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An Ogemaw County Year

"An Ogemaw County Year" is a project dedicated to celebrating the natural splendor of this

region. By showcasing the diverse flora and fauna, I aim to honor the simple, often overlooked

aspects of Ogemaw County’s environment. Each week or so, I'll post a highlight featuring an

animal, plant or reflection on the natural environment, accompanied by a new painting on the

blog.  As paintings are ready, they will be added for sale in original and print format.  After a

year, I'll compose all the work in a book and publish it with the illustrations. 

Ogemaw County, with its rich historical tapestry, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Originally part of the Virginia Land owned by England, the area began its transformation following the Revolutionary War, breaking into smaller territories. The Michigan Legislature first established Ogemaw County in 1840 from unorganized land, though it was absorbed into Iosco County in 1867. Re-created in 1873 and officially organized in 1875, the county's name derives from the Anishinaabemowin word "ogimaa," meaning "chief," honoring a revered Native American orator named Little Elk.

The county’s early days saw the rise and fall of Ogemaw Springs, a settlement that thrived with the lumber industry. As timber resources dwindled, the community faded, prompting residents to migrate to West Branch. This shift sparked an economic boom, leading to the establishment of hotels, restaurants, and businesses, many of which still stand today.

Geographically, Ogemaw County spans 575 square miles, with 563 square miles of land and 11 square miles of water, nestled in Northern Michigan. Major highways like I-75, M-30, M-33, and M-55 traverse the county, linking its scenic landscapes.

In spring, the county awakens with the blossoming of wildflowers like marsh  marigold and bloodroot and the return of migratory birds, filling the air with their songs. Summer brings lush greenery and the gentle hum of insects, with deer and other wildlife roaming freely through the forests. Fall transforms the landscape into a vibrant tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows as leaves change color, and harvests from local farms yield bountiful produce. Winter blankets the county in a serene layer of snow, where the tracks of animals crisscross the frosty ground, and evergreens stand tall against the stark white backdrop.

Through the changing seasons, "An Ogemaw County Year" seeks to foster a reverent appreciation for the natural world, highlighting the beauty found in the everyday scenes of this remarkable region.


A Note on Aldo Leopold

You may notice this work in a monthly style format, much like Aldo Leopold  composed a Sand County Almanac. This endeavor is in fact inspired by the profound impact his work had on me. Leopold’s book is more than a mere chronicle of the natural world; it is a journey that intertwines personal reflection, deep appreciation for nature, and philosophical insights within the cyclical passage of the seasons. This format offers a unique and compelling way to explore and convey the intimate relationship between humans and the natural environment.


By dividing the book into monthly chapters, I can mirror the natural rhythms and seasonal changes that shape the environment. This structure allows each chapter to focus on the specific beauty and unique phenomena of that time of year. Just as Leopold’s January chapter might delve into the quiet, stark beauty of a snowy landscape, my own January chapter will explore the serene stillness and impact of the frozen landscape.

My hope is that the format encourages readers to recognize the continuous and interconnected flow of life. It emphasizes the importance of observing and appreciating the changes that occur over time, fostering a deeper awareness and connection to the environment. Each chapter becomes a reflection of a moment of focused observation and hopefully readers will recognize those observations and learn more from them in their own lives. My goal is to invite readers to see the world through my eyes, to feel the same sense of wonder and stewardship that drives my connection to nature.


One particularly memorable experience that solidified my decision to adopt this format was a rainy day spent reading A Sand County Almanac in a tent by the side of the Pigeon River. The soothing sound of rain pattering against the canvas, coupled with Leopold’s vivid descriptions of springtime awakening, created a profound sense of connection to the place and moment. This experience highlighted the power of Leopold’s format: it not only transports readers to different times and places but also deepens their connection to their own surroundings.

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