Last month, I took swim lessons for the first time. Always a lover of the water and often the first person in Lake Michigan during a beach gathering with friends, this has been somewhat surprising information to share with people. Don’t I already know how to swim? But I want to do what I love better, perhaps with a bit more efficiency and definitely with better breathing techniques.

Athena Gillespie, age 20, won the Audience Choice award at this year’s Empire Asparagus Festival poetry contest, held on Saturday, June 4, for her poem “Green Force.” Gillespie also submitted a poem to the contest in 2012, when she was 10 years old. Both poems are published here.

The Glen Lake Library will help celebrate the return of the beloved Empire Asparagus Festival on June 4 with their Ode to Asparagus poetry reading and Asparagus recipe contest. Click here for more information on how to submit a poem or recipe.

The Boardman Review is an attempt to capture the essence of northern Michigan through an array of multimedia formats, presented in both a print and digital quarterly publication. After launching in July 2017, together with my brother, Nick, we found that the people and stories of this area have already surpassed our hopes and dreams for the project, and have started to fill in, piece by piece, the northern Michigan vibe puzzle.

For Empire resident Anne-Marie Oomen, Lake Michigan and all of our state’s water are part of her soul. The legend of the great Sleeping Bear is also embedded in her, as are legends of mermaids and mermen kept by indigenous peoples, particularly those along Lake Superior.

Here are the winners of this year’s Ode to Asparagus poetry contest at the Empire Asparagus Festival

The Glen Lake Library in Empire will once again host an Ode to Asparagus poetry contest as part of the upcoming Empire Asparagus Festival.

A soul mate is one with whom you share the same ideas, someone with whom your thought world is so alike that words are not necessary. Politically and spiritually you are on the same page, sharing a heart to heart, mind and body connection. Hand to hand, this bond is recognizable in our human relations. What about our relations with the animal kingdom, house pets, mainly? Well, perhaps not politically, but in a spiritual and physical way as in this story we share a heart to heart comfort in being close to our pets, our furry family member.

Many a nature lover was introduced as a child to the outdoors by a parent or teacher. The outdoors can be just the back yard, but the crucial thing is awakening what Rachael Carson called in her wise and lovely essay of that title A Sense of Wonder. Pheasant hunting with his father first kindled it in local naturalist Rick Halbert. As a teacher and volunteer, he’s spent his life connecting people and nature. A botanist, he knows, loves, and fosters the native plants of our region.