Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics and Gardening, what you say?

My philosophical take on Olympics.
Anyone that planted a garden this spring here in Michigan has had some sort of surprise. The early warm spell followed by freezing temperatures and then the hot dry weather of summer has caused all sorts of challenges. When to water, how much to water, where are the pollinating bees? No matter what I do how come the beans don't grow? Why are those cute little rabbits and ground hogs performing their own harvest of my veggies? I can only attempt to imagine how these conditions affect those farmers who depend on crops for a living. A friend who raises "grass fed" cattle to augment his income is bringing them to slaughter several months and a few hundred pounds early because without rain there is no grass to feed them. A loss of thousands of dollars. Multiply that into unimaginable costs for a full time rancher or farmer. Billions of dollars across the country. They'll make it through somehow, they've done it before, they are stubborn, hard working and resilient. It won't be easy but they will. And that is my point.

During this time of Olympic competition I am constantly reminded lately of what it takes to overcome and conquer the opposition. Olympians usually require training throughout their lives, constantly moving toward the next goal to gain the strength to persevere and win against the odds. (wasn't there a movie about that a while ago?) It is never more evident than at the world games just starting. Going full circle here: it is the constant battle of unexpected challenges that tests our mettle and brings us to succeed in our every day lives. If our lives run smoothly, as nice as that may sound, we learn nothing really. We watch the Olympics and cheer, yet we are surrounded by people who every day overcome obstacles just to get through the day. Strong people, brave people, determined, unselfish people of character who strive to make this a better world. Sometimes we forget them because they don't wear bikini's and play beach volleyball or grease up for swimming or jump higher than anyone else. We meet them every day, they are all around us.

I enjoy the Olympics. They remind me of the struggles we all face. When it comes to winning or losing, that's the way life is. Score: beans-0  zucchini-a gazillion

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Riding up the hill into Pentwater I was greeted by a neat little sign that read: "Welcome to Pentwater." Swell, I thought. This is going to be a real treat riding through yet another quaint little lake shore burg. The streets were lined with nicely manicured lawns with beautifully appointed homes painted in bright, happy colors nested in the middle of them. I was impressed! Rising to the top of the hill I saw on my left a magnificent church, pure white, tall steeple, wide, double door, welcoming entrance atop a dozen steps or so. Must have been a couple generations old but beautifully maintained and with hundreds of stories to tell I am sure. St. Vincents was the name and I snapped several pictures. Then proceeded down the hill. The side of the rode became lined with vehicle towing boats awaiting their turn at the launch site. The view opened up and I was amazed to see so many of those boats already in the water and to my eye leaving very little, if any room for even one more. That was only the beginning. Turning right onto the main downtown street was another enlightening experience, now I didn't think that "quaint" quite properly described this teaming little metropolis of tourist attractions. Store after store lined the street on both sides, car were moving at a snails pace in bumper to bumper fashion, no doubt looking for the next parking space so they too could visit one of those stores and bring home some priceless artifact of memorabilia. People happily scampering across the road back and forth so as not to miss a single retail establishment. I have to admit the excitement was catching and fun although I myself did not enter a shop. Just all this smiling faces and cheerful voices after a long solitary ride seemed a nice contrast. Making my way between the traffic and then going West to the state park and beach I saw car after car lining the street with people lifting the trunks to fetch their chairs for the long walk to the shore. The beach itself was packed to overflowing with those same happy, sun loving folks out for a days enjoyment and perhaps just a touch of a tan. No room for me to stop to relax really so I returned to main street and headed North out of town. It was rather a shock as to how fast the people disappeared behind the very first turn and the vision I had of a quaint little town unfolded before my eyes right down to another park at the Northern border with a sign welcoming everyone to Pentwater. Nothing saying good bye though. I guess they don't want you to leave. Another two miles of smooth riding and I met up with my ride home at the entrance to US 31. Can't wait for the next time, it's been great riding weather lately too......................Joe

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mile after mile rolled under my tires. I felt at times that I was on some sort of physical endurance test. The hills undulated relentlessly along this shoreline roadway. Wooded areas followed by sandy, grass covered meadows and then a creek would flow under the road with cattails and water lilies growing everywhere in the small ponds. Moving, even slowly limited my view of animal life but I almost nailed a groundhog I think with my front tire. Maybe it was a beaver but I didn't get a look at any flat tail. (It wasn't a platypus though, that's for sure. I didn't get that far off course.) A small unnamed town of closely nestled cottages sent me through it's streets twisting and turning to avoid huge trees, rocks and deep gorges with the buildings set amongst them as if pieces of an intricate puzzle. When it comes to the lake shore people can certainly become ingenious and tolerant just to be close to that jewel of nature. Picturesque doesn't even come close to this little town. But, I never saw a name. I plan on looking it up one of these days when I reminisce. Onward once again and the undulating hills returned along with more intense curves but the road itself was very smooth with only the occasional pothole. The fruitless orchards I passed between were a sad legacy of this unpredictable unusually hot spring, cold snap, and then the hot and dry summer. Not what we usually see: Branches bent with the sweet abundance of this area and the stands on the roadside touting boxes overflowing with dark mouth watering cherries. Nope, not this year. Somehow we'll make it. We always have. A long steady dropping turn to the left and I came across the bridge into Pentwater. Two guys leaning over the railing, cheering loudly and hauling in a huge fish from the channel. Might have been a cat, might have been any of a dozen other species. Huge will do in this case. Civilization came at me with the speed of light. More Later..........Joe

Monday, July 23, 2012

My life of late can be described in one word: "Suddenly." Any minute can bring an unexpected change. Sometimes disappointment, other times, such as this Sunday morning, excitement and happiness. Responsibilities and priorities appeared to eliminate any hope to further my goal of riding my bicycle around Lake Michigan for this particular weekend. I'd have to stick close to home and limit my riding to short runs around the neighborhood. Saturday was spent on errands and chores at home and work. Things that needed to be done but not necessarily then. Mixed with a quick 2 or 3 mile ride here or there just to keep up the spirit of adventure. Sunday dawned with me puttering in the yard in an attempt to keep the lawn from turning that sickly yellow of dormancy we see everywhere in the drought like conditions so far this summer. I find it cooling and relaxing to accomplish my work in the dark and early morning of the day. On Sundays it is an excellent time for prayer also. Then it was the shower and dressing for church. I had no idea what would come after that. I have learned not to plan. My choices of options are limited right now. After church I spoke at length with an acquaintance about a new car purchase and what services we offered at my shop. Then home to the news that the planets had aligned and I better suit up to travel on that bike ride. I was surprised and elated as well as stunned but not so much as to slow me down from being ready to go and out the door within 10 minutes at the most. Off we rode to Mears where I had stopped last week, Jumped on the bike, retraced a few miles almost to Silver Lake and turned North heading toward Pentwater if I could make it that far. My legs hadn't quite recuperated from the previous week's ride. The rode was hilly and a curve was always within sight. Narrow as it was there were plenty of other daring souls riding bicycles along the route as well. This time I made sure the camera worked and I took a few pictures. It didn't slow me down too much and the scenery is so spectacular I felt I needed some sort of visual memory of it or else I may forget that something so beautiful really exists so close to home.

Those responsibilities are fast approaching so I will leave some other talk about this til next time.........Joe
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