Wilkinson Wishing (for a) Well

Posted on July 22, 2008

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Perhaps you have run into Loraine and Jim Mottern on a rainy day and wondered why they seemed so cheerful. I will tell you why. For years they have been hauling water by hand to tend the gardens they established at the Wilkinson Homestead Historical Museum. For that reason and others – wouldn’t it be nice to have a restroom at the museum? – Betty Beeby decided to raise money toward drilling a well, and if you know Betty . . . suffice it to say that a fundraiser is scheduled for August 23. You had better save the date now.  The centerpiece is a showing of rare early 20th century photos of Torch Lake Township, like this one.

The armloads of Showy Ladyslippers are the most arresting feature of the 1916 photo. The orchids, once abundant at the north end of Torch Lake, are held by Maude (Evans) Ayotte, Dessie (Evans) Dodge and their children, Dessie’s son Marion Dodge, and Maude’s daughter Nora (Ayotte) Metz, who still lives on the lake.

Showy Ladyslippers are protected now, and rare.  They still grow in the township, but I won’t tell you where.  Finding them should be a quest . . . .  They also grow on Beaver Island, in the Jordan River Valley, and at Wilderness State Park where they bloom from June through mid-July.   

Luna Moths on Showy Lady Slipper, Wilderness State Park, Michigan, USA by Claudia Adams
Luna Moths on Showy Lady Slipper, Wilderness State Park, Michigan, USA by Claudia Adams

To learn more about Michigan orchids in general, watch this lovely Wild Michigan Orchids slideshow.