2018-03-01 / Columns

Full moons, airports and ‘small world’ stories

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Tonight the Full Worm Moon ushers in the month of March and nature’s lead-up to spring.

The March full moon was traditionally called the Full Worm Moon by Native Americans, especially those of the Algonquin tribes in the northeast, who used lunar phases to track the seasons. At the time of this moon, the ground begins to soften enough for earthworm casts to reappear, inviting the return of robins and migrating birds — a true sign of spring.

Interestingly, with this past week’s warmup, we have seen a lot of earthworms in the road on Omena Heights. In some regions, March’s full moon is instead known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees.

This year, March will also have a Blue Moon on the 31st. A Blue Moon occurs when there is a second full moon in the same month.

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Suzie Mulligan is back from a wonderful three week trip to California. She spent a week with her sister Sylvia in Costa Mesa, and then her son, Scott, met her there and they slowly made their way up to his home in San Jose, seeing the sights and visiting nieces along the way. She got to see all of the nieces on her side of the family.

They spent one night in Santa Barbara and one in Carmel on their travels. Suzie reports that Santa Barbara is “still there” after the recent mudslides, and recovering. The route they took had just reopened in the week prior. They also witnessed the effects of forest fires as they headed north out of Santa Barbara. While in the Carmel area, they visited Half Moon Bay. Scott returned to Omena with Suzie and will be here for the month of March.

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John and Judy Smart are also back from a three week trip that included California and Mexico. They flew to L.A. for a week to celebrate Judy’s birthday with their kids, grandchildren and her brothers. She also enjoyed a great birthday luncheon with her old L.A. friends at a beach club in Santa Monica. They then flew to Puerto Vallarta for two weeks and loved every minute in the sunshine, on the beach, and in the pool. They found some great new restaurants and got some good R and R to get ready to “enjoy” the remainder of winter.

While in Puerto Vallarta, John and Judy were surprised to see Diane and Don Ewing at a near-by table in a restaurant they were in. The Ewings are seasonal residents of Bay Harbor, and long time friends of Melissa Chenault, which is how the Smarts knew them.

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Brian Shapiro returned to Indianapolis for the week, but Sally is enjoying being in Omena, and Brian returns today for a long weekend. On his way back, Brian stopped in the Shapiro’s Deli location in the Indianapolis International Airport.

I learned some interesting facts about that airport from Sally. Everything except the runways was new in 2008. It was one of the first, and the largest, airport construction project completed after 9/11. In addition to enhanced security, it also incorporates sustainability in its design, and is committed to being a part of the Indianapolis community. It places a high priority on having local restaurants and retail. Indianapolis’ two oldest eating establishments, St. Elmo’s (since 1902) and Shapiro’s (since 1905 and still owned by the same family), are two of them. The airport’s art collection of 37 pieces by 17 artists worldwide includes eight who have Hoosier ties. And I learned that Vera Bradley is a Hoosier. Who knew. While Indy is close enough that most of us drive rather than fly, it sounds like its airport is a place worth seeing.

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Over the 10 years that I been doing this column, there have been many ‘small world’ stories. This is a particularly intriguing one. Gayle Madison and Mary Ziegeler, both relatively new year-round Omena residents, recently discovered that their grandparents were good friends in Ann Arbor. Their grandfathers, Professors Roy Swinton and Harry Bouchard, were colleagues at University of Michigan, both were professors of civil engineering, and both traveled to Asia in 1930s as visiting professors — Gayle’s grandfather to the Philippines and Mary’s to China. The wives, Jane Swinton and Nona Bouchard, also became good friends.

Gayle and Mary learned this as a result of what started as a casual conversation about U of M. As a child, Mary heard her widowed grandmother speak of the renowned Professor Swinton (Gayle’s grandfather), and her affection for him and his wife. Mary’s mother told her children dramatic stories of Professor Swinton and his family as POWs in Manila during WWII — he was imprisoned with other Americans for years at University of Santo Tomas. Mary visited Manila with my parents in 1973 and remembers her mother weeping when they saw the campus where Professor Swinton heroically, but narrowly, survived.

Both Gayle and Mary said that it is really flabbergasting to imagine their grandmothers and grandfathers, friends in Ann Arbor from the 1920s through the 1950s, having no idea that in faraway Omena in a future century their granddaughters would meet and become friends, as well. Another ‘up north’ connection is that Professor Roy Stanley Swinton and his wife, Jane Swinton, are buried in the Charlevoix cemetery where the extended family lived for generations.

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Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner. March 11 is the day we get to “spring forward.”

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Happy Birthday to Ron Tonneberger, Alison Biskupski, Molly Smith, Kay Nolen, Bev Gaudette and Marian Electa Powell.

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