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Welcome Spring!

After what seemed like one of the longest winters in recent memory, the recent warm(er) weather we've enjoyed looks as though it may be with us to stay. The last vestiges of winter: mountains of snow piles we thought would be here until July, are slowly ebbing away with the lengthening, sunnier days of spring. Even Lake Leelanau, frozen solid since December, just opened up for the season on April 24th.
Lake Leelanau - April 24th, 2013

All around us, the buds on trees and bushes are beginning to swell. Local fruit tree farmers have been busy pruning trees in their orchards, and recently deployed legions of large wooden boxes full of honey bees, ready to help pollinate the trees once their blossoms emerge from a long winter's rest. By the looks of a large fruit processing facility near our home, huge wooden crates have been arriving there weekly in anticipation of what could be a bumper crop of cherries and apples this year; a welcome sight after such a devastating start to the growing season last year.

Living only a mile away from old Leelanau Scenic Railroad line (now the newly paved TART Trail), our family mounted our bikes yesterday to ride the 10-miles distance north to the iconic Village of Suttons Bay. Not aiming to set any speed records, the trip north took us all of an hour-and-a-half. Along the way, we passed by a few wooded swamps and ponds that were absolutely alive with sound as various and sundry kinds of frogs, peepers, and toads, were all singing out in a rhythmic cadence that was nearly deafening. Higher up were a large flock of red wing blackbirds, red chevrons blazing, all of whom were calling back and forth to each other with their characteristic song. Seems as though all of them were about as happy for the recent warm, sunny weather as we were.

Farther along the trail, row after row of fruit trees that had weathered the heavy snows of winter stood proudly in the setting sun, ready to sport their colorful spring blossoms followed by their lush green leaves of summer. Even the air was seemingly electric with life, as if every living thing was just ready to pop.

Having navigated through a few miles of forested scenery, fragrant with a sort of sweet spice so common here in springtime, we made our way past a few more farms to make our final decent into Suttons Bay, where we pedaled over to one of our favorite spots for supper: Roman Wheel Pizza & Subs (the acclaimed and highly decorated American astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Captain, Dr. Jerry Linenger, lives near the Village. He has been known to frequent Roman Wheel, once commenting that, "their pizzas are 'out of this world.'" Coming from an astronaut, that really means a lot!).

Grandma Lin, next to the sign she had just put out
for the season.

One reason why Roman Wheel Pizzas are so popular with our family is not only the high quality products they produce, it may also have something to do with what is right next door: Grandma Lin's Ice Cream Parlor, boasting Michigan-made Sleeping Bear Ice Cream. We had just polished off a large margherita pizza (a 'white pizza' made of olive oil, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese), and made the short (20') walk into Grandma Lin's parlor for some delicious cones. It would be their opening day of the season, and did those cones ever taste good (I had a frozen blueberry yogurt; the kiddie cones are still only a $1). If you can make your way to Suttons Bay, do stop in to these two fine establishments for a real treat.

Never far from her camera, Shannon had me pause for
a quick pix next to the TART Trail legend / map
heading out of Suttons Bay. 

Fully stuffed, we made our way back home via the bike trail. Oddly, we began the trip to Suttons Bay with a warm south wind that seemingly helped to push us northward. But for the ride back home, the wind had shifted to the north, giving us a welcome [but decidedly cooler] boost up five miles of gentle hills before leveling off for the final five miles of trail before sloping gently back down hill. The sun was just beginning to set over Lake Leelanau on that Saturday night of our outing. In the distance, the Loons were calling, marking out their nesting territory as the evening shadows began to lengthen. Riding on up the driveway after having taken in so much natural beauty, we paused to thank God for the privilege to be home...Up North. 

Having just ridden 20-miles on our bikes, Ethan and I paused to 'cool our motors'
on one of the few remaining snow piles near our home while Shannon captured the moment.

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