A changing harbor and new goals.

Menominee-marina-parking-lot-derusha -1-10-2016

A south view of the parking lot of the Menominee Michigan Marina, January 10, 2016.

In the winter, an empty marina harbor of water freezes, breaks up, flows, crashes, engulfs, and mirrors the sky.

I moved back to my hometown in Menominee, Michigan from New Mexico in November and looked forward to photographing new roads. I set up two goals for photographing, capture the snow on the roads as if they were reflecting the sky and second, to capture the reflection of water on the roads showing partial landscape of the area. 

The Menominee Marina parking lot became my favorite spot to photograph.  The snow patterns from the wind marks the road in abstract formations.  I became alert to the snow plows late at night organizing the snow in long rows and huge piles. I watched the melting snow shrink and change shapes. 

As I waited for snow to fall in the beginning of the winter, I began to notice the water changing in the harbor. It seemed natural to photograph the ice like the way I shoot roads, from the view point of looking down.  I’d walk up and down the piers photographing the abstract formations that changed with the weather.  It became a mission to check the harbor daily while still keeping my eyes on the changing road.


Inside the Menominee Michigan Marina, January 11, 2016.

Long ago we used to be able to drive out on the long break wall of the marina and at the end there was a wooden turn around that we would park on and then get out of the car and we’d push it around so we could drive back to land. My father and grandfather used to dock their boats along the break wall in the summer.  Eventually our community worked hard to get more finger piers in the marina to attract more sailors and boaters.  Once the finger piers were built we were no longer allowed to drive out onto the outer break wall.


A view from the break wall at the Menominee Michigan Marina, January 26, 2016.

Lots of memories I have from my youth at the Marina. I ran up and down the finger piers growing up, jumped in the water off them, was pushed and pushed others off them, and saw people accidentally fall off. I caught lines from boats arriving and threw lines off to aide boats leaving the piers. I saw old sailors and non-sailors patiently waiting hours and hours on the break wall for a sight of the racers coming in. I saw masts snap and tragedy fall among crews in freak storms. I saw people shimmy up the masts at super heights, sailors sleeping in sails, and swinging off halyards like Tarzan into the water.  I saw people dancing on the dock and falling in love. I saw stern faces after a loss of a race and celebrating sailors spraying alcohol on one other.  I saw my grandfather who had a wooden leg, turn it around under his long pants and walk up the dock while kids looked on with amazement that a man was walking with a backwards shoe.  I rushed with my mother and sisters up the dock with food while my father sat impatiently waiting on the boat and my brothers on deck ready to release the lines so we could take off.


A view of the Menominee Michigan Marina from a finger pier, March 11, 2016.

Life speeds by, and now seeing the empty harbor and the freezing water changing through out the winter reminds me of life being so unpredictable.  Everyday dressing in long underwear, hat, face mask, and sometimes two jackets on, it was difficult to imagine that winter’s cold would ever end.  Just when the ice finally breaks up and the water seems to swallow the ice, the temperatures drop again and the ice starts to form again, so my new goal certainly kept me on my toes. Up here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Yooperland) no one dares bet on the last freeze.


A view from a finger pier of the Menominee Michigan Marina, March 14, 2016.

Yooper and the Troopers


Hwy 41, Powers, Michigan, 2015.

Traveling Hwy 41 up to Copper Harbor, Michigan from my hometown Menominee where I grew up is something we did with my family when I was young.  We would drive up to the beginning of Hwy 41 to see the colors change in the fall.  When the colors are the brightest on the trees in the fall season they call it peaking. Copper Harbor is known to peak first in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s the highest point north.

I drove up before the colors turned. Everything was green. First I noticed I could smell fresh cut hay on the outside of Menominee. Driving past Powers I could smell the white pine in the air. The closer I got to Copper harbor I could smell the slightest hint of fresh water fish, not a dead fish smell.  I’m not sure it was the number of places I passed along the way that sold smoke fish or if that was the natural smell of the deep fresh water lake.  I drove with all the windows down letting my hair fly.

 Driving north I thought that I might see a tremendous amount of roadwork because of the harsh winters and heavy truckloads of timber, but I was wrong.  The roads that would change color from smoke grey to a deep copper, then to almost white, were smooth and spotless. 

 The high trees of a variety of greens shadowed the road on various turns throughout the day. The most action I saw of road repair was near the town of Powers then up through Norway.  The black lace pattern of tar repair on the side seemed to frame the road like some fancy wrought iron frame.  When I approached the small towns the action of lines appear down the center like as if someone was trying out a calligraphy pen with lines that flowed in erratic patterns. I thought of my mother who loved calligraphy and spent years practicing.

 Driving for miles and miles of what seem to be virgin forests and no mailboxes or advertising signs gave me the feeling of total independence.  I kept looking out to the side to see how far I could see and the forest was so thick and dense.  I thought of my time in the center of Australia where one could see for miles and miles except for the small bushes that occasionally blocked the view.

 I started noticing how many big four-wheel drive trucks went by with men wearing beards.  I never felt afraid. You see in the Upper Peninsula, if your car is stopped like mine on the side of the road, while I take photos, no matter if I’m wearing an orange vest like a road worker, people slow down and ask if I need help.  State troopers stop, women with children, big trucks and bearded men, kids riding around, they are all surprised when I tell them I’m ok, even though I clearly have a camera around my neck.  I suppose they wonder, there is not really a vista where I’m taking photos, and there are no animals around, what is she doing?



It’s all still there!


    Derusha photographing OLD HWY 83, Nebraska, Latitude 42.1773 Longitude 100.5291, June 2015.

I had always thought of Nebraska as flat, but I was flat out wrong!  Nebraska was named by The Otoe People “Nebraskier” meaning flat water.  Its lush green hills are really sand dunes and waters flow from fresh springs and ponds around them. 

The first time I photographed the old highway 83, I was cutting my way through Nebraska heading north from North Platte to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see family and friends.  I found this road in the drizzling rain and I spent hours photographing while hooded up and without GPS.

In June when I went back to reshoot the road with a different camera, I didn’t have the right location and my stubbornness told me I didn’t need it, I actually ended up going 1000 miles out of my way to find it.

The colors of the road on HWY 83 change every few miles. It’s a beautiful drive heading south from Murdo, South Dakota HWY 90. The hilly Rosebud Reservation offers views above the green hills that flow like the sea without billboards. Every up, down, and turn on the road, I saw something stunning.  From South Dakota into Nebraska while driving on the blue black almost purple tarred road, I see on my left a secluded pond between the wind swept shiny grass hills, a lean, strong, shirtless torso in jeans, with long black hair flowing, and an arm casting a line out into the water. HAHAHA, thinking back I’m surprised a fish didn’t pop out and grab it!  Turning along the next bend the road shifts into another color, soft dun grey, then to my left another sweet vision, two tail swishing horses leaning into one another on top of a hill, framed by two other hills. I laugh! I shake my head, as the road now starts to turn a pink strawberry ice-cream color with bright yellow lines, I see the hills bending towards a stream with a few fat cattle and a young calf splashing in towards its mother. WOW! WOW! WOW! I say out loud. 

Moving along further south of 83 from Valentine, Nebraska on the soundless smooth pavement, I suddenly see broken pieces of a road piled up on what appears to be on the old Highway 83 on the West side and my heart sinks, I wonder is my favorite part of the road GONE?!  I think to myself and why not?! It wasn’t really used for driving anymore, just paint testing for the road lines.  I begin to see piles of black, pink, and grey sand on the old highway.  I continue to drive while accepting the fate that it was too late and pacifying myself into thinking well…. it was once in a lifetime, it’s all fine, I have good shots already, at least I can get the proper GPS.  After a few more rounding curves, suddenly the road bends right and my eyes start to refocus and I start to see the old 83 unveiling itself like scaly dinosaur.  I start holding my breath, and suddenly the old highway 83 starts to appear weaving in and out of the ground, disappearing then reappearing and flashing painted lines start to appear, and my heart starts beating faster, I slowly breath out.  I say out loud it’s all still there!

I pull the car over in the hot sun.  No traffic, no worries, no hurries, and I begin to search for familiar compositions. Just when I think, where is that one? I laugh out loud to find it right under my feet! HAHAHAHA, GPS, Check!

 If you would like to know more about this road see my series called Culture and See Life 


   OLD HWY 83 Nebraska view of the landscape, June 2015.

I see myself everywhere

I see myself everywhere on the road, in oval shapes, earth colors, natural and manmade with texture, and pattern.  Doesn’t matter where, a parking lot, country road, factory road, or the side of a big city street, I sometimes have the subconscious desire to see a familiar face.