That’s All She Wrote! by Pamela J. Tarchinski

photo of back porch harbor springs michigan

Visit my photo gallery page for new pictures daily!

Well, I figured it out.

Why I’ve visited hundreds of towns big and small over the years, am glad to have been, yet have no urge to return and always liked coming back here.

It’s the details.

Everywhere you look in 49740, the eye is intrigued.

Look here:

photo of white house in harbor springs michigan

photo of stone house in harbor springs michigan

photo of yellow house in harbor springs michgian

photo of weathervane in harbor springs miphoto of shutters in harbor springs michiganphoto of store in harbor springs miphoto of dried hydrangeasphoto of an eave on a housephoto of wall in harbor springs michiganphoto of artesian well
Guess what else:

Harbor Springs could be – if it wanted – the poster child for New Urbanism.

Here’s the list:

Walkable streets, check. Town center, check. A variety of houses serving a variety of incomes, check. Porches out front, garages out back, live/work spaces available, guest rentals, local grocery, quality services nearby… check, check and check!

AND, spectacular local vernacular!

photo of downtown harbor springsWhile many new New Urbanist communities are criticized for having all the right elements but none of the spirit, here, it all happened organically so does.

I think it’s because homeowners make their design choices based on practical, human influences and needs…

photo of gas meter in wequetonsing michigan“Those utility meters are ugly, I’ll build them their own handsome house… ”

“Swell cement wall but I’ll make it sweller so I don’t have to look at it so much… ”

“Your box hedge is nice but my box hedge is a star!”

And hello, if I have to have a snow shovel I’ll have this one because the color matches the trim on my museum, what luck!
photo of cement wall

Unlike towns of similar vintage that have become static, dormant, some even dying as homes and yards go neglected beyond repair, 49740 continues to evolve with new houses going up and fresh landscape being planted and cared for.


photo of box hedge


photo of a snow shovelTo be sure there are some nightmares but I’m hopeful someone wakes of burned out building

For me, it is the personal expression that ices the cake.

photo of balcony on a house

Hooray for homeowners who make the world more beautiful!

photo of christmas lights on a fenceBut it’s the through threads that make all these individual touches work… corbels, divided light windows, Carpenter Gothic scrollwork, handmade fences, stone walls, strong subtle colors, an abundance of white, traditional Michigan iron oxide red or chrome green asphalt roofs…

And everybody pretty much starts with the same plain, white window box, but some boxes are sophisticated, others delightful.

photo of window box planter

Yup. 49740 is visually very satisfying

Back 170 or so years, American landscape architect and building designer Andrew Jackson Downing philosophized that, “A good house will lead to a good civilization.”

Maybe that’s one reason why when you walk down most any 49740 street, passersby say in a very civilized way…



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photo of house decorated for valentines day


photo of snow covered heart sculpture

photo of valentine's day decoration

photo of snow shaped like lips

photo of valentine's day decoration in harbor springs michigan

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3000 Porch Books Can’t Be Wrong! by Pamela J. Tarchinski

photo of front porch

Who Wouldn’t Love This Porch?

Back in the 1950s, new home builders started eliminating front porches.

I grew up in one of those and I remember my mother and dad setting up webbed aluminum folding chairs at the front edge of their garage to sit with some cover, watch the weather roll in and chitchat with their neighbors ‘til the sun set.

photo of front porch

Or This One!?

Oh, I know much of America went porchless because people started living more in their backyards, grilling, swimming in pools, lounging in hot tubs.

Builders were thrilled because they still charged the same price for the house but saved beaucoup bucks on materials and labor.

The 3000 plus books about porches currently for sale on Amazon are pretty good evidence homeowners regret it.

Few regrets in 49740, porchwise!

photo of green porch

photo of red and white porch in harbor springs michigan

photo of white front porch





I like the zippy ones. You’ve seen ‘em. The winterized porches with clear-as-glass vinyl roll-up curtains that zipper and tie creating a cozy outdoor room.

photograph of a porch

Zipped or unzipped, I propose a Harbor Springs Front Porch Tour.

To benefit – in addition to all ticket buyers – a worthy charity, perhaps the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center?

A porch tour would be much less work for homeowners than a whole house or even a kitchen tour is… just sweep the floorboards a bit, set out iced tea – or maybe Mint Juleps – a plate of Tom’s Mom’s cookies or Johan’s sweet buns and say…


Who wouldn’t open their wallet for the chance to sit a while someplace like here?

photo of wequetonsing porch


photo of shuttered porch

photo of front porch

photo of front porch

Be sure to watch my mini-movie of Wequetonsing zippy porches blowing in the breeze that you’ll find by clicking  VIDEO  in the 49740 header.

photo of a front porch

Top Porch

photo of wequetonsing porch

Cosseted, Corseted Porch

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TREE DOWN, a Postscript by Pamela J. Tarchinski

And then, on a chilly January 25, 2013, morning, the Harbor Springs community Christmas tree on West Main Street came down.

Did you hear it?

Step One: Buzz off Tree Skirt

photo of main street christmas tree

Step Two: Buzz to Tip

workers remove christmas tree from street

Hope the Rope Doesn’t Snap, Did!

workers remove christmas tree from street

Step Four: Push Trunk Log from Manhole

photo of city worker on main street in harbor springs michigan

Fine Tune Understreet Fittings

photo of manhole cover in harbor springs michigan

Step Six: Tamp Manhole Cover Back Into Place

photo of wood chips in truck

Fond Memories

photo of main street in harbor springs michigan

Step Eight: Count Days ‘Til Christmas 2013

PS: be sure to visit my earlier post, And the Prize for Best Tree Skirt Goes towhich you’ll find in the December 2012 Archives, to see what was and what lies in store!








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GOOD LOOKING, a Photo Essay by Pamela J. Tarchinski

photo of shay house taken from third street harbor springs mi

Shay House with Coyote

photograph of historic shay house in harbor springs mi

Shay House with Human

Sometimes, it takes me half an hour to walk half a 49740 block.

Here are some photos that show why.

Click on any photo to see it full size, then backbutton to continue.

photo of coho salmon sculpture in harbor springs michigan

Fish with Shay House

There I was, walking along and what did I glimpse past a hedge, at the back of a backyard, but a… ummm… a shark? No, a coho! That appears to have swallowed the historic Shay House and lived to tell the fish tale. Should somebody phone Jonah!?

Harbor Springs houses have bellybuttons…

photo of small round house vent

Born Not Made

I never met Mister Blachy, but I sure do admire his enthusiasm and empathize with not having enough space for one’s prose.

photo of house for sale harbor springs mi

‘A’ for Effort

photo of alberta evergreens in snow

Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Faaaat Albertas!

photo of evergreen trees in harbor springs michigan

Tunnel of Trees

photo of light and gate in wequetonsing michigan

Light, Snow

photo of shoveled sidewalk in harbor springs michigan


photo of a rain chain

The Chain Formerly Known as Rain

 photo of snow covered chairs

Waiting for Sunrise

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PAINT the TOWN by Pamela J. Tarchinski


photo of two white porches in harbor springs michiganphoto of a white house in harbor springs michigan“So tell me,” I said to the man at the paint store, “Is there a particular, popular white homeowners here use on the outside of their houses?”

Because my favorite house paint color is white and every street here has several and they all seem equally pure, elegant, bright.


“It’s the light, isn’t it?” photo of white house in harbor springs michigan

Because 49740 does have it’s own, unique light.

Leland, Glenn Arbor, have their own, certain light, too. Clear, white.

Here, it’s a bit misty, magical, glowy.

Curiously, the sun doesn’t have to be shining for it to show.


The guy at the paint store continued, “The white houses all do look similar but they’re all slightly different. It’s the siding, the finish and some of them… ” he hesitated to say…

“And some of them probably haven’t been painted in years. Maybe decades. And age gives them a certain… ”

“Patina,” I said.

He smiled at me, gratefully. Then, he threw me a bone, ”We sell a lot of Benjamin Moore ‘Brilliant White’ for the outside and their ‘White Dove’ for indoors.”

photo of dark blue house in harbor springs michigan49740 is also replete with bold, intense colors I’d never have the courage to choose and they are gorgeous, recalling historical Michigan and carrying it boldly forward.

Then there are colors unique to Harbor Springs… yellow but not lemon, creamery butter, blue but not sky, Bahamian ice, purple – yes, purple – but not purple, French lilacs and wood violets.

photo of pastel painted houses in harbor springs michigan

Then it snowed.

The variety of whites became clear. Streetscapes became a palette of grey, blue, beige, sage.

I saw a certain ivory colored ranch-style house I go out of my way to enjoy turn into a dull, dingy dishrag when it’s terracotta red roof got covered in snow taking away the contrast necessary to its beauty.

I appreciated the surprise winter thaw.

Here are some photos of the Harbor Springs rainbow…

photo of several houses in harbor springs michigan


photo of two west bluff houses harbor springs michigan

Up the Hill

photo of a green and white house in harbor springs michigan

Down the Hill

photo of houses on third street in harbor springs michigan

Down the Other Hill

photo of house with dovecote in harbor springs michigan

Hill Middle

wequetonsing houses

Weque Greens

photo of a white porch with blue ceiling on a grey house in harbor springs michigan

The Blue and the Grey

photograph of a green house in harbor springs michigan

Green Glow

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Note to Self: reinCARnate Here by Pamela J. Tarchinski

Knock, knock. Please suh, may I buy your garage?

photograph of elegant garage in harbor springs michigan
What, what, what!? But where will I park my Tin Lizzie!?

Oh, you can retain downstairs parking rights for your car, I’m after the upstairs.

Because even though living above a garage is reported to be unlucky feng shui, 49740 garages enjoy such gorgeous views, they look mighty lucky to me.
Even my husband agrees.

One of his favorite buildings in Harbor Springs proper is a kind of modern day carriage house, screened by trees and sited to take in a view of Little Traverse Bay. It’s painted an offbeat color that moves through greens – sage, chartreuse, olive – and myriad goldens as the sun transits the sky.

Who can blame him for lusting!?

I love this small, simple white garage with its tall green shutters:

photograph of a white garage in harbor springs michigan

View of Garage

photo of Little Traverse Bay in Harbor Springs, Michigan

View from Garage








Confession:  much as I abhor snout houses – those wide-nostrilled garages stuck on the face of a house, obscuring it and sometimes, even its entry, which some American towns have had the courage and design smarts to outlaw and thankfully, houses don’t much suffer from here…


photo of car buried in snow in harbor springs, michigan

My Case for an Attached Garage

For me, an attached garage ranks right up there with other great lifestyle inventions like refrigeration, indoor plumbing and radiant heat floors.

Realtors give me withering looks when we visit houses and I express shock that here in heavy-weather land, garages are across the yard, way, way out back.

“You’re living in Northern Michigan now, get over it.”

Well, I suppose, if I find a house with a detached garage whose beauty and charm cheer me on as I plod against driving rain, trudge through knee-deep snow and tippy-toe across glare ice lugging 40 pound cartons of cat litter, bags full of groceries, family, furniture…

I’ll buy it.

Oh to return in the next life as a car, so to park here…

photograph of a small white garage with a blue door in harbor springs michigan

Cool Blue Garage

photograph of a beige and red garage in harbor springs michigan

Modern Craftsman Beauty

photo of grey garage in harbor springs michigan

Cow, Chicken and Cars Happy to Roost Here

photo of dark grey garage with red door in harbor springs michigan

Great Grey Garage

white garage in snow in harbor springs michigan photgraph

Snow Perfect White Garage

photo of white garage in harbor springs michigan

Simple: Tuck it out back.

photograph of several white garages in harbor springs michigan
Pretty Enough to Live In

photo of antique white wooden garage in harbor springs michigan

Vintage Charmer Far

antique white garage in harbor springs michigan photograph

Vintage Charmer Near


pastel colored garage in ramona park harbor springs michigan photo


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NEW YEAR, NEW HOUSES by Pamela J. Tarchinski

Up on the rooftop of a house that’s been dried in…

photograph of an evergreen tree on the peak of a roof of a house

I haven’t seen this tradition practiced since I don’t know when!

This is a happy builders’ rite known as, ‘topping out’. When the last beam is placed at the top of a building, a tree, usually an evergreen, is installed on the peak for various reasons – good luck or, to appease tree dwelling spirits who were displaced by construction.


photograph of a christmas tree in wequetonsing michigan
It’s a jubilant stage in the life of a house said to have originated in northern Europe. Some topping out parties include workers autographing beams, toasting each other with bubbly libations or being treated to a hearty meal by the new home’s future owner.


Across the street and down a ways from this peak tree, another house building crew marked growing evergreens for saving and are working around them.

trees marked by house builders for saving in wequetonsing in harbor springs michigan
Which caught my attention because a while back I witnessed a house-raising in another town that began with bulldozers clear-cutting an entire neighborhood woods.

a photograph of bulldozer having clearcut a woods

No Happy Tree-Dwelling Spirits Here

I prefer builders who save trees and nestle new houses among them, don’t you?

49740 appears to be enjoying a house building boomlet. Within walking distance of me, five new houses are going up with again that many undergoing serious remodel.

Carpenters are hammering away in whipping wind and blowing snow, sending up prayers in direct competition for God’s ear, I’m gonna’ bet, to skiers’.

photograph of house being built in wequetonsing in harbor springs michigan
Not ones to sit and wait for their prayers to be answered, some crews first built ingenious plastic hoop houses over the houses they’re building, to keep themselves and their work dry.



Here are some photos of house building projects around town. Everyone likes watching crews work!

photograph of the interior framing of a new house being built in bay street cottages in harbor springs michigan

Glow Studs

photograph of a gable on a new house being built in harbor springs michigan

Storm Peak

photograph of eave on a new house being built in harbor springs michigan

Blue Sky Story

photograph of building materials in harbor springs michigan

A Fine Mess Gotten Into

photograph of interior framing in house in harbor springs michigan

Bigger, Better Studs

photograph of interior framing of a new house in harbor springs michigan

Sturdy Studs

photograph of a house covered in blue tarp in harbor springs michigan

Blue Roof

photograph of building site in wequetonsing harbor springs michigan


a photograph of Little Traverse Bay in Harbor Springs Michigan

Not One But TWO Saved Charlie Brown Trees Enjoying the View!


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by Pamela J. Tarchinski

photograph of the christmas tree in downtown harbor springs michiganNobody ever said anything like this to me before:

“Oh, you have to come down for the Christmas tree lighting. There’s a manhole cover out there in the street. They take that off and stick a great big tree down the hole.”

“Out there!? In the middle of the street!?”

The shopkeeper looked at me like, ‘where are you from, some other planet? Of course’.

I didn’t tell her that well, yes, in the alternate universe I used to inhabit, the very idea would be challenged for decades by dueling committees and require ten thousand forms filled out in triplicate.

And that then, even with every imaginable authority’s blessing, erecting a Christmas tree in the middle of a street would ultimately be verboten on the off chance someone would drive into it.

Being as it’s fifty feet tall and glows in the dark, ya’ know!?

“Oh probably somebody has bumped into it, over the years,” the yellow-hard-hatted city worker said when I chanced to arrive to take the Christmas tree’s picture at the very moment he and his co-worker were test driving the tree’s electrics. “But never hard enough to have knocked it over. Not that I know of, anyway.”

I expect if ANYbody ever had, EVERYbody in 49740 would know EVERY detail of the incident.

But if a collision were to occur, I think the Harbor Springs community Christmas tree would win.

photos of christmas tree on main street in downtown harbor springs michiganCity workers fashion a giant-sized tree holder from gravel and boards below street level and ram the tree in.

That tree’s in there good!

“Any other questions?” the city worker said.

“Yes, as a matter of fact. Where’s the manhole cover?”

Because I’m wonderin’, if 49740’s West Main Street manhole gets all spruced up for the winter holidays, shouldn’t its cover be decorated, too? manhole cover main street christmas 2012 tree harbor springs michigan

Manhole cover art is serious business, take a look then back button back here:

“The best part,” the shopkeeper continued, “Is, all the local children make ornaments for the tree.”

By the hundreds!

penguin christmas tree ornament main street harbor springs michigan december 2012My particular favorite is a snow globe fashioned from an upended clear plastic Solo drink cup with what I’m pretty sure is a yellow-beaked purple pipe cleaner penguin inside.

Each child hangs his or her own ornament and when the bottom limbs are full – dads lift their daughters and sons onto their shoulders, gripping their snow boots and balancing them as they lean forward to reach an available branch.

No NBA escapees here.

Because the tree, in all its glorious glory, is densely decorated to a height of about five feet ten.

Which makes for the best tree skirt ever.

Here are some happy holiday photos from around 49740 -

night time photograph of a white goose decorated with lights christmas 2012 harbor springs michigan

Christmas Goose

window box holiday decoration harbor springs michigan photograph

photo of a window box lights main street harbor springs michigan christmas 2012

Best Use of a Mail Slot

photograph of turkey's restaurant window decorated for christmas 2012 on main street in downtown harbor springs michigan night scene

Christmas Turkey












Web, Christmas Day, 2012

snow covered manhole cover harbor springs michigan christmas day 2012 photograph

Snow Spider, Christmas Day, 2012

photograph of a manhole cover harbor springs michigan winter 2012

Manhole Cover Masquerading as Panda Bear

photograph of a manhole cover shaped like a heart in harbor springs  michigan christmas day 2012

Christmas Day 2012 Heart

photograph of old farm house with christmas wreath decoration good hart michigan

I May Be Old But I’m Still Loved, See My Wreaths?

photograph of harbor springs city hall tree decorated for christmas 2012

Memorial Tree at Harbor Springs City Hall

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CHRISTO WAS HERE! by Pamela J. Tarchinski

It’s serious snow country here in 49740, so I naturally assumed the burlap wrapped bushes I’m seeing around town are all about protecting vulnerable branches from breaking under the weight of soon-to-be mountains of lake-effect snow -

Lake Flakes!

“No,” the garden shop lady said. “It’s about dining deer.”

To my eye, it’s both problems well-solved because the bushes hibernating beneath their winter wraps are giant and lush!

Have a look at some 49740 wrappers:

photo of burlap wrapped box hedge in harbor springs michigan

Not Christina’s World, But Close

photograph of a house on east bluff in harbor springs michigan

Well Founded

photo of a burlap wrapped cedar tree in harbor springs michigan

Grande Dame

photo of burlap wrapped box hedge on east bluff in harbor springs michigan

Caterpillar Poop

photo of burlap wrapped shrubs on main street in harbor springs michigan


photo of burlap wrapped cedar trees on arbor street in harbor springs michigan

Cedar Envelopes

photo of large cedar trees on arbor street in harbor springs michigan

Cedar Envelopes II

wrapped shrubs looking like a string of pearls, harbor springs, michigan

String of Pearls

photo of hydrangeas on east bluff in harbor springs michigan

You Can Eat My Hydrangeas But Don’t Touch My Box

Now, take a look here, then come back:

Interesting, eh wot?

photograph of zip tied burlap wrapped box hedge on east bluff in harbor springs michigan

Nipped and Tucked

Christo and Jeanne-Claude just wanted people to see everyday sights in new ways, experience joy from their surroundings, they always said. They never signed their outdoor projects, but of course everybody knew whodunnit because they were also masters of PR.




photo of burlap wrapped landscape on main street in harbor springs michigan


Most wrappers in 49740 work anonymously. But I did see at least one who does sign his work by zip-tying his weatherproofed business card onto his encasements, brilliant!

photo of box hedge on east bluff street in harbor springs michigan













And now, ladies and gentlemen, for your entertainment, a little 40 second movie called…


Please wait for the entire video to load then press the ‘go’ arrow. Enjoy!

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