A Visit to a Bakery

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Photo buddy, Julie, and I sometimes wander around in the Amish areas close to where we live. As I have written before, I have a curiosity about their lifestyle. Also, our own neighborhood can feel mundane after a while and I seek the unique to photograph. Julie and I found this bakery in early spring, before they opened for the season. Because we love baked goods, a recent outing was kind of structured around returning.  On that outing I bought a cinnamon roll, raisin bread, and some molasses cookies. And I knew I needed to return.

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JB & I decided to go last Saturday morning because they serve coffee and sell fresh doughnuts on Saturdays. I decided that JB and I could split one because we are both watching what we eat and fried doughnuts aren’t on the okay list. I took one bite of the one he chose and was lost in total bliss. It went straight to the pleasure center of my brain – like I had stuffed it through a needle into a vein. No splitting one this time. I chose a sugar coated one, that was still a little warm and soft and yeasty inside.

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Fried Pies

They make a wonderful raisin bread that we had as french toast Sunday morning – a real treat. JB bought (and ate – but who is keeping track) one of their fried pies – not my favorite. The bakery is a part of a working Amish farm so we stood around outside eating our goodies, drinking coffee, and watching what was happening. And I took a few photos.

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Harnessed and waiting to work.

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Older son mowing the lawn

I wonder if going for a Saturday morning drive in the country will become a ritual? I think I can smell doughnuts and it is only Monday.

Strolling to the Beginning

20160506-DSC_0012It was a beautiful Spring day here in Michigan  in early May and we decided to explore the Meridian Baseline State Park, just a few miles from where we live. Our goal was to see the state baseline and meridian survey marker. I was eager because the survey witness markers that Julie and I see as we travel dirt roads fascinate me and this felt like going to the beginning – the starting point.

What I was expecting was a parking lot on the corner of Baseline and Meridian Roads, and not far from the parking lot there would be a concrete post, maybe a little bit bigger than the ones I see at other country road corners, with some markings that designate it as special – the beginning point of all surveyed plots in this part of the state.

I was wrong. What we found was a trail about 3/4 of a mile long through an early Spring woods. The markers were not anything like I expected and the stroll through the woods made me smile deep down in my soul. It brought back so many memories of Spring erupting after long dead winters. I experienced my own sense of revival as I witnessed the earth’s revival. The spark of excitement is still there when I see the gentle green undergrowth in the woods that yesterday looked so dead. Come along with me on our stroll through the woods so you can feel that excitement, too.

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The sun was warm and the air was cool and I could smell the moist soil that had been frozen not too long ago. There is a special scent to soil and plants that are coming alive after a long dormancy – those who grew up with it have it as part of their DNA. It is the scent of hope and faith; it quickens the spirit. And muddies our shoes.

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Lynn warned us to wear old shoes because the path could be muddy and she was right. There were places where we had to jump small streams at low spots in the trail and places where I was afraid I was going to have my shoes sucked off by the mud. It is this type of adventure that excites my spirit but panics my aging joints and muscles.

Gary and JB marched along at a good pace, but Lynn and I just strolled – stopping to look at wild flowers and critter holes and interesting bits of nature. Lynn even kicked over a dead stump to help it in it’s quest to return to the soil. Actually she wasn’t really being so noble – she did it because she could and it was fun.

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

I stopped frequently to take photos of this and that – everything that was beautiful and excited my senses. Not all of my photos were sharp and perfectly focused – but they are beautiful because of the memories they evoke and the intellect they stimulate. This is the joy of being a hobbyist photographer.

When we came to the end of the westward path we had to decide to go right or left – we chose right, the wetter of the two paths. The marker was not far away and I was surprised to see how big it was and that it was horizontal instead of vertical.

20160506-DSC_0046Joseph Wampler was the one  who completed the surveys to intersect the meridian and baseline so roads and land plots could be mapped out. The survey of lower Michigan had been started in the early 1800’s but abandoned because the land was so poor and difficult that the surveyor didn’t think it was worth enough to spend money on. Lower Michigan was a mosquito infested swamp. When Wampler finished the project in 1824, this marker was raised up because the water rose and fell according to season and rainfall.

For unknown reason, Wampler did a second survey and placed another marker almost a thousand feet south of the original marker (at the end of the left path) – in a dryer location.

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Because land had already been sold using the first marker, it was decided that both would be used. The Michigan survey continued through 1856 using the northern marker for land east of the meridian and the southern marker for land to the west. I had always wondered why the roads going east and west make a jog of about a thousand feet. Now I know the rest of the story.

The Last Morning Swing

Morning Bliss

This morning we left for our yearly Snowbird migration. Autumn has been slow in coming to Michigan so I’m not sure I was ready to go. Yesterday I sat on my purple porch swing for the last time – until next spring. I held my cup of coffee with both hands to keep them warm, with the morning sun shining on my face, absorbing every sight and sound and smell because this is my happy spot – this is where I make sure “I’m in my groove for the day.”

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JB and I had many discussions about when to pull the morning glory vines. We had a very cool spring, going well into summer, so the morning glories started blooming just a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to keep them as long as possible because there is nothing more beautiful than the clear blue silky blossom opening to the morning sun. There were hundreds of buds so it pained me to pull them before our first frost – but JB did the job two days ago and I missed them yesterday. We did a lot of cutting back of my perennials so the garden will be neat and tidy when the plants come back to life with new sprouts in the spring. It seems strange to resist cutting back plants that still have a bloom or two while at the same time being excited as I think about how my garden will fill in next year. JB doesn’t feel as sentimental about the plants – but I said don’t cut so we (I) will have some more cleaning to do when we fly back for the holidays.

We are not the only ones planning our southern migration. I went out early Sunday morning to photograph some fall color and heard a flock of Sand Hill Cranes in a corn field. They make a big noise – and then they took off in a southerly direction looking for another field.

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This was my second early morning outing in the past week – because Michigan is my happy place where the change in seasons excites me and nourishes my soul. I especially like everything about fall.

As I was wandering down a farm lane last week, I realized that I needed to soak up all that fall has to offer because my winter home has entirely different delights. One way that I work to keep myself from getting depleted by what I have lost or don’t have is to thoroughly enjoy what I have when I have it. So I focused all my senses on that very moment. These are the simple pleasures that I will miss in the coming months. I hope they trigger a happy spot for you as you add the sounds and smells to the sights I provide – and don’t forget to feel the cool morning air on your face.

You can find other Happy Places at The Daily Post.

My Dot on the Map: Winter Cheer

MSU Bird Sanctuary 122-2I tried to put a pretty wreath around his neck but he protested. My heart was filled with cheer when he agreed to a photo shoot anyway.

My Dot on the Map: In Celebration of Ordinary

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Waterloo Bird Sanctuary

Southern Michigan doesn’t have many grand vistas – especially at my dot on the map half way between the Great Lakes to the east and west. Within a couple of hours I can reach Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie but even there the vistas aren’t the same as where there are mountain ranges, great gorges or vast deserts.

maple dale 045-2Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that friend Julie and I go out once a week in pursuit of the perfect photograph and we can’t resist dirt roads. We sometimes stop for barns – but usually we stop in the middle of nowhere and wonder off in different directions searching for nature’s wonders along the farmer’s fields or on the edges of the many small ponds and marshes. We always stop for interesting light.

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We get lost on these outings  – sometimes geographically, but always emotionally. Time slows down – there is no rush, nothing from the future calls me. I get lost in seeing new beauty in ordinary time. My eyes stop looking for the big picture and begin to focus on what is lost in sweeping landscapes.

Waterloo 150I begin to see nature unfolding in this moment, in this space. Simple beauty designed by the changing seasons instead of a person’s hands.

We don’t have to travel far to find new images to capture because the spaces we walk are always changing. There is always new beauty to celebrate.

I am feeling sadness today because tomorrow we are leaving on our winter migration south. I don’t think I’m quite ready to leave Michigan Autumn. My body will appreciate the warmer winter climate and maybe I will begin to recognize and celebrate the seasonal change at my new dot on the map in Southern Florida. I’ll be looking for it.