Posts Tagged ‘vacation’


When I think of my childhood summers,
I remember lying in the grass, hands behind my head,
feeling the blades dig into my fingers. I studied the clouds.
I joked with my friends. None of us wore watches. 
Mitch Albom, Author

I remember that too. Especially the lying in the grass on the front lawn of my Grandpa Thompson’s country farm outside of tiny Eleva, Wisconsin. My brothers and I would do that as the night time darkness crept in around us, before we were called into the  non-electric farmhouse that had been home to mom and her dozen other siblings in the 1920’s through the forties.

There was something especially good about feeling that cool grass under us (until the mosquitoes chased us away). It was mesmerizing to watch the twinkling stars appear overhead. My two brothers and I rolled around, talked, tickled and teased each other, and it was a good place for us to be. That is for sure.

Each summer in the early 1950s, once school was out, we returned to grandpa’s farm for the summer time. Mom was there to help with the hand-wringing weekly laundry, the bread making that rose in large dish pans and baked in the wood stove and the general cleaning and house upkeep, and gardening including lots of canning which provided for my grandpa and his brother through the winter time.

We had chores as well, bringing the cows home to milk, collecting the hens’ eggs, berry picking and not coming home until all the buckets were filled to the top. Yet there was lots of open time for field trips (literally in grandpa’s fields), playing in the grainery (don’t know how safe that was!), the hay barn, the mud puddles (we always went outside in the rain), walks, down the two-tire track road to collect the mail, and further yet with fishing poles in hand to fish for minnows in the creek for bait for the adults’ bigger fishing trips on the lakes.

When grandpa traded in his harnessed pair of working horses for a grey and red Ford tractor, my brothers and I learned to drive that too, had a few incidences of falling off the hay wagon, and sometimes caught the breezes at the top or near to the top of our favorite “stepping-ladder” pines that grew behind the  farmhouse.  The wind made a special sound when you got high enough. I continue to be grateful to the guardian angels that kept our treks safe from falling.

Thrashing time was the best time of all. When a group of neighboring farmers shared the one thrashing machine between them, and traveled to each farm to bring the crop in. The farmers’ wives came along to each farm home, and prepared the best meal you are ever going to have, fresh baked from the oven from meat entre’ to fresh cooked vegetables and breads, topped off with the best fruit pies of the season and one large communal meal of hungry field hands and hubbies. (and us!)

Regular time lunch times always featured grandpa Thompson listening to the price reports of grains, hogs and things on the old-time radio, which was set just below the newest “modern” addition to the kitchen — the ring up the operator in town party line telephone.  The operator who plugged in the switches into the board.  Sometimes, we would (when no one was around) quietly lift the phone to see if we could gain some gossip on the party line neighbors, but usually we got caught by either the person we were listening to or the arrival of mom.  Grandpa finished his lunch time with a nap in his naugahyde brown recliner in the large open kitchen corner, falling asleep with the newspaper falling over his chest,  his glasses perched on his forehead, his eyes closing wearily and a soft snoring sound sifting into the room.

Since milking time came early, bed times did too. Usually preceded by a kerosene lamp-lit kitchen with a few card games at the oil-cloth covered large kitchen table. If it was a special occasion, we moved to the sitting room and dancing would spontaneously erupt as grandpa grabbed his  violin, my uncle added his  juice harp, and one of my aunt’s played the piano.

This life was like a cross between Andy Griffith’s Mayberry and Laura Engle Wilder’s life on the prairie.

We would return to small town life in Sycamore Illinois in late August, regrouping with our elementary school age friends, knowing that ours was a little bit different summer than the one they experienced, but one not to be traded in for anything.

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The larger plan for this blog is to “one day” collect selected stories from my soon to be fourth year of faithful posts and put them into a bound edition for my children and grandchildren….a legacy to leave behind of my thoughts, dreams, family heritage, spiritual life, fun and games, things I cherish, and “what you didn’t know” tales.

If publishing holds no larger plan for me, that will be enough.

So I must include this June  vacation time with Kathleen and Greg’s family at Dufina Cottage.  Laura was unable to come because of her work schedule, but Carl and Amy joined Tom and me for three days of adventure and fun.

Just like Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robbin, we got up each day for our adventure on Mackinac Island (they were in the Hundred Acre Woods) and we found fun and beauty everywhere and lots of good eats on our island adventures.




We found playgrounds and board walks and the butterfly house.



Swinging by the bridge


Butterfly house

My butterfly


Butterfly House gorgeous lilies

Walking trails and scenic views.






No matter the weather, we stick together!


No Matter the weather

Flowers and gardens abound.

Walking buddy in the Grand Hotel Gardens


Behind the flowers

Petal Beauty



At the Secret Garden

Pilgrims among the lilacs.


Morning time on the labyrinth in the Grand Hotel gardens.

Another Labyrinth, Grama


Good eats and family fun at Dufina Cottage.

Dufina and Amy


Piano and OnLine Time

Kathleen and Greg and Devon and Andrew and their friends were on their bikes — A LOT, thus a lack of photos of them.   They braved the windiest day EVER on Mackinac Island.

Greg  Bike Trails

Kathleen skydiving


Devon called us to ask when we were arriving:


telephone callls

And then, watched for our boat to arrive.

Family Looking for Us to Arrive

The three days went by quickly. Tom and I celebrated our 49th Wedding Anniversary on Thursday night and were treated to a delicious ribs dinner by Susan and Kathleen.  Joe also ventured on very early morning bike rides and captured this beautiful sunrise over Lake Huron.

Early Morning Sky on Mackinac - Joe


And this photo of beautiful wife, Susan at beautiful Arch Rock!

Beautiful Susan at Beautiful Arch Rock

Yet there were times techy communication won out over the outdoors.


But there was always…..ice cream!



Not to forget the horses and fairy tale weddings.


And then….it was over like the clock striking midnight….

Walking Together

But here is Amy’s “Going Back to Mommy” smile on the ferry boat!

Ferry smile



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Lilacs - Brenda HortonPhoto by Brenda Horton

View toward St Ann's - Brenda HortonPhoto by Brenda Horton

In just a few days, Tom and I will return to Mackinac Island for a few days stay with our family at Dufina Cottage, a long-standing June vacation tradition. We, however, have not been up there for a few years and are looking forward to the beauty, sounds and activities of the island.

Our daughter, Kathleen and her family are into their week on the island and awaiting our arrival on Wednesday.  Well, not exactly awaiting…..

Andrew is flying kites….


Devon is getting sunburned….


and making “collect calls”….ha ha, get it?

telephone callls

Kathleen is skydiving….

Kathleen skydiving

and Greg has taken to the midnight bike trails, as is tradition….

Greg  Bike Trails

So all of that is a lot of fun, but they just can hardly wait for us to get there!  See, they are looking for us now.

Family Looking for Us to Arrive

We’ll be right there!

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