Winter Bleached Marram Grass



As a young boy my family once vacationed at a cottage on Silver Lake in Oceana County. For a kid used to the suburban expanse of Chicago, it was heaven on earth: Fishing, and dune rides, and hiking, and swimming, and boating, and biking, and ice cream, and blueberries, and cherries, and comic books, and puzzles, and games.

But most especially what I remember is the view. Across the deep blue lake was a vast expanse of open dune, as though the Sahara desert had decided to move to Michigan. It was magical.

As an adult I’ve returned to the area many times trying to capture something of the essence of those idyllic days. To be honest, I really haven’t been that successful. But I’m more bemused than frustrated by my failures. It is as though the landscape is toying and teasing and beckoning me to always want to come back for more.

The open dunes have an emptiness to them—even more so in mid-winter when I decided to explore them this time. It was a sunny and mild day for February, and I enjoyed exploring the pure forms sculpted by wind in the sand and snow.

As I approached the shore of Lake Michigan after a long hike through the winter landscape, I was delighted to come across this echo of summer days. Stalks of marram grass, bleached by the winter sun, graced the crest of a dune on the edge of the ice-free lake.


  1. Steven Huyser-Honig

    Thanks Susan! I’ve always provided captions for my images and many people have expressed appreciation for that practice. This blog and my book “The Michigan You Love” have given me an opportunity to expand on that practice. I’m grateful to hear that my essays have enriched your experience of my images as I hoped they might.

  2. Susan Langeland

    Steve, I love your photography- and I also love your writing! Your words capture your memories, experiences and surroundings so well. Picture and words transport me to another place and give me a brief, refreshing pause in the midst of my everyday life. Thanks.