Sign of Spring

One of the first bees of the 2010 season. The survival of the entire hive is dependent upon these early bees; they are the ones who bring the hive back from dormancy.

Winter View

An evening view of Lake Michigan from atop the sand dunes of Central Beach at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. A small sun dog is visible to the right of the sun when viewed large. These little rainbow colored spots of sky occur occasionally, but it seemed we saw one every time we ventured to Lake Michigan this winter.

Searching for Fossils

Chris takes a break from photography to look for small fossils along the shore of Lake Michigan. Every time we visit, we find at least one fossil (providing the ground isn't covered in snow). The waves can be seen splashing against the mounds of ice - it was a good thing they were there, they kept the wind away from us. The mounds of ice will soon be gone, and the surf of Lake Michigan will once again pound the beach exposing lots more Crinoid stem fossils....


Finally! The soft, buzzing sound can be heard in the woods. The weather is warm enough for some insects to emerge, and they sure are busy gathering pollen to bring back to the hive.

Spring Carpet

A carpet of Winter Aconite covers the ground in a nearby forest preserve. Each spring, these are the first flowers I see, and they attract the first bees and flies I encounter. The patch of flowers is about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, giving the dull woods a burst of life.

Winter Aconite

Tidal Pool

Chunks of flow ice were forced under the shelf ice by heavy surf, through a small cave in the mounds of ice. The snow-like area toward the background is where the cave was formed.

With the warm temperatures lately, this ice certainly won't be around for much longer.

Head Toward the Light

A man walks out to the end of the Michigan City, Indiana east pier to view the lighthouse. The warm weather made it a perfect day to venture out along the lakefront. The harbor and Lake Michigan (as far as the eye could see) were still locked in ice. That's going to change soon, and the past few days have seen highs around 60 degrees.

Morning Sun

It's unusual when we get to the Dunes National Lakeshore early in the morning during the winter, but this weekend we wanted to beat the rain. Arriving just after 9 am, the sun was just peeking over some of the dunes, illuminating the snow and dormant Marram Grass. Cirrus clouds swirled in the sky - a tell-tail sign that rain was on it's way.

Rain didn't bother us at all, we didn't see it until we were on our way home later in the afternoon.

A Walk Along Lake Michigan

March isn't exactly the time of year one would want to walk along the shore of Lake Michigan, but last weekend was unseasonably warm. Even though the temperatures were above freezing for a few days, the huge mounds of shelf ice were still holding on to the shore, in fact, you couldn't see water anywhere on the lake.

This gives you an idea of how large the mounds of shelf ice are...

Standing on Shelf Ice

One person decided to climb onto one of the mounds - not something I would do - although it sure is inviting! This ice is extremely dangerous, and I wouldn't set foot on it without ice climbing gear.

Thursday Night at the Green Mill

For over ten years, Alan Gresik and the Swing Shift Orchestra have played to standing room only crowds at Chicago's premier Jazz club, the historic Green Mill Lounge. Open in 1908, the Green Mill has shared the sounds of almost every big name in jazz, as well as many celebrities and even mobsters.

Amanda Wolf singing at the green mill

On Thursdays from 9pm to 1am, the Swing Shift Orchestra takes the stage in the style of a 1930's live radio show complete with vintage commercials read live by the vocalists. It's a trip back to the time when live shows were broadcast over the radio waves

Alan has exclusive rights to the Balabon and Katz Theater and Orchestra collection of over 26,000 titles. He plays plenty of old favorites and standards as well as a few numbers that haven't been heard or played in over 70 years.
John on Sax

It's certainly worth the trip, even if I can only get 2 1/2 hours of sleep afterward before I need to get to work the next day.

Indiana Mountain Range

Not really mountains, but the shelf ice on Lake Michigan certainly looks a lot like a mountain range as seen from the tallest mountain in the range. These "mountains" of shelf ice rise over 15 feet over Lake Michigan.

It won't be long before these ice formations are a memory....

South Haven Winter

A beautiful (but cold) Saturday afternoon in South Haven, Michigan. Blue skies were not too common in February 2010, so any time the clouds parted made things all the more beautiful.

Even in the cold, people walk out to the lighthouse. Just as we arrived, a man and his teenage son were taking photos by the lighthouse. The man backed up so he could get more of the lighthouse into the image. I watched as he backed within two feet of the edge of the icy pier. I wanted to yell to him to stop, but I did not for fear I would startle him and he would fall into the icy lake.

Luckily, he did not fall in, and he got his picture.


Three trees on Clear Lake in LaPorte, Indiana. What's interesting is that these trees are actually in the water (you just can't tell in winter). Not sure what type of trees they are - they remind me of cypress trees.

There are a few cypress trees in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore- holdouts from long ago that found a perfect micro environment in the dune wetlands.

Sand, Water, Ice and Sky

The mouth on Kintzele Ditch in Winter. The stream flows under the 10 - 15 foot tall shelf ice into Lake Michigan. Even with all the ice, the path of this stream changes daily.

Mike by Frozen Lake Michigan

Mike stands on shore next to shelf ice that reached 15 feet tall in some places. It extends hundreds of feet into the lake and all along the shore. Looks like he visited the arctic last weekend.

Creating a New Landscape

Unseen waves pound the edge of the shelf ice, spraying water 30 or 40 feet into the air - to further build the ice shelf. At times, there were 5 to 10 separate sprays of water in sight along the shore. It was an eerie afternoon, as we were the only humans around for miles, and the sounds of the waves were muted by the ice and snow. It was almost surreal to walk along the beach.

Shelf Ice along the Dunes

Winter along the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan produces mounds of shelf ice. The mounds here are over 8 feet tall at the shore, and most likely around 15 to 20 feet tall at the water's edge, but I'm not venturing out any further to find out. Here I'm standing on a small mound of shelf ice, but since I know the area, I know that the water beneath the ice is only about one foot deep.

It's very inviting to attempt to walk out over the mounds to the water's edge where the waves pound the ice and send water and chunks of ice 30 feet into the air. While the ice may be 15 feet thick in some places, it may only be 1/2 inch thick a step away. The weight of a small child could break the ice, plunging him to the freezing, churning water 15 feet below, with no chance of climbing up the ice to get out.

The ice is breathtakingly beautiful - especially in person, but it should be observed from the safety of the shore.

Sanctuaries Photo Exhibit


The opening reception of Sanctuaries: A Photography Exhibit was last night, February 4, 2010. The reception was warm and positive; lots of great photographers and guests- 220 people attended the opening reception.

Sanctuaries Photo Exhibit pano2
Just before the reception was over, I captured this panoramic photo of the W. F. Wellman Exhibit Hall, to help convey the size of the space.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello!
The exhibit runs everyday 8 am to 5 pm until March 4, 2010.

Old Farm, New Farm

The future is taking over this old farm, yet still allowing things to continue pretty much as they used to. In rural Indiana, over 120 wind turbines have been erected on this wind farm - with a total of 200 mega watts of power by the time it's complete. It should produce enough energy to supply 60,000 homes with electricity.

Farmers receive money for each turbine installed on their property, and they are still able to utilize all the land around the tower for farming.

Winter View

Lake Michigan was once again freezing over, and the crunching of the pack ice could be heard all the way at the top of the dunes. The low angle of the evening sun highlighted the ice. To get an idea of the scale of things here, the mounds of shelf ice near the shore were over 8 feet tall.

We continued on to the right, climbing up and down the frozen dunes. It's easier in some ways since you don't sink into the sand, but it's more difficult at times because the sand is frozen and very slippery.

The kids and I slid down the dune to the lake shore. You can't bring a sled here, but they just slid down on their backs! I discovered I might really like extreme skiing since I slid down on two feet - and made it down the 90 foot dune without falling.