Benefits of Black Flies

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A highlight of our summer is going to Ontonagon MI for a few days with family. This is a small town on the upper peninsula of Michigan, on Lake Superior near the Porcupine Mountains. We enjoy staying with my husband’s family and spending time on the beach, canoeing, relaxing, and enjoying nature and day trips.  This year the black flies were terrible. They bite and droves of them follow you wherever you go. Being outside was not ideal, so we found other things to do. I sketched in the cabin and also sketched the open back end of the Broasted Chicken food truck (lower left) as we ordered a chicken dinner. The following day several of us went into town to see the lighthouse and antique shops. I walked down a long beach, hot in the sun, skittering around from flies. But I loved the stump, driftwood, and the long jetty along the river, so I sketched quickly while swatting away flies. I also stood from afar and quickly sketched the lighthouse, blocking in quick shapes and lines.

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After a stop in the gift shop, we went to the Ontonagon museum, which was a treasure-trove of antiques. There I found plenty to sketch in the air-conditioning and no flies. My favorite was the moose-hoof ink well. Kinda weird, but interesting. I could have stayed there all day! Despite the flies, we had a good time and I came home with some memorable sketches, something I probably would not have had if I spent all day laying on the beach!

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