Kellogg’s Fun-Paks and Pop Tarts

Capturing the vacation feeling is as important as going on vacation. Anticipating vacation is far better than the real thing. A huge part of maintaining the vacation feeling is buying a large quantity of Kellogg’s Fun-Paks and Pop Tarts.

Fun-Paks are not what they used to be, but they still work for vacation. Years ago, the side of the box was perforated so the box and bag inside could be opened. Milk was poured inside and the box became a bowl. With all the ultra-safety-don’t touch that-must be triple sealed-best by-stuff it’s a wonder any of us survived.

Fun-Paks are the answer for families with a no-sweetened-cereal law like we grew up with. Corn Flakes, Shredded Wheat, Puffed Wheat, and Puffed Rice which when the milk touched it turned to gag-me mucus, were the staples at our house. The Fun-Paks are just large enough to provide a slight taste of sweet without being enough to cause addiction.

Variety is the thrill of the Fun-Pak. Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Sugar Pops, Cocoa Puffs, Apple Jacks, times two, all in one pack is just about more than any kid can take.

I wanted to be a good parent. I bought Kellogg’s Fun-Paks when we went on vacation. Camping, hoteling, cabining, familing, whatever the vacation mode, Fun-Paks and Pop Tarts were necessary. Sometimes I still buy Fun-Paks when it’s vacation time with the kids and grandkids. I bought two boxes of Pop Tarts three days ago.

Whoever invented Kellogg’s Pop Tarts was a genius. Obviously, it was Kellogg. I never met the man, but I would like to thank him. Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts are manna from heaven in a frosted pastry pillow. Kellogg must have had a direct com line to heaven because anything that tastes that good has to be anointed from on high.

BSCPTs (Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts) are a must for successful fishing trips. They worked for me many times. Here are the instructions:

  1. Get in the boat with your fishing gear which includes an unopened pack of two BSCPTs and a thermos of coffee.
  2. Drive to your favorite spot.
  3. Drop your baited line in the water (BSCPT pieces are not used as bait.)
  4. Open the BSCPT pack. I prefer to leave the pastry in the foil and just break off pieces a little at a time.
  5. Pour a cup of coffee.
  6. Reel in the fish.

If your family vacations tend to be more stress than satisfaction, maybe you should use the tried and tested method of family vacation perfection. Kellogg’s Fun-Paks and Pop Tarts.

Aunt Olive’s Tractor

Gabe is the tractor driver.

I always loved going to Aunt Olive’s farm in Gladwin, Michigan. It was actually Uncle Wellington’s farm too, but he was never there when we were because he worked in a car plant Detroit.

The farm was a world away from the city where we lived, and a welcome opportunity for a scared kid to get away.  

I watched the older boys milk the cows every morning and evening while I played with the kittens. I was fascinated by the milk swirling around in the cooler. 

We played in the haymow. It was two sky-high mountains on either side of a space large enough for a wagon full of hay bales to drive through. Hanging up at the roof there was a huge red spider machine that dropped down on the bales and carried them up to the top. It was scary. The last time I visited the farm as an adult the barn wasn’t as large as it was when I was 10.  

The first time I drove the Ford 8n tractor it was in the barn yard. I started the motor, found first gear, and nearly threw my cousin off the fender when I let go of the clutch. When I was a little older I was allowed to rake hay in the field. I loved that old tractor. 

In 2010, I found a Ford 9n for sale. I was mowing nearly three acres of grass with a little Yardmaster rider I bought at Home Depot. I jumped at the chance to own a tractor like the one I drove on Aunt Olive’s farm. That I didn’t know anything about taking care of an antique tractor didn’t matter. I could learn. I rented a trailer, purchased the tractor, and proudly brought it home. I was now the owner of a tractor just like the one I drove when I was a kid. 

I wasn’t able to use the tractor for mowing until the next summer. I had to find a finish mower to pull behind the tractor for the lawn. Through the winter, using the blade on the tractor to quickly move a ton of snow instead of walking behind a snowblower was a welcome change.  

I quickly learned to do tractor maintenance. Luckily, a tractor supply store nearby carried parts for some antique tractors including mine. I installed a new starter and carburetor. The tractor hummed like new. Every time I pushed the starter, the sound of the engine turning over was the same as I remembered from many years before. 

The real fun of owning an old 9n was taking the grandsons for a ride and letting them drive. I wanted them to have the same kinds of memories I had, driving the old tractor and listening to the sound of the motor. 

I had the tractor five years. I sold it after purchasing a new John Deere mower with a fifty-four inch deck and a snow blade. 

I miss my old Ford 9n. I plowed the garden with it, pushed snow, mowed lawn, and went for rides on our dirt road. Every time I drove it I thought of going to Aunt Olive’s farm. “Working” on the farm with our cousins. Getting yelled at for riding the tractor through the garden. Raking hay. Listening to ghost stories after dark. Vivid memories, sixty years later. 

I still watch for the old 8n and 9n Ford tractors along the road. I don’t know what the “n” means, and I don’t care. I just like the way they look and sound. 

Tragic Fire in Holly, Michigan

We have enjoyed going to Holly for many years. Attending the Detroit Model Railroad Club open house during Thanksgiving weekend was an annual event for us until our children were grown. The Dickens Festival, with many attractions along Battle Alley including a live presentation of “The Christmas Carol”, was always a favorite.

Arcade Antique Mall on Battle Alley in Holly, Michigan.

I looked forward to walking through Arcade Antiques. Though some might have found the small spaces uncomfortable, the atmosphere was part of the attraction to me. An incredible amount of antiques were displayed throughout the building with a wide variety of choices. Part of the draw to a place like this is finding things we had growing up that are now considered antiques.

Main hall of the Arcade Antique Mall, Holly, Michigan.

I especially loved “main street”, which was essentially the middle aisle. Designed to have the appearance of a collection of stores and attractions in an old city, the lights, sounds, and smells took us back to a time long ago. We were completely immersed in our love for antiques.

Arcade Antiques stood next to the Historic Holly Hotel on the corner of Battle Alley and South Broad Street. Although we never stayed at the Holly Hotel, we had lunch there once, and going into the hotel was always interesting. There are published stories supporting suspicions that the hotel is haunted.

The Christmas Season is a wonderful time to visit Holly. Battle Alley Coffee, on the corner of South Saginaw Street and Battle Alley, has one of the best peppermint mochas I’ve ever had. The coffee shop is a very comfortable place for a hot beverage, and even includes a puzzle table for visitors to enjoy. There are many coffee related items for sale in the shop. Customers come and go, but many find the couches and chairs too much to resist and linger while sipping their favorite drink.

The loss of Arcade Antiques, the Historic Holly Hotel, Andy’s Place, and the Moose Lodge will be felt by Holly residents and patrons for many years to come. Sadly, the businesses were destroyed by fire just a few days ago. First responders, fire departments, and fire rescue teams from many towns and villages rushed to Holly to join forces with those battling to stop the fire.

Fire teams from “Fenton, Fenton Township, Holly, Linden, the North Oakland County Fire Authority, Oxford, Groveland, Milford, Grand Blanc, White Lake, Springfield, Highland, Independent, Troy, Rochester, and Oakland Regional” worked into the night. (myfenton.com)

The fine folks of Holly, business owners, community leaders, residents and friends will work together to rebuild. New buildings will not, however, remove the feeling of loss when memories of visits to Holly come drifting back.

Our thoughts and prayers for all who have been affected by the fire will continue. Holly will come roaring back, I’m sure.

Scandal at Maple Valley – Episode 25: Finding Sylvia Meisner

Everyone loves a parade, and the good folks in Maple Valley are no exception. When news quickly reached everyone that Sheriff Pete Terkinberry would soon patrol the three streets of town in a new squad car, excited anticipation of a parade swept like a wind-blown grass fire.

From one end of town to the other, neighbors gathered in the streets to watch the sheriff drive by in his new car. They waved, shouted, laughed, and a few cried. The dream of Maple Valley having its own police car finally came true.

The patrol car isn’t new. The Maple Valley council purchased it from the Chicago Police Department. It only has 61,000 miles on it, so folks here believe it was a good investment. Sheriff Pete is happier than anyone else. He’s been patrolling in his own car since he took office fourteen years ago when his father, Sheriff Wilton Chase Terkinberry passed away after thirty-four years as Sheriff of Terkot County.

Folks in Maple Valley are happy with any reason to have a parade. Believe it or not, last summer there was a parade because Hazel Wiklaten’s spaniel, Gertrude, had twelve healthy puppies. They were loaded into the bed of Berton Pilshur’s old pickup truck and before he reached the end of First Street, crowds of people stood on their porches waving as the twelve grand marshalls rolled by.

That parade went a long way to support rumors that Berton has eyes for Hazel. His wife Nellie passed away eight years ago. Hazel has been alone since her husband, Maxil Ned Wiklaten III, went on to his barn in the sky nine years ago. A year after Nellie died, neighbors saw Berton talking to Hazel over the fence. There’s been talk ever since.

With the arrival of the new police car, there seems to be more determination to find Sylvia Meisner. Certainly, with this fine new used patrol car, there won’t be any reason why answers to this year long mystery can’t be found. Sylvia is sure to come home now.

It’s good that the arguing over the cost of sending the sheriff and mayor to Chicago to pick up the new police car has ended. The vote to send the two officials was a tie. Since the mayor holds a higher office, he said his vote carried more weight, thereby causing the motion to pass. Well, that brought some of the folks attending the meeting to their feet. A few walked out. Nothing unusual for Maple Valley council meetings.

Awesome New Top for a Patio Table

Many years ago we bought a white metal table with four matching chairs. It had a glass top that measured twenty-eight by forty-eight inches.

We purchased the table at Forward’s Up North Store in Pinconning, Michigan. The antique-lodge decor-knick-knack store was a favorite stop on our trips up north, always followed by breakfast at H & H Bakery and Restaurant.

The table retained its beautiful condition until we moved from our house with a large covered porch. The patio set suffered Michigan winters and summer rain and soon showed signs of rust. I decided it was time to strip the table and chairs for repainting.

I purchased a sand-blaster attachment for my compressor. Big mistake. The first time I used it all I accomplished was filling my shoes with walnut shell grit. The paint chips and rust literally laughed at me. I knew it was time to go for the muscle.

I bought a grinder. The old paint didn’t have a chance against my new toy. My biggest problem now was my obesession as a proud card-carrying perfectionist. Every last speck of rust, paint, and corrosion had to go. Didn’t happen.

The finished product was beautiful. We took the set to Cottage Outfitters in Caseville, Michigan for sale. In the process, somewhere along the trip, I chipped a corner on the glass top! Ugh!

The answer to the broken glass is a new top made of wood. I used 1 x 4 inch, tongue and groove pine. I knew this material would hold together nicely.

I glued the pieces together, a few at a time, then clamped and weighted them overnight. I made the new top larger than the original glass to allow more space around the table.

The biggest challenge was making the frame on the underside to hold the tabletop in place. I glued at 24 x 48 inch rectangle made of 1 x 2 inch pine to the bottom. I then glued a 23 x 47 inch rectangle made of 1 x 3 inch pine to the first. This allowed the larger rectangle to rest on the table frame while the smaller dropped down inside to keep the table top from moving.

After the glue had plenty of time to dry, I used an orbital sander on the top and to soften and round the edges. I used a water-based, varnish with a white-wash finish on the entire piece. I then covered it with Polycrylic. Amazing, if I do say so myself. The table sold last week.

Altered Designs in Holly, Michigan

It’s always beautiful in Holly, no matter the weather. But when it’s sunny and 72 degrees like it was today, that’s hard to beat!

Holly, Michigan is the home of Altered Designs, our favorite place to shop in town.

Many people who visit Altered Designs comment on how friendly everyone is. All guests are greeted warmly and immediately sense the welcome is genuine.

Holly Harrington-Herrick and her team at Altered Designs do an incredible job arranging items throughout the store. A person could visit every week and still have the feeling they have walked in the first time. Inspiring that kind of interest is not an easy task. The folks at Altered Designs are particularly gifted at doing just that.

There is an unmistakable warmth at Altered Designs that encourages folks to slow down just a bit. Breathe deeply, take shorter steps, and take the time to see with new eyes.

One of the most commonly spoken phrases in a retail space is, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” At AD, when help is offered to guests, I think a more likely response could be, “Right now I’m just enjoying this.”

I absolutely love the copper wire tree artwork. It’s difficult to describe the beauty of these pieces. Bundles of copper wire are twisted and shaped into amazing treescapes. The frames are handmade for each individual piece. There are just two photos here, but many incredible copper wire creations are available. The artwork will capture your attention and you’ll immediately begin thinking where in your home you should place it.

Many artisans make up the family at Altered Designs. Visitors will never, however, have the feeling of moving from one “vendor booth” to another. We are happy to be a part of the artisan group at Altered Designs with our “Up North Flannels”.

Altered Designs has an ideal location in Holly, 101 South Saginaw Street, on the south-east corner of South Saginaw Street and East Maple Street.

Of course, whenever we go to Holly, we start our morning with breakfast at the Bittersweet Cafe. The cafe is right across the street from Altered Designs. With delicious food, great coffee, and a very cozy place to enjoy a meal while shopping in Holly, Bittersweet Cafe is a favorite.

When you have an opportunity to visit Holly, make your first destination Altered Designs. Then be sure to include the Bittersweet Cafe. Holly will become a frequent choice in your travel plans.

It’s All Straightforward

There are many things I don’t understand. Many things.

I would love to try explaining smart phones to my grandmother. One time I asked her, “Do you know what you call a cow with no legs?”

“No,” she said.

“Ground beef.”

She laughed politely. Grandma was like that.

Several weeks later I asked, “What do you call a cow with no legs?”

“Hamburger!” she said. All of a sudden she started laughing and crying. “I just got it! Ground beef! Hamburger!” She wet herself.

I had to ask my grandson to set up my smart phone. I remember when Disney demonstrated a telephone with a screen showing the person calling. Church folk were sure it was demonic.

I don’t understand “It’s all straightforward.” I hear people say it a lot. It’s like starting a sentence with, “So”. Lots of people do that, too.

“So, we went on vacation and forgot to take our suitcases.”

“So, last week I went to the dentist.”

“So, I’m thinking about planting a garden this year.”

Lots of people end sentences with “so”.

“I made scalloped potatoes for the church potluck, so.” It’s like they’re waiting for the person to respond during the “so”, to give them time to ammend what they’re saying if they need to.

I really don’t understand “It’s all straightforward”.

Anyone who lives in the thumb of Michigan knows nothing is straightforward. You can’t get anywhere in the thumb without going somewhere else to start your trip.

Straightforward instructions: “Connect part “A” to part “B” while holding part “C” just under part “A” and twist part “B” 90 degrees clockwise after attaching part “C”. Set aside. Take six 2cm “star screws” and turn them slightly into part “D”. Do not tighten until part “E” is finished and attached to assembly “ABC”. It’s all straightforward.”

So, I guess I don’t have to understand it.

It’s all straightforward, so.

It Was Hard to Sell My Radio Controlled Airplanes

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I started to purchase my first radio controlled airplane in 2003. The Avistar 40 trainer was on layaway at a local hobbyshop. It was just about paid in full when we bought a house that needed a lot of work. I turned in the plane receipts, took the cash, and bought power tools for the remodeling project.

In 2007, I put an Avistar 40 on layaway again. This time I completed the purchase and took the plane home. I followed the instructions, built the “ARF” (Almost Ready to Fly) airplane, and admired how great it looked.

I had everything I needed to be a RC (Radio Control) pilot but I didn’t know how to fly the plane. I understood the physics of flying. I started taking flying lessons in a Cessna 150 many years ago. But I knew flying the plane from inside would be very different from standing on the ground while controlling the plane in the air.

I took the plane to the back yard for the first fire-up. I turned on the transmitter, flipped the switch on the airplane, attached the glowplug igniter, primed the carburetor, held the torque starter against the propeller spinner and pushed the button. To my great surprise, the engine started immediately. I carefully removed the igniter and adjusted the throttle on the radio.

The plane was tied to the ground with a rope and a tent stake. It wasn’t going anywhere, but it really wanted to. I slowed the engine to an idle and took off the leash. I stood back and moved the throttle up slightly and the plane started to roll. Before long, I had it racing across the lawn back and forth. Several times it almost lifted from the ground and I was tempted to let it. It would have ended up in a crushed heap, for sure.

We moved in 2008. Our new home put us within fifteen miles of learning how to fly my plane. I joined a radio control flying club. To be admitted as a member, I first had to join the Academy of Model Aeronautics. I received an official membership card, an AMA decal which I promptly stuck on my field box, liability insurance, and a magazine subscription.

On a warm day with a bright clear sky, I met my flying instructor at the club field.

“Do you know anything about airplanes?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, feeling like I was starting at a superior level. “Several years ago I took some flying lessons, although I didn’t…”

“Forget all of it,” he interrupted. “It won’t help you. You’re going to fly the plane while watching it. When it’s flying away from you, all the controls work normally. When it’s coming toward you everything is backwards. Right is left, left is right.”

I was confused and starting to wonder if my new friend was going to drill me into the ground before I was able to actually fly my plane.

He looked my plane over and complimented me on the construction. He taught me how to start the engine safely, stressing the importance of staying behind the spinning prop once the engine started. He adjusted the carburetor needle until the engine sounded like it would take off by itself.

He had already connected my radio transmitter to a “buddy box”, containing controls without a transmitter, by a long cord. He took my radio, I held the box. The instructor taxied my plane to the runway. He pressed the throttle forward and the plane sped down the runway, straight as an arrow. It lifted off smoothly and floated upward.

I watched as he flew the plane in a huge circle, back and forth, right, left, up, down, around and back down to the runway where he landed it perfectly.

“Ok, now it’s your turn,” he said. Again he headed the plane down the runway and up into the air. This time he added a lot of altitude and it was soon evident why.

“When I let go of this button, you will have control of the plane. If you get in trouble, I’ll push the button and take control again. Remember, a little is a lot. No quick movements. Slow and small on the sticks. The left stick is throttle and rudder. The right stick is elevator and ailerons. Here you go.”

My insides felt like they would shake loose from my body. I moved the sticks slightly and the plane almost turned upside down then jolted to the right. “I have the plane” the instructor said. Immediately the plane leveled out and continued in controlled, beautiful flight.

“You have the plane.” Wings waved. The plane shot up, then down rapidly, right, left, and almost rolled.

“Slow sticks! Very small!” he said loudly.

I felt like a little kid who had just been caught stealing.

“Ok,” I said. To my great delight, the plane continued flying. It looked sort of level. It flew kind of straight.

“Now gently push the right stick to the left just a little,” he said.

I did. The plane took a wide turn.

“Ok, straighten it out.”

I did.

“Ok, now another left, and bring it back toward the runway,” he said. “Be sure not to push the stick forward while you’re turning. Try to keep the plane level in the turn.”

I did, and it did. I completed an entire circle without the instructor taking control. After another circle he landed the plane. I loved it!

Over the next several weeks I practiced with the buddy box. I flew figure-eights, circles, slow, fast, high, and low. I flew approaches to the runway, dropped to eye level, then lifted away again.

Another instructor decided it was time to let me land the plane. It was everything I could do to keep my hands from shaking the plane out of the air. As gently as I could, I brought the plane around and headed for the runway. A light right on the stick moved the plane to my left. Lower. Slower. Dropping. I pulled back slightly on the right stick, lifting the nose just a bit. The plane floated down, touching the ground gently and rolling to a stop.

“Well done! Well done!” my instructor said. I completed several more takeoffs and landings. “I think he’s ready, guys! I think it’s time!” he said.

The instructor pulled the plug and handed my radio to me. I taxied the plane to the end of the runway, turned it around and gave it full throttle. I gently pulled back on the right stick, raising the elevator, and the airplane lifted off the ground. I flew the plane around the pattern, did a figure-eight, brought the plane back and landed. I had graduated. I was a full pilot of my RC airplane.

Sooner or later, every RC pilot is going to experience the heartbreak of his or her airplane meeting the ground. My Avistar 40 got acquainted with gravity and dirt a few times.

My first crash came on a morning after I had taken several perfect flights. I was going to quit but decided to take the plane up one more time. I don’t know if a gust of wind hit the plane or if my hand jerked, but the plane quickly lifted off the ground and cartwheeled, completely breaking the tail from the fuselage. I carefully made repairs and the plane flew again.

After a minor mishap requiring more repairs, the plane crashed resulting in the condition in the photo. It took two days of searching at the field to find all of it. It took me a month to put the plane back together. I glued pieces, some tiny, some large, back together. I reapplied much of the adhesive covering to the plane. Finally, it was ready to fly again, and fly it did. I flew it upside down, loops, rolls, high, low, and many happy landings.

I decided to add another plane to my fleet. The Escapade 61 is a pretty fast airplane, much larger than my Avistar. As with my first plane, this was an ARF. It didn’t take long to prepare it for flight.

The Escapade flew beautifully. The sound was amazing and it was easy to fly. It was powerful. It landed fast but smoothly and ran the length of the runway. Even this lovely plane met a problem. I folded the landing gear under on a tough landing. Simple repairs made the gear stronger. I was ready to fly again.

I struggled with what I assumed was carpal tunnel syndrome for many years. Three EMGs (Electromyography) over the years proved my condition was something different. I was finally diagnosed with essential tremors. I tried the drugs prescribed by my neurologists, some with worse possible side effects than the condition.

With my primary care physician, I decided to stop taking the medications. I am left handed but it became impossible to write. I taught myself to write with my right hand. I shave with my right hand. Easy things like putting a key in locked door are a challenge.

The condition made it impossible for me to fly. Rather than taking a chance on completely destroying the planes in an essential tremor disaster, I decided to sell them. A buyer who has two young boys contacted me. He took the planes home last week.

I hope the Avistar 40 and the Escapade 61 have many successful flights and the new pilots enjoy them as much as I did.

An Up North Poem

A mayfly landed upon the rim
Of my Tilley hat near the brink of the brim
And it rested there while I mowed the lawn
And it made me think of days, now gone
Of fly fishing, of the line and the flies
The anticipation of the hoped-for rise
Of a fish, of a trout, now the take and the tug
as I stand in the midst of the stream’s cool hug
between lush banks of the far north land
Where I stop to give thanks for the place where I stand
For the fish and the stream as clear as glass
Oh, I’d rather be there than mowing the grass.

And this….

Two weekends ago on a foot bridge over the East Branch of the AuSable I stood with my 5 year old grandson Michael as he held a split bamboo fly rod and let a small fly dangle downstream. A brook trout took the fly and Michael reeled it in, his very first trout ever. His second trout came a couple casts later.

By David W.

Thanks David!

Do you have an Up North story, poem, anecdote, lyric? Did a ghost visit you at your campfire? Did Bigfoot stare at you through the brush?

Tell us about it!

Mama Duck and Her Ducklings

It happened to be a Sunday morning when I first noticed her. She was standing in the back yard, not far from the house. She wasn’t between places. She was here with a purpose.

I thought it was strange. Ducks don’t usually visit us. We’re more of an oriole, mourning dove, cardinal, black-capped chickadee and bluejay stopover. That day was different. Mama duck was obviously casing the joint.

After getting ready for church I looked out again, sure she would be gone. Not so. Mama duck was standing just a little farther away from the house.

When we returned she was gone. Maybe she was looking for a place to call home. I hoped she would choose us, but she obviously thought better of it.

Several days later, I was walking around the yard, picking up sticks in preparation for mowing. On the west side of our house, I found what mama duck was up to. Snuggled safely behind a prickly rose bush was her nest with eleven beautiful eggs.

I left the grass uncut. I didn’t want to do anything to disturb our guest. Mama duck wasn’t with her eggs and that concerned me. I wondered if maybe after laying them she changed her mind. Maybe a cat scared her, there are a few in the neighborhood.

The next morning, I was excited to discover she hadn’t decided against us at all. Mama duck was home. She was comfortably nestled on her anticipated brood.

Being the nervous papa that I am, I couldn’t imagine how mama duck and eleven babies could possibly survive. I was afraid she would be discovered and we would find a tragic scene some morning when we took a peak to check on her.

Mama duck was tougher and smarter than the credit I gave her. Maybe that scrawny rose bush provided just the right amount of protection. Her camouflage outfit was working.

Several weeks passed. We checked on mama duck every day. I did my best duck impressions and talked to her. I don’t know if it helped or not but she never jumped up to fight or fly.

Nothing was happening and I became concerned that maybe she left the nest uncovered too long. I hadn’t marked the calendar when I first found her, so I wasn’t really sure how many days she was with us.

Summer temperatures finally started to settle in. Mama duck was still faithful to her little ones.

Memorial Day weekend arrived and we made plans to go up north. I checked on mama duck before we left.

We returned home on Monday afternoon. As soon as I parked the car in the garage I went around the side of the house. I was shocked and saddened to find the nest empty. My mind took off on its own. I was quite sure a group of cats had ganged up and attacked her. Maybe someone had taken them. Was mama duck in someone’s crockpot?

I was confused about something. There was nothing in the nest or near it. No feathers, no egg pieces, no disturbing leftovers from a vicious battle. Nothing.

A few weeks later, our next door neighbors came over.

She said, “My father was here Memorial Day weekend and while he was in the yard he noticed the mama duck and her ducklings headed for the creek!”

We were so excited!! And disappointed!! We wanted to see mama duck and her babies! But we were so happy she and her family were okay.

What a precious sight! This is so amazing! With all kinds of would-be predators around, mama duck and her ducklings lived. She waited for a beautiful warm Sunday morning, and away they went.

We’ll put out a vacancy sign on the west side of the house next spring. Maybe mama duck will be back. I hope so.