A guide for the persistent paddler
By Charles Chandler
Don’t put your paddles up when the temps are trending down and the snow is falling. Paddling Newaygo County’s rivers in winter can be a sublime experience. Some sections of the big Muskegon or the White, a smaller free-flowing spring river, are usually open all winter.
My favorite is the White because you will have this small classic Newaygo County river all to yourself. When kayaking this beautiful river, you will notice that the water in winter has a different quality. It appears to thicken, slow down and develop a soft silken appearance, perhaps the effect of a winter sun residing low in the southwestern sky.
Then there is the snow on the cedars. Nothing can create that winter wonderland experience like new snow on riverside cedars. Sometimes when you glide past a grove of snow-covered cedars they appear dark and mysterious. Sometimes when alone I get that ominous feeling as if there might be something really scary hiding in those shadows, a thought quite possibly influenced by a lifetime of scary movies, I would guess. Yet on another day when the air is crisp and the sun is high in a perfect blue sky, you will see those same cedars sparkling with snow and give thanks for the gift.
Often there is not something scary in those shadows but a small band of deer who have chosen those very sheltering cedars for their winter bedding. Seeing these woodsy residents with those big eyes, dressed in their thick winter coats trimmed with white is a special moment for the folks who cherish wildlife watching. It is my strongly held opinion that deer do indeed know when hunting season is over. On sunny winter days, they will often come and bed with their backs to the river. I have had more than one doe stand up, stamp her dainty hoof and gave me an irritated snort as I passed close by.
I imagined her thinking, “really, a lady finally gets an opportunity to do a little sunbathing, and then you have to disturb me floating around on that stupid looking red plastic log thing.” A thought quite possibly influenced by a lifetime of Disney movies, I guess. Sometimes, though, you can glide quietly by and they won’t even get up.
If you are a birdwatcher it is amazing at how active the woodlands can be in the winter. Sounds are sharper and seem to travel farther during this season. The birds appear to have some kind of winter schedule and often you won’t hear a peep and then if on cue the orchestra tunes up. The crows and blue jays always seem to have some squabble going or a bit of news to deliver. The woodpeckers and kingfishers and a few ducks are always around. The red tail hawks start their courting rituals in January and can be seen circling overhead. I always listen and watch for our little resident Brown Creepers. They look like tiny brown mice as they zigzag around and up the bigger trees always searching in the bark for sluggish insects. If you are lucky sometimes you will see a shadow float by and lookup and a majestic bald eagle will be passing overhead. To see the white feathers of that awesome bird framed against the deep blue sky always give me a chill.
For your first winter paddle on the White River, I suggest the three-mile section from White Cloud Rotary Park down to Flowing Wells Park. For a longer paddle try the five-mile section from N. Baldwin Ave down to N. Luce Ave. Both of these stretches have adequate places to put in and take out.
Make no mistake you will need to gear up for winter paddling because getting wet in our Michigan Winter weather can quickly lead to hyperthermia and put your life at risk. To be perfectly safe during winter paddling you will need a dry suit. A wet suit or a pair of fishing waders with an adequate base layer of wool or polyester fleece could be a marginal substitute provided that in case of a tip over you could remove your wet clothes and get into dry ones quickly. Some type of warm hat that covers your ears and waterproof gloves are essential. Always take a waterproof dry bag and pack some hand and toe warmers, a change of dry clothes, energy bars, waterproof matches or fire starter kit. A thermos of your favorite hot beverage and a camera, binoculars and mobile phone should round out your gear. It is further suggested that you paddle with a partner and be sure to have someone spot your car at your takeout location. If you need to do a little gear shopping check in with Greg Slominski at 37 North located at 8129, 27 State Rd, Newaygo, MI 49337. Greg will give you good advice and has a great line of Jackson kayaks and paddling gear.
If it has been exceedingly cold and shelf ice is forming along the banks or over the river, make good safety decisions and don’t go. Stay home, make some hot chocolate, locate that book you have been planning to read and curl up with your spoiled pets. Cruise the internet and spend those Christmas gift cards on some new sporting gear. Or dig out those snow shoes or cross country skies and get ready to hit the trail.
However, if the weather has been mild and you want to extend your paddling year in Newaygo County then put that kayak in the water and glide silently through our beautiful river corridors. On one of your trips you may get that perfect snowfall that defuses the light and quiets the woodlands and when that happens you will experience a feeling of serenity like no other.
NCCA-Artsplace and Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts present the West Michigan Luthier Concert, an event that is the ultimate combination of music and visual arts. On Saturday, February 9, at 7:30 p.m., the concert will combine the beautiful artistry of local luthiers, stringed instrument makers, from throughout West Michigan with the talents of gifted musicians.
This great evening will begin with Catlin Hill and Soul Vine (Jennifer Schofield, Tallulah Lancaster, and Brooke Fletcher) performing with violins made by Elon Howe. Luthier Keith Caldwell, accompanied by Jerry Roberts, Jack Schipper, and Michelle Emmorey, will be performing with Caldwell’s handmade instruments. Luthier and Dobro expert, Tim Scheerhorn will be performing for the first time in the West Michigan Luthier Concert with one of his Resonator guitars. Following Tim will be luthier Don Benson accompanied by his granddaughters, Cyanne and Cora, who are both learning the art of luthierie. Sue Anderson will begin the second half of the concert performing with one of the late Robert Sayers guitars. Luthier Jim Spalink will again be performing with his beautiful harps. The evening will wrap up with Ralston Bowles, performing with a guitar made by luthier Bryan Galloup.
The live performance will also include a chance to meet the artists. A meet and greet reception will be from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. in the lobby of the Dogwood Center. This is an opportunity to learn about the instrument building process and view the instruments. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., in the Dogwood Center Black Box with doors opening at 7:00 p.m. for seating.
To complement the concert, an exhibit of photographs of handmade instruments made by West Michigan luthiers will be on display in the Dogwood Lobby Gallery from January 22 through February 23. The photographs include ukuleles, violins, violas, banjos and acoustic guitars.
Come out and enjoy this popular concert by regional musicians performing on hand-made instruments from West Michigan luthiers. Tickets are $12.50 per person. Tickets are available for advanced purchase online at www.dogwoodcenter.com, at NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or the Dogwood Center ticket office. The Dogwood Center is located at 4734 S. Campus Court in Fremont. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Phone the Dogwood Center at 231.924.8885 for more information.
Free and Family Friendly event coming to the Newaygo County Welcome Center on
February, a form
Pale-vestured, wildly fair,--
One of the North Wind's daughters,
With icicles in her hair.
~Edgar Fawcett, "The Masque of Months,"
Ah yes, February.
I know, I know, we’re still a bit entrenched in the opening month of the year with a good bit of snow and bitter cold making the month’s exit a most welcome one. After all for one who arrived and settled in with a fairly peaceful demeanor the never too brief visitor is departing with a bang sending all the wind and snow and cold saved up from over 3 weeks of relative calm lashing out in a frightful farewell.
But February awaits. A 4 week sojourn through the very heart of our beloved bipeninsular winter.
And what better time to celebrate this wondrous wintry weather?
The Newaygo County Conservation Collaborative is a very cool group of people doing some amazing things to help folks appreciate the natural wonders we Michiganders are blessed with.
Last summer they put on a snorkeling/scuba event that drew rave reviews and now they have turned their attention to what winter fun can be had in our fair climes.
I’m talking sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, hiking, skating, (ice, not roller of course) and more.
You can build a bird or bat house to bring home, there’s the ever popular chili cook off (are you a bean or no-bean chili person?) and you can learn about night photography, native gardening and take part in a boatload of activities
Well, actually the best part is all the things you get to do, of course, but having this family friendly fun for free is fantastic.
We’ll keep you posted with more details as time draws near and for sure we’ll be there to sample a bit of chili.
Particularly the no bean variety.
Want more info?
Visit the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly Facebook page or email email@example.com
It’s going to be cold.
But we are the Bipeninsular folks who sneer at cold. There are still things to do music to be heard people to meet, activities to engage in...
And here’s a few.
Still some tickets left for one of the hottest magicians on the circuit. Jason Bishop will be performing his feats of illusionary wonder on the Dogwood Center Main Stage Friday night.
A recent review stated:
“He can teleport his assistant, he can vaporize a dog, he can walk through a wall, he can escape a locked box, and he can tell some pretty funny jokes. He can astound, especially if you’re one of the more junior audience members. ’That’s not real!’ gasped the 6-year-old pal I’d brought with me.”
This will be a great night of entertainment and a fine way to spend a January evening.
Sports more to your liking?
There are a couple of key basketball games Friday night with title implications as the Fremont boys team hosts Reed City, the only team to defeat them this season and the White Cloud girls team will look to put themselves in contention for the top spot in the Silver when they meet the Kent City Eagles in the Cloud.
Grant, Newaygo are on the road and Hesperia visits Holton.
Our friends at the River Stop Saloon have been putting some Saturday afternoon tunes together as a way to beat the winter blues. This week the music is provided by Unplugged and Tolerable from 2-6pm. Word has it they do some classic rock and their name suggests acoustic but that’s all we know. But hey it’s Saturday afternoon with no football on the tube and hopefully the driveway already shoveled out so it seems like its worth a chance and the RSS food is always a hit.
Sportsman’s in Newaygo features the band Lucky Saturday from 9pm-1am and they are doing Karaoke every Friday night if you dare.
Elizabeth Rasmussen of Fremont faced down the elements last night to snap this shot of the lunar eclipse. She allowed us to post it for our readers and being the inquisitive types we asked what camera she used to make the shot and what brought her out on such a frigid night.
"I have a Canon EOS Rebel T5 and used a telephoto lens 75-300mm for the picture.
"I decided to brave the frigid night because I didn't want to miss out on capturing something to remember. I love taking photos. It's a big passion of mine so to be able to witness something so incredible I just had to get a picture.
"It was pretty amazing seeing the moon so clearly through the camera lens as it went through the changes and yes, it was very cold but I would say well worth it."
We would agree.
Magician Jason Bishop at the Dogwood Center on January 25
Join magician Jason Bishop for a spectacular show of magic and illusion at the Dogwood Center on Friday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. for his "Straight Up Magic” performance!
As America’s hottest illusionist, Jason Bishop might read your mind one second or make goldfish appear the next, he performs stunning, state of the art magic and illusions. His show features amazing sleight of hand, exclusive grand illusions and even close-up magic projected onto screens.
Jason was handpicked by LiveNation to perform with Ke$ha, Matt & Kim, Paramore, Weezer, Drake, and many other celebrities at multiple Bamboozle Festivals.
His performance abilities have led him from L.A to New York City and Mexico to Sweden, as well as every state and many countries in-between. Jason has entertained celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Bam Margera, who after seeing him perform said, “Jason Bishop is the best magician I’ve ever seen.” Bishop’s combination of modern music, fast paced magic, sleight of hand and audience participation have landed him in several notable venues, including Celebrity and Disney Cruise lines, Hollywood’s Magic Castle and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was also named APCA’s Best Performing Artist of the Year.
Tickets are $17.50 for adults and $5 for children 18 and under. Purchase your tickets through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
Challenges not resolutions
By Alexis Mercer
I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions as long as I can remember. My thought is that resolutions seem to be suggesting changing oneself in drastic ways.
This year I resolve to lose the 10 pounds I put on in college…
This year I resolve to join a gym and make myself a regular…
This year I resolve to stop smoking…
These aren’t my personal resolutions. Just examples of some that seem to be common. Chances aren’t great that if you haven’t figured out how to lose the 10 (ehhh maybe 20) pounds you put on 25 years ago in college, you aren’t going to be able to do that this year by setting a resolution that says you will. If you’ve never enjoyed attending a gym, chances are that you won’t dive in and become a regular with a resolution that says you will. And if you’re a smoker without a specific plan of how to quit, the odds aren’t the best that just setting a resolution to do so won’t be all that effective.
Instead, I like setting specific challenges at the beginning of the year. I reflect back on the past year and try to think of smaller goals that I can set for myself that will potentially bring me a step closer to where I hope to be either in my fitness, family life, career or general well-being.
This way I am not looking to make drastic changes that might be so far out of reach I am setting myself up for failure. Then I come up with specific plans for how to reach my goals.
My favorite challenges at the beginning of the year involve local road races. If you’ve never attended a local race, you’re missing out. Often these races are put on by non-profit groups that use the proceeds as their funding for the year. By signing up and paying the entry fee, you’re supporting causes that are in need of your support.
There are plenty to choose from! You can Google “road races near me” and come up with plenty.
One year instead of setting my sights on a local race, I chose a destination I had never been and my sister and both trained in our respective cities, flew to Austin and enjoyed an extended weekend together exploring the city and running the race! This was the year that I had a one year old at home (with a three and six year old as well) who had yet to sleep through the night. My real challenge for the year was to survive. No joke. But the challenge I had written down was to find a race in a new location my sister and I could run together. Then half the fun was spending time with her looking for and planning our trip!
Maybe your challenge is to run your first 5k. Maybe it’s to cross the line of a distance you haven’t yet conquered. Or maybe it’s going for a 50k Ultramarathon (bless you). The distance or speed isn’t what matters. It is that you set a challenge that is meaningful and important for your own life, wherever you’re at in that moment.
Sometimes I want to work on speed (5ks are 3.1 miles of pure guts), other times I think about a distance I haven’t competed in before (last year’s marathon). Maybe there is a holiday I know is stressful, so I plan a race around that time that I can focus on something other than the business of the season. The challenge all depends on what I’m looking to accomplish.
So come January, I start searching. I check my challenges for the year and seek out races that will fulfill my goals. I choose one, two or three and then I start the planning. I either plan my own training program if it’s something I’m familiar and comfortable with, or I find a training plan online. There are so many available...many for free!
Then I write it all down. The challenges, the specific daily plan. I set short term goals for where I want to be by when. Even if I print out a training plan that someone else created, I still like to write it down myself. It helps me solidify the steps in my head.
This year I have quite a few distances on my list of goals. I decided I’m going to return to the 25k distance of the Riverbank Run, which I haven’t tackled in quite a few years. Because of that goal, I chose other races to give myself “checkpoint goals” along the way. Training from now until May seemed a little daunting without some fun before then!
The first on that list is the Fremont Frostbite on January 26. The second is the Kent City Ridge Run. Both are put on by local cross country teams. The proceeds fund their programs (the Ridge Run donates money to local charities as well) for the year. They are well-organized, fun, and have great post-race food to enjoy while you’re celebrating the completion of your goals.
I have nothing but respect for those of you who can set life-altering resolutions each year and make them happen. I just happen to be someone who likes to challenge myself and enjoy the process of achieving what I set out to do! However your New Year works, I wish you a prosperous, healthy, and happy 2019!
In case you’re interested in either of these local races, here are the links to sign up online.
Fremont Frostbite (January 26)
Kent City Ridge Run (March 23)
In the mood to kick it up a bit? After all it’s Friday night and the first long week of the year is finally over so a little celebratory action just might be required.
Trilogy is making an appearance at the River Stop Saloon in downtown Newaygo. The band kicks out some serious jams suitable for movement as well as good listening.so grab an early seat because they will likely be packing the place. Music set to begin at 8pm.
The Black Box a club-like setting located in the Dogwood Center is my ideal kind of venue for listening to music. Being able to be seated at a table in an intimate setting with perhaps an adult beverage in hand, while listening to top level entertainment fits the bill for many fellow music lovers and Saturday (7:30pm) attendees will be given a treat for the ears when the amazing sound of Harmonious Wail comes to town.
This talented trio of tunesmanship will take the audience on a musical journey with their distinctive instrumentals and captivating vocals covering a wide spectrum of jazz and blues influenced music.
And if you have an affinity for the genre known as gypsy jazz? Well, ,you’ve already got ticket in hand.
Tickets are $15.00 and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at: www.dogwoodcenter.com.
For information, phone 231.924.8885.
Are you a Wheatie?
For those who embrace all that is Wheatland, the music festival in Remus that has been an annual destination for tens of thousands each September, here’s a chance to get a little ‘fix’ in between festivals.
The Winter Wheat Festival will take place at The Intersection in Grand Rapids Saturday beginning at 1 pm and Sunday starting at 12:30pm.
Lots of bands playing all day long on two stages. Check out their website for details.
And remember, only 6 weeks until the start of Spring Training games.
The Goldfinch Book Review
By Alexis Mercer
Every once in a while a golden nugget of a book falls into my lap. Maybe twice a year if I’m lucky. Some years I would say pass without any at all. Not to say that there aren’t many, many wonderful books I read each year. Countless that are really entertaining, funny, provide lessons or are simply good reads for other reasons.
But then there is a golden nugget - a book so phenomenal that it changes me. Perhaps it turns my world upside down. Or perhaps the opposite and instead it confirms or reaffirms my deepest beliefs. Maybe it takes me in its arms, engulfs me completely and doesn’t let go for a long, long time.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a golden nugget.
From page one I was falling into its powerful holds. Though it is a long book, I never once lost interest. I had to take it slowly at times to allow the words, scenes, and story soak in. Other parts I read so quickly because I couldn’t wait one iota longer to find out what was going to happen.
Theo Decker is the protagonist through whose eyes the reader sees the tale. Theo and his mother are on their way to a meeting at his school in New York City to discuss his unacceptable behavior as of late when they make a stop in a museum. It is there that a bomb goes off and his world as he knows it explodes with the walls of the museum.
The story continues through Theo’s adolescence and adulthood. Characters come in and out of his life; a life which unfolds in an unpredictable and captivating way. Choices are made both by Theo and by those responsible for his care that leave the reader on the edge of her seat.
As Theo’s life unfolds for the reader, themes of love, art, cruelty, identity, loss, truth and fate all float to the surface. The beautiful way Tartt uses words paint a picture of the story in the reader’s mind that is fascinating and intriguing. And at the same time those words dig in deep to the reader’s brain, compelling contemplation of many of life’s greatest questions.
How The Goldfinch has been in print since 2013 and hadn’t found me yet, I don’t know. But now that I read it, one thing is certain: it will never leave me. And being that I finished it in 2018, I will cross my fingers that I’ll be lucky enough to find a golden nugget in two consecutive years, but I won’t hold my breath.
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