Northern Michigan

There’s something unique happening this week just after the Sun stands still at its Solstice moment early Thursday morning: Venus and Mars will fall into position on opposite sides of the Earth, drawing our attention to the great mystery of understanding the beloved.

 

 


The last New Moon of the Spring happens this week on Wednesday, and for the occasion, the night sky is getting decked out in its favorite jewels: the evening star and the starry crown. And in between, a beautiful imagination develops over the Western edge of the world, where the ancient goddesses known as the Hours join in the dances of the gods. 

Essay : Aprons

Jun 8, 2018

My mother and her mother spent much of their lives in the kitchen—where they prepared food, served meals, and washed dishes.  And always, always, they were wearing aprons:  bright calico aprons with rick-rack trim that my grandmother made.

She used a simple pattern with two side pockets and long ties that met in a bow in the back.  I can still hear her old treadle sewing machine humming in the basement as she sewed aprons—hundreds of them for the church bazaar.

NASA

Traverse City is hosting the first annual Michigan Space Forum on Friday. The event at Northwestern Michigan College will promote the state’s space industry.  

Next month, the planet Mars will make one of its closest-ever approaches to the Earth, and this week, to get ready, the red planet rises at midnight in the region of Capricorn, appearing as a mighty warrior guarding the ancient gateway of the gods.

 

Essay: Ungodly Hour

Jun 1, 2018

“I have to get up at some ungodly hour,” I say, describing a flight I need to catch.

It’s only later that I wonder about that phrase. What could an “ungodly hour” be, after all? Who would believe in a God that kept hours, that wasn’t available 24/7? I especially want God to be available when I’m flying. Because even though planes launch me into God-territory, I don’t feel one bit more secure.

The Godiva moon: This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

May 28, 2018
Sky and Telescope

 

In 1678, the Godiva Procession was instituted in Coventry, England to commemorate and honor Lady Godiva, who rode naked on horseback through the main street to protest her husband’s intent to raise taxes on the poor. Nearly 200 years later, in 1842, Alfred Tennyson found himself waiting on a train in Coventry and penned his iconic poem about it, which we can imagine is being written across the evening sky this week as the moon comes to full phase and sweeps past the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. 

Kjoles

A northern Michigan community lost 40 percent of its population between 2016 and 2017, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Fife Lake Township could soon lose tens of thousands of dollars in state funding due to the change. 

Essay: Merganser Math

May 25, 2018

On a morning in late spring, my husband and I canoe a section of the Manistee River. Close to shore a merganser duck is swimming with ten ducklings in a row behind her. Ten.

So I start to wonder, “Can mergansers count?” How would she know if one of her babies was missing if she can’t count? Yet, as we glide past her, Mother Merganser doesn’t even turn her handsome brown head to check on her brood. She trusts that they are right there—all ten of them. And they are, in one long undulating line.

National Writers Series: An evening with Eileen McNamara

May 24, 2018

Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the sister of President John F. Kennedy, and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. With her husband Sargent Shriver, she had five children, including journalist Maria Shriver. Guest Eileen McNamara worked at the Boston Globe for 30 years as a reporter and columnist. Her latest book is called “Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World.” Eileen talks this hour with Interlochen Public Radio reporter Morgan Springer. Morgan asked Eileen why she gets angry when people lump all the Kennedy sisters together.

Nine moths ago, on August 21st in 2017, the Moon eclipsed the Sun and its shadow entirely bisected the United States, from sea to shining sea. Since nine months is the amount of time it takes for a normal human gestation, it’s fitting to consider that phenomenon then, and see what’s going on now.

 

 

 

Essay: Loving Your Life

May 18, 2018

Most obituaries are rather similar—idealized portraits full of memories and tributes and good deeds.  But occasionally I read something original and striking that makes me think—not only about the person who died but about myself.

This happened recently when I read the sentence:  “He loved his life.”  He loved his life!  I wondered if I could say the same?  It haunted me, that phrase, and I began to talk with friends about it, asking what they thought it meant, to love your life.

This week the stage is set for some love tricks among the planets, with Jupiter and Venus facing one another across the great horizon of stars, and the crescent Moon sweeping in, to witness the goings on.

 

The set up of Moon and planets this week brings to mind an intriguing myth from the Ancient world that has to do with the God of the Olympians Jupiter/Zeus and his trick to get even with the Goddess of Love and Beauty, Venus/Aphrodite.  Here’s the set up:

Essay: Blame Me

May 11, 2018

“Maybe I wasn’t the greatest mom,” I say, “but I must have done a few things right.”

“None,” my daughter says, grinning. We are sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and catching up. Sara is married now and working two jobs, so we grab whatever time we can to be together.

“Maybe there was one thing,” she says, and I wonder what it could be. Hoping she might say how much she appreciates the way I read her books or helped with homework.

“You said I could blame you,” she says. “Remember?”

“Remind me.’

National Writers Series: An evening with Drew Philp

May 10, 2018

At age 23, Drew Philp moved to Detroit and bought a house for $500. He spent the next few years renovating it, living without heat or electricity. Drew wrote a book about his experience, called “A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City.” He talks this hour with WTCM NewsTalk 580 radio host Ron Jolly. Ron asked Drew where he grew up.

Morgan Springer

In Tuesday's election, voters passed two school bonds in northwest Lower Michigan, while two narrowly lost. 

It worked out for Cadillac Area Public Schools this time. Its bond proposal failed last year, but yesterday a new proposal – for slightly less money – passed with 56 percent of the vote. Now $65.5 million will go towards things like a new early childhood center, renovating buildings and equipment. 

earthsky.org

Jupiter comes to its annual opposition with the Sun this week, a king among gods, who’s appearing these nights as though he were stepping into the southern tray of the scales in the constellation Libra. Such a set up begs for a tale from “The Storyteller’s Night Sky” so here’s one!


Essay: Generosity

May 4, 2018

I grew up with a very frugal father.  Having lived through the Great Depression, he had a “cash and carry” philosophy.  This meant you paid cash for purchases and didn’t purchase unless you had cash.

My mother was the opposite of frugal which was a source of problems in the marriage—problems my father often brought to me.  “She spends so much,” he complained but I couldn’t stop her.  What I could do was be careful with money and I still am.

Morgan Springer

School districts across Michigan are asking voters for more money for building renovations and equipment. More than 20 bond proposals are on ballots Tuesday, May 8. A number of those districts are trying again after bond proposals failed in previous elections.

The mighty constellation Hercules is rising up in the night sky this week, in the east after 10 pm, and bearing mystery in his wake.

 

Before the Ancient Greeks saw the hero Hercules in this region of sky, the constellation was known as the Kneeler, because the figure appears upside down on bended knee.

 

Essay: Creating Chaos

Apr 27, 2018

Years ago I worked with a woman I’ll call Janet.  She often arrived late, full of apologies and excuses.  Her car wouldn’t start, the dog got away, her kids missed the bus.

We all sympathized at first, but when the behavior persisted and the excuses came round again, we just looked away.

Still, I enjoyed Janet’s company and occasionally we got together outside of work—where it was the same story.  I’d be waiting at the restaurant for a half hour before she rushed in, breathless and explaining.  She ran into a friend, she had to answer a call.

On the next edition of Michigan Writers on the Air Aaron Stander interviews Daniel Wolff, author of Grown-Up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of 1913.  And, Anne-Marie Oomen about her most recent publishing project, The Lake Michigan Mermaid.  At the end, Fleda Brown provides an audio essay on Michigan poet Patricia Clark.

Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness Group

Update 4/30: An interview between IPR's David Cassleman and Morgan Springer has been added to this post.

A legal dispute about religious discrimination at a Michigan summer resort is moving forward. Bay View Association near Petoskey only allows practicing Christians to buy property there, which the Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness group – group that's suing – says is illegal.

 


The Pere Marquette Township Board voted to sell the Pere Marquette cross memorial to a local private group for $800.
Todd and Brad Reed Photography

A private group will buy a 40-foot cross memorial near Ludington for $800.

Last night, the Pere Marquette Township Board of Trustees voted to sell the one-acre property containing the cross to the Pere Marquette Memorial Association, which plans to maintain the cross.

The cross memorial was built in 1955. It honors Pere Marquette, a Jesuit missionary who came to Michigan in the 17th century.

The Starry Crown after the Snow

Apr 24, 2018

Next week we’ll be halfway through Spring, and in the sky you’ll notice that the constellations of the bull and the giant are setting, while the golden crown and the lyre are rising. And if you want to make your way through the lingering snow on the ground this late in April, then consider this tale from the Brother’s Grimm.

 

The tale is “Mother Holle” and it’s got the usual set up of stepmother-dislikes-beautiful-stepdaughter-and-prefers-her-own. 

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