milestones and May 2020

Today is going to be an amazing day and it marks several milestones.

  • It is the first week of my summer break,
  • It’s the last day of May,
  • It’s been over eleven weeks our state closed schools until early April, then early May, and finally for the year,
  • I’ve been living and working by the lake for nine weeks,
  • It’s been five weeks since my last post, AND
  • I’ve been blogging for ten years and two days.

It’s also the last day of my Coronavirus protest beard. The last day I shaved was the last day I went to school – Friday, March 13th. When began my protest, I anticipated being back in school in a few weeks. Today, after I press ‘publish,’ the beard goes.

early morning view of the lake – each hour is a little different

The final day of the 2019-20 school year ended Wednesday. It ended awkwardly and with uncertainty. Many of my students embraced shift to e-Learning, but sadly many did not. The ones who did are the students who had good habits and strong learning skills. The ones who didn’t, are the students who need the routine of school and even with being in the classroom these students struggle with learning or completing learning tasks. Looking back, it’s these students who are the reason I gravitated to teaching and middle school. I was one of those students who struggled in the classroom in middle school and early high school. It wasn’t until I was a junior that I figured it out.

Summer break began Thursday morning but living along the lake for nine weeks has allowed me to enjoy the benefits of remote teaching and learning remotely as well as the benefits of summer break while living and working. I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of the wilderness around us – the forest, the lake, and walking and hiking trails. I’ve taken some amazing walks through the forest trails, along the river, and along the lake shore. Most of all it’s the movement and the freshness of the air that has lifted me in the isolation of quarantine. It’s the balance of nature rising with the sun and resting with the sun’s setting that has made the biggest difference over the past elven weeks.

It’s been five weeks since my last published post, but I’ve started writing posts, stopped and didn’t finish. Mostly because I had teaching – preparing, assessing, and communicating – my primary job that took precedence. I have other jobs which kept me from writing – husband, father, son, brother, friend, dog owner, and self and each of those had multiple tasks – cook, housekeeper, and gardener to name only a few of the many roles I (we all) take on and try to keep balanced.

Walking and Hiking
Since the quarantine began, I’ve been walking and hiking more. Surely the weather has been a factor as spring began and temperatures became warmer and the days got longer.

Hartwick Pines State Park is a short drive from the lake, and I’ve enjoyed the many hiking trails through the park. My favorite hike is the shortest hikes – a little less than two miles, but it’s the most peaceful, even though it’s likely the most popular trail in the park. The hiking trail is through a virgin pine forest and there is a chapel along the route to pause and reflect. The trail passes through a former logging camp constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

This past Friday my wife and I visited Empire Beach and Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was a side adventure and completely unplanned, but it was terrific. The trip to Empire was late afternoon and we walked the beach looking for stones and enjoying the sunshine and the sound of the gentle waves washing ashore.

We arrived at the dune climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes a little after six in the evening and decided to give the sand dune hoping for a view of Lake Michigan. The first dune was the steepest and my wife quickly discovered it was easier using the footsteps of climbers who had gone before us.


That’s an important lesson to remember, use the people who have gone before you.

“If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” ― Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

We reached the top of the first dune and realized there were more dunes to traverse before we could get a view of Lake Michigan. However, we had an amazing view of Glen Lake. What we didn’t realize was there were a lot more dunes to climb before we could see the lake. We learned the trail was marked with numbered signposts and we stopped at hiking and climbing at signpost #7 when we had a view of the lake and a couple of offshore islands. It was a great way to spend time together encouraging one another to continue moving forward. We mutually agreed to stop and hike back to the starting point. We finished the day with takeout pizza before driving home.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend. We were talking about our fathers – they share a birthdate – May 20, 1933 – and both having passed away many years before. We were also talking about teaching remotely, teaching in general, and baseball when I heard the loud airplane engine. I looked up and saw the airplane climbing and banking over our lake house. At first glance, it appeared to be a float plane, but on closer investigation the airplane was a firefighting plane. The airplane, really four of them, were skimming the lake’s surface taking in water and flying to a grass fire, dumping the water over the fire, and returning. The planes made several trips before the fire was extinguished after consuming over a hundred acres and several buildings – but thankfully no homes.

There have been more hikes and walks to recount. My quarantine has been marked by many home cooked meals overlooking the lake watching the sunset. Chicken, beef, pork, salads, and a lot of leftovers but the solitude of nature has permeated my stay at the lake.

Easter Sunday visitors and a patient Fern

Today is the first post of my eleventh year of the blog. Like several bloggers I follow or followed, I’ve entertained stopping. But I plan to continue blogging simply because I enjoy writing and the interaction with those who read Making the Days Count dot org. Year eleven will mark change for me as each year has marked change before it.

Change is constant. But if I follow in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before me my journey will be easier and I will be able to see further. So, I had better wrap up this post and get a start on the day before the day starts on me. Today is going to be an amazing day – a great day, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, starting with a blogpost, then a shave.

Did you have a ‘protest’ during the quarantine? What was it?

10 thoughts on “milestones and May 2020

  1. Wow. This were some milestones all right. 11th year. Congratulations on Making your Days Count. You must have so many stories tucked away and learned so much from the posts. Your pics are beautiful glad you were able to find some bit of outdoors time during the lockdown. And congrats on finishing your first experience of distance learning teaching zoom google classroom edition. That must have been stressful and frustrating on all levels because connection is so important to teaching. Glad you were able to still help those kids who reached out. Hope you have a good break!

    1. I apologize for delay in my response. When I first started blogging it was to become a better and more effective writing teacher. At the time I was 7th grade teacher, then I moved up to 8th grade science, now I am heading back to 6th grade and staying with science. I am hopeful this will be my last level change. Heading into my 22nd year of being a professional educator and part-time writer. Thank you for stopping in – my quarantine adventure in northern Michigan (300+ miles from home) was a success. I was a away from the distractions and frustrations of home and the city. I would happily trade again. Hope all is well with you and your family. Summer break is on the downside and I am going to focus on the present, because those who control the present control the future. Gone make today and and the days to come count. Peace.

    1. Patricia, it has been an unusual summer. I was excited at the beginning, but the travel and uncertainty of the coming school year has kept me on edge. It seems a longer than five and a half months since the end of January. I counted the days I have been away from home and counted the days I have slept in my own bed at home and the being away is leading 60-40. I’ve been working on a first half – second half post, but can’t seem to be able to focus. I am hoping, I’ll be able to wrap it up this weekend. Take care, stay well and safe. Peace.

  2. I don’t know about ‘protests’ during Lockdown. It’s not been mentioned in the UK. The only ones I know about are the sad events currently unfolding in the US. Nevertheless, enjoy your somewhat different summer break.

    1. I apologize for the hiccough in my response. Time has not been an ally this summer. It has been an unusual first half of a year. I have enjoyed time with my family – it has been nice to slow down a little. Take care and stay safe and keep walking!

  3. Oh my! So much to reply to! First off, congratulations completing what had to be a frustrating teaching year. My sister is a teacher in Columbus GA and I know she’s glad this one is done, but worried about next fall.

    Hartwick Pines….oh yes….Katie and I camp there nearly every year. I originally chose that park out of all the state parks to take Katie because of all the trails. She’s not so much a water dog, so camping near the lakes didn’t do it for her…but she loved those trails. Last time I took her, though, she didn’t want to go much…she’s getting older. But we’ve walked that path through the virgin pine out to the logging camp several times, usually early morning before anyone else much is there. I have a picture of her inside the chapel with the morning sun shining down on her. I told her that was God shining on her, but not to feel special because he likes all dogs. She said I was a silly mama. I don’t know if we’ll get there this year. We love love love camping there.

    The dunes…oh my. My husband and I have walked twice across those dunes to the shore of the lake. I can tell you it’s really really hard and you should take water. Last time we did it I refilled my water bottle from the lake itself for the trip back. Neither time did I have the right shoes. Often I DID walk in my husband’s footsteps, because it was easier. There’s lots and lots of ups and downs…and I’m entirely sure it’s worth it. Now that we’ve done it twice I doubt we’ll do it again. We’ll climb to the top and run back down…but I think I’m done with walking all the way to the lake and back.

    I’m aching to get back north, waiting for our ‘all clear’ which may or may not come mid-June. Probably not to be honest. And if the campgrounds open again they’ll be full of relieved campers. I hope I’m one of them!

    1. I apologize for the delay in responding. I enjoyed my visit to the coast but that seems like so long ago….. I’ve been to northern Mississippi and back and then back to Michigan. We finally had our first cloudy overcast day today and it felt amazing! The lake was been hopping during the two weekends I’ve been here and the campground has been full. I hope you get to enjoy the great outdoors and see the night sky soon. Take care and stay well. Peace.

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