HURRAH FOR MICHIGAN FRUIT

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peaches on green trays

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What a wonderful morning it has been! Hopped into the car and off on our way to a local farm market because I had a burning desire for some more Red Haven peaches. After living on a fruit farm for almost 27 years now and having retired from active farming it still is a major part of me to want to go and gaze at all of the fruits in season. I miss the abundance of the many different fruits a lot. What I don’t miss so much is all of the hours spent picking, sorting, and packing. That is another story. But life moves on and now we get into the car and go visit someone else’s market.
The market we go to the most is at Lewis’s Farm and Petting Zoo in New Era, about six miles away. At one time we did a lot of business with Lewis’s, both buying and selling different varieties of fruit. Some of the things they grew we needed and some we delivered to them over the years. It was a mutually beneficial deal for both of us. Now, we being of an older generation have retired and they are still going strong. They have combined the best of farming in the market with a wonderful petting zoo. If you have children or grandchildren you have probably already been there. If you haven’t you had better find a time to treat yourself with all of the best that Michigan can offer. It’s easy to find their website on the Internet.
So this morning I got my peaches, plus some Red Heart plums, sweet corn, and not to be neglected, apple fritters! Did I mention their bakery is heavenly? The fruit is so beautiful that it brought back all of the memories of the days gone by when we went to the market in Muskegon. A good morning today, and a great day to enjoy our Michigan countryside.

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AH SEPTEMBER

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Riding home from Muskegon this morning, feeling happy I finally got my hair trimmed, I am relaxed and enjoying the vivid greenness of an early Michigan September. It is like a tunnel on both sides of the highway, and everything seems to be sparkling. An occasional maple is beginning to show signs of color, and I know that a wealth of beauty of color awaits us in a few more weeks but for now the richness of green is everywhere. There really aren’t that many cars on the road today. Most of the tourists have finished their vacations and we are left with the local people, doing their weekend shopping.
Looking ahead at the season that will be changing I am reminded of the way it used to be when all of the many brightly colored leaves would come floating down. We lived in Muskegon in a heavily covered area of mostly oak trees, and we had two city lots. When the leaves started to fall my father would start to rake. He raked and he raked. The piles of leaves were so much fun for all of the kids in the neighborhood. We would burrow thru them, shrieking with laughter, scattering them as we went, and then having to pile them back up again.
But there was one major difference. All of the leaves had to be burned and the smell of them permeated our neighborhood for weeks. The heaviness and thickness of the odor of burning leaves still sticks to me to this day. I don’t remember anyone bagging leaves at all, no, they had to be burned. The whole block was covered with smoke for weeks and no one seemed to be bothered by it. At least the idea of it was just something that had to be done every year. It was a major job. But I am sure that the asthma sufferers complained because it actually became hard to breathe. I don’t know in what year people started bagging and quit burning but it was after I grew up.
But the fun of the diving into a huge pile of leaves also sticks with me to this day. I still picture my dad raking and raking, smoke swirling all around the neighborhood. It would get dark, and I still can see the piles of burning leaves in my mind. He was a hard worker and so he did what needed to be done. Now we have lawnmowers with baggers, and we ride on them and lots of people think that it is fun to do that also. The atmosphere is better for the bagging and I don’t smell smoke when I go outside at night. But it was another time and another place and progress is now upon us.
But it is also good to look back to another time and to our childhoods and remember the good times.
Have a great September!

THE PLEASURES OF A SISTER

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As the summer days seem to roll by and we wonder where in the world the time has gone it is so easy to just relax and let my thoughts dwell upon all of the things that life has given me. Looking back it seems like very often it was similar to a rollercoaster and I was just hanging on for dear life. The ups and downs of anyone’s adventures portray a tale of many things, always changeable, and mine shows that I was able and willing to accept those changes and enjoy whatever came my way next.

But there is nothing like being able to share those remembrances with someone that has come along the path with you. When you have someone who remembers the same things that you do, shares the same values about what is important to you, can still overlook the dumb things that you did along the way, why, you are a very fortunate person.

For three days my youngest sister, Janice, and her husband Ray, have stayed with us, and renewed our friendships together. Janice is my youngest sibling, and now that we are older that is something she can brag about. But I remember when I was the grownup and she was the baby, and I would tell her what she could and couldn’t do. Now I note with amusement that it is often her taking the lead, always with love, tho.

It has been a very special time for us and hopefully one we can continue for a long time. Family is so important for all. As I sit here I feel the closeness of the visit and I remember when all of my other siblings and my parents could all get together. I have always known that I could depend upon my family, no matter what, and I think of them scattered all about the country. We are still united in spirit, no matter where we are. And we are all so fortunate to have our memories.

LESSON FOR TODAY

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“You must not lose faith in all humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Mohandas K. Gandhi
From my mothers Crestwood Methodist daily lessons. Written in the 1950-60s. I am very thankful for the wisdom of my mothers generation.

A NEW EXPERIENCE AT WALMART

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It was only yesterday when I was mumbling to myself that I hadn’t been doing any writing since we got back from our winter home. The problem was an old one, familiar to many writers I know. It seems like I just keep on talking about the same old things week after week and I am boring anyone who has stuck with me this far. And I am sure boring me. Yet the guilt keeps creeping in to the back of my mind and I renew my thoughts of sitting down with the IPad.
That all changed this morning! Bob and I had made our weekly trip to Ludington to get groceries, and all the other essentials like birdseed and dish soap and other good stuff. It’s about 25 miles to Ludington on US 31, the road is practically empty on a Saturday morning, and I always enjoy watching the windmills. Today they were hardly moving as we drove north. When we got to the store Bob left me off at the door as usual. He stayed in the car reading for a while and then came in to help at the checkout counter. We got in line behind a man who only had one article to pay for.
“This won’t take long, we were really lucky,” I thought. Bob has sorted out all of the groceries on the moving table, frozen things together, so that it will get bagged easily. We have bought quite a bit, actually, it being Saturday
Flash, flash, lights brightening and dimming, and then I hear all of the customers who have just realized what has happened. “Oh, no! Come on, come on!”
Alas, after a few more flashes I realize we have no power and if we have no power we have no cash registers!
And the prices aren’t marked on them anymore. It is beginning to sink into the minds of everyone in the store just what the problem really is.
We stand and wait and watch everyone scurrying around the store. Maybe 15 minutes later a lady comes along and says everything must be picked back up and put in our cart. Someone has managed to get three of the “scan and go” lines open to use as checkouts. Everyone starts running with their carts to be first in line. That doesn’t include us. Our groceries must be all picked up first. By the time we get them back in the basket there are long lines of carts ahead of us.
We wait in line and I am watching to see how people are managing. Some of them don’t have a lot, but others like us have quite a bit. When we get to the register I start the process of picking up each item, finding the bar codes, and listening for the beep. The main hassle is I don’t know where the bar codes are. Then putting them in a bag, moving the bag, looking over my shoulder, seeing the faces of the people behind me who realize just how slow I am. Waving my arm at a clerk going by, I ask her for help, and she is really fantastic. She moves me over to the side, I start handing her cans and boxes, as she just goes thru it as quick as a whiz. In no time at all she has me putting in my money, $115.96! This could have been a disaster if it weren’t for her.
Bob and I push the cart to the door, another clerk checks my slip and we see that it is raining. He heads for our car to drive up to the door. Another clerk is standing there with an umbrella to hold over him while he fills the trunk. Out on the street we can see that there are no lights, no signals, and lots of traffic. But when we get to the signal we find that everyone is taking turns and helping each other out.
Once we get on US 31 I begin to feel a lot better. It has been raining heavily but by the time we get to Hart it has just stopped. When we drive in the driveway there are a few branches and leaves down but it could have been a lot worse. We start putting the groceries away. The ice cream is soft but not beyond repair.
We have had an EXPERIENCE, and I realize I now have something to write about! I look on the Weather Channel and see that there was a “cloud shelf” in Ludington. We were part of an event that covered a lot of people, and we got thru it! By now Ludington is probably back to normal. Walmart did their best to help us in the store and I am thankful for that.
But I will be glad to go back next week and just let my checkout person do her job, quickly and efficiently. Everyone isn’t suited for scan and go!

BOUND TO MAKE YOU SMILE!

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tilt shift photography of cherry blossoms

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The next time you are feeling a little blue I want you to remember my little story today.
It is Sunday morning in Michigan, and a spring morning at that. Words can hardly describe how beautiful it was when I decided to take my Rollerator out for a walk to the mailbox on our rural country road. 66 degrees sounded wonderful to me after a weeks session of colder and wetter weather. The trees are beginning their leafy season, the grass is very green, and I can see the forsythia is a fantastic bright yellow.
After checking the box I crossed back on my side of the road and started pushing the cart again. Suddenly I heard a car coming up behind me and immediately I became very cautious, knowing that usually the cars come barreling over a small hill 60 miles an hour or better. This is a narrow country road and walking on it is not for the faint hearted. Especially when you are pushing a four wheeled cart.
But no! The car was slowing way down. I looked over my shoulder and there was an older car stopped, the window rolled down, and a young man smiled, and said “Where are you going?”
“Right over there, “ I said, pointing to our distant drive. “Good,” he said. “We just thought you might need a ride.” An older lady was driving, probably his mother. They both smiled at me, I thanked them profusely, and they went on their way, leaving me with such a profound sense of gratitude for the lesson I had just been given.
Sometimes it is the people with the least amount of material goods that are the quickest to share what they do have with people who might be in need. I need to remember that in my own personal life.

ALMOST TIME TO GO

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photo of man sitting on a cave

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Almost time to go! It’s Saturday morning, the 30th of March, it’s warm and beautiful, and I know that an inner yearning is stirring for us to get on the road again. In my minds eye, and on my FB photo pages, the familiar scenes of Michigan, our number one abode, are beginning to slide past my everyday vision. The sights, sounds, and even odors of life in another atmosphere are invading my mind, reminding me of another place, one that I love, that I haven’t seen for months. To be sure, I really haven’t thought about it very much this past winter, other than to commiserate with my northern neighbors in their hour of need. I know that they had a rough time of it this past year, but the snow is finally melting. Now the days are a combination of rain, snow, ice, wind, sun, and mud. The county has put weight limits on, and everyone tries to avoid the gravel and dirt roads. I remember the many times when we couldn’t even get in and out of our road unless you had a four wheeled truck. March and April often still look like that. And the mud tracked into the house by all of the little feet no matter how much you scolded, I also remember.
After all of this reminiscing I am losing my sense of readiness to go North so quickly. I see that the sun has started shining occasionally tho, and what a welcome sight it is! By the time we get there the grass will be starting to green up, the crocuses and daffodils will bring smiles, and life will look pretty darned good!
Of course there is usually at least one more snowstorm after we get there, and we grumble and say we will wait longer next year, but the cycle continues without any encouragement from us at all. We look at the lawn full of leaves, the flower beds, the grape vines waiting to be trimmed, and we rejoice to be home again.
It is a time of adjustment tho. Different stores, different tv channels, new numbers, faster life style, and it usually takes a few days to get back in the old routine. When I walk into the gas station or post office maybe someone will notice we have come back, but then again, maybe no one will. Life continues at a rapid pace, no matter where we are. Everyone is busy and that is just the way it is. I will miss my southern home, and most of all I will miss my writing class. Bob will miss his pinochle games and his long walks here in the park.
We will enjoy Michigan immensely and the time will fly by with lots of yard work and long rides about the countryside. We’ll visit Lake Michigan and watch all of the fruit trees go thru their cycles of growing and producing the best apples, peaches, plums and apricots to be found anywhere. As I write this I am regaining my sense of “it’s almost time to go again!”
Wishing you all The Best of Two Worlds in your retirement years.