Taking a rest

I haven’t been saying much lately here, but I am writing and blogging a lot elsewhere.

Catch me 6 days a week on my photoblog Michigan in Pictures where I post photos and words about Michigan.  The blog is almost 8 years old and probably my favorite web project ever – I learn something new every week.

With my love Laura I started eatdrinkTC, a guide to the culinary culture of Traverse City, Michigan. It’s a ton of fun to work on and lets us share our love of good food and drink and the wonderful people in our town who make that happen. I even got to interview one of my very favorite food writers, Michael Ruhlman.

Let me know what you think (about anything) at these places or in the comments.

The photo was taken by my father of the apple tree in the back yard of the house I grew up in. 

1/5 of 5k

Wow. Photo by Marco of the huge crowd. Well over 4000!

We had a giant crowd for the 2012 Traverse City Wine & Art Festival, and while the numbers aren’t final, we had nearly 5000 folks at the Grand Traverse Commons to see Rusted Root (who were great!) and enjoy the offerings of 27 wineries, 20 artists, 8 restaurants and some extremely hard-working volunteers and staff.

This was nearly double last year and the biggest party I’ve ever thrown. Marco who helped me keep the production rolling snapped this shot and when I got on stage right before Rusted Root I was blown away to see how our vision of 4 years finally materialized.

Check out some of the photos right here.

PS: Got an idea for a 2013 headliner? I’m all ears!

The Run Across Palestine

I am on the board of the nonprofit On the Ground. We work to raise money for projects that help the people who produce our food all over the world. Last year we did the Run Across Ethiopia, generating money and interest to build 3 schools that will serve 1500 children and also to pay some of the expenses. We work with real people: farmers and families to help them build the tools to raise themselves from poverty.

Right now we are kicking off the Run Across Palestine, which will raise funds and awareness for olive farmers in Palestine. Our runners will basically run a marathon a day for five days, 129 miles from Hebron to Burqin.

Here’s the first video from our media team, edited by the incomparable Aaron Dennis.

Kayaking the Outlet

Kayaking the Outlet

“The Outlet” was the point where the folks of the area learned a lesson about the importance of being very sure about your measurements. In my favorite book about the history of Northern Michigan, Waiting for the Morning Train, Bruce Catton explains how a project to connect Crystal Lake to the Betsie River and ultimate Frankfort and Lake Michigan went horribly awry after a surveyor got the relative elevations wrong by over 25 feet.

The historical marker reads:

In 1873 an ambitious but ill advised project was put through in an effort to connect Crystal Lake and Lake Michigan with a navigable channel. The original level of Crystal Lake was, at that time, much higher than its present level. The project was a complete failure in respect to its accomplishing its proposed purpose. The result was the lowering of the lake and exposing a wide stretch of beach around the entire lake and making possible the development of Crystal Lake as a resort and residential area as well as the site of the village of Beulah. This monument, erected by the people of Benzie County, stands at the original level of Crystal Lake. 1978.

Laura & I “kayaked” the mile+ of distance from the Outlet to the Betsie yesterday. Most of the way was hard going, many times more “dragging a kayak through a puddle”, but it was an incredible journey with all kinds of wildflowers and TONS of dragonflies.

Sap, Syrup, Spring

Tap in Big Maple, photo by Allan L McFarlane

Today I blogged a photo from Jim Sorbie to Michigan in Pictures.

Bucket of Sap, photo by Allan L McFarlaneI looooooove maple syrup.

We used to make it when I was a kid, tapping the maples on M-22 by our house. The whole process is one of my favorite memories, and I can’t begin to describe how good it felt to bring a metal cup our and drink cup after cup of sub-freezing sap before school while I waited for the bus!

Here’s a NYT article about what the South Koreans feel about drinking maple sap:

Unlike North Americans who collect maple sap to boil down into syrup, Korean villagers and their growing number of customers prefer the sap itself, which they credit with a wide range of health benefits.

In this they are not alone. Some people in Japan and northern China drink maple sap, and birch sap has its fans in Russia and other parts of northern Europe. But no one surpasses southern Koreans in their enthusiasm for maple sap, which they can consume in prodigious quantities.

“The right way is to drink an entire mal” — 20 liters, or about 5 gallons — “at once,” said Yeo Manyong, a 72-year-old farmer in Hadong. “That’s what we do. And that’s what gorosoe lovers from the outside do when they visit our village.”

But how can you drink the equivalent of more than 50 beer cans of sap at one go?

“You and your family or friends get yourselves a room with a heated floor,” Mr. Yeo said, taking a break under a maple tree in Hadong, 180 miles south of Seoul. “You keep drinking while, let’s say, playing cards. Salty snacks like dried fish help because they make you thirsty. The idea is to sweat out all the bad stuff and replace it with sap.”

For more about how syrup is made, check out The Cycle of Sweetness: From Sap to Maple Syrup. You can also read a little about how Native Americans made maple sugaron Michigan in Pictures. Absolute Michigan has more Michigan maple syrup features & links.

The photos were taken by my dad, Allan L. McFarlane.