Smoke gets in my eyes

Another week down and another week closer to the end of summer. This has really be a wonderful summer and I will be a little sad to see it go, but I know that autumn and then winter will provide plenty of joys too, so I am not worried about the end of summer approaching.

All in all, it was a pretty nice week weather wise. We had some very nice pool weather Monday when Nora got back into town. 88 for a high and enough humidity to make us all glad that we were able to soak in the pool that afternoon. Things did cool down for the middle of the week and we even had a quick shot of cool temps on Friday. No rain worth mentioning, so things continue to dry out, but with the increasing time that the sun is either beneath the horizon or low enough so that the trees block its direct rays, the drying out process is not as severe as it is in June and early July, when it seems like the sun never sets!

The end of the summer is really getting to be the talk of the town now. I suppose it is a much more meaningful event than in other parts of the country or even world. Our winters are so long and so harsh, most folks up here really relish the summer months. It doesn’t hurt to be blessed with some of the most beautiful summer weather you are ever going to find either.

In any case, the rush seems to be on to try and squeeze in any activities that folks wanted to do this summer, but have not gotten around to it yet. I can’t really say that the Dee’s have too much on their list to still get done while the summer is here. It’s been a pretty busy summer of swimming, some walks, large festivals and intimate get-togethers, as well as loads of time relaxing on the porch. That is our go-to spot all summer long. Mornings and evenings seem to be the most special, as that is when human activity is lowest, but wildlife activity is high. Plus, even though it is in the shade all day long, and also sunken a bit below the ground around it, the temps there can get a bit much on really hot days.

The one thing I noticed we did not do as much of this summer as we typically do is go to the beach. I think the pool is the main reason for that, as it is just a few steps away from the house, in the full sun and the water temp is also sitting in the upper 80’s, 24 hours a day! None the less, Wednesday seemed like a beautiful beach day and I had spotted a potential beach that we all had never been to, but I was not sure we could even get there via vehicle. So we drove out and took a look and realized it was a no-go. Too much brush had grown in on the path I had seen a year or two ago and it might be something for autumn or very early summer, before it gets so grown in, but it would not have been a fun trek for all of us that were dressed in beach wear!

So we ended up driving down the road a bit and found one of our regular spots completely empty, so we stopped there and had our fun. I think when I said that most of the Dee’s were just fine with our lack of visiting the beach this summer, I was really just speaking for Grace, Nora and I. Huck and Millie heard us mention “the beach” before we even left the house and were suddenly invigorated. We had already planned to bring them, but they sure stayed close enough to all of us to keep us from trying to sneak off without them. They must be able to smell the beach as well, because their excitement level always rises to an even higher level when we are around a mile away from the shoreline and pretty much stays at that level until they are able to bound out of the vehicle and head for the water.

It is such a joy to see them jump out of the vehicle and race to the water. They almost always turn around once reaching the water and look back, as if to say: “Thank’s for bringing us here!”. Then the job of finding a stick to toss into the water begins by all in attendance and is usually accomplished in pretty quick time. Grace usually wastes little time finding something fun to do. Either getting into the water herself, or if conditions are not suitable for swimming, she will look for rocks or other interesting things on the beach. Wednesday provided the perfect conditions for getting into the water. Before long, she was hooked up with the pups and having a grand time in the waves and upper 70 degree water. I did not bring my suit, but had I, I might just have gone fully in myself. The winds were blowing just right to push the warmer surface water up to the shore.

We stayed long enough to tucker the dogs and Gracie out enough and then headed back to the vehicle. As we did, we came across some wild blueberries growing where the woods meet the sand and picked enough for a quick snack…even the dogs!

Friday morning the upper Midwest, including all of the Keweenaw, was overcome with smoke from the wildfires out in western Canada and the US. The day started out looking like it would be a nice one. Nora even took the afternoon off in hopes of being able to squeeze in a little more pool time before school starts and she loses that luxury. However, by around 11 am, the smoke was moving in from the NW and overtaking the region. Here is a satellite image from Friday morning as the smoke was rolling into the Keweenaw.

That image is from NOAA’s latest GOES suite of satellites, GOES-16. So it has better resolution than previous satellites, as well as more and better sensors that can “see” things in the atmosphere better than the older satellites. The “channel” that I displayed there is called “GeoColor”, as they take the image sent form the satellite and then enhance it with colors to make it look like it does from space (blue water, brown soil, green vegetation, etc.).  Because it is new, I have not been able to see all of the things that the atmosphere produces displayed by it. But about a week ago, I did see smoke from the western fires dropping out of Canada and into MN and far western WI. Friday’s smoky imagery was much more vivid and something I had never seen. On the ground, it also was something that I had never seen. We went from a few low clouds and fairly blue skies to an almost white sky and then to a very light, orangish-brown sky. At one point, the smoke blocked out so much of the sunlight that it appeared as though a thunderstorm was coming. Most of the smoke stayed aloft and so we could not smell it and the visibility at ground level was also not impacted much. Still a really weird experience and a first for me, at least to that magnitude.

Later in the afternoon, we got into a lighter variety of the smoke, so I mentioned to the clan that we should go to the beach again and catch the sunset, because with the smoke, it could really be dramatic. As luck would have it, some clouds rolled in as we were headed to the beach, but we decided to hit the beach anyway. We were met with the overcast skies and a fairly stiff breeze out of the northwest. Luckily we had all dressed to be prepared for the cooler temps by the lake that happen so often up here and were able to enjoy things. Grace even ventured to the waters edge to play in the sand. It did get chillier and chillier as the sun set further and further and after Gracie had balanced a few rocks on the picnic bench to make a mini-cairn, we headed home to warm beds!

Saturday was the annual Pasty Fest and parade in Calumet. I missed last years event for some reason, but I remember folks commenting on how it was a cold and rainy day. I do remember 2 years ago, when a severe thunderstorm hit just as things were getting going and really caused some problems. Winds as high as 75 mph picked up some of the tents and carried them away a bit and heavy rains fell as well. This year, the weather could not have been much more perfect. Temps were in the low to mid 70’s with a mix of clouds and sun. This past school year, Gracie was in an after school program that the Keweenaw National Historic Park puts on called Jr. Rangers. They go over to the park visitors center and learn about the regions history, natural wonders and other things. She loved it and I was really impressed by how well it was run. One of the perks is to be able to march in some of the local parades up here. So Grace took part in the parade Saturday in Calumet with some of her other Jr Ranger friends and the park rangers that are involved in the program.

It looks like another week of beautiful weather. Some rains later tomorrow and then clear skies, comfortable temps and humidity the rest of the week. A similar forecast is in store for much of the Midwest, with the rains early in the week to give way to cooler and a little less humid air. The early look at next weekend sees some rains scooting across the north late Friday and early Saturday, but otherwise fairly dry and also hot. So those of you wishing the heat and humidity was over, will have to wait a bit longer, but just look at the calendar, not too much longer!

Good night from the Keweenaw..