2016-10-20 / Columns

History shows that fall color is arriving right on schedule

By LESLIE DISCH
Phone/fax 386-5686


A RARE double rainbow shone over Omena Heights Smith Orchard last week, and some gauges registered 3/4ths of an inch of rain during a thunder and heavy lightning storm that moved across the peninsula Monday morning. A RARE double rainbow shone over Omena Heights Smith Orchard last week, and some gauges registered 3/4ths of an inch of rain during a thunder and heavy lightning storm that moved across the peninsula Monday morning. The color really peaked this past week. It seemed like we went from practically no color to a full color in just days. Leading up to this, there was a lot of talk about how late the colors were, so I decided to research the Omena News archives on the subject of the fall color season. It really doesn’t sound like this year was late at all. There may or may not have been a somewhat slower start, but peak has hit about exactly the same time as previous years. Last year, this column reported that on October 12, 2015, the colors were “just starting to show”, and the October 22 column, which would have been written on October 19, reported “peak” colors.

On October 14, 2013, the colors were “nearing peak”, and the October 24 column, submitted three days earlier, reported that they were “still peak.”

Only in 2008, the first year of this columnist, was there a mention of colors starting to come out before mid-October. I often report on the weather and seasonal occurrences just for the historical perspective it provides. It’s always interesting to look back.

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Lots of people were in town to enjoy the fall color. Rink Smith and Debby Disch enjoyed seeing cousins from both sides of their family – paternal and maternal. The annual fall Rule Cottage project weekend was this past week. Eight cousins, including Omena residents Rink, Debby Disch, and Jim Wickemeyer, were here for almost a week for some work and then some well deserved relaxation. Mike and Steve Hessel were here from Oregon, Frank Huss and Luke Robinson came from Cincinnati, and John Cromartie came from Virginia.

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Rink and Debby’s cousin Marjorie Smith, who is related on their father’s side, was in town from Denver, Colo., with three of her long time friends. Marjie was joined by Katrina Drago Smith (not related), also from Denver, Kim Tanabe from Garden Valley, Idaho, and Alexandra Rockey Fleming from Arlington, Va. The four friends all attended Kubasaki High School on Okinawa in the 1970’s. Their families were stationed there right after it reverted back to Japan in 1972. They have managed to get together every few years. This is the first time they have come to Omena, and they all loved it. Their days passed quickly with swimming in the lake, wine tasting, color viewing, consignment shopping, and enjoying great meals. They took in a lot of the sights including Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm, where, of all things, they bumped into Marjie’s cousin Debby.

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Marjie’s friends’ reunion was amazingly similar to the story of the NCAC play that was in Northport last weekend, “The Dixie Swim Club.” It was about five college swim team members who got together every year. Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the production of that wonderful performance. There were many Omena residents who enjoyed it. Northport residents were well represented in its production. Karen Cross was the director; Janet Crane was Stage Manager, Production Manager, and wardrobe and props manager. Steve Wetherbee’s Northport High School Set Design and Construction Class did the set painting.

The outstanding cast of five women included three Northport residents – Gloria Thomas, Barbara Hoeneise, and Kolene Kilcherman.

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Linda and Joe Czarnik of Kentwood visited Scott and Ruth Walker this past weekend, arriving Friday, just in time for the Suttons Bay Art Walk, followed by dinner at Knot Just a Bar. On Saturday they did some wine tasting and made a trip to Mikowski’s Market in Karlin for some great smoked meats and sausage. On Sunday, while Joe and Scott developed a digital strategy for Joe’s business, Linda and Ruth visited Christmas Cove Farm where Linda purchased some Wolf River apples for baking and some Linda Mac apples (of course) for eating and admired John Kilcherman’s collection of tins, signs and bottles. From there they headed to the Haunted Lighthouse where they climbed the tower and rewarded with a view of the Manitou, Fox and Beaver Islands.

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John and MH Ray just returned from a two-week road trip that included a 5-day Road Scholar program in Chautauqua, N.Y. Retired U.S. ambassadors and State Department members gave lectures on Korea, Africa, Japan, Turkey, the Middle East. They also spoke on subjects such as “Behind the scenes when the President travels abroad” from a foreign service officer who accompanied the President on a number of overseas trips. There were 150 attendees at the program in this “off season,” but there are 6,000 to 8,000 each week during the 9-week summer program.

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The Rays stayed at the Athenaeum Hotel, which was built in 1881, on the Chautauqua grounds. The 156-room hotel is said to be the largest wooden building in the eastern United States, and may be the oldest wooden hotel still operating in the U/S. It was the first hotel to have electric lights, provided by Thomas Edison who was the son-in-law of Chautauqua Institution founder Lewis Miller. This was the same timeframe when the resort era was beginning in Omena and other lakeshore areas in Michigan. The houses surrounding the area were vintage homes built in the late 1800s and are similar to those on Mackinaw Island, Bay View, and Wequetonsing. Most of them were not winterized, so they were decked out in their “winter pajamas” — a huge piece of canvas clipped on the house from top to bottom covering open or screened porches and most fronts of buildings. Chautauqua can get 300 inches of snow in a year.

The Ray’s road trip included a few days at State College, Pa., to share Penn State enthusiasm with friends from Sanibel Island, Florida. They also visited former Omena neighbors Marcia Oetting in Grand Rapids and Linda and Al Cherne in Tecumseh, Michigan.

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This past Saturday, Jack Joyce and his mother, Diane, delivered 20 of the 35 boxes of quilts made by the quilters of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Leland. Each box contained up to six quilts for a total of 208 donated to be shared where needed by the Lutheran World Relief Organization. While at the drop-off site, they saw former Omena residents Dusty and Jan MacDonald who were there helping out.

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Happy Birthday to the Omena triplets — Kanda McKee, Dale Blount, and Mary Stanton. They all share the same birthday this week. Happy Birthday also to Kathy Miller, Austin Van Pelt, and Riley Huffman. Happy 5th anniversary to Chris and Nikki Karchon Mittman.

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