoyed seeing the back of the farm. Dad started mowing a perimeter path all around the farm so that the golf cart had its own lane. A ride on the cart to the back of the farm meant viewing the marsh and creek, seeing sandhill cranes or deer, and watching the neighbor's horses.

Here's Mom on what might have been the inaugural ride in the golf cart since the roof has not been installed on the vehicle yet. She has a favorite quilt over her lap and is watching Blackie Dog learn golf cart manners. This little electric vehicle brought lots of joy and comfort for all of us as we rode with Val to see the farm.

Related Post -- The Circle Route

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Rising as spring goodness from the still cold ground, asparagus comes long after the first robins have appeared on the lawns at Graywood Farm. Amid the dry stalks of last year's fernlike foilage, the reddish green nubs appear. With a day or two, the stalks push upward.

We spot them early. Some stalks are snapped and eaten right away. Others stay in place for a day or two more. The freshly harvested vegetables travel from garden to stove to plate in a matter of minutes and hours. We fix it roasted or with eggs. Such good food is a wonderful gift from the farm's garden.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, May 6, 2011

May's New Moon

The new moon setting in the west on Thursday night this week is captured in this lovely spring image. The clear night meant that the entire outline of the moon was visible as a faint round orb. The thin silver crescent moon cradles the warm promise of another planting season here in the Midwest.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Little Socks

When I knit a pair of socks, I have two small balls of yarn left over. I use short bamboo needles, usually US#1, to knit these bitty socks. The teeny needles and a little ball of yarn tuck into a corner of my handbag. The little needles look like pick up sticks, don't they?

Like most knitters, I can be pretty fanatic about having a knitting project with me all the time. These little socks are starting to pile up and will come in handy (a socks-only Christmas tree? a holiday swag with little mittens and little socks?) as the collection builds.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saguaro Forest

Off the end of Dove Mountain Road north of Tucson is this dense collection of what appear to be fairly young saguaros. Many are upright poles without arms, a sign that they are young plants. Supposedly a saguaro gets its first arms when it is at least 60 or 70 years old. These plants live to be 200 years or more.

This "saguaro forest" might be a staging area for these cacti that have been relocated from a nearby golf course. Seeing them all together like this is a reminder of some of the old photographs of what the landscape looked like before cattle grazing, development, weather, and disease destroyed the cactus forests of southern Arizona.

Protected areas like Saguaro National Park and other wilderness places assure the survival of this unusually distinctive southwest plant.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pipe Dreams

Imagine industrial sewer pipe that is actually art work. That's what is on display at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Six artists collaborated with several Phoenix area companies that make pipe and ceramic glazes to product these large, columnar pieces of art that form an exhibit called "Pipe Dreams."

Pictured on the right above is "Driving to the University," by artist Patrick Silber. Located at the car rental facility, this almost one ton, eight foot tall sculpture commands part of the lobby area. On the left is a photo from the descriptions of the exhibit that shows the giant beehive kiln where the tall extruded clay pipes were fired. Ceramic columns created by six different artists are on display throughout various parts of Sky Harbor Airport. Travelers enjoy the artwork as they pass through the busy Phoenix airport hub.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Arthur's Hill Evening

Late in a desert evening, as the sun sinks behind the hills, the palo verdes turn from green to gold in the low light. A cool breeze sweeps across the desert floor.

Looking toward Arthur's Hill in the foothills along the Tortolita Mountains, splotches of sunlight fade against the rocks. Ridges and shadows define the linear saguaros. The cart paths are deserted and the golfers are gone. The desert returns for the night.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Milepost Number 121

Today marks the 121st blog post of 2011 and the first post of the fifth month. This journey of writing a blog post for every day of the year is now one third completed. I was pretty excited when I realized that I had a month in tow as I rounded the end of January. Now the project has new dimensions and I'm well into an entire year of photos and images and writing.

My dad, Stan Hayes, sees these posts on a daily basis, thanks to the auto send function of the Blogger software that I use. During April, I started posting links to each post on Facebook and Twitter. So some of you who are reading might be coming to the Willow blog via either of those avenues.

I like to call the social networking and computer companies "barnyards." When asked about my non-existent I-Pad, my reply is that I don't "play in the Apple barnyard." It's kind of a smartypants way of saying that I use a Microsoft operating system.

So, I guess, that I can now claim that I've added a couple of barnyards, namely facebooking and tweeting along with blogging. If you have some country experience you will remember that playing in the barnyard can lead to other chores, can be smelly and, oh yes, you learn to stay out of the way of the resident bull!

Ed took my photo yesterday. Here I am with my trusty Toshiba laptop, my blog notebook in hand, and a wide grin that says, "oh yeah, only 245 more blog posts to go!"

Photo by Ed Eichler
April 30, 2011
Graywood West