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Brush Cutting with Beth and Jeff
Published on 1/1/2007
When we approached Beth at the Bonifas Arts Center in Escanaba, we didn't have anything special planned. We knew her and her husband, Jeff, were an interesting couple and we could find something interesting to talk about for the site. We met with them at the Art Center to talk about their interests and activities. While talking to them, they mentioned that they were going out brush cutting that afternoon.

Every year before the holiday season there is a high demand for evergreen boughs from tree farms and other businesses that sell holiday and winter decorations locally and to bigger markets in Wisconsin, Illinois and lower Michigan.

We told them that would be a great example of what we want to showcase in this section. So, we asked if we could go with them and they said they would be happy to have us come along.

We left Escanaba around 9:00. It had snowed the night before, but already it was starting to melt by the time we started filming. We only traveled about 30 minutes from Escanaba out to an old camp road. Jeff unloaded his 6 wheeler and they got to work. We were surprised to see how fast they cut enough brush to make an 80 pound bundle. They have to be selective to be sure not to damage the trees. Jeff has been cutting brush since he was a kid and has sometimes cut boughs from the same tree throughout the years.

To reach more uncut boughs, Jeff demonstrated his tree-climbing skills. Going up the tree was more graceful than coming down, but he walked it off.

It was interesting to learn how some people earn extra holiday spending money. A couple full days of hard work will buy some nice presents...interest free.

  •  Artists
    I heard about the traveling fine art exhibit "Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home" around the first of the year. I knew this was going to be a feature on our site. The Upper Peninsula Environment Coalition (UPEC) teamed up with 11 fine U.P. artists to bring awareness to the environmental issues that are affecting our region.

    An interview with artist Joyce Koskenmaki. A native of the Upper Peninsula and has moved back after lecturing art at University of Wisconsin in La Crosse and numerous academic positions elsewhere in the US before that position. She also taught at Finlandia University in Hancock, MI for 4 years until retiring to her painting.

  •  Storytellers
    William Jamerson knows a good story. He knows how to tell one and he knows when he hears one. Many years ago he saw a film about the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) and, as a historian, he knew he had stumbled upon a golden slice of American history. The CCC was a work program for troubled and underprivileged young men in the 1930s.

    For a few families in the U.P., springtime is known as maple season. Between the months of March and April, thousands of gallons of maple syrup are harvested from our woods.

    An interview of the author. Although the novel is not linear, there is a story that starts to develop as you turn the pages. The reader follows the narrator as she lives through her youth in a small town named Cripplecreek. You learn of her many experiences in this small town.

  •  Adventures
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    In regards to paintball, I probably should have started at a beginner's level. Some would argue that combating against teenagers is a beginner's level...however the average person would agree with me in saying that age is no factor in paintball.

    I know some people don't like seeing animals in cages. My own statistic is that 99% of animals in zoos are so well taken care of to the point that they're pampered, and yes, perhaps even loved. Which is the case at the DeYoung Family Zoo.

    Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech is one of the biggest festivals in the Upper Peninsula. Up until recently, snow sculpting in Houghton was a student activity. For the past few years, there has been interest in the community to partake in the icy construction. This page includes a 16 minute video and 75 photos of the construction process.

    Known as Big Springs, Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan's largest spring. Over 16,000 gallons a minute erupt from the limestone bottom 40 feet beneath the surface where giant trout rest. This spring is constant all year and keeps the surrounding water at 45 degrees. This page has a few nice photos and a 5 minute video.