Every year, I like to do the Epiphany Home Blessing, a tradition in the Catholic Church.
Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We weren’t in Michigan last Epiphany, so the last time the house was blessed was 2021. It would be superstitious to say that it’s because it wasn’t blessed in 2022 that we had pipes burst and have to undergo major reconstruction, but…. 😉
Today is the day we finally checked out of the hotel and moved back permanently into our house! Today, Donald also found the Epiphany Home Blessing card and chalk that we got from church. Together, we blessed the home for 2023.
We are so happy to finally be back home – really home! – and are looking forward to finding new local adventures!
Donald is great at always keeping an eye on the weather for us, so we knew that it was going to snow Sunday morning. I thought it would be a lot of fun – especially for my Florida boy! – to go for a walk in the snow at one of our favorite local nature centers.
We had a nice breakfast at the hotel, then stopped by the house to grab our wet weather boots from one of our moving boxes. Next stop: the Stage Nature Center, where we had previously seen a mink playing in the Rouge River!
The snow was so beautiful on the ground and coating the branches of the trees! It was really good packing snow, too!
After living in Florida for the past few months, this was quite a change for us and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. There were a surprising number of people who were also out this morning to take a walk in the snow. We decided to take the Blackbird trail today, and it ended up snowing the entire time.
I don’t think it is possible for me to overemphasize how often one of us would exclaim, “It’s SO PRETTY!” or “Wow! Look at this, babe!”
We saw deer, ducks, and birds on our walk, but we’re particularly entranced by the trees. There are a lot of older trees here. (Above, Donald is playing among some of the taller pine trees.)
We love taking photos and recognize the importance of capturing our memories. We are trying to get better at documenting our adventures (and taking more videos!), so we played a bit with slow-mo mode. The clip below shows Donald shaking a branch to have some snow fall on him. This is towards the end of our walk, and you might be able to tell that the branches now have a good couple inches of snow on them – much more than when we began our walk!
Just after seeing some deer in the woods, we came to a hilly section of the nature center. I wanted a photo of Donald in the field, to show the scale of the terrain a bit. I think I ended up making it look like he was tiny and standing on the fence!
There had been a group of kids in a group who were geocaching when we started our walk. We didn’t want to interrupt their program, but decided to catch a few caches on our way out. There are definitely more caches out there, but we just grabbed a quick two. They are not too difficult to find; it is a fun, little “extra” that families can do together while enjoying nature.
There was just enough snow on the ground for Donald to make a snow angel. I think he did a great job!
We were out in it for a good two hours, then returned to our hotel home to warm up. We were so glad to get back to some of the things we love to do: hiking, taking pictures, and seeing the local flora and fauna.
Since this is Donald’s first Fall in Michigan, I wanted him to get the best view of the trees changing colors as possible. I had always heard about the Tunnel of Trees at the north end of the lower peninsula, but I’d never made the trip at the right time to be able to see the leaves at peak color.
We are trying to do that this year! Most years, it seems as if it is nearing peak time, but then just before you go out to see the colors, it rains a ton and all of the leaves fall off the trees and you are left with bare twigs and brown leaves to look at until spring.
They are predicting that this year the colors should be more intense, since we are having a warmer than usual end-of-summer.
One of the ways we are trying to time our trip is to look at webcams near the Tunnel of Trees (which extends from Harbor Springs to Cross Village, MI). There is a YouTube feed of the Steeple Cam Live View of Downtown Harbor Springs, MI that gives us a good look around. It seems as if most trees right now are fairly green, but the colors can change fairly quickly. We will check again in a week to see how things are progressing!
Until then, let me know what your favorite spot is to view the fall colors!
For some reason, I woke up at 5 am this morning with some very vivid memories of my Mémère’s house. Mémère was my great-grandmother – my mom’s mom’s mom.
Her house was in Madison Heights, MI on a street called Harwood, if I’m remembering correctly. It was a brick house with an extra lot to the left side, where Mémère had a bunch of raspberry plants.
When you went in the front door, the hallway would turn to the right to bring you into the living room, but immediately to the left was a low, rectangular curio cabinet. Inside, Mémère kept her collection of salt and pepper shakers. She must have had hundreds of pairs, in all different colors and shapes.
In the hallway, there was either some chairs or maybe a couch. I don’t recall this precisely, but I do remember seeing Mémère sitting down in that hallway area praying the rosary.
The living room, I think, was a light green color. On the far right wall, there were two large, oval black and white photos – each showing a portrait of a man. When I asked Mémère who they were of, she would answer “Pépé.” What I didn’t understand as a kid was that they were two different people, and that Pépé could have more than one meaning. One was our Pépé, her husband, who had passed away when I was about a week old. But the other one was Pope John Paul II, our Holy Father at the time. So, yeah, I grew up thinking that an image of the pope was my great-grandfather.
Once you turned the corner into the living room, the house went straight back. On the left were two fairly small bedrooms, and on the right just behind the living room was the bathroom.
The hallway ended in the kitchen. There was a small table on the left, the refrigerator straight ahead by the back door, the sink to the right, and the stove on the wall opposite the refrigerator. On the counter between the sink and the stove was a large toaster oven, which I thought was really cool; I had only seen the kind where the bread pops up from the top.
One of the things that Mémère was known for was always having tomato rice soup waiting for you when you came over. Mom says that it was very simple: just rice and water and tomatoes. I just remember that there was always a pot bubbling away on the stove and it was delicious. I think I added a bunch of salt to mine – I was really into a lot of salt in my food when I was younger.
Isn’t it interesting how places can leave their own imprint on you, even decades later? I could relay some of my memories of Mémère, but I think I’ll leave that for another blog post. If you have any specific memories of a loved one’s home or a special food item they made, please share in the comments.
It has been a little while since we have indulged in one of our favorite lunchtime pastimes: finding a new city park to explore. We tend to do this a little more in Tallahassee, but we have found that there are quite a few local parks in Troy which are beautiful and fun to explore – particularly in summertime. Today, we returned to the Stage Nature Center – where we had seen the mink earlier in the year – to see how it looks when everything has had a chance to green up.
This is the Rouge River, as it is here in Troy, a little more than a creek.
We only had about 30 minutes to spend at the park during my lunch hour, so we made a quick trip around the Sugar Maple loop. It was really neat to see the different colors of green in the leaves and how the sun lit up the trees. The part of the loop that we walked also had a display of the various stages of tree/forest lifecycle, with logs in various stages of decay and decomposition.
The nature center has programs in the winter/early spring where you can rent a tap for a sugar maple tree, then collect the maple syrup produced from the sap.
We spent a few minutes at this crossroads in the paths to watch some chipmunks. They are FAST little ones! One of them ran up a tree and started chittering very loudly for quite some time. At first, I didn’t know what was making that sound and ended up recording it on my Bird ID app. I’m not sure if he was mad or excited, but he certainly wanted everyone in the forest to hear what he had to say!
Just as we were about to move on from the chipmunk area, we spied four deer running parallel to our path. Donald’s phone has much better zoom on the camera and he was able to get this incredible photo.
We just did the short 0.4 mile Sugar Maple Loop today, as I only had an hour for lunch. It was really pretty and we want to come back after work one day to see what animals are active in the early evening, as well as spend more time in the back half to see if we can spot our mink friend again.
I love seeing all the different colors of green!
This was a very BIG bee on this flower. It’s in an area of the nature center which has been planted as a monarch butterfly migration station.
I love when parks make boards like this to help people know what kinds of flowers and plants are indigenous to the area, and to promote planting native plants in gardens. Sometimes, you will see a companion board, where they will inform you of invasive species in the area and ask people visiting the park to help remove the invasive species if they are seen during your walk.
This was just a quick out and back visit, but we had a lot of fun. It was great to take a break and get away from the house for a bit, as well as to enjoy the warm, sunny, non-humid weather while we have it!
You can now listen to our blog via our podcast! It is available from Anchor via Spotify, but we are also working to get it published to other podcast platforms. Don’t worry, we will be working on our audio quality as we go! Enjoy!
It has been rather chilly in Michigan these past few days, and while the temperature was still on the low side, the lack of cold winds and bright sun made it feel good to be outside.
So, when lunchtime came, Donald and I decided to make a quick trip down the road to Quarton Lake for a walk around the water.
These bright blue flowers were blooming in yards surrounding the lake. Siri thinks they are called Scilla. 😀
The birds (mostly robins) were chirping away and foraging, and the squirrels (both black and red/gray) were having fun running in and around the trees.
Quarton Lake is in the middle of a residential area in Birmingham, surrounded by large houses of varying architectural styles.
There are so many different species of pine tree here in Michigan. This one reminded me of the Torreya pines in Florida which are very rare. However, the needles on this one were a lot softer than on the Torreyas.
On the Maple Rd side of the lake, there is a small park that includes this white fish sculpture. And, of course, the waterfall. 😀
The watershed from Quarton Lake feeds into the Rouge River (or so I would assume from the signage on the bridge 😜). Some of the houses in the neighborhood were lucky enough to have the river on their backyard.
I’m no nature expert, but I think these yellow flowers may belong to a Forsythia bush.
This pine tree had thin, delicate branches with soft, short needles. Very pretty!
At the south end of the lake, there is a grist wheel and a plaque to let people know that Quarton Lake used to be called Mill Pond and was the site of a grist mill which ground grain into flour for the Birmingham community.
Just a couple of the beautiful houses surrounding the lake.
This view is from the north side of the lake. Our lunchtime walk took us completely around the lake. It was great to get out of the house for a bit and enjoy the sun on our faces!