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Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Old traditions......................

This morning I was sweeping our rather large driveway. I wondered how many people still do that. I know my daughter does not. Well that reminded me, when we lived in Bedford (England) our Italian neighbour and most of the others would polish their front steps, usually red. Not only that but they would sweep the front path and the sidewalk in front of their house. Even though there was a wall at the end of the front yard. We all did that. It keeps the street looking nice for one thing, I still do that here as well.
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I also remember my grandmother Hines would "black" the inside of the fire place. The back of the fire and grate. It made it look so much nicer than the smokey concrete that was at the back of most fires. They would hang a kettle to stay warm over the fire in her house, my Grandma Hines also had a stove in the middle room next to the kitchen, It was wide open with a hob over the fire. I only remember things vaguely as I was still very young when we lived there, but several memories stuck. She like most people did not use the "front" room. That was for doctors visits or guests. Everything was always in its place and polished and fluffed. The next room was the dining/living room. It had the fireplace I mentioned that she would blacken and had blue and white tile around the edge of the opening. The outside was as I recall some kind of molded black metal, at least in my mind. She kept that polished as well. Women really worked in those days, keeping house was a pride they took in the job.
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The next room (it was a very long house) was the back entrance with a big bay window. Thats where the hob was and I suppose during the war and when kids were home it was well used. Stew always on the hob they said. She had soldiers billeted there for a time. Stacked like logs they said on the floor. The kitchen was narrow and quite small and then after that a lean to that was the very cold bath room. All brick and concrete with a claw foot tub and immersion heater for hot water. Goodness knows what they did before that. I was just happy I had my bath in a tin tub in front of the fire, that room scared me. It also led to the outside loo.
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My other grandmothers house was smaller but she did mostly the same things as most women did. The laundry at her house was done in the kitchen sink and hung out in the conservatory. While at my other grandmothers it hung in that cold bathroom. That is when it was not outside on the lines. All houses had washing lines, all laundry done by hand. My grandmother Seabrook has a huge scrubbed oak table in the conservatory and a wringer on one end. After the things went through the wringer on the line they went, inside or out. I remember her polishing brass. I don't do that. She also had a "Front" room that no one was allowed in. I think its a good idea myself.
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Window washing was done a lot and by putting on a paste, leaving it to dry and then rubbing off with a cloth. Actually its a good way because you can see if you missed a spot. The outside was done by sitting on the window sill and leaning out if you didn't have a ladder.
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My next door neighbours on Bidwell Hill had two girls. Dawn was my age and Heather younger. Dawns bedroom was next to mine. Our houses were joined So we could tap on the wall and see if the other was in bed yet. We would join cans with string and try to talk to each other via tin cans.
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When there was a funeral everyone closed their curtains and would stand on the doorstep as the funeral went by in silence, if you were walking in the village men would stop and remove their hats and women would stop and just bow the head in respect for those in mourning. They would wear black arm bands and a wreath would be on the door.
We have lost all of that respect I think. Now no one stops or even thinks about it anymore. Of course in those days everyone knew everyone else and when I left in a taxi for the airport when we came to the States, all our neighbours came to the front doors and waved us off. I can still see that in my mind.
When my Dad died I wore a veil, a black lace thing to cover my face. Women still wore hats to church and covered their hair, all that faded out by the 1970s. When Mum died all was different.
Just a few thoughts this day.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Afternoon walk..................

It was snowing this morning. Sunny this afternoon but still chilly. I cant remember another May quite like this. I usually have my stuff in the garden by now. Anyway, this afternoon we went for a walk. Took the kids out to let off some steam and they did. No wildlife sightings on this day. We took them to the park and after they hollered and screamed a bit and ran around screaming like banchees, we went for a walk in the woods.
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Any hope of seeing if the Beavers were home, gone.
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The kids found some of their work and made good use of it.
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The Beavers must still be there because of all the chewed down trees.
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No hope of us seeing them, not today anyway. We did spy a baby turtle though.
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We enjoyed a chilly walk but it was good to get out. The kids just ran and ran.
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Not a lot going on in the woods though. Not much in the way of flowers either, but the May was out, not that we have much of it around these parts. Not suer thats what it is but it certainly made me think of it.
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This plant looks like Holly but......with this flower? I must look this up.
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After that we let them have another spin around the playground
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Then it was home for a bath for the boy and another day brought to a close
Here they are digging up a nice rock. Hmmmmmm Dirt and kids, just go together
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Tomorrow all being well we will be off for another walk. Without the kids.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hiking again.................

So today on Laura's 2nd day off we had intended to go to Van's Beach at Leland and look for blue stones. It was rather cold first thing and we were not sure what to do. I suggested we take a walk out by our old property. Many years ago we owned 40 acres near Maple City. As it would happen we had to sell it and move, that's a long story. So today we thought we would go for a walk and maybe find mushrooms on the State land at the back. We didn't but it was fun looking. There was always a small pond back there. Well now it's almost a lake. Very pretty too.
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The pine trees that were on our property are huge now, well its been a very long time.
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We had a good old ramble around. By the time we were done it was too late to go out to Van's Beach so we decided to go visit the old farm area outside of Empire. We took a detour along a lovely road where the horse camp and trails are. Ponds there too but nothing to see. Not even a turtle or frog although we did hear frogs jumping into the water.
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We got to Empire finally and turned down the first road and discovered we took a wrong turn as it was the Bluffs trail down there. There was a picnic area though so that was good for us.
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We took our lunch so we didn't have to spend money that we didn't have.
After that we took the next road and it went down to the beach. Well.............come to find out that was the beach I had been looking for last summer. It has Otter Creek running into Lake Michigan. Woo hoo.......perfect place to take the kids.
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A beautiful sky, beautiful weather. The view fantastic, looking up at the bluffs. We didn't have time to explore a lot because we did have to get back for Tristen.
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Sure enough, Otter creek ran into Lake Michigan. What a great place for the kids to play. The water is shallow and I just know they will have a blast there.
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The water is so clear. We didn't stay because the May flies drove us nuts. We ran back to the car with a bunch of admirers in pursuit. They will be gone next time we get there.
We took a side road over a wooden bridge that crossed the creek. I wanted to look at the water. I saw this little nest in the brush.
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Laura said shall we keep going or should we go back the way we came. We chose to cross the bridge. Not a good move. We had a two track along the river, that was fun and we must go back again. Many trail heads that would be great to explore.
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Well it went on and on and we expected it to come out on M22 so we could head back. Well, it was a dead end.
So back we went. Finally finding our road home. Saw deer but could not stop. We were NOT ready to end our day and next time Laura gets a day off we will go back. We had stopped at some old farms along the way.
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While exploring this farm we both needed to go potty but could not find a spot. I went over to the barns in the hope of finding a nice spot. What I found was trail cams, phew thank goodness I spotted them.
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A few pretty things I did find.
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I will have to show more on another day. I am rather tired from all the walking again today. Sure was lovely though. Tomorrow I must work in the garden.




A day on the dunes.................

Laura had two days off work this week. We both decided we need exercize. We both need to loose 10pound (me at least 10 if not more because that would only put me back to where I was last year) Neither of us can get in our summer clothes.
So Tuesday we decided as it was a bit cold, that the Cottonwood trail at the top of the Dunes would be quite sheltered. It was and was really nice. Chilly but for walking in sand, that's a good thing. There was quite a bit of climbing along the way. We had thought we would not see anyone up there as the park is not officially open yet. No such luck but we were early enough that is was hardly noticable that there were a few others out there. We started off and lucky she had brought an extra sweater because I didn't and it was windy. photo 13177342_10154145096454761_5708105383725366322_n_zps5fdsrvuc.jpg
On the way up we stopped and watched 3 deer eating.
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People just drive on by, they don't seem to stop for the things we do. We love to see wildlife and will stop to watch it anytime we can.
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The Dunes themselves are an echosytem all their own, if that is the right word. There are specialized grasses and shrubs, small because the winds and sand blasting keep them close to the ground. There are ghost forests that have been swallowed up in the ever moving dunes. For us it's always something new. Walking in sand can be very hard going for me. So great exercize. Some of the sand had not a mark on it, some looked like waves in the ocean.
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We were serenaded and watched by this little guy
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Laura at the top, and then over this hill, another
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I have to say the trails are well marked, unlike other places we could mention.
We made it all the way to what is the top of the Dune climb. This was maybe half way for us.
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The view was wonderful, it was a pity we didn't have blue skys but really if we did it would have been too warm. Up here we were sand blasted.
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The trail is 1 1/2 miles round trip. Going back was easier except for the flying sand. We put our hoods up.
We looked down onto DH Day farm, now in the possession of the Park.
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We wish they would fix that beautiful house. It seems to be falling to ruin. They did fix the barns so no idea what the hold up is on the house.
Here is the house and barns from the road.
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After that we took some back roads to see what we could see. Not much that day. We did see these guys who had run into the woods when I took a picture of a barn, they thought we couldn't see them.
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No worry, we won't hurt you. We also saw some really pretty turkeys and had fun teasing them. Laura would gobble gobble and they would stretch their necks to see what it was.
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There are so many wonderful old barns around this area. It was a strong farm settlement, the land was good and the immigrants came from Bohemia and Germany. Strong farming stock. They had to be, the conditions were harsh in the winters but the land was good and yielding. You can tell where old farms have been and gone by the old Lilac bushes and Daffodils and stuff that are just out there in the middle of nowhere.
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I had not been all the way around that trail before and I doubt I would try it in summer but it would be lovely in the Fall. I must remember that.