By Ken DeLaat
Throughout its many incarnations the denizens of N3 World Headquarters & Christmas Decor Extraordinaire have always had a deep fondness for Howard Christensen Nature Center.
N3WH CEO and Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil has familial ties to the founders and I recall visiting the site when they still lived on the premises.
They also have some of the finest walking trails in a region that boasts some mighty fine walking trails.
Thus when they reached out to N3 about sharing some of their activities we were happy to oblige. One of the first events they sent us was a pie making workshop scheduled to be held the week before Thanksgiving, a most timely type of training we must say.
We received the info far ahead of time and thought to post it on our site a week or two beforehand.
And as happens when one is afflicted with a set of organizational skills that fall far short of organizational needs it didn’t happen. By the time I discovered the reminder set up to let me know that it was time to get to it was deeply flawed (one needs to remember one has reminders in place) the time had passed.
The personal misfire produced that long ago yet frighteningly familiar feeling of dread that would occur when delivering report cards to the parents during my, uh, non academic era in early high school.
I had been a bit captivated by the idea of a pie workshop because I am not only a huge fan of pie (cherry tops the chart but if it’s got a crust I’m all in) I also believe the world would be a kinder gentler place if there could just be more pie.
Beyond putting in a story about the upcoming activities coming to HCNC we thought we’d include a bit of a review to give folks a little personal lowdown on how these things go.
Having heard that our friend and former colleague P.G. Williams had attended the pie preparation party we asked her for her take on the event and she graciously agreed.
“It was a lot of fun! I did not end up going with anyone I knew but met some great people. That is what is nice about going to events there, even if you go by yourself the people there make you feel comfortable and welcome! They are great people to be around. We made an apple pie, cherry pie and brought home the filling and crust for a spiced pumpkin pie. I learned some great tips from the ladies I sat with and everyone was so nice. My family likes to participate in activities there because they are fun and we always learn something!”
Thank you Ms. W.
Here are the upcoming events to be held at HCNC:
Sat Dec 11 @ 1 pm - Come join us for our nature inspired craft day!
Wrapping paper & gift bags provided.
Limited to 30 kids - pre-registration required to ensure supplies.
nonmembers $5 and members $3
Crafts this year include:
1. ice crystal acorn necklaces
2. pinecone owl ornament
3. miniature grapevine wreath
4. santa and elf bellie jewelry box to house acorn necklace
Winter Break Day Camp
December 27-30 10am-2pm
Bring lunch and dress for the outdoors.
see website for additional information
Wreath Making Kits - a Tradition at HCNC!
Call to place your order and you can pick up at the interpretive center on Fri, Sat or Sun from 12-4pm - from Nov 26 to Dec 19th
Get your traditional handmade grapevine wreath to take home and decorate!
wreath $10 non members and $5 members
bag of trimmings $20 non members and $15 members
- a bag of trimmings includes a variety of ribbon, natural trimmings and holiday ornaments.
FACC’s Fremont Fun Cash Participates in Consumers Energy’s “Our Town” Holiday Cheer Campaign to Support Local Small Businesses.
The Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that they will be participating in the “Our Town” gift card/certificate campaign provided by Consumers Energy. Consumers Energy is providing holiday shoppers with a dollar-for-dollar match for gift cards or certificates they buy through local Chambers of Commerce and downtown organizations, doubling the amount they can spend in downtowns across the state.
Thanks to Consumers Energy, your Fremont Fun Cash purchase will be doubled with a 1-to-1 match of the same denomination (up to $100, minimum of $25 must be purchased) to give our small businesses a boost this holiday season. For example, when you purchase $50 in Fun Cash you will receive an additional $50 in Fun Cash to spend at the 47 plus Fremont Chamber’s participating fun cash merchant locations.
Fremont Fun Cash is eligible for this match program and may only be purchased by giving us a call at 231.924.0770 starting on Tuesday, November 30th. All orders must be made via phone and picked up at our office by appointment, one match per household or business with a maximum match of $100, while supplies last. The Fremont Chamber office is open 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.
Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience: “Consumers Energy is excited to again support Michigan’s small businesses and communities we serve this holiday season. ‘Our Town’ made an impact across Michigan last year, and we look forward to seeing the program’s dollars and shoppers give a boost to shops and restaurants in their hometowns."
The Fremont Area District Library is planning to host several fun, FREE, and festive events in December for the whole family.
Toddler Storytime, for babies and toddlers up to age 3, will have its last Fall session on Wednesday, Dec. 1st at 10:00 a.m., and Family Storytime for children up to age 5 will have its last Fall session on Thursday, Dec. 2nd at 10:00 a.m. Kids can help us decorate the Children’s Department on Thursday, Dec. 9th between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. and they can make a decoration for us and one to take home! Our Saturday Storytime in December will be a special Christmas Storytime, where we’ll share some favorite Christmas stories together. Join us on Dec. 11th at 11:00 a.m. for this festive Storytime. We’ll be showing the movie Peter Rabbit 2 on Thursday, December 30th at 3:30 p.m. Snacks will be served, and all are welcome.
More fun Christmas events include Christmas Card Making for ages 10 and up on Thursday, Dec. 9th from 3:00-5:00 p.m. Materials will be provided for you to make 3-4 Christmas cards! Join us on Dec. 11th for our first ever Gift Wrap Saturday! Get all of your Christmas wrapping done -- on us! We'll provide the gift wrap, gift bags, etc. Show up anytime between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. and enjoy Christmas music and light refreshments while you wrap your gifts. First come first serve while supplies last.
Grab-n-Go Crafts are still available each week for all ages! Follow the library’s Facebook or Instagram pages @Fremont Area District Library to see the crafts.
The Daytime Book Group will meet on December 9th at 12:30 p.m. to discuss Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak. The Wednesday Readers Book Group will meet on Monday, December 13th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas. Anyone is welcome to join these book groups. Books for these groups are available at the library’s front desk ahead of the meeting if you’d like to check out a copy and join the group.
The library will be closed Dec. 24-26, and we’d also like to remind you that we still have Curbside Pickup available. If you’re not feeling well, you can always call us to gather your items and we’ll have them checked out and ready for you on the table in our entryway. You can use this service also if you’re just in a hurry and would prefer to have your items ready for you instead of coming in. We’re happy to help!
For more information about any of these events, please contact the library at 231-924-3480 or visit www.fremontlibrary.net.
Hope 101 Ministry is returning with its Festival of the Wreaths during the Newaygo Christmas Walk on December 3. There are a few changes this year. First it will be held at the Newaygo United Methodist Church which is located at 101 State Road, Newaygo. Second the wreaths and other handmade gift items will be for sale; no buying tickets for a chance to win. And the third big change is the Newaygo United Methodist Church has offered to let Hope 101 serve a Soup Supper during the Christmas Walk. There is no charge for the dinner, but a free will offering is appreciated. All proceeds from the Festival of the Wreaths and the Soup Supper will go to benefit Hope 101. The supper will be served from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The Festival of the Wreaths will be held from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. We invite the community to come in out of the cold, try some of our homemade soups and, while there, do some Christmas shopping.
We are very grateful to the Newaygo United Methodist Church for giving Hope 101 the opportunity to use their church for the event and asking us to provide the Soup Supper.
Hope 101 Ministry is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose purpose is to help the homeless of Newaygo County. The Mission of Hope 101 Ministry, with the help of God, is to provide a home-based program which offers Christian support, friendship, and direction to empower participants to reach beyond their circumstance to a place of stability and self-sufficiency.
For more information about Hope 101 Ministry, Inc. please go to our web site www.hope101ministry.com, our Facebook page or contact t our Case Manager at 231-245-8877 or Board President at 231-652-1056.
On the Run: Do this for you
By Alexis Mercer
Seven years ago Megan Freudigmann and I were together, enjoying a playdate for our kids. All six of them jumping on the bounce house in our front yard. Shrieking, laughing and loving each others’ company.
This gave Megan and me the chance to take a few breaths and have an actual adult conversation - something hard to come by with our busy work and family schedules.
The lack of time to do anything, absolutely anything, for ourselves came up. (Let me be clear from the start - we were both grateful for the blessings of our children, supportive husbands and helpful families, we just struggled to prioritize ourselves.) We were in the same boat. Feeling like the part of ourselves had been temporarily paused due to the season of life we were in.
In the course of the conversation, Megan spoke words to me that changed my life beginning that very day. “It is not just ok, but necessary, to take care of yourself.”
Kids immediately demanded our full attention, but after the Freud family packed up and went home that day and my own kids were in bed, I was able to process that conversation. I made a decision that I would not just look for the time, but prioritize the time for me. Because if I didn’t, I knew those temporarily misplaced parts of me would get buried deeper and deeper and eventually become unrecoverable.
So I dug out my running shoes. Neither of my pregnancies allowed me the ability to run. The shoes were dusty and unfamiliar. But they were waiting for me, ready to start from scratch. Loyal.
Slowly, painstakingly I worked my way back to being a runner. Some days ten minutes was all I could squeak out of the day. But every single time I felt better for it. Healthier. Stronger. Ready to take on the challenges of the day.
Fast forward to summer of 2021. Running is the thing I have carefully tended to for myself. One foot in front of the other. Through raising kids, surviving a pandemic, navigating the re-entry into a new school year, all the ups, all the downs: running has been my time to just be me. To process and to feel alive. (Granted often through wheezing breaths and aching muscles, but truly alive.) It is now what I confidently can say is for me. So I can best serve and love those around me.
“Let’s run a race” was what David Bailey and I said to Megan after the two of us completed the Sunrise Half Marathon at Higgins Lake in June.
“But I don’t run anymore,” Megan replied.
“There’s no time like the present,” we gently persuaded.
“Do this for you,” I mirrored back to her, all these years later.
Every few days we checked in with each other. We are spread out with Megan in Grand Rapids, David in Kentucky (though often traveling around the world) and me in Newaygo. Through text we sent photos of our training, reminded each other how many days were left, joked and laughed.
Megan bought new shoes.
“Do you think I need new shoes?” she asked, “they’re from before I had Kirra” (her daughter who is a freshman).
Persistently Megan made time for herself. Sometimes at 10:00 at night (until the three coyotes were roaming the streets of her neighborhood, then she stuck to day runs). Sometimes between work and chaperoning school trips for her kids - changing in a 3 minute window of time - but getting it done.
David travels. His goal is to visit each of the National Parks. Since June his travels bounced him from Cincinnati to Philadelphia to North Carolina to Northern Michigan to Yosemite to Mount Tremblant, Quebec, to Georgia to Raven Cliff Falls to Austin to San Antonio, back to Cincinnati to West Virginia to the Appalachian Trail to Tennessee to Indianapolis to Kentucky (and I’m sure I have missed a few locations). With a job that is flexible and work-from-home, though transitioning back to some days in office, he has taken the pandemic to explore the world.
“I don’t train,” he says in a text thread one day.
“So I’ll beat you again?” I reply.
“I mean I do 5 miles a day” (as he is in elevation).
“Oh. So yah, I’ll lose.” I sigh.
Developments and changes in work requirements afforded David the flexibility to travel and explore. So now his dilemma has come down to knowing when to say no to honor his own well-being. Too busy is still too busy regardless of circumstance.
We boarded a plane on Thursday, November 18 in Grand Rapids, ready for our races on Saturday. I looked at my friends who I have known and loved since I moved to Roscommon at the age of 5, and we knew that we had already won. That crossing our respective finish lines would be icing on the cake.
By setting the goal to run, prioritizing our health and well-being, and completing the training necessary to be physically able to run an 8k or half-marathon (or both), we had already won.
Megan and I had arranged for our collective seven kids to be with dads and grandparents for the long weekend. David had finagled multiple fights to get back to a Sunday family Thanksgiving in Northern Michigan. Our busy lives had been aligned for this exciting weekend together.
The weekend included a line around an entire city block waiting to get into the expo (but we got to see Meb Keflezighi and Aliphine Tuliamuk!!!), exploring the city, staying with my sister and her family, and laughing. So much laughing.
Thirty-one degrees at 6:00 in the morning made David and me question our life choices - but once the horn went off and we started out running toward the capitol building, we thawed out and smiled once again. Running down Walnut with the crowd cheering our names (which were on our bibs) and the excitement of the race in person has a rush of adrenaline that overrode the fatigue of our lungs and muscles.
Megan (and David - yes he ran both races...he is a machine) toed the line for the 8K. Her first race of any distance since a 5K at Hope College in 2014 (but before then 1998 - a freshman at Hope). Her goal? To finish and enjoy the experience.
My sister, her kids and I stood near the finish line and had to rush to get our cameras out because Megan and David got to our location nearly 5 minutes earlier than anticipated!
Running these races was so much more for all three of us than the physical race. It was every mile, every step, from the day we committed to doing it - it was about our friendship - a rare and beautiful blessing we do not take for granted, 35 years and counting.
It was about giving ourselves the precious gift of time. One mile at a time. One step at a time.
NCCA-Artsplace “Holiday Artist Market”
It’s that time again! Time to visit NCCA-Artsplace to shop for great personal holiday gifts! The Holiday Artist Market is ready for you to come in and shop now through December 30.
Make your selections from handmade functional or decorative pottery, unique paintings, prints, textiles, candles, photography, wood turning, sculpture and jewelry. Decorate your tree this year with a variety of handmade ornaments or give them as the perfect holiday gift!
Whether you’re looking for fine hand made jewelry for the special someone, new ornaments for the tree or an original painting, you’ll find it all at NCCA-Artsplace Holiday Artist Market. And you can give the gift of creativity this holiday season with NCCA-Artsplace’s gift cards available in any denomination and can be used towards original art and future classes.
The NCCA-Holiday Artist Market will be open through December 30. Regular hours are Monday- Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
For more information stop by or call NCCA-Artsplace, 13 E. Main, Fremont, 231.924.4022 or check out www.ncca-artsplace.org.
Muskegon River Inn: A Gem in Newaygo County
By Alexis Mercer
“Do you think these floors are the originals?” asked my husband as we arrived at the Muskegon River Inn in downtown Newaygo Saturday afternoon. I paused to look at him before answering, wondering if he was being serious or facetious. Completely serious I saw by his face.
So we studied the floor. And came to the conclusion that yes, indeed, the floors were original. Or if not, then they were an incredibly realistic rendition. They were beautiful.
Being residents of Newaygo, it wouldn’t be my first thought to stay over at a local hotel. But my husband, Adam, has been captivated by the story of the building since he found out it was being restored. His family has been here for many, many years and any time we see photographs from his grandparents, we marvel at the downtown in its glory.
For months Adam has been talking about wanting to stay there sometime when we had a chance. My coaching responsibilities coupled with our daughter’s volleyball schedule and our sons’ soccer schedules (oh yes and work for both of us) make scheduling a night away anything but easy in the fall.
But the opportunity came up for this weekend when plans with our friends fell through at the last minute and the kids were already planning on being with grandparents. Saturday morning I checked online (https://muskegonriverinn.com/) and found one available room of the seven listed in the inn’s description. A late wedding anniversary getaway was in the works!
After confirming our reservation on their easy to use system, we were greeted immediately with an email giving us codes to access our room. We arrived downtown around 4:00, “checked in” to our room and found it to be even more stunning than we could have anticipated.
The original brick walls and aforementioned floors are a dichotomy to the new heated tile bathroom floors (though consistent with the overall aesthetic). No detail was missed from the original shampoo and conditioner in the shower to the carafe of cold water in the mini fridge and the Keurig coffee maker with cold creamer!
We were able to walk to Newaygo Brewing Company right next door, cozy up to the bar and enjoy dinner and drinks together while watching college football and running into a few friends.
Had we stayed any night other than Saturday, we absolutely would have frequented the stores with their gifts for the holidays brandishing the windows. But Sunday morning in Newaygo is quiet, so instead Adam ran across the street to get a bite for us to eat at RiverStop Cafe to go with the coffee brewed in our room.
Snow was softly falling out the window when we woke up. The scene was serene and exactly what we were hoping to find in our very own little town of Newaygo. Without a doubt we will find another anniversary or special occasion to be guests at this historic and beautiful gem right in our own backyard.
Make Plans Now to Participate in the 2021 Fremont Christmas Spirit Contest!
The Fremont Christmas Stroll Committee and the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce announces the 2021 Christmas Spirit Contest sponsored by Clarks Body Shop, Cornerstone Radiator Service, Compass Credit Union, and Gerber Life Insurance Company! The committee is encouraging you and your family to get into the holiday spirit with this Christmas lighting contest!
This is your chance to go all out and decorate your store front and/or house/yard with all of your favorite Christmas décor. Don’t hold back, the committee wants to light up Fremont with the twinkling of Christmas lights!! The contest begins on Monday, November 22nd and will end on Monday, December 20th.
We are asking the families and businesses that are participating to take a picture of your decorated yard and house or store front. Send your picture to the Fremont Chamber office by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your first and last name. Our staff will place your photographs on the FACC Facebook page. Be sure that you like our page as well! Voting is done by the number of likes that each entrant receives on the Chamber’s Facebook page.
The winners are chosen by the public and here is how! To vote you need to go to the Fremont Chambers’ Facebook page:
Like our Facebook page (if you don’t already), and then vote by liking the photo of the participant that you feel has the most Christmas spirit! Be sure to tell your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to go like your photo! Remember the number of likes that you get determines the winner!!
There will be two business winners and two residential winners. Winners will be determined based on the total number of likes your picture receives on the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page. The 1st place business winner will get a FREE banner ad on our website for a year! The second place business winner will get a FREE banner ad on our website for six (6) months. The two residential winners will receive Fremont Fun Cash, which can be used at over 40 Fremont area businesses; first place will receive $50 and second place is awarded $25! This year’s contest is sponsored by Cornerstone Radiator and Gerber Life Insurance Company.
By Terry Grabill
This is the sixth in a series chronicling the efforts by Terry Grabill to follow a dream kindled by a love for birding and the inspiration drawn from the book and movie The Big Year.
Links to his first five installments can be found at the end of the article.
Ebird has individuals that vet rare bird sightings. This is an important function as ornithologists use these sightings to develop models of the range and seasonality of migrants. My Brewer's blackbird was flagged by eBird to one of these individuals who, then, emailed me for more detail. I ultimately resigned myself to removing it. I was less than confident with the BRBL identification. I will get Brewer's somewhere at a later date. Fidelity to science far outweighs my list!
March 13. Tiscornia Park is still 2 1/2 hours from home but this red-throated loon is still showing and I need a red-throated loon! I was solo on this trip (a condition that I'd come to become comfortable with). St. Joseph was full of birds again, lots of waterfowl; ducks of all kinds! I picked up my NEW bird 119:
119: Bonaparte's gull
and, walking back to my vehicle,
120. Fox sparrow
Berrien County, as I mentioned, is not in my backyard so I decided to hit some other hotspots while I was in the area. Three Oaks sewage treatment facility was close and was showing some good birds on eBird. I found my first visual of an eastern meadowlark, some white-fronted geese, and ... wait... that crow isn't sounding right...kind of a nasal "eh..eh.."
121. Fish Crow!
Rare bird reports have the checklist location, which makes it easy to click, open in Google maps, and get turn-by-turn navigation to the site. Often, though, you end up in a general location and have to hunt for the rarity. This time, however, the navigation let me into the town of Three Oaks, winding me into a back parking lot, and there should be Eurasian Collared Dove. We'll see, I thought! I parked the vehicle right where the navigation ended...looked up and ... wait, that's a mourning dove...great. I sat and wondered about the wisdom of a grown man traveling hours after school to see a couple of birds. And, worse, missing the loon and now the ECDO...Wait...that sounds like a dove...but not like a mourning dove!
122. Eurasian Collared Dove
March 14: Sunday. Andrea and I heard our first warbler of the season! Nothing says spring migration for me better than WARBLER. Years ago, when Ann and I were first married, I remember being in our hot tub on a brisk spring afternoon listening to birds when this song came close. Much like a chipping sparrow but more slurred and musical. Andrea was not so much a birder then (wow, how things have changed!). I ran soaking wet into the house to get a field guide and binoculars and we watched as this little yellow songster perched near the hot tub. This species has always been our first warbler of the year.
123. Pine Warbler
After church, I checked eBird for rarities to chase. Just west of Mt. Pleasant, home of Central Michigan University (fire up CHIPS!), there was a farm pond with five species of geese. I was learning that if there is a rarity to chase, I'd better get driving! The site was only an hour-and-a-half from home, so off I went. I was starting to get these anxiety rushes as I approached a rarity site. What if I dipped (red-throated loon sound familiar?). What if I needed Brennan or Andrea's keen eye? I turned the last corner on the navigation route. Google Maps said "your destination is on the right. Immediately I saw the few white birds in a sea of Canada geese. I hope this rush never goes away. My pulse raced and my hands shook (sounds kind of corny now). Once I had the bins focused on the few white birds in the flock, I quickly saw that one was about half the size of the rest and probably one quarter the mass.
124. Ross's goose
This little guy was moving near a few snow geese, but was obviously not "with them". it grazed in and among the Canadas, which towered over it. But the eBird account described white-fronted geese as well....sure enough there they were. My real target now became finding Canada geese that were unusually small. I'd dipped on these several times already. I'd thought Brennan and I had found some a couple of times, but finally realized Canadas come in lots of sizes. Then, while scanning to the left, a small group (probably less than 20 birds) of very small CAGO were moving and grazing together. Stubby little bills, short necks, round heads...YES!!
125. Cackling goose
Again, another week of school took precedence over chasing birds. There was still not a lot of light left after the final bell and there were not many rarities to chase.
March 16: Andrea brought a new song to my attention. "Drink your teeeeea" FOY
126. Eastern Towhee
March 19: Again, in our yard in the short daylight after school,
127. Chipping Sparrow
March 20. I had all the ducks I needed but Muskegon Wastewater lagoons had thawed and found a surprise FOY
128. Common loon
March 22: Monday, school night. Vernal equinox means I have a few hours of daylight before dark. Another red-throated loon report, this time in Manistee. Brennan and I headed north, past the loon site to Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore where another potential lifer was seen. After a couple of hours in the car, we arrived at the site to find a beautiful beach and vast expanses of water. With the spotting scope, I scoured the vista seeing only waves. Even Brennan's keen eyes couldn't pick anything out. Another miss? I don't like the feelings associated with a multi-hour trip for nothing. There! A white head in the distance, yep! a red neck. And beyond it, dozens of bobbing white spots bobbing!
129. Red-necked grebe
With still an hour or so of light, we rushed back to Manistee to finally get this red-throated loon. We arrived at the pier near dusk. What had been a fairly warm day was now cold and windy. Brian Allen had reported this loon earlier in the day so I was hopeful and excited to put this species in the books. We looked and scanned and looked some more and, ultimately surrendered to the dark. We drove home in silence.
March 23. Another school night, another fresh report of a red-throated loon in Berrien County. It was two-and-a-half hours away in St Joseph...again. So, I drove. It was a clear, relatively warm day, even in the evening. On the pier, folks were fishing and I thought, these guys have the right idea, especially considering how many times I'd been there scanning the waters for RTLO. As I stared through the scope at Lake Michigan, one nearby fisherman fought a feisty smallmouth bass. Jeez, I love fishing for bass. As he landed the fish he asked if I'd take his picture with it. Man, what a nice fish. He asked what I was doing there. How do you tell someone "well, it's my third trip this year to this spot to get at least a glimpse of a red-throated loon?" His reaction was much as I'd anticipated. He couldn't believe I'd take a day trip two-and-a-half hours one-say to see a bird THREE TIMES. He really couldn't wrap his head around the fact that I was going back home instead of getting a room there. Yeah, I get a lot of funny looks. I turned my attention back to the lake. That "duck" looked different! I finally got my scope on the little diver and ... it was not a loon. Instead, it was another really good bird.
130. Eared grebe.
I continued to scan. There was plenty of light left. There, just in front of the grebe, another diver. Man, he went a long way before resurfacing! By the time I re-found it with the scope, it was under again... There, long. pointed bill, round gray head. FINALLY!
131. Red-throated loon (Life Bird)
I considered what my fisherman "friend" would be thinking as I did a little fist-pump, folded up my tripod, and, just like that, turned back toward shore. Oh well, I thought, mission accomplished. Walking back the length of the pier, I happened upon a group of women and girls, moving together silently. None of them made eye contact with me, though I suppose that's not too unusual. What struck me was that they all dressed alike and had the same hairstyle, flip-flops on their feet. I walked on and was encountered by a talkative man (also in flip-flops) that seemed unusually interested in my quest. I was happy to share as much as he'd listen to! Interestingly, the women and girls walked up and milled around him though they still didn't look at me. He told me that his group was a spiritual commune in Marshall, MI where they made and sold granola and they lived as they felt the Biblical book of Acts instructed. So, here was my turn to offer an incredulous look (so this is what I sound like when I describe chasing rare birds!) He gave me a business card with their address and invited me to dinner some Friday. I think that would be....interesting! With another hour of daylight, I headed back north. Allegan County was on the way and a singing western meadowlark had been reported several times there. I clicked on the sighting and let the navigation lead me to a lonely dirt road and said "your destination is on the right". I've often considered what my options would be in a location like this if, by chance, my car broke down. I had zero bars of signal on my phone. I opened my window, listened as an eastern meadowlark called. In the distance, I heard an old, familiar call...
132. Ring-necked pheasant
And, almost immediately, calling from just off the road, a call similar to EAME with a garbled flute quality,
133. Western Meadowlark
Popular Fremont foodery opens Monday (7a.m.) with new owners and familiar fare
By Ken DeLaat
“Can I just have one more Moondance with you, my love?”- Van Morrison
It’s been a journey.
From carhopping at the old A&W in Fremont to managing a restaurant during her days in Ft Smith, Arkansas Cathy Martins has long been involved in the food business.
And now she is the new owner of a Fremont favorite, the Moon Dance Cafe.
We caught up with this busy lady who sat down with us as the activity buzzed around her with preparations for the opening of a new chapter in the MDC story.
“We were up here for Fair Week and I saw the post Tina put out about selling the place. I told my husband and he said ‘find out how to get a hold of her’ and that’s what got the whole thing started.”
Fremont has always been home to Martins (née Christoffersen) even if it was more by proxy during her time living in Arkansas and Ohio. Despite those years living out of state she and her family always returned for Fair Week and she continued to hold close ties to the town that forged her early years
“I always wanted to own a restaurant in Fremont. It’s been a long time dream,” she said looking around the cozy dining area of the cafe.“I just love this town. When I was in school I was what we called a ‘Fremont Lifer’. I was never going to move. “
But she did move, accompanying her parents to Ft. Smith when her Dad transferred to the Gerber plant there.
“Even during those years out of state, I knew I was going to come back one day,“ she said with a smile.
That opportunity arose when her husband’s job began allowing employees to work from home, a move that was made permanent.
“Christian has always loved my family as much as I have, so when he said ‘let’s move to Fremont.’ I could not have been happier.”
The Martins’ moved back in December of last year buying a small farm near her family.
And now they are the owners of a restaurant as well.
“I love the atmosphere, I love being creative in the kitchen and I love the people. I get close to my customers and it’s always great seeing the regulars coming in.”
“When we first came here and looked at the kitchen my husband laughed at me because I got a tear in my eye just being back in such a familiar place. It felt like home, like the restaurant I used to run in Arkansas. and Tina has done such a great job with it. It’s a testament to her that almost all of her staff wanted to come back to work here.”
A testament indeed given the struggles other restaurants have endured with attracting and retaining personnel these days. With opening day looming, Ms. Martins was happy to report she is staffed with a veteran group of former Moondancers ready to return to what has been an oasis of offerings for area foodies.
And now Moon Dance is ready to rock once again.
Monday November 8th at 7am the waiting is over as Ms. Martins will open the door to the hometown restaurant she has always dreamed of owning.
For Moon Dance regulars, never fear. When I posed questions about the fate of my favorite MD dishes she assured me that most of the food favorites that have been gracing the MD menu will remain as they were. Martins’ plans include adding items as time goes by and she gets a feel for the cafe crowd’s culinary cravings.
With enthusiasm for the field of foodery, a passion for the people who become customers and ultimately friends, and a deep and abiding love for the community she can once again call home, Cathy Martins has embarked on this new adventure.
And she invites one and all to come along.
The Moon Dance Cafe, located at 7143 W 48th St in Fremont, will be open daily from 7am to 4pm beginning Monday November 8th.
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