Fall on the marsh

Sunday, October 3, 2021

More 2021 Fall Colors at Rib Mountain

For years we have talked about going to see the fall colors from Rib Mountain in Wausau, Wisconsin.  Fall colors are so hard to predict.  A person can watch the color map diligently and still miss the peak color.  We have planned trips and then a big wind or rain storm would blow through and spoil the beautiful colors.  So when my daughter called to see if I was interested in going this year, I said absolutely yes.  Then I started watching the weather forecast.  Of course, we had gorgeous weather all week but the weather persons said the weekend would be cloudy and a 50/50 chance of rain.  It is one hundred miles to Wausau from my house.  It's a long way to go only to be disappointed by bad weather.  It took my eleven year old grandson to say, "let's just go! It will be fun anyway."  So we did.  My daughter Heather and her son Ewan picked up both grandmas, and we headed "up north".  

It was sunny and very warm when we left, but the weather can change dramatically in a hundred miles.  I would see some clouds in the distance and think things will change soon.  I'm usually not such a pessimist, but it has happened too many times.  It's Wisconsin after all.  The temperature has been in the 80's which is strange for October.  We even saw several lilac bushes full of blossoms and very few leaves.  Lilacs bloom in May in Wisconsin, not October.  Another sign global warming is real?

I'm happy I was so very wrong and so were the weather people.  The day and the weather were perfect.

We pulled into the Granite Peak ski area about one o'clock.  We had stopped for lunch earlier because we didn't know how long we would be at the park. 

We had reserved tickets online, but needed to go to the ticket counter to get our wrist bands.  The line was quite long, but it moved along.  It's always fun to people watch.  We could watch others leaving on the chair lift and returning so we knew exactly what we were doing by the time we reached the front of the line.


Before we knew it we were next in line.  Anyone who skis knows how this works, but this was only the second time I had been on a chair lift.  My husband and my daughters skied, but I did not.  I would go along sometimes and sit in the lodge with hot chocolate and my knitting.  My niece got married at a beautiful ski resort in Michigan, and the guests were taken to the top of the hill by a ski lift.  That was also a beautiful day. 

The trip up the mountain was great.  We stopped a couple times and it felt like the top of a ferris wheel, swaying in the breeze a bit.  On the way we stopped right to the side of some trees.  In the trees were some beads, several pairs of shoes and even a bright red bra.  I saw several people riding barefooted but I thought they just didn't want their flip flops falling off.  Maybe they threw their shoes onto the trees.  Seems to be a pretty expensive prank.  As for the bra...um, I didn't look to see where that came from.  

There were beautiful trees along the way.  The sumac was bright red, the birch trees were yellow and other trees were various shades of red, orange and gold.  It was a beautiful contrast to the trees that were still green.  

When we reached the top, we could stay on the chair lift and return or get off and explore for a while.  We got off.  Rib Mountain State park has a lot of trails and big rock formations.  Ewan was in his glory being the mountain man that he is.

There were stone steps and pretty ground cover.  People were hiking and running the trails.  It would be a great place to visit without the ride on the ski lift.  

The view of Wausau from the top was breathtaking.  Pictures don't do it justice.  I could never capture the real beauty of the area.

Eventually we returned to the lift and headed back.  It was just as much fun going back down.  

It was a wonderful warm and sunny day.  I am so grateful for the family I have and that they include me in their life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Fall Excursion To Old World Wisconsin

It's funny how it happens.  September comes around, and we think of all the things we wanted to do during the summer months but didn't.  My daughters' family (especially her son Ewan) have wanted to visit Old World Wisconsin for quite some time.  Old World Wisconsin is located in the Kettle Moraine State forest near Eagle, Wisconsin.  Fall is a great time to go because the admission tickets are discounted, and the crowds are diminished.  They are only open on weekends September to the middle of October.  Anyone who knows me or has read this blog has been introduced to my youngest grandson Ewan.  He is interested in all things old.  Maybe that's why he shows so much love to his grandparents.  He even has his own YouTube channel called Old Time Skills. Visiting Old World Wisconsin was a no-brainer for him.  I haven't been there for almost 40 years.  I really wanted to return after reading the book Old World Murders by Kathleen Ernst.  The story takes place at Old World Wisconsin and the Eagle, Wisconsin area.  Some things have changed and improved over the years, but very old things that were old then are still old.  There are a few upgrades but overall the layout is the same.  They have trams instead of wagons to move people from village to village.  They have upgraded and improved the gardens and fencing while still keeping in the period.  There are a few new buildings being created.  One is a tap house and brewing complex.  A 115 year old tavern building was donated and is being moved to the site along with the fixtures.  I'm not sure when that will be opened.

After we got our tickets, we started up the first path we saw.  The first building was a Wheelmen's Club.  They were letting people ride the big old fashioned bikes, so Ewan took his turn.  It was a little chilly at first and we bundled up, but soon it became a perfect temperature for a fall day.  No mosquitoes either.

There were some old fashioned yard games to play.  The rolling hoop was very popular.  They could play catch or race across the grass rolling the hoop as fast as possible.

Walking down the the gravel road gave the effect of how it was with no paved roads or traffic.   We decided to take a path less traveled and headed off trail toward the Scandinavian section.

There were Finnish, Danish and Norwegian homesteads in this area.  They are quite a distance apart so we definitely got our steps in.  The houses were quite similar in their construction.  Since we are of Danish heritage, we spent a little extra time at the Danish homestead.  My son in law made a joke about being "Dane-ish" and not full blooded Danes.  I guess he is right but 23 & Me told me I am 33.6% Danish.

The gardens were almost harvested but they still had herbs, lavender and some strawberry plants.  The next house along the path was the 1860's Norwegian Immigrant farm.  They had beautiful sheep.  This home had a costumed staff member who answered questions about the building and instructed us on sheep shearing, how to card the wool and demonstrated the spinning wheel.  

After the sheep are sheared, the dirty wool is washed and carded to make the fibers long to get them ready for spinning.  A little like combing hair.

The spun wool is then dyed with natural dyes and hung outside to dry.  It is now ready to knit, crochet or weave.

As we worked our way to all three of the villages, we enjoyed what each of them had to offer.  There were fancy fences from the Hessian and Pomeranian houses, farm animals and interesting buildings.

This Polish house had very interesting construction and the honoring of their strong religion beliefs..

It was a beautiful fall day, and I am so grateful to my family for including me.  Ewan got a first hand look at what it was like to live as an early immigrant in Wisconsin.  Part of it was appealing imagining a life away from the rat race of today.  That is where it ends. Posing for a picture is one thing, but imagine having to walk a hundred yards to the privy in a blizzard without any Charmin. 

Or having to tend to the animals in hot humid conditions with the flies and smell.  Even when human food was scarce, the animals had to be fed.

The day ended with Ewan being able to make an item in the leather shop.  A lot of memories were made.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Transition from Summer To Fall

The ending of summer and the beginning of fall brings many chores to be accomplished.  It means putting away the porch furniture, making sure our heating systems are in good shape and bringing all those beautiful plants indoors.  I call it a chore because I never know where to put them all, and I know they won't look as lush and healthy as they do after a summer with proper temperatures and humidity.  I just hope I can make them survive through the winter.


Another thing I do (and it really isn't a chore either) is to go to the cemeteries to pick up the flower baskets that get placed there every spring.  I still put flowers on my parents', my grandparents', my great grandparents' graves and an unmarried aunt and uncle of mine.  It is something my parents took pride in, and I continue to do it although not to the extent they did.  

This fall my daughter went with me for the cemetery visit.  The cemeteries are a two hour drive, and it was nice to remember and tell stories of relatives to my daughter, many of whom she never met.  A friend of mine reminded me to start writing some of those stories down because a lot of them will die with me.  This was evident in the old section of one of the cemeteries.  Only one other grave had flowers in that section.  A lot of the stones have eroded away and can't even be read.  I am sure there are no living relatives for many of those souls.

The other cemetery we visited is out in the country.   It is a small serene place that felt very calm and comforting.  My mother's father, mother, grandmother, grandfather and her sister are buried in this area.  Her only remaining brother passed away almost three years ago and his family placed a beautiful stone near the family plot.  As long as his wife is alive, they will keep the ashes.  Then they both will be buried in this location.  I take a basket of flowers there every year and in the past have tried to plant some perennials and even a lilac bush or two.  I planted hostas which got eaten immediately by the deer.  I planted irises which lived but only bloom for a short period of time and the lilac bushes disappeared.  They probably died or got cut down somehow.  My parents would be so sad.  Every year they would take several hours cleaning up the area, raking out the weeds and then put down a new layer of white rock.  Hopefully next spring I can go in with a plan to bring this area back to looking fresh and loved.


While we were there, my daughter noticed a bronze flag holder with an emblem in back of my grandmother's stone and facing away.  I never met her.  My mother's mom died in 1938 two weeks before she turned 50. It is the exact age my oldest daughter is now.  My grandmother had given birth to ten children, and my mom was the second youngest.  She was only thirteen when her mom died.  She had to be strong and grow up fast.  I hadn't noticed this bronze emblem before.  It says RNA and In Memoriam.


We noticed a couple others in the cemetery.  Neither of us had any idea what it was.  After a google search, I found out.  It was from the RNA or the Royal Neighbors of America.  "Royal Neighbors members have been volunteering and doing good things in their local communities for more than 125 years.  Through their programs, they help stimulate volunteerism in the neighborhoods where their members live, work, and play." 

I don't know the real story of why my grandmother had this on her grave.  With ten children and no modern conveniences, I can't imagine she had a lot of free time to volunteer.  I do think communities were very close and helped each other out.   I am so proud that the women in my family have always been so strong.   Apparently RNA is still active to this day.  

My daughter and I had a wonderful day even if it revolved around people who had passed away, and we had the best lunch ever....A & W Root Beer floats and french fries.  

From the website:  "Royal Neighbors of America (RNA) - A non-profit fraternal membership organization that offers life insurance, annuities and Medicare supplement for women.  Back in 1895 when women couldn't vote, couldn't own property, and weren't allowed to own life insurance, nine women founded Royal Neighbors of America.  It is one of the largest women-led life insurers in the nation with a message that remains important and relevant today--empowering women to better their lives through financial protection solutions and opportunities to give back to their communities.  F.E.C.M.U. stands for Faith, Endurance, Courage, Modesty and Unselfishness."