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A Love Affair
February 09, 2015
Thank you for being the best you.
This coming Saturday is Valentine's Day.
Karen likes it,
I've never been big on the idea.
I can wine and dine, buy flowers or candy any time for my bride, why do I need a special day.
I look at it as another day for florists, card shops, retailers, and restaurants, to grab at my hard earned money
And jack up the prices to boot.
That said, I am going to share with you a bit of a love story.
When I was six years old, we moved from suburbia (Wyoming, a burb of Grand Rapids), to the country.
By the country, I'm talking gravel roads, fields of corn, and working farms.
One, and two room school houses.
Cows, chickens, pigs, and horses.
Bare feet, and all the adventure, and learning possibilities you can want.
The fourth of seven kids (eventually eight, seven boys, one girl), we weren't lonely.
The difference in lifestyle didn't take long for a boy to get used to.
What boy wouldn't like running around barefoot, and cut off shorts?
Watching birds and catching frogs.
A big difference from city to country, was the toughness level.
We had to learn fast, if we were to fit in.
My level of 'Pansy' had to be removed in a hurry.
We had to toughen up to fit in around the little town of Dorr, MI. and the countryside.
I was blessed to have a few boys my age live nearby (1/4 to 1/2 mile is nearby).
There are many things I have forgotten, or can't recall, but I do remember all the birds, and my dad's love for a large garden.
Little did I know at that time, some budding romances were started.
One of the few things I got, or learned from my dad was gardening.
With fond memories I go back in my mind to help dad plant peas, and corn.
Plant radish seeds with the carrot seeds, as the radishes are quick to germinate, and are done well before the carrots are really growing.
Keep the weeds out, they take away from the desired plants.
Besides, a tidy garden is a healthy garden.
Use lots of pesticides to keep the bugs away (something i later learned is not a good thing).
I couldn't wait to plant and watch things grow.
Finally, I was pretty much on my own to plant, run the rototiller, and harvest.
I've had a little garden ever since, even in the city.
We went from pigeons, sparrows and robins in suburbia, to birds I have never seen before.
Red-Headed Woodpeckers, Bluebirds, Bobwhite Quail, and Meadowlarks.
Sadly all of them slowly disappeared as habitat shrank and House sparrows and Starlings took over.
(Bluebirds are on the comeback thanks to human assistance).
There were also Chickadees, Northern cardinals, other woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Killdeer, and a slew of other birds that caught my fancy.
By age 12, I constructed my first crude platform feeder.
I ruined mom's hand crank meat grinder to grind up Field corn and Indian corn to feed the birds.
It's amazing how many birds during the day, and rabbits at night the ground up corn would attract.
A few years later, my parents finally bought a couple of feeders and the rest was history.
My parents even planted shrubs to attract the birds, for nesting and food.
I would spend long moments just watching the birds.
I would even try to help any wounded bird (some success).
By the early 1970's the bird feeding industry was starting to grow.
A Young Boy's Dream World.
Behind this boyhood home was a small woods, with a tiny spring fed stream running through it.
What fun we had, exploring every inch, and climbing as many trees as possible.
The little stream fed into a small wetland and into a larger creek.
The wildlife a wetland (even a little one) is home to.
Birds, frogs, dragonflies and countless other creatures.
Still, there were new worlds to discover.
Over the hill.
Beyond a cornfield.
Just the other side of the Christmas tree farm.
There were other woods and fields to explore and conquer.
With friends or brothers, we would take off to unknown lands (maybe 12 to a mile away).
Can you imagine the treasures we found, we we came across an old dump site (common back then)?
A first visit to a sugar shack and a first taste of real maple syrup, or candy.
Exploring a wild land with many unknowns.
Wildflowers, like Trillium, Dutchman's breeches, Bloodroot, Jack in the Pulpit and more.
Babbling brooks and creeks became the Amazon River.
Blue racer snakes though harmless, became man eaters to avoid.
Grapevines the size of your arm became Tarzan vines.
A chance glimpse at a deer was reason to stop dead in your tracks (there weren't as many deer back then).
Woodlands and fields were full of unknown birds.
I may have had to go home and clean out the pants once, after a hen pheasant takes flight right between my legs one time.
There right below me was a brooding nest of about a dozen eggs.
Unknowingly, A Romance Continues To Grow.
As I grew, from young boy, teenager, and into adulthood, I slowly realized the pull on my heart and soul.
A strong desire to learn more about my natural surroundings, and eventually my 'Creator'.
Many hours were spent alone, often without my parents knowing where I was (different times).
I love nature, especially birds.
I was also getting more into landscaping and designs.
In my early 40's I finally learned more about our heart's desires, dreams, and where they come from.
Very few people learn, and plan for this, I was no exception.
My parents were of no help, they simply wanted us to grow healthy and leave home:-)
I Studied more, took some classes and tests.
I am a 'Michigan Certified Nurseryman' and a 'Master Naturalist'.
Both served me well while I worked the Garden Center, and gave a few lectures.
(I don't think that means a whole lot, but I do have the certifications that say so.)
God's gifts to each of us, our own special and unique gift, or talents.
Sure, you may love gardening, or nature too, but your gifts aren't exactly like mine.
Nor, are mine quite like yours.
Karen and I actually owned and ran our own little 'Backyard Birders, Nature and Gift Store' for several years.
Burnout and Yolanda were major factors for closing shop.
Even then, there had to be more.
By the time I reached my 50's, I was in a full blown 'Love Affair'.
Through learning, and following my heart's desire, (passions for God's Fragile Balance, and Natural Beauty fill me.) I Started a little website and this newsletter.
Originally I was looking for a small online business, but found it to be more important to share with others like you, and to establish relationships and friendships.
To share a love of nature, and my Creator.
Possibly help out a few people along the way.
That is more important than money.
I am so honored and blessed by this, and I am learning from you as well.
A love affair that started out like a giddy teen-aged boy, has grown into a mature, deeper love, that continues to grow.
A love I can share with others.
I now understand the need for not just birds, but butterflies, and other insects.
I understand the need to have a native, furry critters running around.
The need for replacing introduced (non native) plants, with native plant life.
I continue to learn about the balance of nature.
The circle of life.
How we are to play an important role in it all.
'Time Began in a Garden', The first people were made stewards of it all.
You and I are responsible folk, or should be for our surroundings.
That means native plants, to assist native wildlife.
Feed the bugs, that feed the birds (Nature's Balance).
Responsible care of the land and water (no man made pollutants, and harsh chemicals).
This 'Love Affair' I have with all of nature was allowed to bud and grow.
Only you can truly nurture your passions.
Many times our dreams are squelched or kept hidden (fear mostly).
This will lead to frustration and spread to other parts of your life.
God gives you and me these special gifts.
However, it is up to you and me to discover, and develop this gifts and talents.
Gardening, sports, medicine, retail, mechanic, etc.
You don't become good, or the best at anything, without putting forth the time and effort.
I do believe that if a person truly follows their dream, it can turn into a livelihood.
A job that isn't work, because you love what you do.
'A Love Affair'.
You just learned a bit more about me, and my 'Love Affair' with all of 'Nature'.
I left a lot out, but hopefully you get the idea from this truncated version.
Not a typical newsletter, but possibly fitting for Valentines Day.
Do you have a special 'Love Affair' going on?
Can you help someone you know grow their own special gifts.
Never say never.
Don't forget to register and participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 13.-16.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
“The easiest thing to be in the world is you.
The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be.
Don't let them put you in that position.”
I truly would have loved to have met this man.
Be your own person.
Follow your own dreams and heart.
From the good book.
"Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
"May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed."
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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