Tuesday, April 14, 2015


It was a beautiful spring day in Michigan. Perfect for taking a drive in the Jeep with our dog, Hoss riding happily in the back seat.  Our mission was to check on the memorial playground in our little town.  It was packed which normally puts a smile on my face to see families and their children enjoying the park but today I was not.  My heart sank.  First of all dogs are not allowed, it's clearly posted when you pull up and there was a huge German Shepard.  Though that wasn't what brought the taste of disgust to my mouth.  It was the lack of respect for the playground that is clearly for young children.  Older kids were climbing on top of the wooden structure, in through windows, on top the plastic spiral slides without regard to anyone else.  I could almost see the strain of the handcrafted wooden structure as they hung out of the windows and pulled on handles that are meant for young children.  Screaming at the top of their lungs without regards to others around them.  I recognized some as former students which was another stab. I looked for some supervision, finding two adult mothers, not concerned.  I looked for the local cops that should be driving through keeping an eye out for this sort of thing, none in the whole 20 minutes that we sat there,  I looked for the cameras that the town council assured folks were mounted in the park to catch anyone considering vandalism, but none that I could see!  As my husband and I walked through the park there was graffiti written on the inside of the slides and towers, not words that youngsters should be reading when they are having playtime.  We walked back to the Jeep knowing that we were going to have to get involved, again.

Six years ago almost to the day a crew of over hundred people from the community came together to build a playground.  Everyone pitched in putting their skills together and in one week the playground transformed from a primitive play area of a set of swings, monkey bars, rusty merry-go-round to an intricate wooden castle structure with twin towers, spiral slides, diggers in the sandpit, fireman's pole, climbing rock wall and much more.    It was amazing to watch the transformation.  Our family was there from the ground breaking to the completion.  The playground groupies as I call them were inspired to tear down the old tin pavilion and raised enough money to build a beautiful wooden pavilion with picnic tables the following fall.  The project began as a glimmer of a dream, lots and lots of fundraising.  Many hours by two wonderful people making calls, knocking on doors, and trying to raise enough money to start the playground.  It was at this time that our son passed away and we had a dream also, which was to keep his memory alive.  Trent had a fourteen year savings from his 4-H farm projects, that he had put away for college.  It didn't seem right to spend his life savings  on a funeral so we gave it to the playground project.  This became our healing therapy.  We threw ourselves into helping.  As our family struggled with the pain of our loss we began to realize that there were many other families in our small community that had loss their child and that was when the park became a memorial park for all those young lives that were taken too early.  The playground build was healing therapy for many... all of Trent's friends from school that were looking for a way to channel their hurt, our friends that were trying to support our family... others that had a loss.... community members that wanted to be part of something important.

It's hurtful when you realize "that" is gone... Trent, anyone that knew Trent, some of our friends, community members that wanted to have something special for our town, people that cared. 

My hope is that it can be repaired and I'm not just talking about the playground. 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Early Spring Farm Work

Even though today was a drizzly and dreary day around the farm on spring break the ground is beginning to dry out. The winter was frigid this year which helped mellow the soil. Frost in the ground heaved the dirt up aerating it. So, my husband got the tractor and ripper out of the barn where it was stored away for the winter. The ripper has long steel shanks that push deep into the ground lifting the soil to the surface. It turns it over where the air can get to it. Sometimes the ripper digs so deep that large rocks are yanked to the top to be picked later before the planter hits them when it's time to plant. Behind the ripper a rolling basket follows. The rolling basket is the width of the ripper and has large paddles that spin fast as it fluffs up the soil.  When the tractor slowly covers the ground one round at a time it's easy to see where you have been and where you haven't. The side that is not covered yet is light colored, with dry bean stubble and hard packed from the combine running over it in the fall. The side that is covered is dark, fluffed up and moist from the winter snow.  Many people don't realize that fresh dirt has a very distinct smell. All I can say is that it smells like spring. A fresh new start and a hope for a prosperous season.