Artist Hank Feeley, who splits his time between Glen Arbor and New York, calls this late summer painting “Best Seat in the House”.

Mother Courtney Kaiser-Sandler reflects on the day a year ago when her 6-year-old daughter Sofia floated offshore, nearly 2 miles into Lake Michigan in an inflatable unicorn floatie, and nearly drowned.

Since the Lanphier Observatory was built 40 years ago during the bicentennial year of 1976, visitors to the Glen Lake area and the Leelanau School have oohed and aahed at the wonders of the universe they can see through a 14-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegranian telescope.

With Lake Michigan as high as it is right now, 579.6 feet, that means less than one foot of elevation from the water’s edge would require a DEQ permit if a beach owner wanted to “move around” the sand or remove vegetation.

You don’t really know where you’re from until you’ve been somewhere else and come back. That’s because anything is only itself in relationship to some other thing. A day is only a day in relationship to the night. An apple stands for every fruit until you’ve tasted a mangosteen. America isn’t America until you’ve been to El Salvador.

“What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen with this telescope?” asks a visitor to the Leelanau School’s Lanphier Observatory. My stock answer is another question: “You mean in the sky, or on the beach?”

Seven strong swimmers. Five kayakers, one in a borrowed orange plastic open water kayak paddled by my husband, David Early. Me, resident geek and novice on my stand-up paddle board (not a paddleboat, a paddle board), my ATX dubbed “Yellow Belle.” Our brave leaders are Kati Rooney and spouse, Jim Hennessey. We are the proverbial motley crew — except we have a purpose. This is the sixth annual Esch to Empire swim.

Ever since Wednesday, August 17, Northern Michiganders have both embraced and grappled with the news that the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and surrounding region are considered the “most beautiful place in America” — at least according to 22 percent of 100,000 voters who participated in the ABC show Good Morning America’s online competition the second week of August.

What’s remarkable about the Baremans’ work is that, wherever possible, they’ve used reclaimed and refurbished materials to improve their home, which they call the HalSeaOn House. Mark, who together with his brother owns a commercial construction business called Bareman & Associates, believes he’s saved 75 percent of the cost of buying new materials. Using reclaimed materials has cost him time, but that he writes off as a hobby.

The national wedding magazine, The Knot, has named The Homestead resort north of Glen Arbor as the 2011 Best of Weddings pick among wedding venues nationwide. The Homestead, as well as other northwest-lower Michigan wedding destinations including the Inn at Bay Harbor in Petoskey, Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville and Mission Point Resort and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were featured in a story today in the Grand Rapids Press.