Broad Wing Hawk Migration

On an early morning last spring, I was driving along on Washington Island and a broad-wing hawk broke from his statue-like form on a low branch and cruised beside the road for a moment before disappearing into the woods. Startled and delighted, I continued on and saw eight more hawks in flight or perched along the roadside before I reached my destination. Later, on a walk I saw a hawk swoop down and pick up an unlucky garter snake that had likely just awoken from his winter hibernation. My jaw dropped like a cartoon character. What were the chances? The sight of a raptor catching a snake is marvelous enough to cause the founding of city. It is said the Aztec god of the sun told his wandering people to settle down and build a city when they saw an eagle with a snake in its claws sitting on a cactus. Where they saw this spectacle is now Mexico City. Perhaps what I saw was even more marvelous, for the bird and snake were in midair!

What I didn’t know on that day is that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of broad-wing hawks had descended on Washington Island as their migration instincts called from northern South American to finding breeding forests in the north. In the days that followed, I saw great numbers hawks flying in large circles high above the Island. I heard many different explanations for these flying formations. My favorite was the birds were promenading to find a date in their avian way. Instead walking around the town square after dinner, these birds promended with the clouds to find a suitable mate for their upcoming breeding season. But in fact, these high laps above the Island help broad-wing hawks to orient themselves and find thermals. They use thermals drafts to give them a boost on their many-mile journeys. Broad-wing hawks are actually not particularly social birds, but they often migrate in groups of several thousand because the best way for these traveling birds to find thermals is by following other like-minded birds. While traveling on thermals and updrafts help the birds conserve energy and fly faster, the air currents do not necessarily track with their ultimate destination, so as the birds head north they are more careful to orient themselves and correct course.

The woods on the Island were laden with hawks. From my kitchen window, I saw another hawk make a meal of sunning snake. It is not marvelous, I realized, to see a snake caught in the talons of a hunter hawk, it just very hawk. Flying, swooping, hunting, catching, eating is what hawks do. Because the hawks had amassed on Washington Island in such great numbers, we land-dwelling humans were outnumbered and therefore momentarily the Island transformed. I no longer saw the Island as human village, but as a hawk’s.

One reason the Island made such a great place for the hawks is because Washington Island well suited for a layover migrating birds. As Kristin Wegner, a director of the Hoy Audubon Society and a guide for Washington Island’s 2019 Birding Festival describes: “Birds that head up the peninsula get ‘funneled’ to the island as they head north, so by the time they get to the island, they might be more concentrated than they would be if they had headed north over the wider part of Wisconsin.” On the island, Wegner explained, there's habitat to feed a variety of birds. “Raptors can hunt, shorebirds can peck for tidbits on the beaches, grassland birds find insects in the fields, and warblers feed up in the trees (and those birds LOVE the huge groups of midges that emerge on the island in May!).” What’s more, the Broad-winged Hawks and other raptors can't catch thermals over open water, making the island “a good staging point and they can follow the other islands north on the way to breeding grounds in Canada.” Migrating birds like the Broad-wing hawk may stop on the Island for a couple of days days to whole week depending on weather conditions and how much they need eat in preparation for the next flight.

For a few days when the Broad-wing hawks visited us, I was able to see field and forest from a hawk’s perspective — branches for alighting, colors for blending, winds for soaring, snakes and mice for eating, the northern horizon for traveling. As I learn more and more about birds and their behaviors, the more the landscape unlocks before my eyes.

On foxes, building blocks, and the behavior of mice

One of the great benefits of being on Washington Island is our proximity to the natural world. We have the privilege of hiking through the deciduous forests and discovering the tiny kingdoms of mushrooms. We have the privilege of watching sandhill cranes strolling through the fields snacking on worms, grasshoppers, frogs, and other small animals. To see monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed. We have the privilege of being neighbors to the fox as it slink across the road at dusk and, if we are lucky, to hear their strange bark. Poet Alice Oswald described her eavesdropping of a fox like this:

I heard a cough

as if a thief was there

outside my sleep

a sharp intake of air

a fox in her fox-fur

stepping across

the grass in her black gloves

barked at my house

hungrily asking

in the heart's thick accent

Washington Island is home to two kinds foxes, red and gray. Gray foxes are particularly notable because they are one of only two canines in the world that have the ability to climb trees using their semi-retractable claws.

Both kinds of foxes are considered small predators, meaning they hunt mice and other smaller mammals. As other articles in the Observer have noted, this role is an important niche in our ecosystem.


A new study out of Denmark, Cascading effects of predator activity on tick-borne disease risk, sought to learn why there is a relationship between mice, fox, and lyme disease.  For two years, Dr. Hofmeester studied the concentration of ticks found on mice and tested them for the disease-causing bacteria in areas where small predators, like the fox, were protected versus areas where the fox were heavily hunted.


He found that in areas that were home to small predators, mice had 10-20 percent as many newly hatched ticks on them compared to mice in habitats without many predators. Further, the density of Lyme-disease-carrying ticks on these mice also decreased by a significant margin (15 percent of the area with fewer predators).

Interestingly, the prevalence of foxes and other small predators did not decrease the number of mice but rather changed their behavior. Mice with predator pressure curtail their movement, which Dr. Hofmeester suggested decreases their availability to be host to questing ticks. If mice curtailed their movements, larval ticks might feed on other birds or mammals or uninfected hosts that would not carry the disease to humans. Or better yet, perhaps ticks would not find that first bloodmeal at all.“The predators appear to break the cycle of infection,’’ said Dr. Hofmeester as quoted in the recent New York Times article, “Lyme Disease’s Worst Enemy? It Might Be Foxes.”

All of this reminds me of my seventh grade science class where we built a large pyramidal structure out of blocks; each block represented a plant or animal in an ecosystem. Then the teacher asked us to start removing certain blocks—species that had gone extinct or were removed from our immediate surroundings. As we took away certain species of plants, insects, or animals, the structure became less and less sturdy until it eventually collapsed with a great thunder.

As we were picking up the blocks, one of my classmates found a block with the word “humans” written on it. As fear crept into our little seventh-grade hearts, our teacher assured us that our ecosystem was not yet close to complete and utter collapse like our tower of blocks, but that it was important to note that humans were a part of our ecosystem. We are not outside the natural world, but part of it.

With this idea in the forefront of my mind, I realize the need to rewrite the opening of this article: “One of the great benefits of being on Washington Island is our proximity to the natural non-human world.” We have the privilege of seeing how our actions directly impact our neighbors, the mice, the foxes, the ticks, the birds, and the humans.

By describing the fox as “hungrily asking / in the heart's thick accent,” poet Alice Oswald reinforces this idea of interconnectedness for me. I feel a longing in my own heart for something just as hard to describe as the eerily human-dog sounds of a fox’s bark.

The Miraculous Commonplace

In her illustrated poem “On Behalf of Seeds,” Chilean poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña observes that seeds are: “Keepers of inner time, they know when to jump. / Some have parachutes, others weight. / Every seed is a space ship, a nomad planet waiting to sprout.”

This poem embodies what I love about poetry. A good poem makes me see the world again, newly. A poem can transform a familiar object, like a water glass or swiss chard seed, and make it miraculous or strange. Since reading Vicuña’s poem, I’ve started to see spaceships and galaxies of all sorts in my garden and around the Island...

There is a yellow and purple-speckled lily I wanted to cut for bouquet-making, but when I leaned closer, I discovered it was a galaxy I could not interrupt. The residents were incredibly tiny basket weavers. So small, they were still within the basket their mother had made for them.

A sunny day followed by an evening rainstorm transformed the paved roads into public sauna for bold (unaware) toads. On the steamy wet roads, toads meditated in their toadly fashion. This long, narrow galaxy of toads that criss-crosses the Island transformed our car into an ungainly monster as we zigged and zagged to avoid the lounging toads.

The milkweed blooming in front my house is a bed and breakfast for all sorts of cavorting insects, with sweet nectar on tap, leaves that fold into private rooms or serve as a dinner table and dinner combo.  My window corners contain a soap opera of spider drama and artistry. The sunset transforms Detroit Harbor into a new yellow sky. Mosquitoes are fighter pilots attempting to land on and pillage new planets, the warm skin I call my arms and legs. (They too often complete their missions successfully.) The center of a zinnia is fertile ground for a tiny flower garden of its own: yellow, star-shaped blooms.

The haiku is a kind of poem that is given to this sort of small-wonder discovery. The haiku asks a writer to concentrate on a single image. With only 17 syllables (usually in three lines 5/7/5) a writer must condense a world of full of detail and movement into a single intense moment. Like this one by 17th-century haiku master Matsua Basho (translated by Robert Hass)

A bee

staggers out

of the peony.

What small and near galaxies and transformations have you seen recently around the Island? Please share your pictures or haikus that capture the miraculous commonplace.

It’s torch! It’s a medicine! It’s mullein!

Flannel leaf, cowboy’s toilet paper, bunny ears, hag taper, candlewick plant, Aaron’s rod, Jupiter’s staff, lungwort, Quaker’s rouge. When a plant has a long list of names, you know that is has interesting stories to tell. One if its most ancient claims to fame is found in the Odyssey, when Ulysses must overcome the temptations of Circe. The gods give him mullein and with the plant’s aid “he dreaded none of her evil works.”

This common plant, mullein, can currently seen blooming around the island (including out the window at the Art and Nature Center). It is actually the homely cousin to the snapdragon. Within the Scrophulariaceae family, the genus Verbascum consists of about 300 species native to Europe, West and Central Asia, and North Africa. Most are tall biennials with large leaves and flowers in long spikes.

A biennial, mullein grows a low rosette of soft leaves in its first year, and, in the second year, it sends up a stalk which can grow to be 8 feet tall. The yellow, honey-scented flowers attract all kinds of insect pollinators. Hardy and drought- and pest-resistant, mullein is easy to grow in your pollinator garden.

And after it has bloomed, it is a plant that keeps on giving. The leaves and flowers can be steep as a tea to help sufferers of respiratory problems like chest colds, bronchitis and asthma. Both parts of the plant contain saponins, which makes coughs more productive, and mucilage, which soothe irritated membranes.

When you have finished harvesting the leaves and flowers, there is still more functionality left in the plant! In a field of mullein, you may notice dried out, one-year-old stalks still standing. This is the part of the plant that ancient Romans dipped in tallow to create torches to carry during funeral processions. If you are having a outdoor party, you can make your own rustic garden candles with this plant. Simply harvest dried stalks, dip them in wax (such as bees wax or melted down old crayons). Once they are dried, you have a one-time use torch! It is recommended to have a bucket of sand on hand, should you need to extinguish them before they are completely spent.

This year while my mother visited the Island she took on the task of weeding the circle garden with a crab apple tree in the center. While she pulled out the grasses and thistle, and planted the marigolds, nasturtiums, and snapdragons, she left three soft-leaved mullein plants. Since she left they have grown to be taller than me! Next summer, I’m going to have some amazing garden torches.

Another Spectacular Sunset at People’s Park

My first week on the job at the Art and Nature Center last summer, I was asked where the best place to watch sunsets on Washington Island is. Without a doubt, the answer is People’s Park off Little Lake Road. The sun drops behind the clouds, the bay, through the silhouetted cedar trees. Every night is a different kind of art project. Sometimes the sky is brushed with subtle pinks and purples in glossy water color. Other evenings, clouds are outlined in neon acrylics.

The color of the sky is determined by the distribution and disturbance of the light rays on our earth’s atmosphere. During the daylight hours, gas molecules in the atmosphere, mostly oxygen and nitrogen, cause sky to appear blue. At sunrise and sunset, however, the sunlight travels a longer path through the atmosphere before it reaches our eyes, removing most of the blue and leaving red and yellow light. Cloud help enhance sunsets because they act as a canvas for the sunlight. Because clouds are made up of particles that are much larger than visible light waves, they takes on the same hues as the incoming light.

Last Monday, the sun first set behind a cloud casting a rose-gold outline along the clouds turreted ridge. Then, the sun reappeared beneath the cloud: a glowing red-pink disk. In all my years of sunset-watching, I had never seen a sunset quite like this. With picnic tables, People’s Park a great place to bring a meal and watch the sunset. On some days, there large groups attending to the sunset. While I love watching the sunset anywhere, anyday, there something special about watching it with friends and strangers at People’s Park. Usually, at the moment of sun’s last rays bending over our corner of the earth, a hush settles over the crowd. A collective sigh.

What is it about the transient, celestial beauty of sunset (or sunrise, for that matter) that captures our imagination? I could come up with my own theories, but I love how poet Eloise Klein Healy describes it in her poem “Beach at Sunset.” First, she smartly acknowledges sunsets are dangerous territory for poems ( “All the clichés for it sputter”), and then she notes the specifics of the sunset she watches:

“what attracts me anyway

are these four species of gulls we’ve identified,

their bodies turned into the wind,

and not one of them aware of their silly beauty.

I’m the one awash in pastels…

When we are oohing and ahhing at the sun, we are caught in its light.

A Grass Meditation

Grass: A Meditation


Recently, it has occurred to me that you can tell the history of a place through its grasses. In her stunning debut, Whereas, the Oglala Sioux poet Layli Long Soldier writes,


a grass chorus moves shhhhh

through half-propped

windows I swallow

grass scents the solstice

makes a mind

wide make it

oceanic blue a field in crests


With the “grassesgrassesgrasses,” Long Soldier paints a landscape of intimate knowledge and memory. In her poems, she most often refers to native grasses from the prairies of South Dakota, where her tribe’s reservation is located. I was struck by this collection, not only because of its fine craft and timeliness, but because of its exultation of grasses. The truth is I’ve never felt renewed by a chorus of grasses. When I eat oatmeal, corn chips or wheat bread, I never consider how these grains are truly cultivated grasses. Growing up in Los Angeles, I never had a lawn or thought much about them. Since the draughts, lawns have become almost impossible to keep. For a while, public service announcements with images of dead grass boasted “Brown is the new green.”

When I moved to Indiana for grad school, I admit I was amazed by the generous space between houses, the sprawling green, and the fact that everyone had a lawn but no one liked to mow. But it is here on the Island that I’ve can say for the first time I’ve become intimate with grass. When I close my eyes, I have visions of grass. Specifically, the long white rhizomes of quackgrass that haunt our garden beds. I’ve spent quite a few hours in the last three weeks digging out quackgrass, tracing the roots through the dirt with a claw-like hand tool, not a hoe, to avoid severing the roots as best I can. During these hours of weeding, I’ve had a lot of time to think. I come to have a new appreciation for the term ‘grassroots organization.’ If an organization is built like quackgrass, it can meet a lot of opposition, get its leaves (or leaders) pulled out, and still rebound again and again.

Native to Europe and Western Asia, quackgrass followed grain-planting settlers and now is a weed in 65 countries known by many names, including twitch grass, couch grass, scutch grass, and devil’s grass. By many farmers it is considered one of the worst weeds and has been for a long time. In 1931, the USDA put out special bulletin to warn about quack. Agronomist L. W. Kephart reported “whole farms have virtually been abandoned because the weed could not be controlled economically.” The bulletin also notes that as early as 1578 in the “Old Country” scutch grass was know to be “a naughty and hurtful weed to corne.” 

One of the reasons twitch grass is so terrible is because it is nearly indestructible: it reproduces both by seed and by rhizome. The seeds are viable for up to six years and will remain so even if they pass through the digestive tract of most farm animals other than pigs. Further, if the rhizome breaks, say through tilling or weeding, the orphaned rhizome just forms a new plant.

Though there is nothing quite as satisfying as pulling out an entire rhizome, it is not plausible to rid the entire garden of quackgrass by hand. The longest quackgrass rhizome on record was found in Canada measuring in at 154 meters, with 206 shoots of growing from it. For this reason, we are covering the areas of the garden most quack-infested with black landscape fabric. The dark covering will cut off the photosynthesis of the grass and cause it to wither. A withered devil’s grass is much easier to pull out. Another option for overcoming quackgrass is gardening using the “lasagna-style,” which means layering cardboard and compost in the place where you want to grow your garden. Russell Rolffs will demonstrate this technique at the ANC’s first Garden Chat meeting of the summer, June 29 at 10:00 am.

For now as I return to the garden wishing and pulling the grassesgrassesgrasses out of the ground, I will try to encourage myself with notion that I am not just weeding, but I am participating in the history of this place.

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Everyday Nature: The oak took no heed

In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold muses,“An oak is no respecter of persons.” Each year, the oak tree grows a new ring of wood no matter who owns the land where it roots. No matter the human drama being acted out in faraway government offices or in nearby houses, the oak tree continues its sunlight alchemy so long as it can.


A year ago, I had not heard of Washington Island. But through a chain of happy events, I found myself living on the island, working as a naturalist as The Art and Nature Center and growing veggies for Hotel Washington. With two roles that kept me outdoors, I had the honor of surveying a piece of the Niagara Escarpment, dwarf lake iris, ringneck snakes. I witnessed the annual parade of blooms along Jackson Harbor Ridges as we approached the Summer Equinox, and then recede back into greens and browns as Fall took hold. I saw bald eagles, hawks, vultures soar over the garden as I dug up a millennia of rocks. And in the midst of all the creatures, geological formations, plants, I felt small and content to be so.


I am thankful for the beauty of Washington Island, its diverse biology and geology, and how it reminds me of my place. A creature alongside creatures, delighting in a cool evening at Schoolhouse Beach. The cedar soaks in the last rays of evening sun as do I.

Yellow, yellow, yellow; How leaves turn color in the fall

Yellow, yellow, yellow I lie here thinking of you:—

the stain of love

is upon the world!

Yellow, yellow, yellow

it eats into the leaves,

smears with saffron

the horned branches...

William Carlos William published this poem, “Love Song,” in 1916 and it has been re-written every year on the trees in autumn. Ten years ago, when I moved to the midwest from the ever-present sunshine of southern California, I was stunned by this slow firework show in the trees. “How do they all get the memo at the same time?” I asked my midwestern friends. “How do the leaves know to change color and fall of the tree?”

It turns out it is not one thing that causes the leaves to change color and fall; there are a myriad of factors that contribute to bold autumn coloring of the tree line. As winter approaches, our nights grow longer and our days grow shorter. In response to the decreasing sunlight, trees produce a decreasing amount of chlorophyll—the green pigment and chemical in the leaves that is necessary to turn sun into sugar for the tree. As the chlorophyll decreases the carotenoids--the pigment in corn, carrots and buttercups--are able to show through. Carotenoids are always present in a leaf, but they must wait until chlorophyll production decreases to show their colors.

In addition to the decreasing amount of chlorophyll, the leaf will shut down its circulation by building up a cell barrier at the base of each leaf. The sugars that get trapped in the leaf stimulate the production of anthocyanins—the red pigment that appears in cranberries, strawberries, and plums. When the circulation between leaf and tree is completely shut down, the leaf is ready to fall. Fall temperatures and moisture in the soil can affect how showy or muted the autumn colors appear from year to year.

In the way that golden red mix in the maple trees along Indian Point Road is a signal for us to unpack autumnal sweaters and winter coats, it is a signal that the trees are preparing for the coming winter.

Linking Art Forms, Painting, Glass and Jewelry with Jeanne Cauldwell

Linking Art Forms, Painting, Glass and Jewelry with Jeanne CauldwellIMG_0590


Growing up Jeanne Cauldwell was always interested in creating. She learned to sew, crochet, English smock, cross stitch, and to needlepoint and decoupage. Much of this she learned from her Grandmother. While working as a flight attendant, she often had several projects she was working on. After retiring from Delta Air Lines 10 years ago, she wanted to explore new ways to express herself.


Her art forms now include Painting, Jewelry making and fused glass.

Her paintings are mostly in oil. But, she has also has work in watercolor. She first started painting here on the Island by taking classes with Lorna Cornell and then with Rodger Bechtold.

Most of her paintings are set here on the island. Spending part of the day outside painting is a real joy.


In relation to jewelry, Jeanne has had jewelry at the Art and nature Center for several years. But has recently concentrated on working with leather for bracelets and necklaces. The organic nature of the leather makes it fun to work with as wellbeing beautiful and comfortable to wear.

In addition, she is glass artist. Jeanne began working with glass about 4 years ago after taking a class in making fused glass pendants for jewelry. She was immediately hooked. The properties of glass make it very interesting work. Glass is a fairly sensitive medium that can be manipulated depending how the kiln is programed. She makes fused glass night lights and glass bowls and platters in addition to making glass pendant necklaces.

New and different art pieces will be introduced at the reception.


Jeanne is a seasonal resident. She and her husband, Malcolm, live in Knoxville, TN when not living on the Island.  Her show, “ Linking Art Forms, Painting, Glass and Jewelry with Jeanne Cauldwell,” will be on display July 10-August 6. A reception for her show will be held Thursday, July 14, at 4:30 at the Art and Nature Center

Snow Falling On Washington Island Cedars


The “evergreens” among our white winter landscape are appreciated for their color and the protection they provide as natural buffers from blowing snow and icy winds. We draw attention to the White Cedar, the oldest tree in the forest. It is said when the winds howl in the center of a dense strand of cedars there is a stillness. It has two Latin names, Thuja Occidentalis, and Arborvitae, which means “Tree of Life". Long ago the Ojibwe culture honored it in song and ritual calling it, Nookomis Giizhik, the Grandmother Cedar for its gifts of wood, nutrients and spiritual qualities.

Nookomis drawing by Patti Cauldwell
Nookomis drawing by Patti Cauldwell

The White Cedars are a medium size tree growing from about 33 to 66 feet high with fan like branches and scaly leaves.  The small cones grow in clumps and the unusual bark sheds in long vertical strips. The wood from the cedar is used for logs, fence posts and shingles. Its durability is seen in our Little Lake Musuem which we enjoy today, built by Jens Jacobsen in 1931 of vertical, straight cedar logs. However, the shape of the cedar adapts to its conditions as seen in the stunted configurations that exist on our limestone cliffs.

Cedars on Washington Island
Cedars on Washington Island

It is amazing to think that the forests' oldest trees would be those growing on a minimum of nutrients facing the elements. These bonsai like wonders of nature are found along the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment and in some areas, as in Ontario are found to be 1,000 years old. A research team exploring Door County in 1997 found  specimens in various locations in Peninsula Park and one at Ellison Bluff to be 600 years old.  Sitings were made on Rock Island as well, but not measured. For more information on the ancient White Cedars, check out “Vertically inclined” by Karen A. Kahler in Wisconsin Natural Resources, December 2005.

We appreciate the beauty of the White Cedar as they line our shore, inhabit our parks, frame our fields and driveways. It is awesome to think we have growing among us on our limestone bluffs, these time honored, bonsai shaped cedars that have existed many, many generations before us. We are grateful to the Parks, Land Trust and private owners who continue to preserve the slow growing wonders, the White Cedars. Their unusual winding shapes contrasted with the abstract flat limestone is excitement to the eye of the artist in all of us and hopefully can be preserved for another generation to view and enjoy.

By Patti Cauldwell


Steve Waldron, our ANC Naturalist is sharing with us these photos that he took on a cross country ski trip to search out the cedars on Boyer’s Bluff. He will be available this summer at the Nature Center with more photos and information.


Credits: Drawing/Patti Cauldwell, Cedar tree photos/Courtney Cauldwell, Museum Photo/Cathy Meader, Boyer's Bluff photos/Steve Waldron

Reference Article/ Deer Predation article by Herbert Wagner, Reference Article/Vertically inclined article by Kathryn A. Kahler.


Artist Profile: Curt Frankenstein



Curt Frankenstein, the well known midwestern artist, and his wife Renata bought a cottage in Detroit Harbor in 1969. The cottage had a beautiful view, a boathouse for his studio and a dock for their fishing boat. Here they spent summers for about twenty years until Curt’s illness in the late 90’s. Neighbors knew they had arrived when the sign of an artist’s palette was hung out by the side of the road. Curt spent much of his time in his studio but balanced it with things he enjoyed, one of which was socializing with Island folk. Each summer we looked forward to his visits and to see his new work, etchings and paintings in the summer exhibit at the Art & Nature Center.


Christmas Cards

In the fall Curt and Renata headed back to their winter home and studio in Wilmette, IL, but we, his island friends, looked forward each December to receiving his Christmas card. The envelope stood out from all the rest because of its size and Curt’s distinguished signature. His cards, prints of his etchings, brought a smile with their unusual characters, cats, dogs, birds and owls who took on the humor of the human condition, or it could be a landscape which presented an enigmatic visual puzzle.


Early Challenges

Curt was born in Germany of a Lutheran mother and a Jewish father. At seventeen Kurt escaped from the threatening environment of Germany in 1939 by way of China. With a talent for drawing caricatures, portraits and scenery he was able to entertain, communicate and even sell some of his drawings along the way. Sailors from the American ships in the Shanghai harbor were some of his customers. One of the captains was so impressed with his work he offered to sponsor his move to the United States and assisted in securing a scholarship for him to the American Academy of Art in Chicago.


Imagination Reigns

Curt continued to study and worked hard displaying his work in galleries, one man shows, commissions and midwest art fairs. His personality and art touched the people he came in contact with. Curt’s source for his art was his imagination, using familiar objects in an unfamiliar way. “The challenge is to show something that does not exist but make it look as if it does.” He was successful as he won many awards and honors. His art continues to be enjoyed in many collections.

For more information and to see a display of his work go to the web site, We treasure the memories of this man who was apart of our community, a contributor to the Art & Nature Center and who was generous in the sharing of Holiday Greetings through his beautiful cards.

Thanks to John Moore, a friend of Curt’s who lent the pamphlet, “Curt Frankenstein, Dream World and Real World.”

Patti Cauldwell

2013 Columbus Day Media Sale

It is time to stock up this Fall on all your books, DVDs and CDs from the ANC's Columbus Day Media Sale. This is a chance to get rid of all of those books and media that you've already seen and heard and get some new ones at the same time!

Donate your used books, dvds and cds on Friday and stop by on Saturday and pick up some new ones!

Need a gift for yourself or someone you know? We'll also have discounted items from the Bookshop.

See you there!

New Book Of Island Poems Benefits Art & Nature Center

A new poetry book, “Hot Sling and Other Island Poems,” featuring the poetry of Karen Yancey and the drawings of Patricia Cauldwell will be introduced at a special reception at the Art and Nature Center on Friday, August 9, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Karen Yancey, author and Patti Cauldwell, illustrator
Karen Yancey, author and Patti Cauldwell, illustrator

The book brings together Yancey’s previously published poems about the island that have been published in a broad range of regional poetry journals and art magazines, including the Peninsula Pulse, Door County Voice, Seeding the Snow and A Slender Thread.

“I have admired Patti’s paintings and drawings of the island for many years and was so pleased when she agreed to bring her unique insight and artistry to illustrate many of the scenes and experiences I have described,” said Yancey.

Hotsling Poetry Book Illustration by Patti Cauldwell
Hotsling Poetry Book Illustration by Patti Cauldwell

The book is dedicated to the artists, musicians, writers and poets who are inspired by the beauty of Washington Island and to the staff and board members of the Door County Land Trust who seek to protect it. Yancey, a summer resident, also helped organize the Washington Island Project Committee of the Door County Land Trust and served as its chairperson for a decade.

Cauldwell and her family has been a major supporter of the Art and Nature Center since its beginning in 1965.  She has previously published the book “Harbor Tales" and her paintings and drawings are frequently displayed at the Center.

Hotsling Poetry Book Painting by Patti Cauldwell
Hotsling Poetry Book Painting by Patti Cauldwell

“It was fun to connect with Karen's poems via pen and ink. They are rich with images, insights, and island scenarios," said Cauldwell.In addition to her illustrations for the book, Cauldwell has painted three scenes from the poem “Ghosts of the Dutch Village” that tell a fictional story about the ruins of an early settlement on the north shore of Washington Island. “There is so much wildness and natural beauty on the island and I hope my poems have captured how fortunate we  are to experience it at a deeply human and spiritual level,” said Yancey.   “If you are an artist, musician or writer you can’t help but be affected by the island’s unique history, community and landscape.”

The book is priced at $10 and all proceeds benefit the Art and Nature Center.

Schoolhouse Beach Sculpture by Alex Mandli

We are so grateful to sculptor, Alex Mandli for donating his beautiful sculpture of Schoolhouse beach to the Washington Island Art and Nature Center. This is finally your opportunity to get a piece of Schoolhouse beach and Washington Island. The ANC will be selling raffle tickets at one dollar per ticket. Someone is going to be very lucky and we are so grateful for Alex's generousity.


A note from the artist:

I am a ceramic artist represented by the Edgewood Orchard Gallery in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. In 2012, I was invited by the Edgewood Orchard Gallery to participate in an exhibit entitled “ Door County Treasures “. Each artist was to submit a piece in the medium they were known for. When I began this piece, in January of 2012, my first thought about creating a piece for this show was the beauty of Schoolhouse Beach in Washington Harbor on Washington Island. I am always impressed that visitors to the beach are more than willing to use the rocks to create sculptures or totems. I was also stuck by the fact that many “human beings” were taking rocks from the beach prompting the good citizens of Washington Island to put up signs, warning of fines for doing so. Let me assure you that, “no Schoolhouse Beach rocks were damaged or stolen in the process of making this sculpture”.

About the piece:

The sculpture was made using white earthenware clay. The larger rocks were thrown on a potter’s wheel, then paddled and altered to look like a rock. The smaller rocks were made by hand. The finished ceramic rocks were then decorated with colored clay slip and fired in an electric kiln to make them permanent. The color of the base of the sculpture was selected to emulate the color of the sky and water on a warm summer day. The birch frame containing the rocks was taken from a construction site, where they were to be destroyed.

I originally wanted the sculpture to be played with. Viewers could construct and de-construct the sculpture just as visitors to Schoolhouse beach would do. These ceramic rocks are not as durable as the real rocks. The clay slip on the surface of these ceramic stones can chip. I suggest while the piece is on display that you discourage viewers from touching it.

The Science Of Music At The ANC

Can music calm the savage beast?  We are not sure, but it can conquer the summer doldrums for your youngsters!  Join fellow young scientists ages 6 to through 11 to explore music from a scientific perspective.  The program will run Tuesday July 9  through Thursday July11 at the Art and Nature Center  Snapshot Science, LLC.  Participants will discover how sound is made by a variety of instruments and everyday objects, how sound travels, how hearing works, and music of the natural world.

Tuesday, July 9th – Sound Wednesday, July 10th – Hearing & Instruments Thursday, July 11th – Breathing, Brass, and Bats

How is sound made? How do scientists measure sound? How does sound move through air?  Experiment – High or Low?Ear Anatomy; Experiment – Can you hear a pin drop?  Construct a simple instrument, Construct a model of the lung from simple materials. Experiment - How do wind instruments change pitch?  Construct a simple wind instrument.  Nature sounds games Waltz in to the Washington Island Art & Nature Center to sign up.  Space limited to first 15.  Participants are asked to participate all 3 days. Snapshot Science, LLC…Find us on Facebook!

ANC 2013 Opening Reception: Featured Artist Pat Wright


Pat Wright has been painting since 1989. She has studied at the Alain Gavin Studio in Evanston, Illinois, with Lorna Cornell on the island and has taken Continuing Studies classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Pat lives on Washington Island and in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. It is her intention to capture the beauty of everyday life in both locations.