Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Three groups of 30+ each listened raptly to eight 
Island voices at Sunday's Cemetery Walk.
Washington Harbor, Island Cemetery -

The third Washington Island Archives Cemetery Walk held Sunday, Sep. 14, brought eight Island personalities from the past back to life before an audience of more than 100.

The Green Bay Packer organization held off Sunday's start time at 3:25 out of respect for this Island resurrection, making it possible for fans to participate in both events.   The September weather was pleasant, the monologue scripts summarizing each life were excellent, and the actors who delivered the messages did so in convincing, entertaining fashion.

The eight Islander profiles chosen, along with their respective actors, are shown in photos below.   In many instances, the likeness of the presenter to the person they portrayed was uncanny.  The many accomplishments of the persons chosen, and their contributions to Island life, absorbed within a two-hour program, was overwhelming.  These were tireless organizers, heads of families, champions of causes, successful in ways that lasted far beyond the grave.  

According to Island Archivist Janet Berggren and her staff of volunteers, over 100 programs were given out to a crowd divided into three groups.  Each circulated the short distance between headstone locations, spending approximately 15 minutes with each spirited actor.  The entire event was completed by 3:00 pm, in time to watch the Green Bay Packers get buried, then miraculously come to life again against the New York Jets.  

Julian Hagen sang his new song, written
especially for the occasion:
"From A Spirit's Point of View"

Archives President Eric Greenfeldt portrayed
his great-grandfather J. W. Cornell (1865-1952).
Research/Script by Eric Greenfeldt.

Jens Hansen portrayed
Christ A. Hansen (1856-1936).  Research/
Script by Charlotte Hansen.
Chuck Sena portrayed Nels Friis (1850-1923).
Research/Script by Connie Sena.
Neil Shadle portrayed Will Jess (1869-1938).
Research/Script by Merrill Lundberg.
Lillie May Shadle portrayed Janet Burgoon (1900-1989).
Research/Script by Kirby Foss.

Terry Henkel portrayed Jens
Jacobsen (1867-1952).   Research/Script
by Jewel Lee Grandy.
Joyce Morehouse portrayed Martha
Stelter (1914-2009).  Research/Script by
Jeanie Young.
Tony Woodruff portrayed Tom Nelsen (1871-1960).
Research/Script by Dave Raup and Grace Woodruff.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Dark clouds, distinctive rays and backlit vegetation
made for an interesting sunset at the Bayou the
day before our weather became stormy.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Maybe I've waited too long to publish these photos, because the weather has been in continual flux since they were taken.

First, we experienced warm and humid weather in the high 70 degrees (high 80s in much of the midwest) leading to violent storms and great rainfall amounts. Then starting with Thursday, Sep. 3rd, flooding occurred in areas where flooding is rarely seen, towns such as Baileys Harbor.   Trees were downed, and creeks, rivers and swamps were filled with runoff.  

Dramatic squall line between powerful rain cells
as the stormy mass moved across Detroit
Harbor in the early afternoon. The low pressure
remained to our west and moisture then circulated
from east to west over northern Lake Michigan.   
At our home we experienced power interruptions, frequent during the height of the storm, but never for more than about 20 minutes.   The REA crew stayed on top of downed trees to keep power supplied locally, but the Peninsula experienced wider and longer outages, some for close to 24 hours.

We were in Karly's for a hamburger before the first wave of the storm hit, taking in with us a slicker just in case, because the radar showed a massive storm cell was headed our way.   I had begun working on my french fries when the power went out. The deluge intensified outside, with heavy, tropical-like rains at times.

This pattern continued throughout the night of Sep 3, on and off.  As one large cell passed over, or split and went north and south, another just as large and intense formed inland to the west, taking its place in the sequence.  Around 8:30 pm, with island power temporarily out and an intense squall in progress, Hoyt and Rich were called on to make a special medical emergency trip.  

The Packer game in Seattle that same night wasn't impacted by Wisconsin's weather, but our TV viewing was.  Frequent, but brief, outages had us listening to part of the game on a battery operated radio.  It was a good diversion from a game that in many ways echoed the night's weather:  a relentless pounding.

Patrons supped contentedly at Karly's, unfazed by the
power outage, as heavy rain fell outdoors. Tim stated
the power would be back in 20 minutes - and it was.
This moist air mass began well to the southwest, Oklahoma and Nebraska, through Iowa into Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Rather than this large humid air mass being pushed briskly to the east by a cold, high pressure air mass, which is often the case, the winds remained southerly, and we enjoyed a few more days of pleasant, warm summer weather before the pattern seemed to repeat itself.

One week later, Sep. 10, stormy skies reappeared, this time with less rain but more wind - gusts in the 40+ mph range for ten hours or so.  When the cloud cover finally eased a day or two later, we found ourselves in a high pressure system with fall-like temperatures: mid-40s by night, daytime highs in the lower to mid-50s.  

This change provided a good reason to get the pellet stove going and shut down basement humidifiers.  The drying warmth felt good, both the real heat and the psychological warmth a fall fire can bring.

Photo taken by wimpy photographer aboard the Robert Noble.
 I rolled down the window for this one as we headed through the break wall
and into the NW gale.  Temperatures dropped 10 degrees in one hour,
and winds picked up dramatically in late afternoon,
Wednesday, Sep. 10, but all ferry trips were completed.

Yes, fall is firmly in place.  The bow hunt for deer season begins today, and I believe we heard blasts from a goose (or turkey) hunter early this morning.  Several maples now show signs of bright colors, and our fields suddenly seem to have lost their summer green.  Plants are in the latter stages of production.  High bush cranberries are turning a bright red.  

Many great days lie ahead, however, and it's a time of year that many of us prefer to any other: sweater weather.   Still pleasant enough for just about any outdoor activity of your choice, at least during the middle part of the day.

Time to get out and enjoy it!  -  Dick Purinton

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Washington Island -

Today's blog entry is meant to serve as a reminder to anyone who enjoys reading, literature and poetry, and having an enjoyable time meeting others with similar interests - including noted authors and poets!

Registration has been ongoing, but after September 15th the registration price increases from $75 to $90.  You can register online (go to the TPAC website and find the Literary Festival pages), by mail (TPAC, PO Box 36, Wash. Island) or stop in and see Kathleen Dixon at Island Time Books.

I should emphasize that this year the program offers an opportunity for several workshops.  I'm looking forward to the poetry workshop with Max Garland.

The poster above should have a slight yellowish background tint, but for some reason my printer cartridge (even with a new one) came out pinkish.    The photos and information is still clear, however.

I look forward to joining you at the 2nd Island Literary Festival.  Lots of great names, great books, and an enjoyable time awaits.   -  Dick Purinton

Monday, September 1, 2014


Rigging for a sail on a light air day -  
Michael Kuharski and his canoe trimaran.
Jackson Harbor, Washington Island -

While getting ourselves ready for our first trip on the Karfi, a couple of weeks ago, we watched Michael Kuharski of Madison prepare for a sail from Jackson Harbor's launching ramp.

Michael's rig is a one-of-a-kind, which he says was an idea that came about over time, modified through experimentation, and he's never through with tinkering to improve its performance.  The center hull is a Mad River canoe, and he obtained the pods for the outriggers from a company out of Minnesota that made a proa-type sailing boat. From all appearances, they were made to match.

The first time I observed Michael getting his gear in order on the beach was last year.  With his portable drill in hand, I watched from a distance as he fastened the struts together struts that held the pontoon pods in place.

Like many others, I'm sure, I expected very shortly to see a show, once he nosed into the bay and experienced that first gust of wind.  It was blowing fresh from the NW, and there were 2-3 foot waves with whitecaps.  Michael didn't disappoint me in terms of putting on a show - but it was a clinic, and not a show, as it turned out.  He tacked back and forth to Rock Island effortlessly, multiple times, having great fun in winds I thought would overpower him, a breeze somewhere between 15-20 mph.   He often stood up on the decks, or in his canoe, to balance his craft and to maneuver more easily.  At no time did he ever appear to be "out of control," or was his craft put in a precarious position.  When he got in a tight corner near shore and needed an extra boost to come through the wind to tack, he stroked a few times with his paddle to help bring it around.

His sail has a Sailfish insignia on it, and along with a small foresail this is sail area aplenty.  He handles it well, as does his craft, screaming along on reaches with little-to-no wetted surface to slow him down.  The day before I took these photos, he told me he sailed in winds that were at least 25 mph, and he had fun doing it.

He spoke of his experimentation in reducing wake by the accidental adjustment of his outrigger pontoon, and centerboard position, partly the happy result of an accident in which one strut broke.  The repair improved performance.  He's a confident sailor, enjoying what he's built, and I would add that he's also quite fit, scampering about on his craft with the agility of a youngster (I'd guess he's mid-60s).

It shows what fun one can have messing around in a small boat, and in this case, Michael's trimaran is one I would label a "high-performance" craft.  

Nutshell Pram

My Karfi partner and crew many days this summer was Tony Woodruff, a sailor who enjoys recreational sailing about as much as anyone I've known.  He often often rigs his catboat for a sail after work hours, or on his days off.

Last week, as crew member Carl and I prepared for our last trip to Rock Island, Tony (who had that day off) was preparing to launch his home made Nutshell Pram, a Joel White design.  He said that it took him a few years to put together, but the result is a stunning little craft.  Neat as a pin is an apt description of this boat, which Tony proceeded to row out to his mooring, tie off on the stern cleat of his catboat, and put up sail.

I spent quite a bit of time at an earlier age, and when I existed in much smaller dimensions, learning to sail in an Optimist Pram, 7-footers that were owned by the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club for the purpose of teaching sailing.   These were rather poor boats to sail, with hard chine, flat bottom (notorious for leaks along the seams), an inefficient gaff-sprit rig, outboard rudder and a centerboard that could be quickly adjusted by hand.   Not especially good on the wind, they were still fun when in company of a dozen other boats, all headed for the same mark at about the same time.  Lots of pushing off one another, taking advantage of chances to steal one another's wind, were all part of tactics employed when we needed to get to the finish line first.

Tony, about to get underway in his Nutshell.
I alternated that sailing activity, and a 19-foot family sailboat, with running around the bay in a small Shell Lake  motorboat powered by a 7.5 hp Evinrude.  I couldn't have been happier on the water, and I often think I could still be happy playing around in such a small boat…its just that it's much harder to maneuver today a boat that has a beam of not much more than three.

-  Dick Purinton

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Summer reading may be coming to a close, but how
about fall?  A perfect time to prime your
pump for early October's second
Island Literary Festival.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Recently I finished reading the two books shown above.   Both were apart from my typical reading stack of non-fiction books, but I admit to having enjoyed both very much.

My real impetus for the recent fiction binge was to better inform myself on a couple of Wisconsin's leading writers who will help lead the Washington Island's 2014 Literary Festival, Thursday, Oct. 2 through Sunday, Oct. 5.

Although the Trueblood Performing Arts Center (TPAC) will be the main venue for presentations and panel discussions, workshops and events will also be held at other island locations.   Examples: a hospitality event coupled with registration will be held Friday evening, Oct, 3 at the Farm Museum barn.   Dinner and a presentation by current Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland will be held Saturday evening at the Island Dairy.   Sunday afternoon a story telling event will be held at the Red Barn near Gislason Beach.   Workshops will be held at the Washington Hotel classroom building and backstage at the TPAC on Friday.

There ought to be plenty of variety for everyone's tastes, ranging from fiction to non-fiction, and poetry, with many leading Midwest authors, centering around the theme, "Rooted in the Heartland: Themes of Family."  I have to say that the two books shown above closely fit this theme.

Registration is open now, and you can do this by going to the TPAC website at www.truebloodpac.com. You can also send a check (write "Lit Fest" on the Memo line) to the TPAC at:    TPAC -  PO Box 36, Washington Island, WI  54246

If you're on the island, you can stop in and see Kathleen Dixon at Island Time Books.  She'll be happy to take your check and registration, and she carries many of the books by this year's featured writers.

Cost is $75 per person for the Festival registration, but that price goes to $90 after Sept. 15.   There are workshops, too, starting Friday morning, a Poetry Workshop with Max Garland;  another on Writing with Susanna Daniel and Michelle Wildgen, 11am to 1pm at the Washington Hotel;  and a third, "Strategies for Claiming Your Creative Time," with Susan Gloss, 2-4 pm, also at the Washington Hotel.   Workshop fees are $40 for each class.

If you're a Facebook user, go to  www.facebook.com/washingtonislandliteraryfestival

There'a a long list of authors, and in a future blog I'll go into more detail.  For now, I hope to alert you to this event, that it's coming up very soon, just a little over one month away.

-  Dick Purinton

Friday, August 22, 2014


In Jackson Harbor Wednesday, Aug. 20, Christian Ronning
fished alongside a veteran, a friendly cormorant.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

We'll try to make up for lost time and gaps in blog postings by giving you your money's worth in photos and trivia today.

In the above photo a cormorant rested after consuming a bullhead on the concrete below the launch ramp pier.  It hopped onto the pier in a friendly move, next to Christian Ronning who was fishing with his dad, Karl (at end of pier, in background.)  When we landed with the Karfi, about 20 minutes earlier, this bird was drying its feathers at the end of the dock.  But now, after fishing and eating it was preening itself, unfazed by human presence.  I was at first suspicious of its health, but knowing it had consumed a fish that it had caught,  defecated on the dock, then went back in the water to dive for more fish, this bird seemed perfectly normal except for tolerating, or liking, humans.

We haven't observed that bird since Wednesday.   Could it have been someone's pet?

Goodness snakes alive!

For most of this summer we've seen very few snakes and then only from a distance.  One was in the beak of a Great Blue Heron that flew over the water.  From our point of view, that's the best possible place to see a snake, as consumption by the large bird will soon follow.

But recently, maybe due to molting, we've seen many more, including this pile of garter snakes on and around a much larger fox snake, at the base of a birdhouse in front of our home.  For much of the day, if the sun is out to warm the boards, they come up on the boardwalk surface.

After counting the snakes (there were more snakes than fingers) though binoculars from the safety of our home porch, over 75 feet away, Mary Jo was entertained, as a kid might be watching a horror show, afraid to get closer but afraid to look away for fear of missing something.
Finally, when the afternoon fog lifted and the sun came out, the fox snake crawled on top of the boardwalk, with its head down over the water side of the pilings.  Thor snagged it for a measurement.   It measured 4 1/2 feet, give or take fractions of an inch.  We also observed several garter snakes in the same area, independent of the group pile, that would easily have measured three feet.  Healthy specimens, all.

This morning, around 8:30, I had photographed a garter snake's head poking through the boards at the Bayou, and I believe its vision was impaired by molting, for it chose not to duck back under the boards as it would normally have done.  The large fox snake Thor caught also appeared to be in the early stages of molting.


Thor then photographed two dragonflies trying out a Kama Sutra attitude before he spotted yet another, somewhat rare sight in our lawn, not but a few feet from where snakes were sunning themselves.  It was a female wolf spider, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter with egg sack attached.  Thor photographed it just as it left its ground hole lair.

Later, I read that the female wolf spider may have as many as 100 eggs, and that these eggs eventually hatch in her sack before she breaks it open to release them.

I'm reconsidering whether or not we want 100 small wolf spiders underfoot.  But…too late, for it's already found a new home beneath the boardwalk.

That's all the news for today.   Tomorrow, we'll go with the meat-eater's diet of pork, beef and chicken at the airport, hoping to sample at least a good representation of Death's Door BBQ competitor team products.

-  Dick Purinton


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

If you enjoy light poetry and creative writing - as opposed to local history - you may find my newest book to your liking.

Last Friday, after a circuit board problem that temporarily shut down a machine for several days was up and running, I was able to pick up boxes of finished books at Seaway Printing in Green Bay.  The inside pages had already been printed, and only the covers remained to be printed, assembled, and then packaged.

Although this is a slim volume, (just under 80 pages -  $15 + sales tax and shipping), the process of writing and editing poetry and short prose pieces came to be exhausting and exacting in its own way, as much as for other projects I've done.  But the pleasure factor in writing and creating is way up there, rating with the best writing experiences I can remember, and I hope readers will receive this with the intended fun, and resulting enthusiasm.  The topics covered, and the sculpture photos for that matter, with few exceptions aren't meant to be serious.

The written pieces are interspersed with photos of my sculptures completed over the past ten years or so.  Here again, there is no telling what reader or viewer acceptance there might be for such subject matter.   Let's just say that both sculpture activity and such writing keeps me busy and amuses me at the same time.

We had friends over for a sculpture / yard party last weekend, and it was enjoyable to see the range of reactions and comments to the sculptures from our guests.   If nothing else, these provided the excuse to have a party and socialize.

Below, I'm showing a photo of one of the more popular sculptures, because I intend to donate this as an auction piece for the upcoming Jim Jorgenson benefit Sunday afternoon, August 31, at the Island ball field.  Jim is undergoing medical treatment which not only keeps him from working, but from doing much of anything, as his work now is to overcome this illness.

From bits of conversation at Sunday's party, I think we can pin down this truck door as originating from the Island Transfer business when it was owned and operated by Leonard Jorgenson (Jim's grandfather) and Dutz Cornell.  They hauled fish and other freight on the Island.  Later, that business was operated by Doug Foss (Ivan Johnson said he helped Doug), and later yet, by Lonnie Jorgenson.  (But it's thought the old phone number would have changed by the time Lonnie owned the business.)   When I began with the Ferry Line, around 40 years ago, Lonnie hauled boxes of fish for the Island's commercial fishermen, bringing them out to the ferry for late afternoon transport to the peninsula.

Somehow, the song "Wagon Wheel" by the Old Crow Medicine Show found its way into my head while I was building this… a rocking chair with a window to the world... and the lyric "Rock Me Mama" kept repeating itself.

Several people tried this piece out for effect at our party.  The custom, chromed seat, scrapper-son Hoyt tells me, was likely Tillie Ellefson's from an exercise machine.   Rockers are from an old wooden-spoke wagon wheel, and the cup holder is  possibly from an old steam or water pump piston.   All parts were sourced from the Island except the modern-day golf umbrella.  This piece rests on a 4 x 8, treated, 5/8" plywood sheet with imitation Jackson Pollock paint job.

The Jim Jorgenson Fund Raiser will be at the Island Ball Park, Sunday, August 31, 12 noon - 4 pm, and will feature the Golden Oldies (Old Timers) vs. Young Whippersnappers (not-so-old players).  Come out and show your support for Jim and his family.  Bid it up!

-  Dick Purinton


Thor Purinton and friends visited Plum Island Saturday, August 16,
on the first of two special days when the public was welcomed
to visit and hike trails.  Shown near the forward range light, L to R:
Dr. John Buckley and his wife, Susan, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama;
Jamie Kornacker, Charlevoix; and Jess Brown, a Van Dam Woodcraft
craftsman who works with Thor in the Boyne City,
Michigan, boat shop.  (photo by Thor)
Plum Island, Death's Door, Wisconsin -

When they returned from their trip on the "family yacht" Moby Dick from Plum Island last Saturday, August 16, I asked youngest son, Thor, how it went.  "Terrific!  We had a great time."

This comes from Thor, who's been on Plum Island numerous times in years past, hiking, hunting, and swimming along a southern beach.  But that was during BLM ownership, after the Coast Guard moved their search and rescue operations to Washington Island, and prior to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) taking over and closing down the island to visitors.   In recent years, unless you had specific permission, such as research or as a work party member under Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands (FOPPI), partner with USFWS, you were not welcome to set foot on the Plum Island shores.

This is about to change, although in a carefully controlled way, starting with two special visitation Saturdays, August 16 and August 23.   One hitch for potential visitors, at least on day one, was that you needed your own watercraft for transportation.

Returning to the old Coast Guard station, near
boathouse and pier.  All structures, except the boathouse which has
already had a once-over,
await major repairs and restoration. 

Plum Island's first official guests for day one included Thor and friends who visited from Alabama and the Boyne City/Charlevoix area.  Dr. John Buckley and Susan are frequent travelers to the Van Dam workshop where they built a beautiful boat several years back, Susan C, and they're now partway along on their second project, Victoria Z.  Through the process of designing and building and observing, sometimes hands-on with suggested changes in details, they've become very close to the Van Dam craftsmen in what seems to be both an extraordinary and respectful relationship.  This past weekend the Buckleys traveled a long way to join Thor, Jess and Jamie on Washington Island, visiting Plum and Rock Islands also during their stay.

Thor's group was greeted near the boathouse by FOPPI president and volunteer, Tim Sweet, and two USFWS personnel who gave them a basic introduction that included a trail map and a sheet of guidelines, as follows:

  *  Refuge open during daylight hours only
  *  Foot travel only on the island
  *  Access for wildlife observation/photography hiking are limited to the established hiking trails
  *  Boats are required to moor at boathouse; dock space available on first-dome-first-served basis
  *  Kayaks / canoes must use designated launch / landing areas
  *  Dogs are welcome but must be leashed
  *  fishing from the dock and beach not allowed
  *  NOT PERMITTED on the refuge:  collection of plants, berries, seeds, mushrooms, rocks, fossils, lantern, or other artifacts; fireworks; camping; campfires; geocaches

Those restrictions aside, several fine options are available in hiking trails, the longest one being the Island View Trail (3 miles) that loops the island, more or less paralleling the beach.

From my own past experiences there, both in hunting and searching out trees with Roy and Charlotte Lukes, crossing the interior on any route other than a maintained trail would not be advisable anyway, under any circumstances, due to wind fallen trees, nettle plants that are six feet tall, and a parsnip plant that can deliver a nasty chemical burn.  From the maintained trails you will have ample opportunity to see Plum Island's varied shoreline and habitat, amazing for such a small island.   In addition, there are the several, interesting former government lighthouse and life saving structures found there.

It is for this second reason many will want to visit Plum Island and absorb the rich and fascinating maritime history of the Death's Door area, with Plum Island at the center of that activity.   The opportunity to view the range light structures up close, along with the old, original Death's Door 1849 lighthouse remains, is reason enough to visit Plum Island.  This old foundation was recently examined by archeologists, and their future reports will help to fill in blanks regarding this early Plum Island navigational aid.

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 23, will be day #2 for public visitation, coinciding with the Death's Door BBQ competition taking place on Washington Island's airport grounds.

-  Dick Purinton

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Jim Rose took this photo as equipment for repairing Island roads
arrived two days ago.  Crews made numerous, special
runs to bring in trucks and other, sometimes over-sized
pieces such as the pulverizer, above.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

We're almost mid-way through August.  The last Island Music Festival concert will be Friday evening, with the Lion's Club sponsored Island Fair and Parade to follow on Saturday.  By tourism standards, we're now approaching the down side of summer.

These past two weeks we've had consistently great summer weather.  Some would add, "And it's about time."  Traffic on the ferries, through town and about the Island was seen to be at a strong summer pace, especially last Saturday.  My observation post was the Karfi, in Jackson Harbor, and while I'm not often working weekends there, this last Saturday I observed dozens of recreational watercraft ranging from sizable yachts to canoes and kayaks and sport fishing boats.  Moored near Rock Island for  the afternoon was a yellow seaplane.  Passenger traffic was brisk to and from Rock Island, both day visitors and campers, an indicator of what was happening in other parts of Washington Island and Door County.

Consistent, warm weather and
consistent ferry traffic during the past several
weeks of summer.
The County Highway Department brought in road repair equipment and crews (some arrived the previous week).  This major ferrying operation included the Northeast Asphalt portable plant.

A few of the largest pieces just cleared the Arni J. Richter's overhead by a fraction of an inch, a small margin as the winds and seas built steadily from the north in the early evening when this equipment was transported.

Tuesday morning, on my way to Jackson Harbor and the Karfi, more than one mile of the old roadbed had already been pulverized by the machine shown above.  Other pieces of equipment were grading, watering and rolling the surface in preparation for laying fresh blacktop.

We'll have to put up with a bit of inconvenience while the crews prepare roads and lay new blacktop, but as with the dredging, this is a big project, and when it finished major Island roads should be in the best shape we've seen in a long, long time.

The Detroit Harbor dredging project - the physical digging and hauling - ended during week three of July, with only administrative reports yet to be completed.   This Detroit Harbor channel improvement   ought to hold sufficiently for decades to come, barring severe and prolonged drops in lake levels.

Eyes not yet in focus

I took out the trash the other morning and noticed a small frog on a ledge by the garage door.  As I bent down to inspect, it hopped onto a vine leaf.  I retrieved my iPhone for several photos, upside down and over the ledge.   Later, when I saw the enlarged photos, I noticed the worm on the same leaf.  A quiet moment and a small surprise to begin my day.

In the field, milkweeds are in blossom, and when I mow near the field in the early evening's dampness and light air, I'm able to smell a sweet fragrance.

Soon, we'll see monarch chrysalis attached to those same plants.

These last two weeks of August will go quickly, and we hope to enjoy them to the fullest possible extent.

-  Dick Purinton

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

My activities of the past month or two prevented me from keeping up with blog obligations.  Those activities include time on the Karfi to Rock Island, providing tours on the Cherry Train, and a current book project.

However, with my new book about to be delivered - (which really means driving to the printer's location in Green Bay to pick up boxes next week) I should get back on track soon.

This book, you may be interested to know, is a collection of bits of poetry and fiction (mostly), my attempts at a more creative style of writing.  Among pages of text are photos of sculptures, some of which loosely relate to text.

For those of you who live on the Island, this book should appear at your local Island bookstore (or Ferry Line customer counter) by Thursday of next week, August 14.

You may also order directly from my website  (RichardPurinton.com) or print the form shown below and mail a check:  $15 + $3.25 shipping.

This project seemed like a logical next step, one that would be fairly simple to organize and execute.   But, it turned out to be more involved than it first seemed, with much internal wrenching to get the pieces organized, on paper in proper order, and to feel good about the results.

I worked once again with Island graphics designer Amy Jorgenson, and we were able to get the front, back and inside covers, plus the overall look, into a form we liked in short order.  But the tweaking and editing seemed to go on forever.  Small things mostly, but critical for the overall appearance and readability.  

Now that it's done, I'm quite pleased with the final result, both the content and the look and feel of this book, and I hope readers will be, too.

 -  Dick Purinton

Monday, August 4, 2014


Prior to repairs and painting:  Plum Island's boat house and pier
will serve as visitor entrance, part of
former U. S. Coast Guard search and rescue facility.
Plum Island, Death's Door -

Visitation by the public is now just around the corner, at least a trial period, whereby Plum Island can be seen by the average citizen.  Prior to the dates recently announced by the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service in a press release, only persons with special permit, or part of a recognized USFWS work party, were permitted on Plum Island.

We hope this first effort at open, public visitation will be successful and will be respected by all visitors.
It represents considerable behind-the-scenes work on the part of the Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands and USFWS to reach this point.

Following is the News Release:

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Painters gathered at the Bayou, mentored
by Roger Bechtold.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Activities enjoyed by visitors and island residents invite us outdoors, and despite the pesky mosquitos that seem to be more prevalent than in recent years, the warmth and freshness of the air is appealing.

The ferries, both Northport ferries and the Karfi to Rock Island, are now on a summer schedule, and the Cherry Train will make four daily tours beginning today.  Visitors are arriving already for the coming week that will include a Fourth of July Children's Parade and fireworks at the ballpark.  Camping is in full swing - we carried over three boy scout troops Thursday to Rock Island, besides other campers and day visitors.

Every so often, we participate in hosting a group of Travel Writers, organized through Geiger Associates of Florida, in conjunction with the Door County Visitor Bureau.   These writers come from across the U. S. and write for a variety of newspapers and magazines.  Among the six on the Thursday morning Karfi ride to Rock Island was Rick Wright, an editor for Birding Magazine.   Because we knew their names and areas of interest in advance, Melody Walsh, a local birder, was paired with Wright for the afternoon on Washington Island.

Melody Walsh with Rick Wright of Birding Magazine,
one of several travel writers who visited Rock and
Washington Islands last Thursday.

So that our birding attention spans don't get lazy, Melody and Randy Holm spotted a Scissor Tailed Flycatcher a few days ago, another rare bird sighting, adding to the already rather long list of rare birds cited this spring.  (And, for the record, Melody says the Crested Caracara was seen again just a day or so ago, as was the Black Vulture…)  Among the pointers she picked up from Wright was that as a writer and editor he was actually more interested in the variety of habitat the Island offers birds, and that bird numbers are high and varied, given we are beyond the general migratory time period.  Wright also expressed surprise there wasn't more general interest in Washington Island by birders.  That may change, if slowly.

Bayou painters

Several times each year, nationally known painter and Island seasonal resident Roger Bechtold holds classes, and a good deal of class time is spent outdoors when the weather cooperates.  Yesterday the class of approximately 15 students brought their easels and paintboxes to the Bayou, where they first had a demonstration by Roger, then worked on their own paintings.  It was a perfect day, and a light breeze kept temperatures cool and the mosquitos at bay.

Bechtold (center) points out a subtlety of light
and color to one of his students.
 Meanwhile, back at our house, I put finishing touches on a welded, painted sculpture piece, this one a rocking chair with a window view.  The old door comes by way of the Town metal pile scavenged by Mary Jo several years back.  It was from a truck operated by Lonnie Jorgenson to haul fish and freight (the phone number gives away its age as 1960s vintage, with the truck being much older than that).  My Grandfather spent many hours in a rocking chair looking out a window on Old Stage Road (perhaps thinking back on his boyhood in Germany, when he wasn't reading cowboy novels), and I suppose that "activity" holds appeal for me in some way.

Zander and his mom, Evy, try out
my new sculpture rocking chair.

Janet Wilson remembered

Washington Island lost a writer, friend and kind soul in Janet Wilson a short time ago.

Janet and her husband Jim, you may recall, hosted the helicopter crew at their Eastside home on a Sunday morning in early March.  

Janet will be remembered for, among other things, the novels she wrote, and she recently published a volume of poems.  

This past Wednesday evening an expanded Trinity Lutheran Church choir, directed by Dan Hansen with a program organized by Dan, sang for an audience of Island residents and Island Forum members.  Selected stanzas from Janet's poems were read between hymns.  

Her descriptive words regarding the Island and nature describe Janet's place - our place - in the universe.  Here is one stanza from Warmth and Light, a stanza I was privileged to read:

I walk alone this day…or do I?
If God is love and love is everywhere, 
Surely the divine mystery is here, 
loving this Island,
These wild things and me.
Come, walk along, hear nature's song,
Feel the embrace of warmth and light.

-  Dick Purinton