Sunday, September 23, 2012

sunday's writing exercise: taking a walk along the sturgeon river contemplating an increase in the price of beeswax

Trail head, Canyon Falls, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
There's a parking lot off US 41 just south of Alberta, Michigan, for the trail that leads to Canyon Falls on the Sturgeon River. It's a short, easy hike. Come with me.

On the trail.
I'm feeling a bit fussy because I've just found out that my cost for raw beeswax has gone up about 30 percent. That's since February, when it increased by more than 15 percent.

Footbridge over the creek.
I'm not sure why the price increase is unsettling me, and that's why I'm taking this walk to Canyon Falls. I've driven by the parking lot so many times, always thinking one day I'd stop, see the falls, but now I'm making a special trip. Sometimes you have to make a special trip.

With the price of beeswax going up, I must raise my candle prices, and that's why I'm fussing. But, enough people have told me that my current prices are low, even too low, so raising them shouldn't hurt business. There's even a theory that if my prices were higher, business would increase.

Trail comes alongside the Sturgeon River.
There's been a drought in lower Michigan, where I get my wax from, and an uncommonly hot week in March followed by the typical cold of April really nipped it in the bud for many plants and fruit trees. Crops of cherries, apples, and pears, to name a few, got waylaid. It's just the way of things. Fewer blooms. Less nectar. Blooms, even, without nectar. Less honey. Less beeswax. A walk along the river.

Sturgeon River.
I could go elsewhere for beeswax. I could call around, get on the web, search the country and beyond for wax of any origin, focus on price, go with that. And if price were my concern, I would do that.

Which do you like? This picture of the river or the previous one?
But, as my story goes, a few years back I was at loose ends when I saw an ad on eBay for 500 lbs. of raw beeswax from Sleeping Bear Farms in Beulah, Michigan, and 2,000 pounds later, well, here we are.

The trail takes a turn.
In my fuss, though, I have contacted an apiary in Wisconsin. What if they have wax for less? Now, if you look at a map, you will see that Michigan's Upper Peninsula is, geographically, an extension of Wisconsin, and the fact that it is part of Michigan - separated from its lower land mass by five miles of angry water called the Straits of Mackinac - is something that many have found contentious. Not that the contenders have wanted to be part of Wisconsin, oh no, they would rather be their own state, the State of Superior, but that's quite another story.

I am fascinated by the tree roots that are all along the trail. Trees growing on rock, their roots foraging far and wide in search of a crevice of sustenance, a foothold, finding it, holding on.

And more roots.
I have no ties to Michigan. I was born and raised in Illinois and lived there most of my life, until I moved here, eight years ago. I have no ties to Wisconsin, though I did go to college there. Picked apples there as a kid. Got drunk there as a teenager (Wisconsin drinking age 18, Illinois 21, at the time.)

I like the curlicue on this wall.
But I am beholden to Michigan beeswax, and there is no reason not to buy my next 500 lbs. from Sleeping Bear Farms. Maybe I'll also buy some wax from Wisconsin - it makes good business sense to have a second supplier, close by.

Looking back at Canyon Falls.
I feel less fussy now. Let's go home. The weather's been so squally all week. Cool, cloudy, just blinks of sun. Rain. Wind. Stillness. Even a rainbow or two. I love it, but I know you don't. Let's go home and stoke the fire in the wood stove, see what Buster and Elliott are up to. Maybe a cup of peppermint tea?

Looking ahead, the river runs through a gorge.
These pictures of our walk - I'm surprised they're not all blurry. And they are so quiet. The falls, of course, were loud. Rushing, falling, spilling, cascading, splashing - all that water. Tumbling over a cliff. But, it's more than water, don't you think?

{Thanks for walking with me. On Sundays and Thursdays I write.}